by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the NAC-MD Seminar celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Mediterranean Dialogue
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking you, Mr. Minister, and the Jordanian authorities, most sincerely for your superb hospitality.
I thank you on behalf of the members of the North Atlantic Council.
And in my capacity as Secretary General.
We very much value this opportunity, not only to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Mediterranean Dialogue. But also to discuss the future of our Dialogue with our seven Mediterranean partners.
Twenty years ago NATO adapted to the post-Cold War strategic environment.
We moved from a mainly defensive approach to security, to a cooperative approach, with a central role for partnerships.
We realised at the time that our security is closely linked to security and stability in the Mediterranean and the broader Middle East region. And that prompted the launch of our Mediterranean Dialogue.
Twenty years later, the basic rationale for our Mediterranean Dialogue still holds true. We face common challenges that cut across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America. And we realise that the best way to tackle these challenges is by working together.
Since the start of our Dialogue, political consultation has been one of its key elements. Indeed, this is the only forum that brings together European and North American countries, Arab nations and Israel, to discuss security matters of common interest. This makes this forum so unique, the participation of these countries.
But in addition to this important multilateral dimension, we have also developed solid channels of bilateral political dialogue and practical cooperation. Through active two-way engagement, the Mediterranean Dialogue has become a strong partnership tailored to the security needs of each participating state.
We have concluded tailor-made Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programmes with each of our seven Mediterranean partners, including Algeria just this year.
And I also wish to highlight the Trust Fund projects that we have developed with several of our partners. This includes a recent project with Jordan which focuses on recruitment and retention of women in the Jordan Armed Forces.
The project is co-lead by the Czech Republic and Norway.
So, in a nutshell, our relations have steadily deepened over the past 20 years. And we have seen a real culture of cooperation developing between our nations.
With the rise of ISIL and the spread of violence and hatred throughout North Africa and the Middle East, that synergy between us is more necessary than ever.
At our NATO Summit in Wales in September, Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their commitment to the Mediterranean Dialogue. And to the principles upon which it is built.
I see considerable scope for us to deepen our cooperation. And particular potential in three areas:
First, we want to help our Mediterranean partners to develop their own defence capacity.
NATO has a wealth of experience and expertise that can help you to modernise your defence and security sectors. And to become better able to project stability and security in your regions.
Just last week, we agreed a tailored defence capacity building package for Jordan. But we are also ready to consider requests for similar assistance from other interested nations.
Second, we must continue to strengthen the ability of our military forces to work together. And to meet common challenges together.
Three years ago, during our NATO-led operation to protect the people of Libya, both Jordan and Morocco made important military contributions.
This was not down to good luck or coincidence. It was the result of years of military-to-military cooperation between our countries.
We must continue to strengthen those vital connections between our forces. And to invest in their ability to work together.
Finally, we must continue to deepen our political consultation.
Bilateral contacts between NATO and each of our Mediterranean Dialogue partners individually will remain important. To give us a better understanding of your particular concerns. And how we can help to address them.
But we also want to strengthen our multilateral consultations. Because that will help us all to deepen our understanding of the key security challenges of this region. And to have a better conceptual basis for any practical work that we might undertake together.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We can all be proud of the achievements of our Mediterranean Dialogue over the past 20 years. We have deepened our political dialogue.
And we have stepped up our practical cooperation.
Our nations may be more interconnected than ever before. But we are also much more vulnerable to multi-dimensional and transnational risks and threats. And that means we cannot be complacent.
We need to build on our achievements. And work even closer together in the future. To deliver greater stability to our nations and our populations.
I am confident our seminar today will help us move in the right direction.