Both at today’s meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers in Riga and at the upcoming OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm, the situation in and around Ukraine will be the main focus of our dialogue and discussions given the most recent developments. Russia’s military activities at the border with Ukraine is cause for the utmost concern; the increasing number of ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine and actions to hamper the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine do nothing to defuse the situation — on the contrary. Against this backdrop we will look carefully again today at the situation and together send the unambiguous message to the Russian Government: NATO’s support to Ukraine is unabated, its independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty are not up for negotiation. Russia would have to pay a high price for any form of aggression. This makes it all the more important to engage now in honest and durable de-escalation steps which can only materialise through talks. I will never tire of emphasising that the door for such talks remains open for Russia.
With regard to the new NATO Strategic Concept which is currently being drawn up and is to be adopted at the NATO Summit in the summer of next year, we will use our meeting to take stock of progress at the halfway stage. The discussions here in Riga give us the opportunity to send a clear political signal what the aim of this process is and what the key priorities are. For me, this is extremely important because we can thus strengthen NATO’s ability to act.
And finally, we will focus intensively on Afghanistan. NATO was the first international organisation to analyse its role in Afghanistan thoroughly in an internal process. This is an important milestone for making a full assessment of the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan, and is decisive when it comes to learning the necessary lessons. Key issues such as that of strategic patience feed in here, as well as that of the exit strategy but above all honest self-reflection and open debate. The first steps have been taken and we as NATO partners are determined to resolutely continue on the path on which we have embarked.