UAE to attend NATO’s Annual General Assembly in Turkey

ABU DHABI, 18th November, 2016 (WAM) — Parliamentarians from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO nations will meet this week to take stock of the Alliance’s preparations for increasing its military footprint in the Baltic states and Poland, and for developing ways to defeat terrorism at home and in the Middle East.

The UAE Parliamentary Division of the Federal National Council will represent the country in NATO Association’s 62nd Annual General Assembly, to be hosted by Turkey from 19th to 21st November. The UAE is attending the meeting as an observer.

Earlier, the UAE attended a session between the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, NATO PA, and the Moroccan Parliament in April 2015, and another one with the Italian Parliament in October this year.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and senior government ministers will join the legislators for the NATO annual session, to be held in Istanbul.

The meeting in Turkey’s commercial hub, straddled between Europe and Asia, comes four months after the country’s institutions survived a coup attempt, and just days after the Presidential and the Congressional elections in the US, NATO’s leading member country, a NATO press release said.

With Daesh under pressure in Iraq and Syria, the parliamentarians are set to call for broader intelligence sharing and a toughening of border controls amid concerns that foreign fighters from the region are more likely to return to Europe as the group is squeezed in the Middle East.

NATO’s efforts to help the Allies, hardest hit by the refugee wave, will also be on the table.

To help stem the flow and reassure regional partners, lawmakers will call for more diplomatic pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers in Russia and Iran. They are likely to appeal to NATO states to deepen co-operation with countries in the Gulf and around the Mediterranean.

The Assembly is also set to support NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, call for help to fill remaining security gaps and bolster the fight against corruption, as well as urge international donors to maintain their support for the Afghan economy.

NATO governments will be encouraged to keep up spending on airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, make sure that the technologies are compatible across the Alliance, and remove obstacles to information sharing.

“This meeting comes at a critical time. NATO faces a volatile and even dangerous security environment, and Turkey is a vital and valued Ally which finds itself at the very forefront of many of today’s security challenges,” U.S. Congressman Michael R. Turner, President of NATO PA, stressed.

The 28-member NATO PA brings together members of national parliaments from the allies, as well as partner countries, observers and organisations. It is an essential link between the Alliance and member parliaments, and therefore, to citizens in the Euro-Atlantic area. Two sessions are held each year – in the spring and autumn – in different countries.