Stoltenberg, NATO and the European strategic compass

BRUSSELS – The Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg met with the EU defense ministers in Brussels, during the Foreign Council working lunch, to address in particular the issues of relations with Belarus, the situation in Ukraine and tensions with Russia, and cooperation between the Alliance and the European Union, when Twenty-seven began to discuss the “Strategic Compass”, the new document of the High Representative Josep Borrell for the construction of a common EU defense embryo.

On the latter point, the Secretary General gave a rather “minimalist” interpretation of the “Compass”, as if it did not also contemplate the possibility for the EU to intervene in strategic areas in which NATO may not have an interest or may not be able to intervene, to avoid any rifts within it (for example with Turkey).

The secretary general, according to what he himself anticipated to the journalists who were waiting for him upon his arrival at the EU Council, stressed that NATO is in full solidarity with Poland and the other allies (Lithuania and Latvia) who have been interested in their borders external from the “hybrid attack” of the artificially created crisis of the Belarusian regime with the exploitation of migrants.

Stoltenberg then reported that NATO continues to monitor the buildup of Russian forces in areas near the Ukrainian borders and that the Alliance continues to provide political and practical support to the government in Kiev. «We see – he told reporters – an unusual concentration of large forces near the border with Ukraine. We have already seen this. And we think it is extremely important now to send a clear message to Russia about the need to reduce tensions, to be transparent and to avoid any kind of escalation. And, of course, we also send a very clear message of determination to protect all allies in the region ”.

Stoltenberg then highlighted the strength of NATO-EU cooperation and indicated how it could expand to include new areas of cooperation in the future, such as emerging and disruptive technologies and the security impact of climate change.

Responding to questions on the «strategic compass», Stoltenberg told reporters «NATO welcomes the EU’s defense efforts. Any significant effort by the European allies in defense matters requires more spending, and it is NATO that has affirmed the need to increase defense spending at the top of our agenda. We made the decision at the Alliance summit in 2014, when we called on all allies to invest more. And the good news is that the European allies are now investing more ».

In short, “the EU’s defense efforts, which provide more resources and also new capabilities, are something that NATO warmly welcomes, because we have been asking for it for a long time. But the Atlantic Alliance – underlined the secretary general – will obviously remain the cornerstone for European security. 80% of NATO defense spending comes from non-EU allies. And the non-EU allies play a key role, for example, when it comes to our increased presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, where three of the four battle groups are led by non-EU allies: the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. “

“So – Stoltenberg observed – I think it’s obvious that we don’t need only Europe or North America, or just the United States. We need Europe and North America together to be together in a much more challenging and difficult security environment. We need strategic solidarity, and Europe and North America are working together: this is the message. And in this context, of course – he concluded -, we also welcome greater European efforts on defense spending and to provide new capabilities ».

(with source Askanews)

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