James Appathurai, the Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, is back on atlantic-community.org with answers to more of your questions. In case you missed it, you can watch the videos of his first visit where he discussed global partnerships and the Arab Spring as well as the Alliance's partnerships in Asia, including responding to two proposals from the Atlantic Memos.
In this playlist, he answers 5 more questions on topics such as tensions in the Caucasus, how Central Asian partnerships relate to the Afghanistan mission, and the changing focus of NATO's partnership frameworks in the Middle East and North Africa. He will be back for a final 5 answers tomorrow.
You can read more about Mr. Appathurai and his role at NATO in the original article.
We encourage you to let us know what you think of the answers and to contribute your reactions, comments, and ideas in the comments below. Remember to log in when commenting. If you've forgotten your password, click here.
A full transcript of Mr. Appathurai's answers appears below.
Elkhan Mamedov, student, Russia: Which kind of arrangements is NATO going to carry out in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia?
James Appathurai: The bottom line is we hope that that never happens. NATO has no intention, no plan, of getting involved in a Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and we're not even involved in the peace process, which is being led by, of course, the two presidents but also the Russian Federation, the United States, and France in something called the Minsk Process. That being said, I think there is concern amongst the Allies at the state of the Minsk Process. We heard from the two presidents here at NATO headquarters just in the last few weeks that they are committed to the process, they're committed to a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis. But the reality is that the Minsk Process has had some difficulties, especially recently, and that there is worrying rhetoric between the two countries and a lot of weapons being purchased by both countries.
This is a region which probably doesn't get as much attention as it deserves from the international media. It is of critical strategic importance for reasons of its location, for reasons of its potential, and for reasons of its energy transit and supply role. So for many, many reasons it's important that this conflict be resolved in a peaceful way as soon as possible and respecting the principles of international law. So we hope it will be solved, but to come back to the question in its most pointed way, NATO is not involved in this crisis, except to support the Minsk group and a peaceful resolution. Video
Robert Helbig, student, American University, Germany: Is Brazil on NATO's agenda yet? If so, does NATO strive to build up a partnership with Brazil in the medium-term? What benefits does NATO hope to get out of a partnership with Brazil?
James Appathurai: The short answer is: Brazil has not expressed any particular interest in a relationship with NATO and we have not sought it out. It's relatively far away for us and the importance of Brazil is something which we recognize. It even is part now of an informal grouping called the BRICs, and it even leads it off. It's an emerging power and one which we hope and expect will work constructively, of course, in the international system. But the Alliance isn't seeking out a particular partnership with Brazil, though we wouldn't oppose it.
What we have seen in the last little while is that a number of emerging countries have taken an ever more prominent role at the United Nations, in the international system, not just economically, but also politically. And we welcome that. These countries can help bear the burden of international security in a way that the Alliance alone cannot do. So we definitely want to see a situation in which all the emerging economies, including Brazil, the emerging powers, continue to play an ever more prominent, ever more constructive role with us in the international system. Video
Yulia Boguslavskaya, assistant professor, St. Petersburg State University, Russia: How does cooperation with NATO contribute to security and stability in Central Asia? What is the proper role for the Alliance in that region?
James Appathurai: It's a good question, and coming from Russia an even better question. Because there are many who look at Central Asia as a sort of battleground between the West and Russia. An area in which we are competing for influence. And I would quite strongly reject that analogy or that assessment.
We have common interests in Central Asia. And I mean common with the Central Asian countries and NATO, and common between all three if we include Russia as well. And I could list them for you.
First, is stability in Afghanistan. It is vital for all of us that Afghanistan does not once again begin exporting terrorism, extremism, or continue to export drugs, which of course hit Russia but hit all of us as well. So we have an interest in stabilizing Afghanistan, shared by all of us. And the best way to do that is to cooperate. We do that. NATO, Russia, and Central Asia for example train together our counter narcotic officials, particularly Central Asian, Afghan but also now Pakistani. Russia plays a very important role in this joint project with NATO allies. And it works very well. It's not solving the drug problem, and we're doing our best to help that to happen. But it is at least helping to mitigate, to restrain the flow of drugs out of Afghanistan.
But we have a larger interest in cooperation with Central Asia. And that is to help the Central Asian countries reach their full potential. Including as transit areas for trade, as production and transit areas for energy. That's a mutual interest for everybody.
And finally, let me also say that the Allies do encourage the process that was put in place recently in Istanbul and in Bonn, and that is to promote economic cooperation between the Central Asian countries, and Afghanistan, and other regional parties.
In the end, the strongest incentive for peace and stability in Afghanistan will be economic cooperation and interdependence. Look at the EU. The EU is the ultimate example of how economic interdependence breeds cooperation and peace. So we're very happy to see that the Central Asians are embracing this concept through the processes that I have mentioned, and NATO will be there. I am committed to this, not only personally, but professionally as NATO's Special Representative to Central Asia. Video
Yulia Boguslavskaya, assistant professor, St. Petersburg State University, Russia: Should Central Asian states do more to bring about stability to Afghanistan? Should their role increase after the Alliance's withdrawal?
James Appathurai: I sort of addressed this in the last question. But let me make another couple of points. The Central Asian countries are concerned that when 2014 arrives and the Alliance has a much smaller and different presence in Afghanistan, that they will be left with a problem or a growing problem of instability, and terrorism, and extremism, and drugs.
So it's very important that the Alliance is clear with them, including me, that we will have a presence beyond the end of the combat mission. That we are committed for the long term to Afghanistan's stability. And committed not just rhetorically or politically, we will have people on the ground doing work to help the Afghans stabilize their own country.
But we will also work with the Central Asian countries so that they can protect themselves better, fight against and defend against these many threats. So we're going to offer them more consultation, more exercises, more joint training to help them beef up their own capacity to handle these problems. And in doing that, we want to create a situation where the Central Asian countries can engage productively with Afghanistan, and they are trying to do that to help Afghanistan find its own feet. We don't want to return to a situation that we hand in the past where, for reasons of insecurity, individual nations of the region took individual approaches to Afghanistan, which didn't do anybody in the end any good. Video
Olga Kolesnichenko, freelance journalist, Russia: Have NATO's frameworks in the Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative led to changes in the Middle East or are they a reflection of the new importance and changing security situation in the region?
James Appathurai: In fact, these two frameworks, and put more largely NATO's partnerships with countries in the Middle East and North Africa in these two separate frameworks, date back many, many years. You can look up their history on the web.
We've always believed, well it's obvious to anybody that the Middle East and North Africa is a region of key strategic importance, and I don't need to explain to you why. But it is true that the Allies have decided just in the last couple of years to beef up the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. And right now, almost literally right now as I'm recording this, the Allies are in discussion with our partners from the region to see how we can do more together.
What more can we do together in terms of political consultation, in terms of practical cooperation. Where should our priorities be. Can we provide more support to them on their request for their reform processes? Would Libya like to join the Mediterranean Dialogue, the seven other countries in the MD, so that it can take advantage of all the experience and capacity that NATO has to help them build security in their own country? To build a defense ministry. To build an armed forces that can provide for security in its own country.
So there is a lot NATO can offer. There's a lot we want to offer. But we want to do it according to the priorities of our partners of the region. So they're talking to us; we're talking to them. And what you'll see I think at the Summit in Chicago around the 20th of May is a declaration by NATO that will, I believe, have the endorsement of our partners in the region, of how we are going to do more together.
And the word together is the word I want to stress. There will be no imposition by the Alliance of anything on anyone. On the contrary, we want to hear from them and meet their needs in a way of course that we can afford and that meets our priorities as well. So you'll see more out of NATO in the next little while. Video