“It has been decided to increase the presence of NATO maritime assets in the Central Mediterranean under the command of Supreme Allied Commander Admiral Stavridis, “said the Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a news conference following the meeting. “These ships will improve NATO’s situational awareness which is vital in the current circumstances and they will contribute to our surveillance and monitoring capability, including with regard to the arms embargo established by the UN Security Council Resolution 1970” .
Admiral Stavridis will determine the number of ships required to provide this enhanced presence and it is expected that these ships, drawn from the Standing NATO Maritime Group and the Standing Mine Countermeasures Group, will begin moving to the region in the very near term.
Defence Ministers also agreed to have more detailed planning options for humanitarian assistance and support to the arms embargo.
“We have also directed NATO military authorities to develop, as a matter of urgency, detailed planning with regard to humanitarian assistance and , provided there is a further UN Security Council Resolution, more active measures to enforce the arms embargo", the Secretary General highlighted.
The topic of a possible no-fly zone over Libya was also discussed and it was agreed that further planning will be required in case NATO were to receive a clear UN mandate.
The NATO Secretary General stressed that the Alliance was not looking to intervene and still has no intention to intervene in Libya. “All Allies have agreed to three principles, which will act as a guide for any future considerations or actions regarding Libya: demonstrable need, a clear legal mandate and solid support from the region,” added the Secretary General.
“In particular, regional support is crucial, which is why I will continue to consult the international community and our partners in the region, including the UN, EU, the Arab League and the African Union, because we need their support to ensure that our actions, both in the near term and in the long-term, are seen as helping the situation and the democratic movement that is sweeping the region".
"Our message today is; NATO is united, NATO is vigilant and NATO is ready to act”, Rasmussen concluded.