Director of Artículo 30 *
Defence diplomacy is the set of initiatives based on dialogue and cooperation with allies and partners to promote the fulfilment of Defence policy objectives in support of the State’s external action. Bearing in mind that its focus is on bilateral relations, activities with international organisations are taken into consideration within the Defence Diplomacy Plan. An example of this is the activity carried out by the Atlantic Alliance, whose ‘Youth Mediterranean Dialogue’ (YMD) initiative held its sixth edition in Madrid.
This event is relevant for three reasons. Firstly, because of its protagonists, since they are university students and young professionals interested in strategic security issues, all of them from North Africa, the Middle East and NATO member states, both European and American. Secondly, because it is being held in Spain, which means highlighting the role that the Alliance, as the southern frontier of the Alliance, must play in tackling the challenges posed by the Mediterranean region. Finally, because it is a question of encouraging encounter and dialogue in order to debate and make proposals for the most relevant political-military organisation in the world.
The issues dealt with in the working groups have focused on deepening the current Strategic Concept, the evolution of threats affecting international security -such as the Jihadist threat, terrorist organisations, cybersecurity or the new risks caused by climate change-, recent operations in the Baltic, and the future of the Middle East and North Africa.
The fact that there is a group of young people determined to participate in the field of defence is good news. Aspects such as geopolitical analysis, conflict resolution, technological capabilities and advances, public opinion, diplomacy and cooperation need new approaches. NATO has on its southern flank one of the most unstable regions in the world, called the Sahel, because many risk enhancers converge there. And Spain is the only member of the Alliance that has territory and a border there. It is necessary to promote a defence culture among the new generations called upon to lead the politico-military sphere.
Given its strategic relevance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has maintained the Mediterranean Dialogue Initiative for more than twenty years in order to foster relations and better mutual understanding and trust in the region, promoting security and stability, and to be able to explain its policies and objectives.
In this case, the Mediterranean Youth Dialogue, organised by the Asociación de Jóvenes del Tratado del Atlántico de España (COAJE), is a setting where meetings, studies, reflection and a culture of security are encouraged. And thanks to institutional support, ties between the Armed Forces and civil society are strengthened, aspects that are all relevant to allies, partners and neighbours in the Mediterranean region.
* Artículo 30 is a think-tank specialized in defence policy