Africa Monitor Intelligence
A new strategic vision for CPLP in Defense
By Prof. Luís Manuel Brás Bernardino
CPLP, the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community, has established itself globally, by adopting an innovative and pragmatic political and strategic vision for sectoral cooperation between its member countries. A paradigm that is evident not only by sustained institutional growth, but also its growing presence in international fora; the volume of existing content in the internet and cultural and academic dimension reached, but mainly by organizational dynamics associated with multiple programs, sectoral projects and cooperation protocols that have been developed since 1996, particularly in the security and defense aspects. An organization that is leaving its adolescence, growth and entering a more mature phase of its evolutionary process, and so today a safer Organization in its policies, more pragmatic and intervening in its sectoral strategies and betting increasingly on institutional development and the relationship with the modern world. We are however certain that the virtuous paradigm "language-culture-affects" will continue to mean a lot to the Community's own design identity. And we are also certain that CPLP will continue to be a priority objective in affirming the Portuguese language in global geopolitics.
In this context, in an horizon more and more dominated by the need to strengthen the political and diplomatic coordination, it is also necessary to work towards boosting the economy, trade, and to contribute to the sustainable development of countries and strengthen cooperation in the Security and defense area. Ultimately, foster CPLP, so that it may be, increasingly, a global and globalizing community, a community at the service of citizens and society. For development and security in their countries, because without security there is no development...
On the other hand, we are living in "different times", in an environment with enormous challenges and paradigm change. Aspects that cast new challenges for organizations such as the CPLP, but new and challenging opportunities to member countries ... in these "different circumstances", CPLP presents itself as a community organization where values are shared, as are ideologies and friendships, but we must not forget that is based mainly on the interests of its member states. For all these reasons, it is a community that wants to push forward on strategic cooperation, which is looking to implement strategic plans of cooperation, where globalization is the target... that is, where a more active role is planned in the global market, cyberspace and global security. An organization where "security" and "defense" are defined as political and strategic objectives, since only in strategic cooperation can transnational threats hanging over its member States be tackled. A paradigm that requires increasingly, being a producer of security and an instrument of peace, humanitarian aid and development agent. In this context, it seems to be appropriate to reflect on the intrinsic meaning of " CPLP strategic cooperation " and know what is the direct impact on the economy, foreign policy, diplomacy, culture and the real impact for the National Security and Defense of each member state.
So we should reflect on the adoption of a new "Strategic Vision for CPLP." A vision that centers on a strategic cooperation that can be materialized in the area of defense, a "Strategic Plan for Defense Cooperation." A "Vision-Strategy-Plan" which should be politically aligned with CPLP´s interests in the world. It is or should be, therefore, a strategic cooperation that requires us to open our horizons again to the sea, specifically the Atlantic Ocean - that is the " CPLP´s center of gravity" and invest in a true "Geostrategic Defense Cooperation" for CPLP.
This cooperation should integrate potential partner countries and regional organizations, connecting and engaging continents and oceans, which brings CPLP to the society, which potentiates the "Lusophone footprint" in the world. It should increasingly lead the Community to sub-Saharan Africa, to Europe, to South America, to Southeast Asia, strengthening its presence in the South Atlantic, building partnerships and establishing links between countries, continents and organizations ... the geostrategic centrality of the Community so requires it. The real dilemma is how to do it? How to make the bilateral cooperation of the past multilateral cooperation in the present, and how to, in the future, have art and ingenuity, to build a "new" "bimultilateral" Defence cooperation. Ie, a "bimultilateral" cooperation that articulates what is done between Portuguese Speaking Countries (PLOP) and with Brazil, with what should be done with other countries (Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Senegal, Zimbabwe and more to come), and with the Regional Organizations that bind to the Atlantic Ocean. I envision a more dynamic cooperation, better integrated and obviously "strategic". A "strategic Defense cooperation" is what effectively needs to be achieved within CPLP for the future. However, the real question is how can each member state enhance its participation in the CPLP in the Defence area? How to make this cooperation strategic? Ie, enhance CPLP´s geostrategic centrality in defense cooperation?
The sea is a permanent geopolitical element in the geography of all of the Community´s member states. It was through the sea, in the same language, that the identity of the Portuguese-speaking world was forged, paving the way for the building of a collective identity, supranational and shared, as specific as CPLP´s. It is a community of maritime nations (riverine) that encompasses three oceans with 7.6 million km2 of sea area, a huge economic and financial potential, but with a greater responsibility in the dimension of "energy security" and "maritime security". In this context, the Atlantic Ocean deserves special mention because it is, par excellence, a maritime corridor, as I said, the "center of gravity of CPLP", whose importance has intensified in recent years for geopolitical/ geostrategic and energetic reasons known to all. The Atlantic Ocean materializes an axis that connects the southern and northern hemispheres, opening a "window of opportunity" for the Portuguese-speaking space to participate in an enlarged geostrategic cooperation and betting on a reinforced collective security-strategy.
