Updated: 30-Sep-2002 September

24-25 Sept. 2002

Defence ministers focus
on NATO's transformation at Warsaw meeting

Press releases, speeches, sound files and high resolution photos of the
Informal Meeting
of Defence Ministers

24 - 25 September Warsaw

Defence ministers from NATO member countries took stock of the progress made on key aspects of NATO's transformation at an informal meeting held in Warsaw, Poland, on 24 and 25 September.

This was the last meeting of Alliance ministers ahead of the upcoming Summit meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in Prague, where decisions regarding NATO's future roles and capabilities will be made.

During the meeting, the Ministers reviewed and discussed key issues on the Alliance's transformation agenda:

  • Terrorism: The Ministers reiterated their solidarity in the fight against terrorism and discussed NATO's role in combating it. The Ministers received a detailed briefing on Iraq from the United States Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;
  • Capabilities: The Alliance's operational capabilities were at the forefront of discussions. Ministers reviewed efforts aimed at enhancing NATO's operational capabilities in specific areas such as chemical, biological and nuclear defence and rapid deployment of troops to crisis areas. A specific set of commitments and programmes is to be adopted at Prague;
  • NATO Response Force: The United States Defense Secretary proposed the creation of a rapid-reaction NATO Response Force, which was welcomed and will be considered in detail at NATO HQ in Brussels;
  • Command structure: The Ministers discussed the streamlining of NATO's command structure with a view to making specific decisions at the Prague Summit;
  • Operations: NATO's operational roles, including in the Balkans, were discussed by Ministers;
  • NATO-Russia: Ministers met with the Russian Minister of Defence to discuss the international situation and review NATO-Russia cooperation, particularly in the fight against terrorism and in the Balkans.

"We are now transforming our Alliance so it can play an equally pivotal part in defeating the threats of the new century, in particular terrorism and weapons of mass destruction," said NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson at a press conference following the discussions. "The NATO Prague Summit will be a major milestone for NATO, a defining moment for this 53 year old Alliance."

Informal meetings of NATO defence ministers are held each year in addition to formal meeting held twice a year. Informal meetings have no fixed agenda and no formal decisions are taken; they are an opportunity for ministers to discuss freely key issues on the Alliance's agenda.

Additional information: