Updated: 27-Sep-2001 Week of 24-30 September 2001

26 Sep 2001

NATO Defence Ministers
focus on terrorism, the Balkans and cooperation with Russia

The implications of the 11 September terrorist attacks perpetrated against New York and Washington D.C., NATO commitments in the Balkans and NATO-Russia relations were at the centre of discussions of NATO Defence Ministers, 26 September. This informal meeting, which was originally planned over a two-day period (26-27 September) in Naples, Italy, was attended by Defence Ministers from all NATO member countries. The United States were represented by Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, (left on photo) who briefed his counterparts on the wide-ranging, long-term approach the United States are adopting to combat terrorism.

Regarding the terrorist attacks, Defence Ministers sent a strong message of solidarity to their American Ally and reiterated their commitment to the principle of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. They signalled that they were prepared for a long campaign against terrorism and discussed the practical measures being put into effect, possible collective and individual support for the United States and the implications of the 11 September attacks on the security of the Euro-Atlantic area as a whole. This led them to consider the impact of the terrorist attacks on the future structure and tasks of the Alliance, particularly the Defence Capabilities Initiative and the need for more flexible forces and intelligence sharing. The idea of creating a Task Force within NATO on terrorism was also put forward.

The impact of the terrorist attacks on relations with partner countries and, in particular with Russia, was discussed over a working lunch. In addition, a NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council meeting was held at the end of the day. It was attended by Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov, who is also the Russian government's co-ordinator for anti-terrorist efforts.

The Alliance's commitments in the Balkans were examined in the light of a potential Alliance commitment to an Article 5 operation and the need for prioritisation that would ensue. The state of the Alliance's peace support missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo were discussed, but the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) and the need for a follow-on mission once Operation Essential Operation comes to an end on the evening of 26 September were the key focus.

Additional information:

  1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.