Tag Archives: NATO

NATO civil-military response to COVID-19

NATO Policy Directors for Civil Preparedness met by secure video conference on 8 July, to exchange views and best practices in their response to the COVID-19 crisis and how to strengthen national resilience.

They welcomed the decision by NATO Defence Ministers at their meeting on 18 June 2020 to update NATO’s baseline requirements for resilience, covering critical sectors such as energy, telecommunications and the security of supply chains. The updated baseline requirements will help Allies prepare for possible further pandemic waves, and support a common approach to current and future challenges in the interests of the security of populations across the Alliance.

Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană opened the session and highlighted the contribution by the Alliance and Allies’ military forces to the COVID-19 response.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated the indispensable role of civil-military cooperation for resilience and preparedness. Between the months of March and May 2020, over half a million military personnel, supported by innumerable military assets, have worked side-by-side with our civilian authorities in managing the crisis and in serving our citizens”, he said.

Policy Directors also discussed NATO’s approach to learning lessons from COVID-19, including the importance of further cooperation with partners and the EU.

NATO welcomes Afghan Eid al-Fitr ceasefire

NATO has welcomed the announcement of a three-day cease-fire in Afghanistan during the Muslim celebration of the end of Ramadan – Eid al-Fitr.

“I welcome the statements by the government of Afghanistan & the Taliban on a 3-day ceasefire over Eid. All parties should seize this opportunity for peace, for the benefit of all Afghans,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on his Twitter micro blog on May 23.

NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security,” he underlined.

In a message preceeding the celebrations, the insurgents made the surprise announcement amid escalating conflict and a fragile peace process, directing militants to stay out of areas under the government control, but adding government forces could visit Taliban-controlled areas.

In a similar holiday truce two years ago, there were unprecedented scenes of foes embracing each other and taking selfies.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the announcement, explaining that he instructed the military to comply.

“President Ghani today initiated a process to release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a good will gesture in response to the Taliban’s announcement of a ceasefire during Eid,” Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi announced on Twitter.

Stoltenberg calls Russia to respect Open Sky

NATO Allies met today to discuss the Open Skies Treaty.

“We are firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. We all agree that all states party to the Open Skies Treaty must fully implement their commitments and obligations. All NATO Allies are in full compliance with all provisions of the Treaty”.

“Russia has for many years imposed flight restrictions inconsistent with the Treaty, including flight limitations over Kaliningrad, and restricting flights in Russia near its border with Georgia. Russia’s ongoing selective implementation of its obligations under the Open Skies Treaty has undermined the contribution of this important Treaty to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region.

“Allies have called on Russia to return to full compliance of the Treaty since the Wales Summit in 2014, and repeated that call at the Warsaw Summit in 2016 and again at the Brussels Summit in 2018. The United States has declared Russia in violation of the Treaty, and has now announced its intention to withdraw from the Treaty in six months, consistent with Treaty provisions. The US has declared that it may, however, reconsider its withdrawal should Russia return to full compliance with the Treaty.

“NATO Allies and partner nations have engaged with Russia, both in capitals and at the OSCE in Vienna, to seek Russia’s return to compliance at the earliest date possible. Russia’s return to compliance is the best way to preserve the benefits of the Treaty.

“NATO Allies will continue to uphold, support, and further strengthen arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation, as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security, taking into account the prevailing security environment. Allies also remain open to dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council on risk reduction and transparency. We continue to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia’s actions make that possible”.

EU maintains operational presence

EU Defence Ministers discussed the security and defence implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing in particular on the crucial role played by armed forces in supporting civilian actors and providing cross-border support among member states. In this context the Task Force that was established at the last video conference of Defence Ministers on 6 April has worked closely with member states to ensure the exchange of information and best practices.

EU Ministers of defence on May 12 held a video conference, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.

Ministers concurred that the EU should continue to do its utmost to maintain the operational presence on the ground of its Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations, while preserving the safety of the personnel deployed.

They also underlined the need to strengthen preparedness and resilience for the future by conducting exercises, strengthening work on cybersecurity and countering hybrid threats including enhancing efforts to counter disinformation.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and UN Under-Secretary General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix provided an update on ongoing work in their organisations. They discussed with ministers defence cooperation in tackling the Covid-19 crisis.

NATO Stoltenberg adresses COVID19 crisis

The alliance’s defence ministers met on April 15 to discuss the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic that has left 1,878,489 infected globally, according to the latest estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) release.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been holding a press conference via a secure video link in Brussels Headquarters following an extraordinary meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers.

The ministers discussed measures to cope with the coronavirus pandemic and its long-term ramifications following a slow-down of infection rates in member nations.

Another topic on the agenda concerned coronavirus-related disinformation.

NATO COVID19 response

NATO Foreign Ministers directed NATO’s top commander, General Wolters, to coordinate the necessary military support to combat the coronavirus crisis and to start using fast-track paths through Europe’s airspace for military flights carrying medical supplies, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday (2 April 2020).

NATO was created to deal with crises. So we can help and our Alliance is playing its part”, the Secretary General said. Mr Stoltenberg’s remarks came after a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, held by secure videoconference for the first time in NATO’s history. Ministers also agreed to hold an extra-ordinary meeting of Defence Ministers in April to review the support provided to Allies and take decisions on any further steps.

