NATO extends its protection to Ceuta and Melilla for the first time

by Lorraine Williamson
Ceuta and Melilla under NATO umbrella

MADRID – Ceuta and Melilla will be protected under NATO‘s military umbrella. The Alliance’s new strategic concept includes the defence of the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of member states. 

The strategic concept outlining the allies’ course for the next decade will be approved at the Summit starting tomorrow in Madrid. That’s what Defence Ministry sources told TVE. 

In its founding treaty, NATO commits in Article 5 to respond as one bloc to an attack on any of its members in Europe or North America. Now, with the design of the new text, the two Spanish enclaves would also enjoy this protection. 

The strategic concept would not change the existing treaty. It can, however, stimulate Spain’s ambition to discuss the protection of Europe’s southern border at this summit. The Sánchez government has insisted on this several times before. 

The emphasis on the concept of sovereignty and integrity would also send a message to Russia. Especially since it plans to take territory from Ukraine. 

These developments come after the tragic attack on the Melilla fence last weekend. 2,000 people tried to enter Spanish territory. 23 migrants were killed in the attempt and many others were injured. The NGOs estimate the number between 27 and 37 dead and hold the Moroccan police responsible for this situation. 

Ceuta and Melilla were already protected by NATO 

The President of the Autonomous City of Melilla, Eduardo de Castro, is convinced this area is already protected by NATO. He admits Article 5 is a “little ambiguous” that initially it appeared Ceuta and Melilla were not in it. “But this is a theoretical debate,” said De Castro. 

nederlandse orthopeed

Since the adoption of the Lisbon concept in 2010, Article 4 contains a clause “covering the entire territory of the countries”, he emphasised. It specifically states that “the parties shall consult each other when, in the opinion of either party, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of one of the parties is threatened.” 

The 2010 strategic concept also affirms that “no one should doubt NATO’s response if the security of any of its members is threatened”. 

“Hybrid Threats” on Europe’s Southern Border 

The new concept is still under discussion and according to Spanish government sources last week, at least eight drafts have already been drafted. Spain’s main demand is for the Alliance’s southern flank to be protected to deal with so-called “hybrid threats”. This includes illegal immigration, as well as the danger of the spread of terrorism by the branches of Al-Qaeda and Daesh in the Maghreb and Sahel countries. 

NATO understands the importance of protecting the southern border 

Government sources who attended the negotiations assure NATO members have understood the importance of protecting this southern flank. A specific session will be devoted to those areas at the summit. Allied countries such as Jordan and Mauritania will also be present. The fact that the summit will be held in Madrid gives this aspect a leading role that it would not have had if the summit had been held elsewhere, the same sources said. 

Ceuta and Melilla are part of Spain 

NATO’s deputy general secretary, Carmen Romero, assured on Monday that the Atlantic Alliance protects all its members. And furthermore, Ceuta and Melilla are part of Spain. 

The NATO summit will be held in Madrid from June 28 to 30. 

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