Opening remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the joint press point with the Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi

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Thank you, Prime Minister.

I am very pleased to be in Rome. And I am really impressed by your commitment to reforms, as you mark one year in office. The economy is picking up. This is good news for Italy, for Europe, and for NATO.

Italy is a staunch member of our Alliance. You are one of the biggest contributors to our operations. In Kosovo. And in Afghanistan.

Let me focus on three key points we discussed today.

First, NATO is adapting to the new security challenges we face to the East and the South. Recent advances by ISIL pose a direct threat to the security of all NATO countries. We are implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the cold war. To defend all Allies against threats from any direction, including from the South. And I welcome the leading role Italy will play in our new Spearhead Force. We are improving our situational awareness over our southern borders. And developing our maritime strategy.

Second, we agree that it is vital to work even closer with our partners to keep our neighbourhood stable. We are particularly concerned by the deteriorating security situation in Libya. NATO stands ready to support Libya with advice on defence and security institution building, as requested by the Libyan government. By helping countries in North Africa and in the Middle East build up their defence capacity, we can project stability without always deploying our own forces. We are already doing this with Jordan. And we are assessing a request from Iraq.

Third, we discussed the crisis caused by Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine. Prime Minister, you will soon visit both countries. We agree that the Minsk agreement is the best basis for a negotiated peaceful solution. I welcome recent indications of reduced fighting in Ukraine. I hope the ceasefire is now going to be respected. Now it is important that all parties fully respect the ceasefire and withdraw heavy weapons. Russia has transferred in recent months over one thousand pieces of equipment, tanks, artillery and air defense systems. They have to withdraw this equipment and stop supporting the separatists. Any attempts to expand further the territory held ny separatists would be a clear violation of the ceasefire. And it would be unacceptable to the international community.

So Prime Minister, many thanks again – and I look forward to working very closely with you at this challenging time.

Source: NATO

By

Leopold James De Rothschild

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