Pre-ministerial press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
The Foreign Minister’s meeting which starts tomorrow takes place amid turbulent times.
We face unprecedented security challenges both at home and abroad.
NATO is responding to these challenges.
And I expect Foreign Ministers to take important decisions to further enhance our security.
And I will briefly mention the main areas where I expect ministers to take decisions tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.
First, on Afghanistan, we will review our mission in light of the security situation.
We will do that together with Minister Rabbani and our operational partners. Meaning the partner countries which join us in our operation in Afghanistan.
We will discuss how we continue our mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces during 2016.
We will also launch work to ensure we can finance the Afghan security forces from 2018 to 2020. Because as you know we made a pledge back at our summit in Chicago several years ago to finance Afghan national security forces but that pledge ends in 2017 so we have to make a new decision to continue to finance the Afghan national security forces also after 2017. And we will start to address that at our Foreign Ministerial meeting and then hopefully make the final decision at our summit in July next year.
And we will also look at ways to strengthen our long-term partnership with Afghanista, looking into what we have called the enduring partnership.
Second, we will discuss and address the challenges we face from the south.
We will be joined by the EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini to discuss the security implications of what we see in our southern neighbourhood.
This is important because the risks we see can only be addressed by a coordinated international effort and by closer cooperation between EU and NATO.
NATO is stepping up its efforts to deal with the challenges from the south.
We have already increased the readiness and preparedness of our forces.
I think we have to remember that now have the Enhanced NATO Response Force and established the Spearhead Force that is not only relevant for what we see in challenges stemming from the east, but it’s also relevant and something we can use in the south.
And the enhanced NATO Response Force and the VJTF or Very High Readiness Task Force was actually tested just a few weeks ago in Italy, Spain and Portugal during our Trident Juncture exercise.
We are increasing our intelligence and situational awareness in the region.
We are setting up our new Allied surveillance drones in Sicily.
We are also working on further assurance measures to support Turkey, the NATO Ally who’s on the frontline of that volatile region, bordering Iraq and Syria.
And I met with Prime Minister Davutoğlu earlier today and we discussed last week’s incident which led to the downing of a Russian military aircraft. All Allies fully support Turkey’s right to defend its territorial integrity and air space. I welcome Turkey’s efforts to de-escalate the situation and to establish contacts with Russia. It is important to stay calm and our Ministerial meeting will also enhance our support for partners in North Africa and the Middle East.
To help countries like Tunisia, Iraq and Jordan build up their own security.
Third, we will adopt our new hybrid warfare strategy.
This is an important step.
Our new strategy will help us to prepare, deter and defend against hybrid threats.
Fourth, we will address how we take forward our relationship with Russia.
Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the military build-up I our neighbourhood have led to new risks for our security.
We need to restore predictability in our relations.
Through the OSCE, we will seek to modernise the rules governing military activities in Europe, including observation and notification of military exercises.
To allow for greater scrutiny of snap exercises.
And we will develop further proposals on transparency and risk reduction.
The importance of this was highlighted by last week’s incident with the Russian plane.
Fifth, we will reconfirm our political support to Ukraine.
And we will review our practical support, to help Ukraine modernise its command and control, cyber and logistic capabilities.
These projects have an impact on Ukraine’s ability to defend itself and to reform its institutions.
Foreign Minister Klimkin will update us on Ukraine’s reform path and we’ll meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
It is key that Ukraine remains committed to implementing ambitious reforms.
Last but not least, I expect Foreign Ministers to decide whether to invite Montenegro to begin accession talks with NATO.
Montenegro has come a long way on its path to join the Euro-Atlantic family.
But there is more to do.
Extending an invitation to Montenegro to start accession would be a historic decision.
It would signal our continued commitment to the Western Balkans.
And our Open Door policy.
But I can’t pre-empt at this stage what Ministers will decide.
So, a busy very important two days ahead. Which will ensure that NATO is able to keep all Allies safe.
And with that I am ready to take your questions.