NATO and Mediterranean Defence Ministers look to enhancing cooperation
On 10 February, Defence Ministers from the 26 NATO countries and Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia discussed reinforcing practical cooperation at a historic first meeting in Taormina.
The seven countries are members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, launched in 1994; this was the first meeting between NATO and the Mediterranean Dialogue countries at the level of Defence Ministers.
A political signal
“The fact that the meeting took place … is a political signal in itself, that NATO and Mediterranean Dialogue partners are on the course of reinforcing … practical cooperation,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said after the meeting.
Ministers discussed a range of areas in which they are looking to expand cooperation, including defence reform, training and cooperation in responding to natural and man-made disasters.
The Secretary General stressed that public diplomacy was a key part of this cooperation, saying that NATO had to work on its image in the region to shake lingering stereotypes.