Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia to top NATO Ministerial agenda
NATO Defence Ministers will meet in Brussels this week (12-13 February 2020) to address key issues for the Alliance. Ahead of the two-day meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg outlined the topics for discussion, including what more NATO could do to build stability in the Middle East, the Alliance’s support for Afghanistan and challenges posed by Russia’s missile systems.
The Secretary General stressed that violence and instability in the Middle East are driving the refugee and migrant crisis and fuelling the threat of terrorism. While NATO Allies have been engaged in the region for years, the Secretary General said that NATO can do more. “Allies will also discuss tomorrow how NATO can coordinate with the Global Coalition even more closely. And we will consider what more NATO can do in the wider region to build long-term stability and security.”, the Secretary General said.
On Thursday, Ministers will assess the challenge posed by Russia’s new missile systems after Russia’s deployment of the SSC-8 missile led to the demise of the INF Treaty. “NATO Allies have stood united on Russia’s breach of the Treaty” the Secretary General said, noting that Allies had agreed on a package of defensive measure while remaining committed to arms control. “The SSC-8 is just one challenge we face. So we will discuss our response to the whole range of Russian missile systems. Conventional and nuclear, currently deployed or under development.”, the Secretary General said.
The ministerial will conclude by meeting with all nations contributing to NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan. The Secretary General said that despite challenging circumstances Afghan forces are getting stronger and are helping create the conditions for peace. “We fully support the efforts led by the United States to end the conflict and achieve a peaceful solution”, the Secretary General said, adding that Allies remain in close consultations on the way forward. Speaking to the prospects of a peace deal, the Secretary General made clear that the Taliban must commit to a reduction in violence and show that they are genuinely committed to peace.
Ministers will also discusses cooperation between NATO and the European Union, with High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell attending a NATO ministerial meeting for this first time in his new position. Defence ministers will also meet with their Ukrainian counterpart to review the country’s reforms and NATO support.