Thursday, 11 June 2009

De Hoop Scheffer Opens Ministerial Meeting

In his last Ministerial meeting at NATO, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer opened the Defence Planning Committee this afternoon, discussing the topics to be covered by Ministers, and those that had previously been covered in informal sessions.

This morning we discussed operational issues with a special focus on our engagement in Kosovo and NATO’s role in counter piracy. Thanks in no small part to the presence and engagement over the past 10 years of KFOR, as well as work done by the UN and most recently the work done by EULEX, the security situation in Kosovo is steadily improving. Allies discussed and decided how to adapt KFOR to this environment.

The threat posed by piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Horn of Africa is clearly increasing, with at least 80 pirate attacks counted this year to date. Through Operations Allied Provider and Allied Protector, NATO has made and continues to make an important contribution to the security of maritime traffic passing through this affected zone. Ministers took stock of our successful efforts to date and discussed the scope of NATO’s possible longer-term involvement in counter-piracy.

Tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s session of the North Atlantic Council will provide an opportunity to review NATO’s defence transformation efforts following up on the decisions taken by our Heads of State and Government at the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit. In that context we will address the NATO Response Force, how to make our forces more usable, the value of multinational approaches to building capabilities and efforts to increase interoperability.

We will also continue the important discussion on Headquarter Reform.

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