Secretary General praises Italy’s ''essential role'' in NATO
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome on Monday (11 June 2018), praising Italy’s many contributions to security in Europe and beyond. Mr. Stoltenberg welcomed that Italy plays a leading role in Afghanistan and Kosovo, provides air policing for Montenegro, has deployed troops to Latvia, and leads NATO’s high-readiness Spearhead Force. “Your contributions are in the interest of Italy’s security, and they are important for the security of the whole Alliance,” he said
The Secretary General also welcomed Italy’s role in driving NATO’s adaptation to threats from the south, including by hosting a Joint Force Command in Naples and its Hub for the South. The Hub, which Mr. Stoltenberg said he expected to be fully operational by the NATO Summit in July, will help to monitor regional threats and coordinate responses. Italy will also soon host NATO’s cutting-edge surveillance drones in Sicily, to monitor and respond to emerging challenges. “By tackling these problems at source, we can help prevent new crises and conflicts, and more people fleeing to Italy’s shores,” said Mr. Stoltenberg. “So what we do is in the interest of the citizens of Italy.”
Mr. Stoltenberg noted that the Alliance will launch a new training mission in Iraq at the Summit, “to help the Iraqis stabilize their country, and prevent ISIS from coming back.” He added that NATO will also step up support for other partners in the Middle East and North Africa, like Jordan and Tunisia. “Because in the fight against terrorism, training local forces is one of our best tools.”
The Secretary General further pointed to NATO’s work to alleviate the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, including the close cooperation between NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian and the European Union’s Operation Sophia in the Central Mediterranean. He added that NATO’s deployment in the Aegean Sea also helps implement Turkey’s agreement with the EU to curb illegal migration.
Fairer burden-sharing will also be on the agenda at the Summit, and Mr. Stoltenberg welcomed that all Allies have now started to increase defence spending, are investing more in major capabilities, and are stepping up contributions to NATO missions. “I want to thank Italy for your continued efforts,” he said.
The Secretary General is concluding a two-day visit to Italy. On Sunday, he met with Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi, and on Monday he met with Defence Minister Dr. Elisabetta Trenta.