NATO Ministers start the sprint to the Lisbon Summit
NATO Ministers of Defence and of Foreign Affairs met together on 14 October in Brussels to give final political guidance in preparation for the meeting of Allied Heads of State and Government at the upcoming NATO Summit in Lisbon, on 19 and 20 November.
The Summit is expected to set the course for the Alliance over the next decade, including reform of the organization. The agenda of the ministerial meetings in Brussels covered a wide area, but focussed on NATO reform, the new Strategic Concept and missile defence.
At his press conference, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that “we now have a clear mandate for reform, and a clear idea of what reform will look like.” He stated that “I expect the Summit to agree a substantially leaner Alliance Command Structure and a substantial reduction in the number of NATO agencies.”
Furthermore, the Secretary General expressed confidence that at the Summit Allies will agree on a list of required capabilities that are most needed – including protection from roadside bombs for NATO troops, medical support or air transport.
On the Strategic Concept discussions, Mr Fogh Rasmussen stated that “the debate today and the Allies’ commitment to modernise the Alliance for the 21st century are very encouraging. I see real convergence arising on what modern defence entails and on balancing the importance of having a strong deterrence posture with the desire to strengthen arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.”
The Allies also discussed how the partnerships with other nations and international organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union, could evolve in order to promote international security.
On missile defence, the Secretary General concluded: “I believe we are nearing a consensus at the Lisbon Summit for NATO to have a capability to defend all of NATO-Europe against the threat of a missile attack.” He added that Russia should be offered the option to cooperate with NATO to the benefit of all.
The importance of developing good cooperation with Russia was stressed during the ministerial sessions. The Secretary General expressed his hope that Russia would accept the invitation to participate in a NATO-Russia Council Summit meeting in Lisbon, as the agenda “is getting a substantial boost: with more cooperation on Afghanistan, a joint review of the challenges we face together today, and a more effective fight against terrorism and piracy.”