Gabor Iklodi: «NATO Needs Ukraine, Your Country Needs the Alliance»

By Vladimir Kravchenko

In modern world of developed technologies NATO attempts to find adequate replies for non-conventional security threats for its members. As in XXI century some of them don’t require implementation of the fifth article of the Washington Treaty, and it’s not obligatory to react with military means. For example in case with cyber-attacks at governmental or corporate networks of energy companies. Reaction on these new threats demands coordinated actions of all NATO members. Exactly that is why after the Lisbon Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty they created in the structure of the organization a special department and the position of the Secretary’s General Assistant.

Terrorism threat and cyber-attacks, assurance of energy security — all these issues are quite topical also for our country. That is why Ukraine and the Alliance cooperate to counteract these threats. This was dwelled on during the interview for ZN.UA the Assistant of NATO Secretary General on new security issues Mr. Gabor Iklodi.
— Among new challenges to the security North Atlantic Alliance specify terrorism, piracy, proliferation of mass destruction wepoan, domestic conflicts, cyber-threats, energy security, environmental challenges and others. Which threats come from authoritarian Ukraine?

— The Alliance is interested in democratic, free, independent Ukraine, which is the key factor of Euro-Atlantic security. Your country has already gone a significant distance on the way of democracy development. But during Chicago Summit of NATO, they expressed concern about its further development. I suggest that the Parliamentary elections to take place in a month in Ukraine, shall give your country the possibility to prove that it is devoted to democratic values, and to hold free and fair voting. The members of the Alliance observe these elections as a very important milestone.
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Any authoritarian regime first of all is a threat for itself, its people, security of the country. But it doesn’t for sure threat NATO security. Thanks to democratic elections Ukraine gained current power. You will have elections soon, which, as we hope, shall be free, fair, democratic and shall assist to enhance democratic institutions in your country.
— The US Senate adopted a resolution, suggesting pressure on President Yanukovych. Can the North Atlantic Treaty Organization support such measures?

— NATO is not interested in breaking relations with Ukraine, or to pause those. Our Organization is sincerely interested in development of our relation. NATO needs Ukraine, and your country needs the Alliance. I shall repeat myself but Ukraine is an extremely important factor of Euro-Atlantic security.
— NATO member-states spend for its defense on the average about two percents of GDP. How much should Ukraine spend on its army after it fixed its out-of-block status?

— This is an exclusive decision of your country, how much to spend for defense. But being a Hungarian, I can say: before Hungary became NATO’s member, we made a study and found out that neutrality and out-of-block status shall cost us more, than our membership on this Organization: the alliance creates more options. But if you want to assure security with your own forces, then, naturally, it shall be more expensive, in comparison with division the expanses for security between other partners.
— You call our country the key factor of Euro-Atlantic security. But how does NATO cooperate with Ukraine to confront new threats? Have you made a joint evaluation? For example in provision of cyber-security, energy security, environmental security...

— NATO and Ukraine held no systemic evaluation together regarding new security challenges. But within the frameworks of Ukraine-NATO Commission, new threats are being discussed quite regularly. If we are talking about cyber-security, then this issue is always in the agenda of the joint working group on the issues of defense reform. In other words, we are talking about well-ordered information exchange between Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at a wide scale level. It’s also worth to note the participation of Ukraine in Rapid Reaction Forces of NATO.
— And what about the issues of energy security? For example, Tehran threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which oil and gas from the states of Persian Gulf are supplied to the world market. If the international community still decides not to limit with diplomatic and economic pressure, but undertakes military measures towards Iran, how shall that affect energy security of NATO member-states?

— International community shall use all the efforts to convince Iran to shut down its nuclear program. And it’s wrong to say that NATO exhausted its all options to maintain the openness of all ways for energy carriers. This is very important is significant part of oil and gas, urgent for European countries, are supplied through the Strait of Hormuz.

Naturally NATO, can’t protect all possible ways. But if there is a problem, then the Alliance tries to solve it. I should say that it already undertakes measures to secure the ways for oil-tankers going along the cost of the Gulf of Aden. We are talking about the mission «Ocean Shield», aimed at piracy fighting. In this operation the ships of the EU and NATO member-states try to assure free way for these vessels.
— In the situation with the Strait of Hormuz, energy security threats are obvious. As well as in case of transportation of Caspian oil and gas: if Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, for example calls interest among the EU member-states, most of which are NATO’s member-states, the same project is criticized by Russia. Considering that Russian experts, close to the Kremlin, threat to use force in case of such project accomplishment, is the Alliance ready to provide guarantees of security for Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan?

— NATO provides security guarantees for its member. At the same time there are programs, suggesting cooperation to the partners. As for example, «Partnership for Peace». And through joint projects it gives these states the possibility to solve problematic issues more actively.

NATO has no such function, as assurance of security of all possible transit roads. Energy security doesn’t mean, that military-men of the Alliance member-states shall be deployed to protect the pipelines in any point of the world. And there are even no such intentions to make this idea reality...
— Former NATO member-states generals in their study, published a few years ago, confirmed the exhaustability of the resources for one of the main threats. How NATO shall react on the challenged of resources shortening in the world, including water? How shall this influence NATO’s action in these terms?

— Water for example, is the key resource. Talking about the regions, then its lack in Africa, for example, can become the reason for limitary conflicts, incite mass migration of people, and eventually, result in humanitarian disaster. In this case NATO as the Organization possessing possibilities and potential, can suggest humanitarian aid. I can’t find any other options.
— Experts and politicians talk much today about climate change and threats related with its. Which countries are more vulnerable to climate change? Which role does NATO play within solution of environmental threats?

— NATO is not a remedy from all the troubles. As a rule, there are two ways to harm the Organization. The first: when you don’t attract it to solve the issues which are key ones for the governments and countries. The second: when you try to overload the Organizations with the issues it is not competent in.

Strategic NATO concept anticipates systemic study of environmental threats, which can affect security. But this doesn’t mean, that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall undertake any definite role in the sphere of these threats fighting.
Translated from «Zerkalo Nedeli, Ukraine»