Secretary General previews meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers
Foreign Ministers will meet on Friday (27 April 2018) to prepare for the NATO Summit in July. On Thursday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg previewed the ministers’ four working sessions, which will focus on Russia, the Middle East and North Africa, Afghanistan, and the Western Balkans / NATO’s Open Door policy.
Pointing to Moscow’s “pattern of dangerous behaviour”, including the annexation of Crimea, cyber-attacks, disinformation, elections meddling, and support for the Syrian regime, Mr. Stoltenberg said that “NATO has responded with resolve and unity”, undertaking the biggest reinforcement of collective defence in a generation. However, he stressed that NATO remains open to meaningful dialogue with Russia, and continues to work toward the next meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. The Secretary General noted that the Supreme Commander for Europe, General Scaparrotti, met with the Russian Chief of Defence General Gerasimov just last week to discuss military posture and exercises.
Ministers will also discuss the situation in Syria, the Iran deal, and NATO’s plans to scale up training in Iraq. They are expected to agree further details on a training mission for Iraq, which will be launched at the NATO Summit in July, and to discuss further support for Jordan and Tunisia. Ministers will be joined by the European Union’s High Representative / Vice President Federica Mogherini, in order to discuss how NATO and the EU could cooperate more closely to build stability.
Later on Friday, Ministers will address Afghanistan, focusing on prospects for peace talks and reconciliation. The Secretary General welcomed President Ghani’s offer of peace talks to the Taliban, noting that “NATO has helped create the environment for this to happen, with our practical and political support.”
The meeting will close with a session on the Western Balkans and NATO’s Open Door Policy. Ministers are expected to discuss the progress made by Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹, and Georgia. Mr. Stoltenberg noted that “Ukraine has also expressed its aspirations for membership, and I expect ministers will want to address that.”
Friday’s ministerial meeting will be the last in the current NATO headquarters, which has housed the Alliance for 50 years. When Allied Defence Ministers gather in June, they will meet in NATO’s new headquarters, which Secretary General Stoltenberg called “a new home for a modern and forward-looking Alliance”.
- Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.