NATO and Gulf countries determined to deepen cooperation
Today, NATO Foreign Ministers met with their counterparts from the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI): Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This was the first meeting at the level of Foreign Ministers with the ICI countries, since the official launch of this initiative at the NATO Summit in Istanbul in June 2004.
“The launch of our initiative 10 years ago was a clear signal. That the security and stability of the Gulf region is of strategic interest to NATO. Just as the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area matters to the Gulf region”, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. “We need to protect our sea lanes, energy supply routes, and cyber-networks. We face complex and interconnected security challenges, such as terrorism, piracy and proliferation. They are challenges that we need to tackle together”, he stressed.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen underlined that “over the past decade, our dialogue and cooperation have steadily intensified. From Bosnia to Kosovo, and from Afghanistan to Libya, our Gulf partners have made valuable contributions to NATO-led operations.”
Today, NATO foreign ministers and their partners from the Gulf region in the ICI discussed how to continue to deepen the existing partnership and how the Alliance can work more closely with all Gulf countries to build a truly strategic relationship between the Euro-Atlantic and the Gulf region.
“As we look to the Wales Summit this September, we will work on ways to deepen our political dialogue and practical cooperation. And we will discuss how we can tailor our cooperation so that it fits our Gulf partners’ specific security needs,” the NATO Secretary General said.
During the last 10 years of their partnership with the Alliance, the ICI countries have become efficient security providers and contributed to international efforts in protecting stability and security, including the NATO ISAF operation in Afghanistan and Operation Unified Protector in Libya in 2011.
The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative offers a diversified menu of practical cooperation activities from which the ICI countries can choose. These include, amongst others, tailored advice on defence transformation, defence budgeting and civil-military relations; military-to-military cooperation including through selected military exercises; civil emergency planning and joint public diplomacy activities.