NATO summit in Poland
Alliance continues to support Afghanistan
NATO remains active in Afghanistan – financial aid has been approved up until 2020. “We will continue our commitment in the north of Afghanistan, together with our partners,” said the Chancellor.
Previously, she had announced at the summit that Germany will support the strengthened NATO presence in the east with a contribution in Lithuania.
The summit on Friday and Saturday in Warsaw took place against the backdrop of the changed political and security environment in Europe, but also with the situation in southern member countries presenting increasing challenges to the alliance.
Afghanistan remains in focus
Afghanistan remains an important topic. NATO has been involved there since 2003, initially under ISAF, and then since 2015 as part of the advisory mission Resolute Support, in which 39 nations are currently involved. At the summit, the alliance partners agreed to provide financing to the Afghan forces until 2020. This is extremely important to enable the Afghan forces to continue taking over responsibility for security. “Today we have decided to continue the mission Resolute Support beyond 2016,” Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Warsaw on Saturday.
US President Obama had already stated on Wednesday that US forces will also remain involved, with a contingent of 8,400 soldiers. “We have made clear to everyone that in parallel to this, a political process of dialogue with the Taliban is necessary in order to advance a political solution,” continued Merkel.
Fighting terrorism together
NATO is also feeling the consequences associated with the Syrian civil war, disintegration of the state in Iraq and Libya, and the expansion of the ISIS--Islamic State terrorist militia. As such, we have also paid special attention to the situation in the south, explained the Chancellor. “This means with the southern neighbourhood (of the alliance), with Syria, with the struggle against the civil war there, with Iraq and with the war against ISIS--Islamic State.”
In addition to the existing activities – for example the NATO mission in the Aegean Sea – there will be a number of new activities. “These are primarily an AWACS deployment by Turkey, and also training measures in Iraq.” Over and above this, Operation Active Endeavour will be changed into a NATO mission that is no longer based on Article 5. The goal of this measure is better monitoring of the Mediterranean, especially with a view to Libya and combating the human trafficking / smuggling activities. In this regard, the political necessity of the solutions was naturally also discussed, both in Syria and with the political process in Libya. “From my side, I have once again made clear that we must strengthen our commitment to Africa as a whole,” said the Chancellor.
On the second day of the NATO summit Merkel also met for respective bilateral talks with both Turkish President Erdogan and US President Obama. With Obama, she discussed the implementation of the Minsk Protocol, aimed at resolving the conflict in the Ukraine. The situation in the Ukraine was also raised in a further discussion after the official end of the NATO summit. For this purpose, Chancellor Merkel, US--United States of America President Obama, French President Hollande, British Prime Minister Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Renzi met with Ukrainian President Poroschenko.
Germany supports Lithuania
The main topic on Friday, the first day of the summit, was the NATO presence in the east. In future, NATO will station more troops with its eastern allies, amongst other measures. Regarding the announced strengthening of the NATO presence in the Baltic and in Poland, Chancellor Merkel said on Friday evening: “Germany will contribute as a so-called 'frame nation' – together with Norway, the Franco-German Brigade and with the Benelux states – in Lithuania. Other countries will assume responsibility in the other Baltic states and in Poland.”
The alliance agreed on structural changes at the previous summit in Wales, which have since been implemented. The catalyst was the Russian intervention in the Ukraine, which raised questions about the situation in Europe.
In addition to the 28 heads of state and government, the foreign and defence ministers of the NATO member states also met. 39 government representatives, around 80 foreign and defence ministers, as well as about 1,500 journalists were present. German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen, took part in the NATO summit.
Continue dialogue with Russia
“We will simultaneously continue to seek dialogue,” said the Chancellor before the evening discussions on Friday, regarding relationships with Russia. “Germany has gone to great lengths to ensure that the NATO-Russia agreement remains valid, even with all the additional measures we are taking. Next week there will also be a NATO-Russia Council meeting, at which we will surely discuss the results of this summit.”
Merkel emphasized once again how important this dialogue is in the context of all the activities: “I believe that it is in all our interests – as is also the case in Syria, where there are agreements between the USA and Russia – that NATO and Russia remain in close contact regarding their activities.”
In May 2002, the NATO-Russia Council was founded as a place for political dialogue. As a result of the Russian intervention in the Ukraine Crisis, this cooperation was suspended in April 2014. On the initiative of Foreign Minister Steinmeier, the NATO-Russia Council was revived in April this year.
Fight against cyber activities
There was also a third topic on the agenda in Warsaw: the fight against cyber activities. A special department will be created for this purpose – similar to what has been done by the German army – that will support the security forces with protecting the internet, data systems and the whole technology infrastructure. “This is also of great importance,” emphasized the Chancellor.
The next NATO summit for 2017 was announced at the press conference on Saturday afternoon by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, to take place at NATO headquarters in Brussels.