Journalists holding a permanent accreditation at NATO were unpleasantly surprised today when arriving at the alliance's new headquarters, where they were not given access on showing their permanent accreditation pass as usual, but also had to wait in a sometimes long line for a separate media-visitors badge and for a special badge to open the new turnstiles at the entrance gate. On top of that, identity cards were taken in and only given back after returning the two extra badges when leaving the NATO premises.
None of these changes in access policy were communicated to journalists beforehand. With a Defense ministerial meeting this Thursday and Friday this looked like a recipe for delays and irritation.
API asked the NATO spokespersons service for a clarification. Our intervention was successful because Piers Cazelet, the Head of Press and Media/Deputy Spokesperson of NATO informed us later yesterday after consulting the security services that:
– at the ministerial Thursday and Friday permanently accredited journalists will not need any additional badges like today. Their permanent badge is sufficient. A security officer will 'swipe' them through the gate.
– later this year, after the summer break, NATO will issue new 'smart' accreditation passes which will include electronic access through the barriers at the entrance.
The move to the new HQ has created not only a new infrastructure but also new procedures, which the NATO services are still adjusting to. Cazelet ensured that he and his staff ,"are determined to make sure that the experience for journalists is first class" and he apologized for the arrangements this Wednesday.
API appreciates the quick resolution of this issue.