Intensifying NATO’s partnerships
© Thomas Trutschel, Photothek.net/AA
The Alliance’s Partnership Policy dominated the agenda on the second day of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting on 14 and 15 April. The NATO-Russia Council, the NATO-Georgia Commission and the NATO-Ukraine Commission all held sessions. Foreign Ministers had previously discussed the Alliance’s operations in Libya and Afghanistan.
Meeting on 15 April as the North Atlantic Council, the 28 Foreign Ministers adopted NATO’s new Partnership Policy, which is designed to make the Alliance’s engagement with other countries or international organizations more effective, pragmatic and flexible. They endorsed a strategy paper spelling out the goals and priority areas of the new Partnership Policy.
It envisages, for example, consultations on crisis prevention and management, cooperation on NATO-led operations, defence reform and training, as well as efforts to combat terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and tackle new security challenges such as cyber attacks, energy security and piracy.
In the light of increasingly complex security threats, the New Strategic Concept adopted in Lisbon makes “cooperative security” one of NATO’s core tasks. At present, NATO has partnerships with more than 40 states and international organizations: The new Partnership Policy aims to make more flexible use of opportunities for practical cooperation and political dialogue outside the scope of existing partnership formats, while ensuring that these are also preserved intact.
The Foreign Ministers also endorsed a work plan for the planned review of NATO’s deterrent and defence posture adopted at the Lisbon Summit. The aim of this process is to determine what concrete assets and capabilities the Alliance needs to ensure its future security. The Committee on Disarmament also set up at the Lisbon Summit will play an important role in this review of the Alliance’s deterrent and defence posture.
Cooperation with Russia, Georgia and Ukraine
Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Guido Westerwelle welcome Sergey Lavrov
© Thomas Trutschel, Photothek.net/AA
Expanding cooperation with Russia is an important priority for NATO. The main focus of the NATO-Russia Council meeting on 15 April was progress on practical cooperation designed to reinforce the intensification of NATO-Russian relations begun at the Lisbon Summit and covering areas such as missile defence, conventional arms control in Europe and joint efforts to combat terrorism.
According to Foreign Minister Westerwelle, the NATO-Russia Council is an “important forum for global security”. It was crucial to make headway on the key missile defence cooperation project. The aim, Westerwelle continued, was to develop a common future vision for something that in the past had been a bone of contention.
In a practical way, too, Russia-NATO cooperation was intensified in Berlin. Under German leadership concrete plans have been developed for a joint helicopter maintenance fund to support Afghanistan’s helicopter fleet. As Westerwelle pointed out, NATO and Russia will be contributing jointly to the handover of responsibility in Afghanistan.
The NATO-Georgia Commission and the NATO-Ukraine Commission also held sessions in Berlin. NATO Foreign Ministers thanked Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryschenko and Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze for the contributions their countries were making to NATO-led operations and discussed ways in which cooperation could be stepped up.
Political process for Libya
At their meeting in Berlin NATO Foreign Ministers had previously deliberated with operational partners on the ongoing military operations in Libya to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973. They discussed also what could be done to help bring about a political solution in the North African country.
They adopted a statement condemning the continuing violence perpetrated by Gaddafi’s regime against its own people and pledging to keep up the pressure on the regime for as long as necessary. “The development of a transparent political solution” was the only way to bring the crisis to an end.
At the meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers with the ISAF Partners
© Thomas Köhler, Photothek.net/AA
The main focus of the session on Afghanistan was the handover to the Afghan authorities of responsibility for security in the country and an Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan. In addition to the NATO countries and the Afghan Foreign Minister, participants included representatives of the 21 troop providers that are not NATO members as well as the United Nations and the European Union.
For the first time since 1996 the NATO Foreign Ministers met in Germany. Foreign Minister Westerwelle and NATO Secretary General Rasmussen hosted the meeting. In addition to the 28 members of the Alliance, those countries providing troops to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan as well as the NATO-led operations in Libya, the NATO-Russia Council and the Alliance’s Commissions with Ukraine and Georgia also met. In total, around 60 delegations with 800 delegates participated in the conference programme.
Last updated 15.04.2011
Thomas Trutschel, Photothek.net/AA, Guido Westerwelle und Sergej Lawrow