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Significance of India’s talks with NATO

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    19th Aug, 2022

Context

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India held its first political dialogue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels in December 2019 and has been in touch with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for "quite some time now".

Background

  • New Delhi held its first political dialogue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Brussels on December 12th, 2019.
  • The Indian delegation attempted to assess cooperation on regional and global issues of mutual interest.
  • The idea was to ensure the dialogue was primarily political in character and to avoid making any commitment to military or other bilateral cooperation.

What is NATO?

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949, sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in central and eastern Europe after World War II.
  • It was the US’s first peacetime military alliance outside the western hemisphere.
  • NATO’s essential and enduring purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means.
  • It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. There are currently 30 member states.
  • North Macedonia is the last country to join NATO in 2020. Recently, Finland and Sweden have shown interest to join NATO.

Objectives of NATO:

  • Political objectives: NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
  • Military Objectives: NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations.
    • These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO's founding treaty - Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.

NATO’s “Collective Defence”:

  • Collective Defence means that an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all Allies. The principle of collective defence is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
  • NATO has only once invoked Article 5, on September 12th, 2001, following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in the US.
  • NATO has standing forces on active duty that contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence efforts permanently.
  • NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, including in response to the situation in Syria and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Article 5: It is a key provision of the treatythat states that if one member of the alliance is attacked in Europe or North America, it is to be considered an attack on all members. That effectively put Western Europe under the "nuclear umbrella" of the US.

Significance of India’s talks with NATO:

  • NATO’s engagement with Pakistan and China: If looked at from the perspective of China and Pakistan's engagement with NATO in bilateral dialogue, the India talk with NATO holds importance.
    • There are views which suggest that, in such a scenario, reaching out to NATO would add a key dimension to India’s growing engagement with the US and Europe.
  • Balancing NATO’s perception: Engaging NATO in a political dialogue would provide New Delhi with an opportunity to bring about a balance in NATO’s perceptions about the situation in regions and issues of concern to India.
  • Maritime Security: During talks maritime security appeared as a principal area of conversation in the future, given a substantial common ground with NATO.
  • Convergence in the perspectives: Both India and NATO share a common perspective on China, terrorism, and Afghanistan, including Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan.

Perspective on Extending NATO’s Membership to India:

Positives:

  • Newer perspective of Non-Alignment: India’s refusal to join any military bloc at the time of freedom was based on non-alignment, but after the end of the cold-war during 1989-91 the situation changed. NATO has also built partnerships with many neutral and non-aligned.
  • Creation of Deterrence: Although India is capable enough to secure its borders, an alliance with NATO would create deterrence for China and Pakistan to attack India under the provisions of collective defence, laid in article 5 as discussed above.
  • Military-Strategic Benefits: India would derive military-strategic benefits from a partnership with the world’s most powerful alliance.

Negatives:

  • Conflict within NATO: NATO members have often found divided on how to share the military burden. Further, NATO members have also been found to disagree on policies related to Russia, the Middle East, and China.
  • Endangering Relations with Russia: By becoming a NATO member, India’s long-standing and strong ties with Russia may get deteriorated.
  • Threat to Sovereignty: An alliance with NATO might ask for the establishment of NATO bases on India’s territory and it may even be considered an infringement of our sovereignty.

Other Concerns:

  • India does not share a common ground with the grouping of Russia and the Taliban. Also, NATO’s views on China are mixed.
  • India’s Quad (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States) membership, is aimed at countering Beijing. An alliance’s engagement with China and Pakistan separately through any sort of alliance with NATO is contrary to the premise on which Quad came into existence. It would leave India with lopsided perspectives on regional and global security matters.
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