Netherlands' Foreign Minister discusses nuclear seminar
Minister Timmermans gave the opening speech to the NATO-Russia Council nations' nuclear experts.
Frans Timmermans, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, gave an interview to the NATO-Russia Council website during the Council’s recent Seminar on Nuclear Doctrines and Strategies, an official activity of the NRC Defence, Transparency, Strategy and Reform Nuclear Experts group.
The Seminar was hosted by the Netherlands in The Hague from 26 to 28 June. Over 70 experts and senior staff from NATO-Russia Council nations participated, exchanging views on the role of nuclear weapons in NATO-Russia Council nuclear weapons states’ national doctrines and strategies, and in NATO’s Strategic Concept.
Policy officials from the United Kingdom, the U.S., France, the Russia Federation and NATO provided briefings on national and Alliance nuclear policy. This was the fourth such NRC seminar on nuclear policy, doctrine and strategy. Germany (2005), Norway (2009) and NATO (2011) hosted the previous meetings.
Interview with the Netherlands’ Foreign Minister at the NATO-Russia Council Seminar on Nuclear Doctrines and Strategies
The Netherlands is playing a key role in hosting the NRC Seminar on Nuclear Doctrines and Strategies. What importance does the Netherlands attach to this event?
"This is an important event to us. It can contribute to realizing the goal of our disarmament and non-proliferation policy, which is a world without nuclear weapons. This is an essential part of the vision of the Netherlands on international security. We have recently presented our strategy entitled ‘A Secure Netherlands in a Secure World’. The core notion of this strategy is that the Netherlands cannot act on its own, in isolation, to ensure security at home. The challenges and issues that confront us are interconnected and of a cross-border nature. This means that we have to cooperate and act together to create a more secure world and inevitably more security at home.
Our ultimate goal is a world without nuclear weapons. We believe that the NRC Seminar on Nuclear Doctrines and Strategies will contribute to a mutual understanding and information sharing. Transparency and dialogue are key if we want to promote mutual trust and confidence building."
Minister Timmermans, you gave an opening address at the seminar. What was the key message you gave to NRC participants?
"I stated that our ultimate goal is a world without nuclear weapons. That having a dialogue on nuclear doctrines and strategies, seeking a mutual understanding, sharing information, leads to more transparency and building confidence. These are necessary steps to attain this ultimate goal.
I also welcomed President Obama’s call for the reduction of nuclear weapons in his recent Berlin speech. I fully support his efforts to reduce the number of strategic as well as non-strategic nuclear weapons. Also, President Obama’s recent guidance to review the role of nuclear weapons in the US’ military doctrine and strategies is an important and good step.
All in all, I hope this seminar yields an active, lively and honest debate."
Do you think that the seminar is contributing to greater mutual understanding among NRC nations on the issue of nuclear doctrines and strategies?
"This seminar is a part of a longer process. Confidence building means creating a strong foundation. We need a strong structure that will enable us to create conditions that make nuclear disarmament possible. I sincerely hope that this seminar gives this process an impulse."
Clearly this will remain an important subject for NATO-Russia Council nations. How would the Netherlands like to see work going forwards?
"We need a realistic approach to disarmament and it should therefore be reciprocal. The Deterrence and Defence Posture Review of NATO states important things about nuclear disarmament. However, these issues should not only be discussed internally within NATO. It is also very important to seek Russia’s view, as it plays a major role in nuclear disarmament. Discussing nuclear doctrines and strategies together with Russia in this forum is thus very useful.
The NATO-Russia Council is an important platform for this kind of dialogue with Russia. Russia is a strategic partner for NATO and the Netherlands. To be a partner is a dynamic process. It requires active involvement. The Netherlands would like to continue to contribute to even closer ties with Russia on this issue, also in the NATO-Russia Council."
NATO-Russia Council nations' representatives and nuclear experts pose together for a group photo at the end of the seminar.