SP Senator Kox: "Government must heed De Hoop Scheffer and begin debate on NATO's future"

15 June 2009

SP Senator Kox: "Government must heed De Hoop Scheffer and begin debate on NATO's future"

Now that the departure of NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is imminent, the Dutch government must pay urgent attention to his repeated call for a broad public and parliamentary debate on NATO's future, says SP Senator Tiny Kox, a member of NATO's parliamentary assembly.

Tiny Kox"It was good to read in an interview yesterday with De Hoop Scheffer to mark his departure as Secretary General that he was pleased by the compliments I paid to his address to a recent meeting of the NATO Assembly in Oslo," says Kox. "I also told him in Oslo that his somewhat complicated Dutch name is now spoken of with some approval worldwide, which shows that in the last five years he has clearly made an impression, giving leadership to NATO in one of the alliance's most difficult periods of its existence, with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But my compliments were mainly for the fact that he continues to call on member states to begin a broad public and parliamentary debate over the future of NATO in general and the soon-to-be-adopted new strategic concept in particular. This is of major importance.

"I share De Hoop Scheffer's view that something is lacking when it comes to public support for NATO. And that is a big problem," Kox says. "In the absence of public support in the member states, NATO cannot function, after sixty years in existence, as it should. President Obama and his Defence Secretary Robert Gates are also rightly concerned about this. Now that NATO is preparing itself for the adoption of a new strategic concept in 2010, I agree with De Hoop Scheffer that proper discussions should be held in our two houses of parliament, and that public opinion should be surveyed as to the question of how the most powerful military alliance in the world should develop, seeing that it appears unable, despite all its power, to bring a conflict such as that in Afghanistan to a satisfactory conclusion after eight years of fighting.

"In such a debate different options will be put forward. The SP has recently published its views. We want NATO to cease to play the role of police officer to the world, but instead to form a significant part of a new global security architecture. This global security architecture must also involve the United Nations, other international organisations, and important countries such as Russia, China, India and Australia. Security concerns everyone, and can no longer be organised and determined by NATO alone, in our view. No doubt other parties in our parliament have different opinions. We should now be talking about these things, and looking at areas where we might find agreement. Otherwise we'll soon be faced with a new strategic concept in the development of which parliament and public have played no part. We'll be once again drawing Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen's attention to the need in the meantime to get on with publishing the government's view, so that we can debate the issue. Continuing to keep mum is just what we don't need. On that point De Hoop Scheffer and I are in agreement. The question is why Verhagen continues to hold back. Might it be that he is frightened of a debate?"

This autumn the SP's Senate Group will organise a symposium under the heading ‘NATO at 60, where next?' The symposium will feature prominent speakers from the Netherlands and abroad.

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