NATO Foreign Ministers wrapped-up two days of meetings on Wednesday (5 December) with agreements to augment Turkey’s air defence capabilities, boost cooperation with Russia and develop a funding mechanism for Afghan Security Forces. Discussions also centered on NATO’s cooperation with Georgia, nations in the Western Balkans and global partners.
On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministers agreed to augment Turkey’s air defence capabilities by deploying Patriot missiles to Turkey. “Turkey has asked for NATO’s support and we stand with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. “To anyone who would want to attack Turkey we say: don’t even think about it”. The Ministers stressed that the deployment will be defensive only and will not support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation. Germany, the Netherlands and the United States expressed their intention to provide Patriot systems, subject to national decisions. The Patriots will be under the command of NATO.
The Ministerial started with a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) which agreed to reinforce NATO-Russia cooperation in 2013. The NRC was attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Ministers discussed matters of common strategic interest, such as Afghanistan and the situation along NATO’s south-eastern border. “The dialogue between NATO and Russia is based on reciprocal transparency, trust and confidence and our aim remains to build a strategic partnership,” the Secretary General said. He added that the NRC has made good progress on practical cooperation, in areas such as Afghanistan, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics “We are going in the right direction but we need to put new energy into our relationship, and look at how we can boost cooperation over the next years”, Mr. Rasmussen stressed. For 2013, the NRC agreed to expand cooperation in several areas including counter-narcotics, and support for the Afghan Air Force.
Discussions on Tuesday included the Alliance’s partnerships with countries around the world and how they can be made more effective. Talks also focused on progress made by the four countries which aspire to join the Alliance. Ministers reaffirmed the Alliance’s Open Door Policy and stressed NATO’s determination to help aspirant countries move closer to membership.
The second day of talks included a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission, which was attended by Foreign Minister Maia Panjkidze. NATO Foreign Ministers recognized the progress that Georgia has made and encouraged all parties to keep up the momentum of democratic reforms. The Ministers also lauded the exemplary commitment Georgia has shown to the mission in Afghanistan.
The Ministerial concluded with a meeting of the 50 nations which contribute to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. They were joined by Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul and representatives from Japan, the European Union and the United Nations.
Ministers discussed how to make sure the handover of security responsibility to the Afghan forces continues to make steady progress. They also agreed to develop a funding mechanism for the Afghan security forces starting in 2015 as part of broader international support efforts.