Afghanistan was one place where NATO gained a lot of allies and partners. Both the ISAF and Resolute Support formats [that saw the participation of dozens of countries, including from outside NATO] gave reason to bring representatives of Middle Eastern, Asian and Pacific countries to NATO HQ in Brussels. How to maintain these partnerships?
These partnerships are strong and based on more than joint action in Afghanistan. We have a lot of partners who are still on mission with us, for example, in Iraq and KFOR [in Kosovo].
Considering the global context in which we operate and the challenges we face, we have more reason than ever to maintain partnerships. Secretary General Stoltenberg keeps repeating the message that NATO is an alliance of 30 allies but a host of partners.
Looking at the challenges of the 21st century – authoritarian regimes and climate change – we need partnerships to ensure that we can win and rise to the occasion.
What will be the pretext for inviting the Australians of Japanese to the NATO HQ next time?
Allied leaders said in Brussels this June that partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region are crucial and will become more important in time. We hope to develop them in the middle-to-long-term.
We already have partnerships in places where we never expected to have them – both in North Africa and southern America. Our Pacific partners – Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand – have all been very clear in wanting a strong relationship with NATO. I hope we can clearly demonstrate it at next year’s summit.
In other words, those countries will be invited to the NATO summit next year?
We will see. No decisions have been made.
There will be a number of meetings with partners, while we have not yet decided on the format.
What could be the perfect work allocation between NATO and the EU?
I would not put it in those categories. One thing that is clear is that NATO is responsible for allied collective defense. We do not want there to be any confusion about that or anything to weaken the transatlantic bond between USA and Europe.
For me, defense spending is the most important thing – 2 percent of GDP – that is the goal NATO has set for its allies, while it could also be a key initiative in the EU, as is all the work we do to boost readiness.
The NATO Readiness Initiative – battalions, squadrons, ships – getting all of it done will benefit both NATO and the EU.
But you can see that below the level of collective defense, there are operations and missions handled by the EU, things where countries choose NATO and places where we pursue NATO-EU cooperation – such as Kosovo and Iraq. Both are present there and I believe doing a good job.