NATO marks 70th anniversary with Washington meeting of Foreign Ministers

  • 04 Apr. 2019 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 04 Apr. 2019 20:36

Foreign Ministers gathered in Washington D.C. on Thursday (4 April 2019) to mark 70 years since NATO’s founding, and to continue adapting the Alliance. “Over seven decades, NATO has stepped up time and again to keep our people safe, and we will continue to stand together to prevent conflict and preserve peace,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Addressing security in the Black Sea region, Ministers agreed a new package of measures to enhance NATO’s situational awareness and strengthen support for the Alliance’s partners in the region, Georgia and Ukraine. This support could include training for maritime forces and coast guards, port visits and exercises, and sharing information.

Ministers also discussed Russia’s ongoing violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Allies reiterated their call on Russia to return to full and verifiable compliance with the Treaty, and discussed the way forward should Russia not return to compliance. The Secretary General stressed that any response would be “measured and coordinated,” and NATO has no intention to deploy ground-launched nuclear missiles in Europe, but added that NATO will continue to “maintain credible and effective deterrence and defence.”

Later on Thursday, Ministers addressed NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism, and the efforts of the United States to seek a political settlement in Afghanistan. “We went into Afghanistan together, and we agree that we will take any decisions on our future presence together,” said the Secretary General. Ministers also discussed progress in the fight against ISIS, and how NATO is adapting to new terrorist threats and tactics, such as the use of small drones. The Secretary General stressed that NATO will continue to work with partners in the region, training local forces in the fight against terrorism.

Ministers concluded their meeting with a discussion on fairer burden-sharing in the Alliance. The Secretary General welcomed Allied progress, including four consecutive years of rising investment in defence. “Since 2016, European Allies and Canada have added $41 billion dollars to their defence spending; by the end of next year, this will rise to $100 billion,” he said. Mr. Stoltenberg noted that Allies are not only spending more, but also investing in new capabilities and deploying more forces for NATO. 

The NATO Secretary General is wrapping up a three-day visit to the United States, where he also addressed a joint meeting of the United States Congress, met with President Trump, took part in a “NATO Engages” conference, and participated in a ceremony to mark 70 years since the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty.