Dr. Jamie Shea to the Atlantic Initiative

{gallery}newsletters/7/2/{/gallery} Dr. Jamie Shea, Director of Policy Planning at NATO, recently discussed with us the new NATO strategic concept and the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr. Shea was interviewed by dr. Edina Bećirević, President of the Atlantic Initiative.

NATO’s new strategic concept has received lots of public attention. Even though it is being discussed in the democratic forum and very publicly, the question that many are curious about is: How much is NATO really going to change?

As far as phases of progress are concerned, we are virtually at the end of phase one. On the 17th of May, Madeleine Albright and her Group of Experts were here and presented their final report, with analysis and recommendations, to the Secretary General and Ambassadors to the North Atlantic Council. The Albright report, or the report of the Experts, is not the strategic concept. It is a kind of preliminary document which offers advice, gives analysis and recommendations, and which will therefore stimulate the process. But the actual strategic concept has to be written by the Secretary General and then approved by the ambassadors at the NATO summit in Lisbon next October.

As the Head of Secretary General Rasmussen’s Policy Planning Unit you played a very important role with the Group of Experts in the creation of their report. What was it like to work closely with Madeleine Albright?

Since last August we have been holding meetings, seminars, and consultations. Not just with NATO governments, but with the strategic community. We have tried to hear a broad range of views so that this is truly a comprehensive and transparent exercise that engages the public. After a year of hard work, I am very much hoping that NATO member countries like the Report of the Group of Experts. I don’t expect them to agree with everything that is in the Report, but I do hope they will agree that the report is an honest, frank evaluation of the so called ‘state of health’ of the NATO alliance. We tried to identify what works, what doesn’t work so well, what needs to be preserved, what needs to be changed. Our concern was not just what NATO is doing today, but more importantly what NATO should be doing in light of the spectrum of 21st-century security threats. I hope the Report will be taken as a serious basis for the New Strategic Concept.

What would happen if there is a conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina? What would NATO do?

I don’t believe there will be a new war. The Bosnian people had this terrible experience of war, between 100,000 to 200,000 people killed, so many refugees… If there is one population in Europe that should be totally disinclined to start any kind of fighting, knowing the reality of the war, it would be the Bosnian people.

Given the time and money the Alliance has invested into Bosnia…No, we are not going to abandon Bosnia now. And I think that the international community simply is not going to permit any kind of fighting to start. My hope would be that leaders in Bosnia would not want to go down this route because it leads nowhere, absolutely nowhere. Now, on the contrary, what I find depressing is that people are talking about this kind of agenda, when instead they should be talking about the Membership Action Plan, about the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, about visa liberalization… When the rest of the region is moving ahead, when other countries in the region are moving forward, the people of Bosnia should not be talking about secession and a new war. These issues in Bosnia are going against the trends in the rest of the region. It would be better to say, “We want to put the past behind us and move toward Europe.” I think the one thing citizens of Bosnia do not want is for their leaders to block these kinds of aspirations toward Europe. So my sense is: look to the future and take hold of it. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the international community was “asleep at the wheel” in 1992. Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina need to know that when it comes to any kind of instability in Bosnia, the international community will not be asleep at the wheel twice…

 (Read the whole interview in the August issue of Democracy and Security of Southeastern Europe Magazine No 2/3)


Photo by NATO