Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (2 April) after a videoconference meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers:
NATO can save lives – in conflicts and when disaster strikes. We have therefore decided to pool our capabilities in the fight against the coronavirus, wherever NATO can add value. We can thus help mitigate this pandemic – the likes of which our generation has never experienced before – and support civilian efforts where help is needed and we are asked to contribute.
In a health crisis, NATO is not an emergency medical technician – but the organisation does have well-coordinated mechanisms that can help us all. These include rapid crisis response procedures and the know-how for procuring urgently needed material, as is currently the case in the medical sector. The Alliance also puts airlift capabilities at our disposal. Together with Italy and France, we are already using these to save lives. Moreover, by coordinating our activities at NATO, we can keep inefficiencies to a minimum, which we need to do particularly when resources become more limited.
We also used today’s meeting to discuss the issues that will soon return to the top of our agenda. In Afghanistan, a political process must be set in motion, and all actors must contribute to this end. We will judge the Taliban by whether there is a sustained reduction in the number of attacks and whether the Taliban commit to a substantial political process with the Government of Afghanistan. Only then can we seriously begin talks on a further reduction of troops. In this way, NATO can help establish trust in a political process among the people of Afghanistan.
In Iraq, we must not slacken our efforts – because the fight against ISIS has not yet been won. We must not leave a void that others who are willing to play with fire wish to fill. The Iraqi Government highly values NATO as a partner. We have therefore created the possibility for us to participate in the training mission, as soon as NATO can recommence its work.