Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2008

The NATO Mediterranean Dialogue at a crossroads

Pierre Razoux

April 2008

NATO Defense College


Only brief reference was made to the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) in the statement issued by the Alliance Heads of State and Government who participated in the Bucharest Summit recently, and yet the partnership will be celebrating its fifteenth anniversary next year. For some, this apparently low-key mention is a tribute to the wide acceptance of the Dialogue and its progress over recent years. They point out that, after two summits devoted to substantial development of Mediterranean issues, it was only to be expected that on this occasion the Allies would concentrate on problems considered more urgent. Others, however, are astonished to see this symbolic partnership, embodying the hopes of southern Mediterranean countries, relegated to the background at a time when steadily worsening destabilizing factors threaten the countries of this region, whose strategic interest to the Atlantic Alliance is compellingly borne out day by day. For many observers, the partnership is losing momentum and is struggling to address the other political initiatives that are proliferating in the Mediterranean area.

Without tracing the history of the Mediterranean Dialogue’s gradual evolution, we need to make a dispassionate assessment of the situation, identify the factors that are holding back its expansion, and suggest ways to approach the issue that will help clear up some of the ambiguities and pave the way to stronger, more effective cooperation between the two sides of the Mediterranean.