Alliance of Solidarity or Alliance of Divergencies. How to Maintain Transatlantic Integrity? (report)

Different views, alternative perceptions determined by geography as well as potential impacts of Brexit and ideas related to future of NATO – these were the main issues that have been discussed during the debate devoted to the North Atlantic Alliance. This discussion has been chaired by Andreas Umland from the Ukrainian Euroatlantic Cooperation.

Divergencies within the NATO during the conference in Rzeszów has been discussed by:

Paweł Kowal – Assistant Professor, Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences,

Francisco Márquez de la Rubia – Analyst, Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies IEEE,

Nicolas Tenzer – President, Centre for Study and Research for Political Decision (CERAP),

Raymond Wojcik – Director of the Warsaw Office, Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).

Starting the discussion, Paweł Kowal, Assistant Professor, Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, stated that we are dealing with transition period in which the nature of American military presence in Europe is changing. He pointed out that Europe in particular has been accustomed to the Cold War era transatlantic standards so far. The biggest impact on NATO`s future shape will have decisions taken in Washington and next presidential elections in the US as well:

Erosion within the NATO began in the course of Barrack Obama presidency. Donald Trump`s posting in the White House is already a sign of deep scepticism. A huge influence on the shape of future relations within the Alliance will have next presidential elections in the US.

Spanish analyst Francisco Márquez de la Rubia paid attention to the interesting aspect saying about public perception in various member countries. He noted that it depends on the geographical location:

Europe is a combination of various interests. For southern Europe Security in the Mediterranean Sea is crucial. On the other hand, for Poland the most important is Russian threat. China is a key competitor for the US and Russia is no longer the main threat.

Francisco Márquez de la Rubia pointed out that, despite the differences on both sides of the Atlantic, it is necessary to work together on security issues.

Nicolas Tenzer, President of the Centre for Study and Research for Political Decision (CERAP), France, pointed out that North Alliance should be considered in a bidimensional approach: a political alliance and military alliance. He noted that there is a large divergency between those two NATO dimensions nowadays. He also stated that Russia is a constant threat and according to him it makes Russia a total opposition to the western world. Nicolas Tenzer also remarked that based on the examples of Georgia, Ukraine or Syria NATO is not able to defend basic values and principles of Western World. He expressed the concern that, since there is an inability to reach a consensus to protect those principles, it could lead to collapse of NATO.

Raymond Wojcik, Director of the Warsaw Office, Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), reminded a numerous NATO`s achievements. He also stressed that throughout its seventy years history, Alliance has been undergoing a repeatedly phase of crisis and profound disagreement and, after all NATO has survived:

The Suez Crisis, the French exit from the Alliance structures or continuous disagreement since 1945. Everyone thought that would be critical points but NATO had survived though. Today we are in a similar situation. NATO has a lot of success stories and what is crucial, there is willingness to continue it.

Participants in the debate stated that Brexit is to be a great challenge to NATO. Americans then will bear approximately 80 % of the Alliance`s total financial expenses. This will lead to significant increase in funding by the European member states as well. However in a rapidly evolving situation characterised by differences and conflicts of interests, there is no alternative to the Alliance. Neither the US nor Europe are is able to guarantee security in the world. Transatlantic cooperation is therefore necessary.