The NATO Foreign Ministers shared ideas about what assistance NATO can provide in the time of Covid-19 and discussed the NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the NATO process of reflection.
Fighting the coronavirus was the dominant issue of the meeting. The Foreign Ministers agreed that the Allies need to mutually support one another and other partners in this crisis.
Solidarity of the Alliance members in the global crisis
Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement on this topic:
NATO is there to support its Alliance partners also in this health crisis. Solidarity, both across the Atlantic and within Europe, is particularly crucial in these current days.
NATO’s wealth of experience in handling security conflicts is also proving its worth in the current crisis situation: for example, NATO has tried and tested mechanisms to respond to disasters, can support the efficient procurement of medical materials and make use of its air transport capacities. To date, numerous NATO members have sent medical personnel, equipment and protective clothing to the most affected member states, Spain and Italy. Germany has taken in more than 100 patients from France and Italy.
Process of reflection on strengthening the political dimension of NATO
The Alliance partners agree that NATO needs to be equipped to tackle current political challenges. At the last meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers in November 2019, Foreign Minister Maas therefore proposed that political cooperation in the Alliance, as the most important transatlantic platform, be strengthened through a process of reflection. The expert committee set up to this end will now commence its work and draft proposals, which will be submitted to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. At the instigation of Foreign Minister Maas, former Federal Minister Thomas de Maizière will chair the committee together with US representative Wess Mitchell. Foreign Minister Maas stated:
NATO is Europe’s life insurance. To ensure that this remains the case, I proposed a process of reflection which is to be launched today.
Missions in Iraq and Afghanistan
The Foreign Ministers also focused on the NATO missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, Germany is working to set in motion a political process involving all stakeholders. Foreign Minister Maas emphasised that only then would it be possible to seriously consider the further reduction of troops, adding that this should be directly linked to political progress and coordinated with the NATO Allies. In Iraq, NATO will continue to train Iraqi armed and security forces as soon as conditions permit. In this way Iraq is to receive help to become even more effective in tackling IS and driving forward the stabilisation of the country.