On 5th December 2018, the “NATO Hub for the South and the Future ofCooperative Security” conference, organized by the Italian AtlanticCommittee, the Atlantic Club of Naples, in collaboration with the NATOStrategic Direction South-Hub and the University of Naples Parthenope, at theVilla Doria d’Angri (Naples). The event hosted Admiral James G. Foggo III,Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples. The Hub works both as aninstrument of the Alliance to understand the new challenges coming from theSouth and project stability in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa).It is also useful in order to re-evaluate the Mediterranean as an “open” sea. Througha holistic and collaborative approach, the Hub creates a network that connectsAllied, NATO’s partners, non-military entities, academics and internationalorganizations aiming at contributing to the coordination and synchronization ofNATO’s cooperative security activities towards the South, optimizing resourcesand maximizing their effectiveness.

The conference was opened by Ambassador Gabriele
Checchia, former Permanent Representative of Italy to NATO, and now President
of the Atlantic Club of Naples and of the Strategic Committee of the Italian
Atlantic Committee. He stressed the importance of the Hub to understand and
face new threats and to project stability in the South of the Alliance, underlining
the strategic role that Italy could have, thanks to its geographical position as
well as member of the Atlantic Alliance, which was born as a defense

During the opening ceremony, Professor Francesco Di
Donato (Coordinator of the Research Doctorate Dies, Scientific Manager of the
Terra & Mare Project of the University of Naples Parthenope) and Dr. Monica
Buonanno (Councilor for Work on the Right of Housing and Development – City of
Naples) took the floor.  They highlighted
the importance of the Hub for the comprehensive understanding of the security
dynamics that characterize the Mediterranean region. Following an historical
path which started with Herodotus’ thought, passing through Niccolò Machiavelli
to Ferdinando Galiani, the link between prevention and integration was
highlighted. Niccolò Machiavelli, referring to the Roman Empire, believed that
wars were inevitable. In his opinion, there were wars of conquest, and wars arising
from famines and invasions. However, war must be avoided as much as possible,
and if it cannot be avoided then it must be regulated: one must “love peace and
know how to make war”. Deterrence and prevention are two ways to avoid war.
Moreover, taking into account the treaty Della
(1751), Abbot Galiani wrote that integration could have efficiently avoided
war. It would have indeed involved mutual knowledge, avoiding the creation of
stereotypes and promoting cooperation. Nowadays, the Mediterranean Sea can be
considered as an area of integration and of mutual knowledge which promote cooperation
and maintains deterrence to counter new threats.

The Hub for the South, located in Naples, aims at
promoting these values from a city that not only has the largest number of
young people in Italy, but which has a special and historical connection to the
sea. Indeed, the sea is a precious resource: water, life, trade, exchanges
which guarantee and support the development of the community. The NATO
Strategic Direction South – Hub has a key role in the development of mutual
understanding and therefore the awareness of common threats, strengthening
relationships with the partners of the South and developing peaceful and
friendly relations.

The main issue of the first session was the projection
of stability in the South. Dr. Fabio Nicolucci (editor of “Il Mattino” and expert
of the Middle East), Minister Plenipotentiary Diego Brasioli (Deputy General Director
for Political Affairs/Central Director for Security Affairs – Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation), the representative of General
Ignazio Lax (Director of NATO Strategic Direction South-Hub and former
Commander of the bilateral Assistance and Support Mission in Libya from 2017 to
2018), and Professor Matteo Gerlini (diplomatic historian) took the floor.
During the session, NATO’s current commitment to promoting peace and security
through deterrence was underlined. Historically, Europe has always been the
theater of wars between states and it became the main battlefield of the First
and Second World Wars. NATO, founded in 1949, constitutes a collective defense
system whereby its independent member states are prepared to defend each other
in response to an external attack. The collapse of the Warsaw Pact in 1989-1991
removed de facto its main opponent and provoked a strategic re-assessment of
NATO’s objectives, nature and tasks on the European continent. Nowadays, NATO
has 29 members, and in addition to dealing with collective defense it is also
committed to projecting stability, strengthening security partnerships
(stretching from Tunisia to Iraq, from Jordan to missions in the field of
maritime security, from the operation Sea Guardian to cooperation with the
European Union). The Hub for the South, strongly wanted by the Italian Ministry
of Defense, aims at preventing future non-traditional threats. NATO is called by
its member states to face new hybrid threats, which are characterized by the use
of means of all kinds, especially propaganda, popular movements, digital
resources and cyber attacks.

