by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the North Atlantic Council – ICI seminar celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, Doha, Qatar
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We had a very productive meeting.
In keeping with our 10 years of very productive cooperation.
Over the past decade, we have seen a real culture of dialogue and cooperation developing between our nations.
And we have worked together to manage crises and project stability.
In Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere.
Our Istanbul Cooperation Initiative has evolved from a bilateral focus to include a multilateral dimension.
From the beginning, we have reached out to all Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and to the GCC Secretariat.
And many of you have suggested NATO should continue to do so.
I was very pleased to see the participation in our meeting of the Secretary General of the GCC. And of high-level representatives from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman.
I hope that our flexible approach will encourage these two key regional states to join the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.
And that we can build on our discussions with the GCC to strengthen the working relationship between our secretariats.
Ten years of cooperation in the framework of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative have confirmed the basic principle underpinning the ICI.
That the security of the Gulf region is of strategic importance to NATO.
Just as security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area matter greatly to Gulf countries.
Today we heard how new, multi-dimensional challenges affect the countries of the Gulf region and NATO countries alike.
We exchanged views on whether and how NATO could help to address these major challenges.
And many of you suggested we should focus on those areas where NATO’s experience and expertise can provide real added value.
And where we can complement other bilateral and international efforts.
We heard a number of concrete proposals to enhance our partnership.
Several areas for further practical work were mentioned. Including maritime security, cyber defence, energy security, civil emergency planning, crisis management, and defence capacity building.
ICI countries were also encouraged to exploit NATO’s partnership tools.
Such as the Planning and Review Process.
And the Operational Capabilities Concept.
The partnership initiatives that we adopted at our Wales Summit in September offer additional potential to enhance the interoperability of our forces.
We also look forward to developing Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programmes with all our ICI countries.
Because that will help to streamline our practical cooperation.
And make it even more responsive to the individual security needs of our partners in the region.
Many of you suggested that we should have more regular meetings.
Including between Ambassadors, Ministers, experts, Chiefs of Defense, and other military officials.
It was also suggested that we should broaden our joint public diplomacy activities.
And include civil society representatives, academics, opinion makers, and parliamentarians.
Finally, many of you welcomed the informal Policy Advisory Group discussions that took place in Istanbul last month.
And I am pleased to announce that Kuwait has graciously offered to host the next such meeting in Kuwait City in 2015.
Minister Al-Attiyah, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We heard many interesting ideas today to deepen our understanding and strengthen our partnership.
I suggest that the international staff takes these ideas forward.
Working closely with the Brussels-based ICI Embassies and with the Partnership and Cooperative Security Committee.
Our ICI partnership offers enormous potential for mutually beneficial cooperation.
We have already achieved a lot together.
But there is much more for us to gain.
Let me conclude by thanking all our speakers for their contribution to our discussions.
And, on behalf of the North Atlantic Council and all participants, let me express our sincere gratitude to the Qatari authorities for hosting a truly successful event.