This is a "new security-paradigm" which implies greater investment in cooperation in the Defence area within CPLP, particularly in maritime safety and especially in connection with regional organizations. A security-based paradigm that embodies the true meaning of CPLP´s geostrategic centrality in the world... and that help to leverage "new" and "old" alliances. The adoption of the "CPLP Strategy for the Oceans" (2010) has clearly shown the need to reinforce maritime cooperation actions, opening the door to interoperability and sharing of resources and more efficient and proactive information ... particularly between the CPLP navies and naval and air authorities. The document also appealed to the "combined" and "articulated" character of interventions and opened the door for a "Strategic Cooperation in the defense sector", based on the aspect of maritime security.
Focusing on Military-Technical Cooperation (MTC) and the contribution to CPLP from the area of defense – because we cannot talk about CPLP cooperation in defense without referring to CTM: CPLP cooperation in the field of defense resulted from the recommendations of defense ministers of Portugal and PALOP (Brazil was observer) meeting of July 1998, in Oeiras - Lisbon, that launched, still outside the Community, the component of cooperation activities in defense. Ie, the defense component within CPLP resulted from the excellent "bilateral" cooperation that existed between Portugal and the five PALOP - materialized in the framework programs at the CTM level that were ongoing. In this context, the "Globalization of Military Technical Cooperation" agreement signed by the Defence Ministers on May 25, 1999, in Praia (Cape Verde), made possible that the Community´s Defence component consolidated its structuring bodies in order to "... promote and facilitate cooperation (...) systematizing and clarifying the actions to be undertaken ..." (1999). Cooperation in the field of defense thus resulted in a first "internal globalization of cooperation", a multilateral alignment of the best the countries had been doing bilaterally. A cooperation which sought to improve the organizational structure of what was being done almost since independence with each of the "new" African States. The legal framework would be approved by the Ministers of Defense also in Praia on 15 September 2006. We refer to the "CPLP Cooperation Protocol in the defense domain" which is currently the framework document based on which is governed all the cooperation of CPLP countries in this field.
Of the defense Protocol would, eight years later, result at the 15th Meeting of Defense Ministers, held in Lisbon on May 26 2014, the indications for this component to be established with an oriented guiding and conceptual mechanism, able to make sense of initiatives and multilateral cooperation, and it was then introduced in the ordinary Council of Ministers of the CPLP, held in July 24, 2015 in Dili, the "CPLP Identity in the defense domain." This evolution of the bilateral side, based on CTM for the multilateral at CPLP, representing an internal evolutionary dynamics, has now generated the need for member states to evolve into a "full globalization" and invest in a bimultilateral cooperation based on external evolutionary dynamics. Because CPLP cannot act or as a regional defensive block, or as overall Defense structure able to act in any scenario, limited by the aforementioned "CPLP Cooperation Protocol in the defense sector", nonetheless has a universal vocation for regional protection and local intervention in humanitarian aid. A more interventionist stance that requires another security-perspective, because only then make sense "FELINO" military exercises; the of Marine CPLP initiatives; the CPLP Strategy for the Oceans; the CPLP Defence Protocol and the recent CPLP Identity in the defense domain. And only so will it also make sense to discuss in the near future the new " CPLP Strategic Vision", especially in the aspects concerning "security" and "defense".
Finally, I underline that the CPLP Defence component has, since its inception, contributed in a constructive manner for the operationalization of the "Community´s Security Architecture" and for greater operational capacity of its member states´ armed forces. On the other hand, the global affirmation path makes essential a contribution of its defense component, not only for its highly constructive and cooperative character, but also for the example of cohesion and proficiency that the different organs of this component have shown. A special highlight is merited for the CPLP Strategic Analysis Centre, that has contributed, from Mozambique, towards this reflection within the Community and beyond ....
In short, following the principles adopted by bilateral and multilateral cooperation, "bimultilateral" cooperation will be a new form of strategic cooperation that the Community needs to affirm itself in this global world. Aspects highlighted in the new "CPLP Identity in the defense domain" that, being a document that focuses on "strategic transatlantic cooperation" within the Community and between the Community and other regional organizations, should contribute to the new "Strategic Vision of the CPLP", can as well help to affirm each member State in the Community and the Community in each Member State.
* Luis Manuel Bernardino Brás is Lieutenant Colonel of the Portuguese Army Infantry, PhD in International Relations, researcher and member of the direction of Revista Militar. He has published several books about the PALOP, focusing on the sectors of defense and security.