Prague, Czech Republic -NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly on Monday elected Cheryl Gallant, MP as one of the Assembly’s five vice-presidents. MP Gallant, who is Chair of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association was in Prague as Head of Delegation to the 58th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

“I am pleased to thank my nominators: Mike Turner, Head of the U.S. Delegation, Karl Lamers President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and Senator Pierre Claude Nolin of Canada who serves as Treasurer of the Assembly.”

In addition to the election of MP Cheryl Gallant, she will be joined by Nicole Ameline of France, Giorgio La Malfa of Italy, Julio Miranda Calha of Portugal and outgoing President Karl Lamers of Germany who stepped down at the end of his second one-year term.

“All NATO governments are facing economic pressures and are reducing defence spending. Member countries must not let a financial crisis in Europe lead to a security crisis.” Cheryl Gallant MP noted from a resolution adopted by the Assembly as it wrapped up its four-day annual session in Prague.

NATO’s Secretary General Ander Fogh Rasmussen made concern over budget cuts the central theme of his speech to the Assembly. He appealed to the Assembly’s 257 lawmakers from Allied nations to convince governments and the public of the need to invest in effective defences. He used his speech to the Assembly to confirm NATO “will do what it takes to protect and defend Turkey” from spillovers of the violence in Syria. He told legislators that the Alliance has “all plans in place” needed to provide that protection.

The Assembly adopted a resolution expressing solidarity with Turkey and urging Allied governments to assist the Syrian opposition to overcome divisions, curb the influence of extremists and put an end to human rights violations.

“International inaction is only helping increase the duress of the Syrian people and jeopardizes regional security in the long term,” said Canadian Senator Raynell Andreychuk, who presented the resolution. “The cost of international inaction is rising by the day, not only for Syria and for the region, but for our security as well.”

The Assembly also passed resolutions urging more sanctions on Iran if it continues to avoid substantial talks on its nuclear programme; pledging support for democratic institutions in the Middle East and North Africa; and reconfirming NATO’s continued commitment to Afghanistan after the end of its ISAF military mission in 2014. Stressing NATO’s open door policy for potential new members, the Assembly invited the leaders of Georgia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* to address the plenary session on Monday. All four nations are hoping to join the Alliance.

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