Autumn meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels

Flags of the member states at the entrance of the NATO headquarters in Brussels 

Flags of the member states at the entrance of the NATO headquarters in Brussels, © Janine Schmitz/photothek.de

28.11.2023 - Article

The Foreign Ministers have a wide-ranging agenda for their two‑day meeting: they will be discussing issues ranging from preparations for the anniversary summit to the situation in the Western Balkans. In addition, the NATO‑Ukraine Council is meeting at foreign minister level for the first time.

In 2024, NATO is celebrating its 75th anniversary as a collective alliance for peace and security. Plans are already being made for the summit in Washington in July. Speaking in Brussels today about the role of NATO, Foreign Minister Baerbock said:

In the past two years, we have been dramatically reminded that security and peace need to be defended day in, day out, in Europe, too. That’s why it is so vital, now in particular, that as the NATO security alliance we work together to strengthen our shield to ensure peace, freedom and security throughout Europe.

Burden-sharing important for the security of all allies

At the summit in Vilnius in July, the allies agreed to invest at least 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) annually in defence.
Before the first working session, Foreign Minister Baerbock, addressing this subject, emphasised:

That also means that Germany will meet its 2% obligation next year, just as many other countries will set the wheels in motion to that end by July next year. However, security means much more than a goal centred around a percentage of GDP. That’s why the matter of future threats will also play a key role today – because we are currently seeing, not only with Russia’s war of aggression but also with the other crises in this world, that security is at risk not only in the analogue space, but also in cyberspace.

EU and NATO jointly committed to security in the Western Balkans

The second working session was attended by Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The topic was the situation in the Western Balkans. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said:

There are actors who are out again and again to destabilise the situation, particularly in the Western Balkans. This is true not only of the situation on the Kosovo‑Serbia border, but also the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Not only NATO, but especially the EU is one of the guarantors of security in the Western Balkans. The EU is our life insurance policy. NATO ensures our security in this European area. That’s why dialogue and cooperation are so crucial. NATO’s and the EU’s engagement go hand in hand: in EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina and NATO KFOR in Kosovo, for example. Next year, Germany will provide up to an additional 150 soldiers for KFOR.

NATO‑Ukraine partnership the focus of the Summit

In Vilnius, the Alliance launched a multi‑year assistance programme for Ukraine. The aim is to make it easier to cooperate with NATO forces. Interoperability is the term the experts use. Furthermore, the Alliance took political relations with Ukraine to a new level and established the NATO‑Ukraine Council (NUC). At this Council, members from NATO and Ukraine sit around the table as equal partners and together define the working programme and the agenda. The NUC will be meeting at foreign minister level for the first time at the meeting of Foreign Ministers in Brussels. In addition, the Foreign Ministers will adopt the NUC’s committee structure for the year ahead.

Sweden’s accession: Hungary and Turkey yet to ratify

Sweden, too, is on its way to becoming a member. At this NATO meeting – as at past meetings – Sweden will be present as a guest. On 5 July 2022, the NATO states signed the Protocols of Accession for Sweden and Finland. Turkey and Hungary have not yet completed the ratification process.
Foreign Minister Baerbock emphasised:

And it was stated quite clearly in Vilnius that Sweden will become a member of our collective Alliance. It is long overdue, so this step must be taken.


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