Last update: 27-Apr-2006 21:13 NATO Update

27 Apr. 2006

NATO looks to global partnerships

Schedule of events of the Informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, Sofia, Bulgaria, 27-28 April
Audio file of the Secretary General’s press conference MP3/7738Kb

Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, 27 April, NATO Foreign Ministers started a discussion on strengthening and expanding NATO’s relations with non-member countries.

This could see NATO reaching beyond its traditional partnerships and establishing deeper relations with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan or South Korea.

The Alliances is also looking at strengthening its current partnerships with non-member countries in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Speaking to reporters, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stressed that this was an informal meeting and the start of discussions, which will culminate at the NATO Summit in Riga this November.

An Alliance with global partners

Australia and New Zealand have already contributed to NATO-led operations and are preparing for further deployments, in support of the NATO-led International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

This does not mean that NATO will become a global Alliance, but “an Alliance with global partners ”, the Secretary General stressed.

“Since NATO is having its operations over a strategic distance, long distance, it means that there is also the need for a dialogue with other interested nations,” Mr. De Hoop Scheffer said.

The Secretary General described the Sofia meeting, 27-28 April, as an important stepping stone that will shape the subjects that will be discussed at the Riga Summit in November.