In particular, they focused on the situation in the northern part of Kosovo and condemned the recent violence against KFOR.
“Our soldiers are operating carefully, firmly and impartially”, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. “And they are acting in full accordance with our mandate from the United Nations”.
Ministers commended KFOR's close coordination with the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and stressed that the present crisis in the northern part of Kosovo requires moderation and dialogue to find a sustainable political solution. They called on both sides to continue their constructive participation in the EU-facilitated talks and also welcomed the agreement reached between Belgrade and Pristina on 2 December 2011. "The agreement on integrated crossings between Belgrade and Pristina is a constructive step forward. This should now be implemented by both parties in good faith, so that freedom of movement in the northern part of Kosovo can be fully restored", the NATO Secretary General said.
During the meeting, Ministers also talked about NATO’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan and looked forward to a broader discussion with troop contributing partners on the following day. Ministers noted that the process of transition to full Afghan security responsibility by the end of 2014 is on track and reiterated the Alliance’s determination to support Afghanistan beyond the completion of country-wide transition by the end of 2014.
Finally, Ministers reviewed cooperation with Russia ahead of a meeting in the NATO-Russia Council. They reaffirmed that NATO-Russia cooperation remains of strategic importance to the Alliance and agreed that there is potential for more progress in this fundamental partnership.
“We cooperate to bring stability to Afghanistan, and stem the flood of narcotics out of the country. We cooperate in the fight against terrorism. We cooperate in combating piracy. This cooperation benefits all of us”, the Secretary General said.
Speaking about missile defence, ministers regretted recent Russian statements on possible measures directed against NATO's missile defence system. “Such responses remind us of the confrontation of a bygone era. And they suggest a fundamental misunderstanding – of the scale of our missile defences, and of their purpose”, the Secretary General noted. “So we are looking forward to our meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov tomorrow to clear the air. NATO and Russia have a self-evident interest in working together.”
Ministers reiterated the Alliance’s commitment to exploring opportunities for missile defence cooperation with Russia and welcomed Russia’s readiness for dialogue with the Alliance.