Opening remarks

by the NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu at the pre-ministerial briefing held at NATO HQ, Brussels

  • 19 Feb. 2013 -
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  • Last updated: 19 Feb. 2013 14:18

Thank you very much for coming and welcome to this Pre-Ministerial briefing.

I am joined, as you can see, by a NATO official, who I will be introducing at the end of my short introductions. He will brief us on the capabilities aspect of the ministerial, which will be very important. He will be speaking on background. As usual, I will be on the record.

And let me just start by giving you an overview of the topics and the timings.

The Secretary General will kick things off in the morning. He will do a doorstep at 11.30 am on Thursday at the main entrance. You will also be able to follow that live on our website.

The ministerial itself will start with a working lunch at 1 pm. That will be followed by a North Atlantic Council meeting in Defence Ministers’ format at 3.30 pm. Over the working lunch the ministers will discuss the Connected Forces Initiative which, as you know, was launched at the Chicago Summit. And the NAC will focus on capabilities and the NATO Defence Planning Process.

So, overall, a good opportunity to move forward on the implementation of the defence package which was adopted by Heads of State and Government at the Chicago summit last May, to ensure that the Alliance is fit for the future.

The Secretary General plans on doing a press conference at around 6.15 pm just after the traditional family photo of the ministers.

He will then host a working dinner. That won’t take place here at Headquarters. It will be at the Palais d’Egmont on Thursday evening. However, there is no press conference or briefing foreseen after the dinner, so no need for you to stake out the Sablon on Thursday evening.

Friday morning, though. That will start pretty early with a meeting of the NATO Ukraine Commission at 8.30 am. That is going to be an occasion for NATO Defence Ministers to meet their new Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Lebedev. They will be discussing the way ahead on defence cooperation in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

Afghanistan, of course, will be another important topic, with a meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence with ISAF contributing nations. That starts at 9.45 on Friday morning. The Ministers will be briefed by the new Commander of ISAF, General Joseph Dunford. They will be discussing the progress of transition in Afghanistan as we prepare to reach an important milestone this spring, when we will see Afghan forces assuming lead security responsibility for combat operations across the country. The ISAF Ministers will be joined by their Afghan counterpart, Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, as well as the United Nations Special Representative, Jan Kubis, and the European Union High Representative, Cathy Ashton. And the final press conference by the Secretary General is planned for around 1 pm, and then, of course, you will also have, I am sure, various national press conferences.

So that is what I have to say on the record at this stage. We will go to the background part of this briefing.