Why is the NATO summit being held in Madrid next week?

by Lorraine Williamson
NATO summit

MADRID – Madrid will host the international NATO summit next week. Precisely at the time that it is 40 years ago that Spain made its appearance. Moreover, the capital will be dominated by the meeting of heads of government on June 28, 29, and 30. 

However, the 40th anniversary is not the reason that the meeting is held in Spain. A year ago on June 14, heads of state and government agreed at a meeting that Spain would host the NATO summit in 2022. 

That was made public a few minutes later, according to the website of the government palace La Moncloa, during a joint press conference of President Sánchez and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. 

Is it the first time that the NATO summit will be held in Spain? 

However, it is not the first time that Spain has hosted the NATO summit. 25 years ago this meeting took place for the first time in the country. Sánchez referred to this in his June 15 speech on the occasion of Spain’s election to the 2022 event. Speaking of the meeting in his country in 1997, the Prime Minister said; “We were able to show togetherness but above all a vision for the future of coping with the new strategic scenario that unfolded after the fall of the Berlin Wall”. “I would like to bring that spirit of Madrid to the next Summit so that we can create a new Strategic Concept that will guide us for years to come,” said Sanchez. 

What are the goals of the NATO summit in 2022? 

One of the objectives of the NATO meeting is to update the Strategic Concept, which encompasses the values, objectives, and tasks of the international organization. The document is critical as it provides a collective assessment of the security challenges facing the alliance. It further outlines the political and military tasks NATO will undertake to address them. The document provides direction for the political and economic future. It now takes into account the current crisis with Russia, the strength of China, and emerging and disruptive technologies. Since the end of the Cold War, the Strategic Concept has been regularly reviewed and updated – approximately every ten years. In this way, changes in the global security environment are taken into account and the collective prepares for the future. 

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At the Brussels Summit in 2021, the Heads of State or Government asked Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to lead the process of developing the next Strategic Concept. 

At the same time, NATO is in dialogue with its partners. These include the following;

  • international organisations and expert communities
  • youth organisations
  • civil society
  • the private sector.

Once the negotiations and agreements have been made, there is only one last step left. And that is to approve agreements at the summit. In this way, the Madrid one will be the fourth since the end of the Cold War, a period in which strategic concepts remained classified and renewed every decade. 

“Historic and Transformative” 

In an interview with Efe, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he expects the upcoming summit in Madrid to be “historic and transformative” as the alliance continues to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invading forces. 

In the interview, Stoltenberg outlined how NATO is preparing to welcome Finland and Sweden. And furthermore, increase security on its southern flank and alleviate the global food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. Click here to read the interview in English. 

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