The Alliance is already coordinating and supporting national efforts against the pandemic with logistical, transport and medical help. “I am grateful for the further offers of assistance, which NATO Allies made today and for the substantial support that Allies have already provided”, the Secretary General said, citing the airlift of medical supplies, provision of medical personnel and the use of innovative technologies. Mr Stoltenberg stressed that NATO’s main task remained the protection of NATO’s almost one billion people, and that NATO’s ability to conduct operations had not been undermined.

Today’s meeting also focused on NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and support for Georgia and Ukraine. On Iraq, the Secretary General said that NATO would take on some additional activities including the training and the education of non-commissioned officers, engineers, and federal police. On Afghanistan, the Secretary General welcomed efforts to set up an inclusive team for the inter-Afghan negotiations, calling on the Taliban and all political actors to play their part.

North Macedonia, which on Friday (27 March 2020) became the alliance’s 30th member, attended a NATO Ministerial meeting for the first time as an Ally.

North Macedonia NATO ceremony

Flag raising ceremonies were held simultaneously at Allied Command Operations (SHAPE) in Mons (Belgium) and Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia (United States). North Macedonia became the 30th member of the Alliance on Friday (27 March 2020), when it deposited its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty with the US State Department in Washington DC.

Standing alongside the Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of North Macedonia to NATO, Mr. Zoran Todorov, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “This is a historic moment for North Macedonia. It comes after years of perseverance, determination, and commitment to reform. In the best spirit of the Alliance, and through political courage and vision, North Macedonia and Greece reached a historic compromise over the name issue. The Prespa agreement made NATO accession possible. It has also contributed to good neighborly relations and a brighter future for North Macedonia. Your hard work has made today possible.”

Joining NATO is good for North Macedonia. It is good for the stability of the Western Balkans and it is good for international peace and security,” Mr. Stoltenberg added. “At times like these, friends and Allies are more important than ever and North Macedonia now has the best friends and Allies in the world. We are all safer and stronger together than alone. So, welcome to NATO,” he added.

North Macedonia joins NATO

North Macedonia became NATO’s newest member on March 27, upon depositing its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty with the US State Department in Washington DC. NATO Allies signed North Macedonia’s Accession Protocol in February 2019, after which all 29 national parliaments voted to ratify the country’s membership.

North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family, a family of thirty nations and almost one billion people. A family based on the certainty that, no matter what challenges we face, we are all stronger and safer together“ said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in his welcome address from Brussels Headquarters.

North Macedonia is a long-standing contributor to our Euro-Atlantic security, including by participating in NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and in Kosovo.

A flag-raising ceremony for North Macedonia will take place at NATO Headquarters on 30 March 2020, in the presence of the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of North Macedonia to NATO Mr. Zoran Todorov.

The flag of North Macedonia will be simultaneously raised at the Allied Command Operations in Mons (Belgium) and at the Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk (US).

Image: archive – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev in Brussels NATO Headquarters,

EU Defence Ministers discuss future

At arrival to the Informal meeting of the EU Defence Ministers on March 4 in Zagreb Josep Borrell, the EU top diplomat, commented on situation in Syria, and crisis at Greek-Turkish border.

Borrell underlined that the meeting is “not about the current crisis“, but about “future prospects on how to build a better security and defence policy for all Europeans“. The Ministers hosted the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg to put forward priorities in EU military and defence missions.

Our prospect tonight is about how to build a common security and defence policy for the future.”

The EU top diplomat described the situation in Syria is one of the “most dramatic” in terms of human rights since the World War II.

“We are providing as much humanitarian help as we can, the European Union has increased by €170 million the amount of resources we can provide to the United Nations. But at this time the problem is not financial but logistic, that is – how to reach the people, how to get through the border, because the Syrian side is closed, the Turkish side is still opened in some places in order to bring food, medicine and shelter. But, it is difficult to provide those things in the middle of a military conflict” Borrell said.

https://twitter.com/eu_eeas/status/1235281289860837387?s=21

“We have to call once again for a stop of the military activities in order to give some protection to these people. As far as I know, from the information I got from Ankara – I am coming from Ankara – this is one of worse cases of human distress that we have been living in the last 70 years” he added.

Borrell referred to the diplomatic efforts, reflected in his recent talks with Turkish officials during the trip to Ankara.

“They believe that the support we are providing is not enough. For sure it is not enough, because when we made the agreement in 2016, the situation in Idlib was not the way it is now. But we continue providing support as much as we can and I have been telling them that to push people, to put pressure at the [EU-Turkey] border is not a solution for anyone. It is going to put people at risk and we would like to continue cooperating but not through movement of people, by making them believe that there is an opportunity to pass to Europe, because this opportunity does not exist” Borrell concluded.

COVID19: NATO HQ access limited

NATO Headquaters in Brussels has also limited access to visitors. The book presentation planned for this week was cancelled by precaution of COVID19 outbreak.

We would like to thank you for registering to our event, however, we regret to communicate that, due to the NATO Headquarters’ strict restrictions on visitors’ access to its premises by reason of the recent coronavirus outbreak, we are obliged to indefinitely postpone the book discussion planned for the 12th March at 2.00pm” the message from organisers reads.
Nevertheless, we are looking forward to your participation at the rescheduled event to which we will send out the invitation as soon as we know the date and time”.

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