Looking East, NATO knows its adversary, but it is
necessary to overcome the classic East-West opposition and turn the attention
to a new strategic role of the Alliance to the South. Italy remains a major player,
both for its commitment to the Mediterranean area and for its status within
NATO, where it maintains a strategic role in many missions:

  • In
    the Balkans for the assistance to the institutional development of Kosovo and
    Macedonia, to the Bosnian military authorities and NATO-Serbia cooperation,
    with 538 soldiers, 204 land vehicles and 1 aircraft;
  • In
    the Operation Sea Guardian for the maintenance of maritime safety in the
    Mediterranean, with 287 soldiers, 2 naval vessels and 2 aircraft;
  • In
    Afghanistan for training the Afghan defense and security forces and assisting
    government institutions, with 900 high-ranking military personnel, 145 land
    vehicles and 8 aircraft;
  • In
    Turkey and Latvia with 335 military personnel to oversee the southern and
    eastern borders of NATO;
  • In
    Bulgaria and Iceland with 255 soldiers for surveillance and identification of
    NATO airspace violations;
  • In
    Tunisia with 60 soldiers to support the country in establishing a brigade
    command (requested by the Tunisian government), and for strengthening
    inter-force capacities in border control and in the fight against terrorism.

During the first session it was therefore clarified
what really is the Hub for the South. On 5 September 2017, Ambassador Alejandro
Alvargonzalez, Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security
Policy inaugurated the NATO Strategic Direction South-Hub in a ceremony at the
Allied Joint Force Command in Naples. Its mission is to monitor and assess the
dynamics of NATO’s operational environment by acting as a forum for engaging
and sharing information, as well as informing operational and strategic leaders
by enhancing collective understanding and shaping NATO decision-making. The Hub
also provides NATO with a strategic-level lens to anticipate, prevent, limit
and overcome challenges from the MENA region, thanks to a comprehensive
approach based on strengthening confidence with non-military entities. The aim
is to establish a long-term stability and prosperity for local populations in
the south of NATO.

In the second session of the conference, devoted to
co-operative security in the Mediterranean, Professor Maria Paradiso
(University of Sannio), Dr. Massimo Deandreis (Director of the Center for
Studies and Research for Southern Italy, Intesa Sanpaolo), the Colonel Franco
Merlino (Director of NATO Security Force Assistance CoE), Admiral James G.
Foggo III (Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command of Naples) and Professor
Fabrizio W. Luciolli (President of the Atlantic Treaty Association and of the
Italian Atlantic Committee) took the floor. During the session, it emerged that
the Mediterranean is taking on an increasingly central role, both strategically
and economically. On 16th August 2015, the doubling of a part of the
Suez Canal was inaugurated. The project adds a new second navigation lane of 35
km in length to the 164 kilometers of existing canal, allowing the passage of
ships in separate and opposite directions. It also includes the expansion and a
greater depth of 37 meters of a canal section. Thanks to this expansion, 97
ships can transit daily compared to the previous 49, also reducing transit time,
without limitations to the size of the boats. As a consequence, traffic in the
Mediterranean region also increased significantly, allowing coastal cities to
pursue further development and security.

The role of the NATO Center for Excellence Security
Force Assistance (SFA) based in Rome was also discussed. It was inaugurated in
2017 and it now carries out activities that help the host nation to develop and
improve local security forces and their institutions. The mission of this
Center of Excellence is to improve the effectiveness of NATO in promoting
stability and reconstruction efforts for conflict and post-conflict scenarios. Its
aim is to establish a close cooperation between NATO and other partners, within
the agreed frameworks, and to elaborate a global and joint collaboration
approach supporting the Alliance and its partners in the development of local capacities
through research aimed at results, studies, experiments, analysis, education
and training. One of its main objectives is to coordinate and harmonize
military and civilian capabilities to conduct exercises by defining and
developing scenarios in states that request support.

NATO presents itself both as an organization able to
project stability and defend its members with credibility. This emerged clearly
in the closing speech of the Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command in
Naples, Admiral James G. Foggo III, who also coordinated the Trident Juncture
18 exercise in Norway. According to the Admiral, NATO has played a key role on
the North and East flank. Indeed, NATO is involved in the Operation Sea
Guardian, in the mission in Afghanistan and in Kosovo, and with the African
Union. However, NATO should pay more attention to the South, in particular to
the Libyan crisis. The migration phenomenon that now affects Europe and,
therefore, also the Alliance countries, is the consequence of a series of
problems that characterize the political, social and economic scenario of
Central Africa: lack of stable institutions, poor economic growth, social
inequalities, and civil wars. In this sense, NATO aims at understanding and
preventing threats through the Hub.

The President of the Italian Atlantic Committee,
Fabrizio W. Luciolli, drew the conclusions of the conference, underlining how
the Alliance has to face increasingly complex threats coming both from the East
and from the South. Thus, NATO is today called to face collective defense,
crisis management and cooperative security tasks, which require a 360°

According to the President, on the occasion of the 70thanniversary of the Atlantic Alliance, a further effort to promote a correct andeffective communication strategy on security issues will be needed. This is a taskfor which the Italian Atlantic Committee and its YATA component are engaged.

Maria Elena Argano

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