Historic first visit to Algeria
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer travelled to Algeria on 25 November, on a landmark first visit to a NATO Mediterranean Dialogue country.
This is also the first time that any NATO Secretary General has visited the region.
A new dynamic
Mr. De Hoop Scheffer met with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem for talks on the enhancement of the political and practical dimensions of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue.
They specifically discussed the follow-up to the decisions taken by the Alliance Heads of State and Government at their Istanbul Summit, for a more ambitious and expanded framework for this Dialogue.
“My presence in Algiers is an additional sign of the beginning of a new dynamic in relations between NATO and the countries of the Mediterranean,” the Secretary General said in a public speech at the Club des Pins. “New policies are being developed. Because we have understood that … cooperation is the only means of moving forward,” he stressed.
Mr. De Hoop Scheffer mentioned advice on defence reform and restructuring, as some of the possible areas of cooperation.
At the Istanbul Summit in June this year, NATO decided to elevate its ten-year Mediterranean Dialogue to a genuine partnership and to launch the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with interested countries in the broader region of the Middle East.
This will be achieved through enhanced cooperation in a number of areas such as: combating terrorism via effective intelligence sharing and maritime cooperation including in the framework of Operation Active Endeavour; contributing to the Alliance's work on threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery; promoting cooperation in areas where NATO can add value like, for example, in the field of border security.
Foreign Ministers from NATO and Mediterranean Dialogue countries will meet together for the first time on 8 December in Brussels, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Mediterranean Dialogue and to exchange views on its future evolution.