Secretary General: transatlantic bond is vital for Europe and North America
NATO Foreign Ministers had talks on Friday (31 March 2017) about fairer burden sharing in the Alliance, NATO’s response to terrorism and its united approach to Russia. After the meeting at NATO Headquarters, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted how the Alliance has made progress on defence spending, with a 10 billion dollar rise in defence spending among European Allies and Canada last year. Mr Stoltenberg said Allies must keep up the momentum on defence spending and that one option being looked at is national plans for Allies to reach the NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on defence.
Also high on the agenda was NATO’s response to terrorism and how the Alliance is projecting stability beyond its borders. The Secretary General said, “NATO has untapped potential to do more. One of our best tools in the fight against terrorism is training local forces.” As well as its continuing mission in Afghanistan, NATO is helping local forces in Iraq to better counter ISIL, including with training to counter improvised explosive devices. Mr. Stoltenberg said the Alliance would expand its training programme in Iraq with military medicine courses and with training to help maintain tanks and armoured fighting vehicles.
Ministers also assessed the situation in the Western Balkans and the Secretary General underlined how Montenegro’s accession to NATO will contribute to regional stability. The European Union’s High Representative, as well as the Ministers from Finland and Sweden, joined the meeting to discuss NATO’s position on Russia: strong defence and deterrence combined with dialogue. The Ministerial ended with a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission and talks on the Alliance’s strong political and practical support to Ukraine.