NATO focuses on Afghanistan
The NATO countries and their partners want to continue supporting Afghanistan after the withdrawal of international combat troops by the end of 2014, an intention they reaffirmed at the NATO summit in Chicago. The summit meeting on 20 and 21 May also focused on the Alliance’s military capabilities and its relations with partner countries. Joint missile defence and disarmament were additional key topics at the consultations. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière represented Germany at the summit.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle at the NATO summit in Chicago
At the summit the 28 NATO member states took stock of their engagement in Afghanistan and introduced further steps towards a stable and secure Afghanistan. At the last NATO summit in Lisbon in 2010, the Alliance had agreed to withdraw international combat troops by the end of 2014. By that point the international mission ISAF is to end and the Afghan Government is to take on the responsibility for ensuring the country’s security. After the withdrawal, however, NATO intends to keep supporting Afghan security forces through a new mission offering training, advisory services and financial assistance. This new mission is to shore up for the long term all that has been achieved to date.
The summit declaration on Afghanistan names a target of 228,500 Afghan security forces and an annual budget of 4.1 billion US dollars. The Afghan Government is to initially receive 500 million US dollars of this sum, a share which will increase incrementally over time. The German Government has announced that it will contribute about 150 million euros per year to the costs of maintaining Afghan security forces after 2014.
In Chicago the NATO partners also met with representatives of the other nations contributing troops to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. These countries numbered 57, and included Russia, as well as Central Asian countries which play an import role as transit countries. Representatives of the European Union and the World Bank also attended the meeting.
Disarmament efforts prove fruitful
With the French President (left) and the Chancellor in Chicago
There were also other important security issues on the agenda in Chicago. With the issuance on 20 May of the first NATO Deterrence and Defence Posture Review, the security alliance is also focusing on disarmament. The Review stipulated a proper mixture of conventional and nuclear capabilities for the Alliance, including missile defence. Foreign Minister Westerwelle called it a major step towards disarmament. In the run-up to the summit, Germany had worked to move the Alliance forward on the issue of disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament. “Beginning now, disarmament is a key pillar of NATO’s security strategy,” Westerwelle underscored. He was pleased that new progress had also become possible in the area of tactical nuclear weapons. “This is good news for everyone who shares our belief that the world has far too many nuclear weapons and that we need to work to reduce the number,” the Minister stressed in Chicago.
Joint missile defence
At the summit the NATO partners also declared an Interim Capability for missile defence in Europe. The missile shield will be built up incrementally until 2020, at which point it should be able to protect NATO’s European territory from missile attacks. An invitation for Russia to take part in the project remains open, but Russia continues to express reservations about it. Minister Westerwelle reaffirmed in Chicago: “This is not a project against Russia, but rather a project which we want to advance together with Russia in the interest of European security as a whole.” Westerwelle added that security in Europe would be achieved not against Russia, but rather only together with Russia. “The door remains open for Russia,” he stressed.
Partnerships and military capabilities
Federal Chancellor Merkel with NATO General Secretary Rasmussen and US President Obama
The summit agenda also included a meeting with 13 key NATO partners from Europe, the Gulf region and Asia. Participants in the meeting discussed how cooperation with third countries – which has proven particularly successful in Afghanistan – can be further expanded.
Along with Afghanistan, the Alliance’s military capabilities were an important summit issue. NATO had agreed to substantially review its capabilities and capacities in Lisbon in November 2010. The discussion also touched on closer cooperation to improve Alliance Ground Surveillance, as well as numerous other joint projects. In an era of tightened public budgets in individual member states, the Alliance seeks to jointly fund future major military projects, and thereby to pool the strengths of the NATO partners.
- Chicago Summit Declaration, 20. 5. 2012
- Summit Declaration on Defence Capabilities: Toward NATO Forces 2020, 20. 5. 2012
- Deterrence and Defence Posture Review, Chicago, 20. 5. 2012
- Information on the NATO website
- More on the NATO Summit on the Official Host Committee Website
Last updated 21.05.2012