by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the joint press point with the President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, Giuseppe Conte
Prime Minister Conte,
My friend Giuseppe,
It’s a great pleasure and honor to be back in Rome, and thank you for your warm welcome and congratulations on your renewed mandate.
It is always a pleasure to be here and Italy plays a key role in NATO, you play a major role in NATO, in Europe, and in preserving international security.
In Afghanistan, you are one of the top force-contributing nations. Every time I meet Italian troops in Herat, I am impressed by their professionalism and their strong commitment.
Our mission trains Afghan forces, so they can fight international terrorism and create the conditions for peace.
In Iraq, Italy contributes to NATO’s training mission, helping the Iraqi forces prevent the return of ISIS.
In Kosovo, you lead NATO’s peacekeeping efforts, building greater stability in the Western Balkans.
Your troops deter confrontation and preserve peace as part of NATO deployments in Latvia and in Romania.
And your jets help secure the skies over Iceland and over Montenegro.
We just had an excellent discussion on preparations for the meeting of NATO leaders in London in December.
The fight against terrorism will be one of the topics we will address at that meeting.
And Italy is at the forefront of NATO’s efforts, not just in NATO missions and operations, but also in supporting partners like Jordan and Tunisia.
Italy also hosts NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples, which helps us better monitor and better understand regional threats, like terrorism and failing states.
Soon, you will also host NATO’s cutting-edge surveillance drones in Sicily. These will help us monitor and respond to emerging crises.
And we expect the first drone to arrive later this year.
We also discussed NATO’s response to the challenges posed by the refugee and migrant crisis.
NATO’s deployment in the Aegean and our Sea Guardian operation in the Mediterranean both help to alleviate the crisis in different ways.
We also discussed the situation in Syria.
Our Ally Turkey is at the forefront of the crisis and has legitimate security concerns.
It has suffered horrendous terrorist attacks. And it hosts millions of Syrian refugees.
NATO has been informed by Turkish authorities about the ongoing operations in Northern Syria. It’s important to avoid actions that may further destabilise the region, escalate tensions, and cause more human suffering.
I count on Turkey to act with restraint and to ensure that any action it may take in Northern Syria is proportionate and measured.
We must not jeopardise the gains we have made together against our common enemy, ISIS. Because ISIS continues to pose a grave threat to the Middle East and North Africa, and to all our nations.
I will discuss this issue with President Erdogan in Istanbul on Friday.
Allies are also investing more in cutting-edge capabilities. And stepping up their contributions to NATO missions.
This is good news. And I count on Italy, as on all Allies, to keep up the momentum.
So Prime Minister,
I look forward to continue working with you.
Thank you once again.