- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
The 68th meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly took place in Madrid on 18-21 November 2022.
The Assembly is formed of 269 delegates from the 30 NATO member states. I attended as a member of the cross party UK delegation. At the Annual Session, the assembly discussed the draft reports from its five committees and agreed its programme of work for the coming year including the Budget. On 18 May 2022, Finland and Sweden officially applied to join NATO and it was acknowledged that they will be welcomed as full members of the Alliance.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly provided an opportunity for parliamentarians across NATO member states to come together at a crucial time of heightened Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Saturday 19 November
The political groups met early in the morning to discuss the candidates for President of Nato. Later delegates on the Political Committee met in the Auditorium chaired by Democratic Representative Brendan Boyle who recently won re-election in Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District. On the first day we discussed Priorities for NATO: The Spanish Perspective in the Context of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, in a session led by José Manuel Albares. This was followed by a Panel on Priorities for NATO, including Keeping NATO Fit for Purpose in the New Strategic Environment, Speaker Javier Colomina, and NATO’s Political and Security Adaptation in Response to Russia’s War: Assessing the New Strategic Concept and Implementation of the Madrid Summit Decisions, led by Tomas Valasek.
We then had a panel on the Regional Geopolitics and Strategy for the Euro-Atlantic Community, discussing China after the 20th Party Congress and Policy Outcomes and Implications for Global Affairs, and NATO and the Indo-Pacific Region. The final discussion on the Saturday Session was about the Russian War Against Ukraine: Military and Political Aspects with Speaker Clint Reach.
Sunday 20 November
the Session started at 9 am on Sunday where we discussed Developments in Afghanistan and the Causes, Consequences and Lessons Learned, led by Speaker Ahmet Yildiz. The following reports were also discussed by the Political Committee: Russia’s Aggression and War Crimes in Ukraine, Andriy Kostin; The Evolving Political and Security Landscape in the Maghreb, Haizam Amirah-Fernández; and NATO post-Madrid Summit: Fit for Purpose in the New Strategic Era, Tomas Valasek.
During the session on Russia’s aggression I commented that we all across Parliament stand in solidarity with Ukraine. I was pleased to see that the Atrocity advisers are actively involved. What is needed is a Truth and Reconciliation Committee as they had in South Africa so the people of Ukraine give their testimony as they rebuild their country and their lives. It is vital to have an International Compensation mechanism that the money held under sanctions can be given to rebuild Ukraine. This is not going to hurt the Russian people or taken away from the Russian people. This is money from the oligarchs which has been taken away form the Russian people and I do not think many Russian people have been on their yachts. It must be given to the Ukrainian people and Slava Ukraini- We stand with Ukraine.
There was a presentation by Haizem Amirah-Fernandez on the Evolving Political and Security Landscape in Maghreb. I spoke at the meeting and said this was a comprehensive and sobering analysis. Mr Amirah-Fernandez has a background in Human Rights Watch which I said was welcome as we have to do all we can to protect democracy. And we must be aware of an autocratic democracy where they vote themselves in for life while women in Iran are being killed. It was important to protect democracy and human rights. I asked if there was a supra national organisation that can help with economic transition as people are suffering.
We voted on a over 30 amendments to the draft resolution on NATO Post-Madrid Summit: Fit for Purpose in the New Strategic Era. This Resolution urged member governments to ensure the effective implementation of NATO’s objectives regarding issues such as defence, climate change, and Russia, and to deliver on their commitments to international security.
On Sunday evening all participants attended the Royal Palace at a reception hosted by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain.
I am pictured with Kate Thwaites Labour MP from Australia and my colleague Feryal Clarke MP, and Jason McCartney MP for Colne Valley in West Yorkshire.
Monday 21 November
The plenary session took place on Monday 21 November and we were addressed by the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Congressman Gerald E. Connolly, elected in 2019. This was followed by an address from Ander Gil, Speaker of the Senate of Spain and Meritxell Batet, Speaker of the Congress of Deputies of Spain.
The Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez addressed the delegates. This is the 2nd NATO event hosted by Spain. In June 2022, NATO Leaders gathered in Madrid to discuss pressing issues facing the Alliance and set the strategic direction for the future.
The Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg (below left) addressed the delegations and answered questions. Jens Stoltenberg is a former Prime Minister of Norway and has been serving as the 13th Secretary General of NATO since 2014.
President Zelensky (right) spoke to us and was given a standing ovation. He said we needed to continue to support Ukraine.