This spring, NATO Foreign Ministers are also gathering in Washington to celebrate the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary. They will examine issues that the Alliance has been dealing with for some time, as well as new challenges. A key question will be: How can NATO be adapted to ready itself for the future?
“We need answers to new security challenges: climate change, the digital revolution and disinformation campaigns,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said ahead of the meeting.
Russia: focus on setting boundaries and engaging in dialogue
The Foreign Ministers will also be speaking about relations with Russia. How Europe should deal with its largest neighbour remains a significant challenge for NATO. It must strike a balance between engaging in dialogue and setting clear boundaries. The NATO-Russia Council is an important instrument in this regard.
Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea has brought the question of war and peace back to the European continent. Moreover, Russia has developed and stationed new cruise missiles in violation of the INF Treaty ban on medium-range nuclear weapons – thereby calling into question an important pillar of international arms control architecture.
Disarmament is therefore a key issue at the meeting in Washington – right after it was the focus of UN Security Council deliberations in New York on Tuesday.
Comprehensive international stabilisation
The Ministers will also discuss the fight against terrorism. They will be examining, among other things, NATO’s missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the situation in the Alliance’s southern neighbourhood, especially in Syria and Libya.
“NATO may be a defence alliance,” Maas said, “but it is above all also an alliance of values.” He went on to say this means that the fight against terrorism is more than a military mission. The military component must be embedded in a comprehensive plan, the aim of which must be to stabilise.
“Germany wholeheartedly supports NATO”
One of the reasons why NATO is so successful is because it has always adapted to changing conditions. “On both sides of the Atlantic, the last 70 years have shown how valuable strong alliances are,” Foreign Minister Maas said, going on to point out that there is no other format in which the countries of Europe and North America cooperate so closely.
The Foreign Ministers will also discuss burden-sharing. “Germany wholeheartedly supports the NATO alliance,” Maas emphasised. “We will stand by our commitments.” Since 2014, Germany has already increased its defence spending by nearly 40%, and this expenditure will continue to rise in the future. Germany is also shouldering responsibility – as the framework nation and largest troop contributor for enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic region.
At the end of the day, “That’s what NATO stands for. Never alone. The security of each individual member state is the security of all!” Maas said.