NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

19 Apr. 2010

Foreign Ministers to discuss Afghanistan and NATO’s future in Tallinn

On 19 April, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen presented the programme for the Informal Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, which will take place in Tallinn, Estonia, on 22 and 23 April. He highlighted as priorities the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, discussions on the Alliance’s new Strategic Concept, nuclear issues, missile defence, as well as NATO’s reform and enlargement.

A clear framework for transition to Afghan lead

On Afghanistan, the Secretary General reminded that the aim of the 46 nations contributing to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is to move forward on transition to Afghan lead – a process that will take place when clear political and military conditions are in place, with the Afghans playing a key role.

“In Tallinn, we will take the next step, by agreeing on the principles and decision-making framework for transition,” he said.

The Secretary General also announced that the ISAF operation is still missing about 450 army and police trainers, and said he would encourage Foreign Ministers to see what they can do to free up these resources.

The discussion on Afghanistan will involve the Foreign Ministers of the 46 ISAF contributing nations, the Afghan Foreign Minister as well as representatives from the European Union and the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Addressing key aspects of NATO’s future

Another main point on the meeting’s agenda will be the process of reflection on a new Strategic Concept. NATO Ministers will be updated on the work of the Group of Experts and will discuss the way forward to the Lisbon Summit in November, where the Alliance will approve its new Strategic Concept.

Ministers will also address NATO’s nuclear policy. This will be a timely discussion in view of the important steps recently taken on nuclear issues, namely the new START Agreement between the US and Russia, the new US Nuclear Posture Review, and the Washington Summit on securing nuclear material.

“No decision will be taken in Tallinn on NATO’s nuclear policy,” said the Secretary General, “but I do think the principles of the NATO discussion are already clear: first, that no Ally will take unilateral decisions; second, that as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will need a nuclear deterrent.”

In addition to NATO’s nuclear policy, Ministers will discuss missile defence as a building block for the Lisbon Summit.

Also on the Tallinn agenda is NATO reform, including proposals for streamlining the Alliance’s Command Structure.

Supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to NATO: not if, but when

Finally, on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s request for the Membership Action Plan, the NATO programme of support to individual nations wishing to join the Alliance, Mr Fogh Rasmussen said: “It is not a matter of if, but when. The when is what Ministers will discuss in Tallinn.”

“The place and future of Bosnia-Herzegovina is in the Euro-Atlantic structures,” he added.