The seven countries are members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, launched in 1994. This was the second meeting to ever take place between NATO and the Mediterranean Dialogue countries at the level of Defence Ministers.
Today’s meeting was an opportunity to discuss the consolidation of the progress achieved so far and exchange ideas on the way forward in their cooperation.
It also showed how political consultation and practical cooperation go hand-in-hand.
Since the Istanbul Summit in 2004, the political dialogue has gained in depth and substance: first ever Foreign Ministers’ meeting in December 2004 (Brussels), first ever Defence Ministers’ meeting in February 2006 (Taormina), first ever high-level meeting in a Mediterranean Dialogue country in April 2006 (Rabat).
Overall, activities in the Mediterranean Dialogue work programme have increased from more than 100 activities in 2004 to more than 600 for 2007. The 2007 work programme forsees activities in 28 different areas of cooperation, including military activities, civil emergency planning, crisis management, logistics, language training and many others.
“Gatherings such as today’s are becoming a regular feature of our consultations. We are also increasing our practical cooperation, from contribution by MD countries to NATO’s maritime anti-terrorist operation Active Endeavour, to specific activities in the fields of interoperability and modernisation of the armed forces. All this is an indication of our evolving partnership,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said at the opening of the meeting.