|Last update: 27-Apr-2005 18:16||NATO Update|
Vilnius meeting broadens Alliance’s political agenda
Meeting informally in Vilnius on 20 and 21 April NATO Foreign Ministers broadened the Alliance’s political dialogue by tackling a wider range of strategic issues.
The meeting was the first concrete step towards implementing a decision by Heads of State and Government in February this year to strengthen strategic political dialogue in the Alliance.
Expanding NATO’s political dialogue
Over two days, Ministers from the 26 NATO countries discussed a wide range of issues including the peace process in the Middle East and the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan.
In addition, the Secretary General discussed with Ministers specific ideas for making NATO a stronger and a more fruitful forum for Transatlantic political discussions.
Ministers also talked about the political situation and long-term outlook for areas where NATO is engaged in missions: Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. They discussed ways of improving NATO-EU cooperation, including through joint informal meeting of NATO and EU Foreign Ministers.
“[The theme of this meeting] was enhancing political dialogue amongst Allies ,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters, “NATO as the essential forum for security consultations between Europe and North America is the natural place to do that.”
“At this meeting we have not just talked about beefing up political dialogue… I think we’ve done it,” he said.
The Secretary General said that more political dialogue at NATO meant that Ministers discussed issues, which “may not necessarily lead to missions”, such as the peace process in the Middle East.On Darfur, however, he pointed out that the Alliance stood ready to provide support to the African Union, if asked to do so.