NATO FMs agree to step up cooperation with EU
06 Dec 2017, 19:39 ( 8 days ago)
NATO meetings held at the level of foreign ministers in Brussels made clear its intentions for increased cooperation with the European Union, and reaffirmed its engagements on the eastern borders of its zone of influence.
Increased cooperation with the EU was highlighted during the meeting on Tuesday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, joined by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, announced new agreements to continue collaboration between the two blocs in matters of defense.
New agreements were reached with the EU regarding increased military mobility, strengthened information exchange in counter-terrorism operations and coordinated support for partner countries, and more promotion of women's role in peace and security.
"We are taking cooperation between NATO and the EU to a new level," NATO chief said.
During questions following the press conference, Mogherini was asked about whether the EU efforts to consolidate European defense would replace NATO.
Mogherini replied negatively, saying "we're not looking at duplications, we're not looking at ways to turn the European Union into a military alliance, but we are looking at make the most out of the instruments we have."
Commending the EU's efforts, Stoltenberg said, "These steps can lead to increased defense spending, more modern capabilities, and fairer transatlantic burden sharing."
Meanwhile, Stoltenberg reaffirmed that these efforts should "complement what NATO does".
The alliance's continued work with Georgia on security matters was announced on Wednesday, with a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission concluding to further boost their cooperation and announcing a joint military exercise planned for 2019.
As part of a general preparation for the July 2018 NATO summit in Brussels, the ministers agreed that the alliance should continue to reinforce "defense and dialogue" approach toward Russia, and "support our partners in Eastern Europe."
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, however, told reporters on Wednesday that allies agreed that dialogue with Russia would not be normalized.
"We had a lot of discussion at this NATO meeting... over what is the proper engagement with Russia and I think there is broad consensus among all the NATO members that there is no normalization of dialogue with Russia today," Tillerson said.
Meetings concluded Wednesday with discussion of NATO's open door policy, aimed at standards and procedures for countries wishing to join the alliance, which has often been a source of tension in Eastern Europe.