NATO Foreign Ministers gather in Berlin
The foreign ministers of NATO’s 28 nations and over 20 partner countries meet in Berlin on Thursday and Friday for talks covering issues ranging from operations over Libya to NATO’s relationship with its partners.
This is the first meeting of foreign ministers since NATO leaders approved the Alliance’s new Strategic Concept at a summit in Lisbon in November. The meeting showcases NATO’s role in working with partners to find cooperative solutions to common threats.
The meeting starts at midday on Thursday with talks on NATO-led operation in Libya, Operation Unified Protector. This is the Alliance’s response to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for “all necessary measures” to protect civilians and civilian populated areas in Libya.
NATO and six partner countries from Europe and the Arab world have put in place an arms embargo and no-fly zone and taken further measures to protect civilians, all in accordance with the UN resolution.
All 34 countries involved in Operation Unified Protector will be represented at the meeting, which will discuss progress on the ground and in the international efforts to find a political solution to the crisis. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and a number of ministers will come to the meeting direct from international talks in Doha, allowing NATO and partners to take stock of the latest developments and chart their course in full coherence with the international community.
The Libya meeting will be folllowed by talks between the 48 countries which contribute to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. At the Lisbon summit, NATO and Afghanistan agreed an Enduring Partnership on cooperation which will last beyond the targeted end of NATO combat operations in 2014. Foreign ministers will discuss how to put the partnership into practice with concrete cooperation initatives starting this year.
On Friday, NATO foreign ministers will discuss how to update the Alliance’s policies to make our cooperation with partners more flexible, more efficient and more responsive to the challenges of the 21st Century security environment. NATO already works with a wide variety of partners on a wide variety of issues, from defence reform to the fight against terrorism, as well as in individual operations. The “Berlin partnership package” will enable the Alliance to work with more partners, on more issues, and in more ways.
NATO sees the European Union as a unique and indispensable partner. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton will attend the meeting on partnerships.
Friday morning will continue with a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission. Set up in 2008, this is the forum in which NATO and Georgia discuss all issues of common concern. Georgia has made a substantial contribution to ISAF and continues to press ahead with reforms. NATO fully upholds Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and is committed to supporting Georgia’s reforms and its integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.
A meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission will follow. Ukraine has chosen to continue its current high rate of cooperation with NATO without moving closer to membership. NATO fully respects that decision and welcomes Ukraine’s contribution to a range of NATO-led operations. NATO is prepared to assist Ukraine in the goals it has chosen within our partnership, including defence reform and improving the ability of our military forces to operate together.
The series of meetings concludes with a session of the NATO-Russia Council. Russia is a strategic partner for NATO and our cooperation covers many vital aspects, from security in Afghanistan to the fight against terrorism. The talks with Foreign Minister Lavrov are expected to cover the full range of our relationship, including the situation in Libya and ongoing talks on the possibility of NATO-Russia cooperation on anti-ballistic-missile defence.