Latvia has been a member of NATO since 2004, and it is one of the three Baltic allies in the Alliance. This is, however, the first time that NATO Foreign Ministers are holding a meeting in Latvia. Our Baltic Allies have common borders with Russia and Belarus, and they are currently facing a challenging security situation. By choosing Riga as the venue for the meeting, NATO is also sending a signal, namely that the security of our Baltic Allies is essential to the Alliance.
A new Strategic Concept for NATO
In June of this year, at their summit in Brussels, the NATO Heads of State and Government tasked the Alliance with drawing up a new Strategic Concept. The Concept is one of the key strategic documents of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It needs to be brought up to date, because the security environment has changed significantly since the current Strategic Concept was adopted in 2010. The new Strategic Concept is scheduled to be adopted in the summer of 2022 at the NATO summit in Madrid. In Riga, Foreign Ministers will have their first opportunity to exchange views on the content of the new document. One of Germany’s priorities is to ensure that consultations within the Alliance are made a key part of the drafting process, so as to strengthen NATO’s political dimension. Moreover, strong emphasis should also be placed on resilience – meaning the ability to swiftly react to security challenges that suddenly emerge.
Drawing lessons from the NATO mission in Afghanistan
NATO is now the first international organisation to complete an internal review of its role in Afghanistan. This is an important milestone for making a full assessment of the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan, and it shows that NATO wants to be a learning organisation. The lessons identified will be intensively discussed by the Foreign Ministers, who will also draw the necessary conclusions to improve NATO’s crisis management capabilities. Germany actively supported this initiative.
Russia: NATO’s aim is de-escalation and dialogue
The Alliance’s relations with the Russian Federation are currently extremely tense for NATO and various NATO allies. Of particular concern at present are Russia's military activities on its border with Ukraine. Both NATO and the EU have repeatedly made it clear that Russia would have to pay a high price for any form of aggression and have urged Russia to de-escalate. However, this can only succeed if Russia engages in dialogue again. Foreign Minister Maas, along with various other NATO foreign minister colleagues, has repeatedly made it clear that we remain ready to do so.