NATO Deputy Secretary General: ''Partnerships are a necessity, not a luxury''
NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow outlined the vital role that partners play within NATO in a keynote speech at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs’ Annual Helsinki Summer Session on Thursday (1 September 2016). Noting the Alliance’s enduring challenges to the east and to the south, he stressed that NATO’s partnerships have helped to consolidate peace and stability in Europe, and to extend stability beyond our borders.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö
Partnerships are not only an integral part of the Alliance’s adaptation to new challenges, but also help NATO meet its primary obligation to defend its territories and populations. Ambassador Vershbow praised Finland’s important contributions to the Alliance, through the NATO Response Force, as well as in NATO-led operations and missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan. As one of NATO’s Enhanced Opportunity Partners (EOP), Finland has been working closely with NATO on many challenges, including Baltic Sea security.
To address challenges from the east, the Deputy Secretary General noted that NATO will enhance its forward presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, with four battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Allies have also agreed on a tailored forward presence for the south-eastern flank, built around a multinational framework brigade in Romania. These defensive efforts, he highlighted, are meant to deter aggression – to prevent conflict, not to provoke it.
Turning to the south, Ambassador Vershbow underlined NATO’s enhanced support for partners in the Middle East and North Africa. To fight back against violent extremism, NATO is currently training hundreds of Iraqi officers in Jordan and this programme will now expand into Iraq. “We will also provide more support for Tunisia and Jordan, and we hope to establish closer institutional links to regional organisations, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the African Union,” he said.
While in Helsinki, the Deputy Secretary General met with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, as well as officials from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence.