James Appathurai, the Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, recorded his video answers to 10 questions from Atlantic Community on the topic of NATO partnerships. In the first part, he discussed NATO's overall outlook toward global partners and security issues as well as how NATO partnerships in North Africa and the Middle East will change in the wake of the Arab Spring. In this second part, he covers queries about NATO's partnerships with Asian countries and responds to an Atlantic Memo proposal for a new conference between NATO and regional organizations.
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.
Maria Danilovich, PhD student, Belarusian State University, Belarus: What could be the role of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in maintaining security in Central Asia after the planned withdrawal of ISAF out of Afghanistan in 2014? In particular, to what extent China could participate in securing sustainable economic development of the region as well as in developing the transport infrastructure (especially its southern direction, via the territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea)?
James Appathurai: I thank you for the question. And I think it's an important one.
China is of course a major global player. But a country of that size and that importance is even more important and has more of an impact in its own region. Afghanistan has security implications for China as well, as it does for Central Asia. The Chinese have every interest in seeing stability in Afghanistan.
And the best way to ensure long-term stability in Afghanistan is through cross-border financial and economic cooperation, as well as cross-border security cooperation. The security cooperation is being discussed extensively; and to a certain extent it is happening. But the recent processes launched in Bonn and Istanbul at the end of 2011 focused on the first aspect I mentioned, which is economic cooperation. The best way for countries to get along is to have a stake in each other's stability and each other's prosperity.
China can obviously play an absolutely critical role in encouraging this kind of cooperation, this kind of interdependence. And I'm quite sure it will. It is in everybody's interests that Afghanistan, which of course has been a very prosperous country, could be prosperous again. And as it play's such an important role because of its geography as a transit country, I think it has a lot of potential. Finally of course, China has invested heavily in Afghan mining. And that has real potential as well. This was a major contract signed by the Chinese government, which I think will have a real positive impact on the lives of Afghans, and that's a good thing. Video
Volker Stanzel, German Ambassador to Japan: Factors of instability in East and South East Asia are of increasing concern. Fragile stability is at present guaranteed (1) by the US-Japan alliance and (2) through security US cooperation with major regional players such as Australia, Singapore or Vietnam.
However, all of NATO's members, not only the US, have a stake in security and stability in that region. Might NATO with its partnership programs contribute to stability and security here; and could - and if so, how - the countries of the region in turn contribute to security and stability in the Indian Ocean and/or the Atlantic region?
James Appathurai: I think this is a critical question. And it's a critical question including because the US has announced it will be shifting focus, not away from Europe, but also towards Asia. I would say that the Asian countries have already contributed to Atlantic security in a very direct way, and that is in Afghanistan where many of them play an important role. Japan not militarily but through major financial contributions. Australia and New Zealand troops on the ground. South Korea has sent personnel as well. So that partnership has paid benefits for us in the West because it is in our interests of course that Afghanistan find stability.
But of course, this is not just a mercenary relationship. These are countries, certainly the four that I mentioned, with which we share common values. And we want to build a stronger and enduring partnership with them that goes beyond operational cooperation. And will last longer than operational cooperation. So with some of the countries we are discussing partnership frameworks, actual formal documents. With others we are looking at slightly looser, more informal arrangements. But I think you will see deeper partnerships with the Alliance.
I don't anticipate a massive shift by NATO, frankly, towards Asian security. As I mentioned, NATO is a Euro-Atlantic organization. And I don't think our partners in Asia expect anything different. But I do think you will see the hand of NATO reaching out not just to these four countries, but also to China, also to India, to do more together. Video
Atlantic Community Editorial Team: In Atlantic Memo 33, "NATO Partnerships: Strengthening Ties with Asia", Atlantic Community members noted that "NATO's diplomatic efforts in Central Asia are hindered by a lack of cooperation with the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and another regional initiative, the Collective Security Treaty Organization." It was proposed that "sustained cooperation with Russia and India will be paramount to stabilizing this volatile region... [and] one way for NATO to enhance its relations with these two powers would be to engage with them jointly, in a new trilateral group, and develop shared strategies for this region." Do you agree with such a proposal and are there any plans to engage these countries in this fashion?
James Appathurai: To be very direct, there is no consensus in NATO for engaging with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, but we do have good relations with each of the countries of the CSTO. We have not really seriously discussed, until today anyway, engagement with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but I wouldn't exclude it in the future, for the reasons that Atlantic Community mentioned. We have a shared interest, these groups of nations, in a series of cross-cutting security challenges but very much in security in Central Asia, something I'm committed to personally and professionally but NATO is of course as an organization as well.
So I would not exclude cooperation between NATO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but for the moment, as I say, there is no consensus for a NATO-CSTO relationship. Video
Robert Helbig, student, American University, Germany: Will NATO start to seriously engage India to build up a relationship with the largest democracy in the world and a prospective strategic partner in an area where NATO is already active? If so, what initiatives will NATO take?
James Appathurai: We have a friendly relationship with India. We have regular strategic discussions, but not very frequent. We exchange high-level officials and briefings. Occasionally Indian politicians will drop by. But the bottom line is, it is not more than that. India is not seeking a very quickly developing relationship with NATO and we're not seeking anything more than India desires.
I think it's the point of view of the Secretary General and of NATO that step-by-step, steadier, deeper cooperation with India, a major emerging, some would say emerged, power makes sense. It makes sense for India, it makes sense for us. NATO is obviously a well-developed multilateral security organization which is engaged in the region in a variety of ways, and India is a major, as a say, emerging player in a region of strategic importance to allies. So for all these reasons I think we will see this relationship develop, but it will do so step-by-step, at the pace at which India is comfortable, and I expect to see more, but not too quickly. Video