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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: NATO’s Open-Door Policy Must Continue

08.12.2011

No. 402-E

At the official meeting of NATO foreign ministers that began in Brussels today the focus was on Kosovo, Afghanistan, Northern Africa and the Middle East, missile defence, and partnership relations. The meeting is also a mile marker on the path to the summit that will take place in Chicago in the spring.

The foreign ministers expressed concern over recent developments in Northern Kosovo and strong support for the activities of the NATO peacekeeping mission KFOR in maintaining security in the northern part of Kosovo. Foreign Minister Paet stated that close co-operation on-site between NATO and the European Union is very important. “At the same time, the conflict can only be resolved through the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, which must continue to receive attention,” said the foreign minister.

Paet stated that Afghanistan will remain NATO’s main operation. “The Chicago summit is important because that is where we will define our activities until the final transfer of security responsibilities in 2014. We will focus on the question of how NATO will be involved in Afghanistan’s future,” he stated.

When it comes to developments in Northern Africa and the Middle East, Paet confirmed that Estonia supports the promotion of political and practical co-operation with countries in the region within the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Co-operation Initiative. “Estonia is prepared to support Libya’s involvement as a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, if Libya itself wishes to participate,” he added.

Next year’s NATO summit is significant in many ways, says Foreign Minister Urmas Paet. “The successful completion of the operation in Libya can be considered a success for NATO as an organisation this year. However, at the summit it is necessary to reconfirm the commitment of the USA and European allies to the alliance. Europe must consider how to prevent critical power gaps and contribute to its own defence capability. What is essential is the deterrent influence of NATO as a whole,” asserted Paet.

Today’s foreign ministers’ meeting gave an opportunity to also re-confirm the open-door policy for NATO candidate countries. Paet added that Georgia as well as other candidate countries that have made clear progress are expecting a clear message from NATO in Chicago.

Tomorrow, 8 December, the foreign ministers’ meeting will continue with a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council and a discussion on Afghanistan with the nations that contribute to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

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