NATO expresses its solidarity with Turkey
Solidarity with Alliance member Turkey was underscored at the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels on 4‑5 December. No other NATO ally is as directly affected by the dramatic escalation of events in Syria. Turkish nationals have already been killed by shelling across the border from Syria.
NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting
The NATO Foreign Ministers gave their go ahead for the deployment of Patriot defence systems in Turkey. The objective of the deployment is “to defend the population and territory of Turkey and contribute to the de‑escalation of the crisis along the Alliance’s border,” as it was put in the Foreign Ministers’ statement of 4 December. Turkey had submitted a request for assistance to NATO on 21 November. The Foreign Ministers welcomed the intention of Germany, the Netherlands and the United States to provide the Patriot missile batteries. It was clearly specified that the deployment would be purely defensive in nature and would “in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation.”
Preventing the violence spreading
In Brussels, Foreign Minister Westerwelle stated that NATO was standing firmly by its Alliance partner, Turkey, in part also to send a signal to the Syrian regime that NATO would not accept “any attacks or acts of violence against Turkey.” He attached considerable weight to the idea “that the deployment of Patriot missiles would also have a deterrent effect and would help prevent trouble spreading across the whole region.”
Parliamentary approval from the German Bundestag is required before Germany can provide any military assistance. Westerwelle was confident that the Bundestag would “promptly approve” a mandate for the deployment of Patriot systems and a limited number of German soldiers. He was expecting “broad backing” in parliament. The German Cabinet is due to adopt a draft mandate to enable the German armed forces to participate in the deployment of Patriot systems this week, and will accordingly table a motion in the German Bundestag seeking its approval.
Syria warned not to use chemical weapons
The German Foreign Minister also warned the Syrian regime not to use chemical weapons. Resorting to the use of such weapons would be “totally unacceptable and would cross any red line generally recognized by the international community.” Those responsible would be held accountable for any such step.
Cooperation with Russia and Georgia
Family photo of the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels
Cooperation with NATO’s partners Russia and Georgia was also on the foreign ministers’ agenda in Brussels. With reference to the discussions with the new Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, Foreign Minister Westerwelle noted that it was now vital for Georgia to stay on the path to democracy.
The NATO foreign ministers had already met with their Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in the NATO-Russia Council at the start of the two days in Brussels. Foreign Minister Westerwelle reaffirmed that it was “very much in our interest for NATO and Russia to further improve their relations”. He noted that differences of opinion did exist with regard to Russia, but thought it would be a mistake to reduce our strategic cooperation with the country. “It is precisely at a time like this that we have to do more to move towards one another,” he said.
Advancing the cause of disarmament
Westerwelle believes that advancing the disarmament agenda is a key issue in everybody’s interest. Now that the elections in Russia and the USA are over, Westerwelle felt that new momentum could be injected into disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation. He said that Germany would once again step up its efforts on nuclear disarmament, including on the issue of tactical nuclear weapons. The matter required “strategic patience”, but it would be in line with NATO’s decisions to “generate new momentum and new impetus on this topic”.
The way forward for Afghanistan
NATO Secretary General Rasmussen
The two-day NATO ministerial meeting ended with a gathering of all 50 states which contribute troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Together with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and representatives of the EU, the United Nations and partners such as Japan, the ISAF troop contributing nations discussed how the international community could continue to support Afghanistan once security responsibility has been completely handed over to the Afghan Government.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle reiterated in Brussels that “it is important for the way forward in Afghanistan after 2014 to be clearly mapped out. (...) Our engagement will be given a new face, a civilian face.” He stressed that Afghanistan must never again become a haven for terrorists. Germany would support the political reconciliation and reintegration process, however long it might be. The Afghan security forces would continue to be supported through advisory services, financial assistance and training after 2014.
Last updated 05.12.2012