NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg commended Portugal for its contributions to Allied security during a visit to Lisbon on Monday (27 April 2015). He stressed that NATO is adapting to new security challenges in order to keep all Allies safe. In a joint press conference following a meeting with Foreign Minister Dr. Rui Machete, Mr. Stoltenberg called Portugal “a staunch Ally”, which is contributing to keep NATO strong to deal with the the changed security environment.
The Secretary General expressed appreciation for Portugal’s “important role in Afghanistan and Kosovo”. He further thanked Portugal for providing aircraft for NATO air policing, as well as ships and troops for exercises. Mr. Stoltenberg noted that Portugal will co-host exercise “Trident Juncture” in the autumn, which will be NATO’s biggest exercise since the end of the Cold War.
“We are facing a dramatically changed security environment in Europe,” Mr. Stoltenberg warned, noting that Russia has broken international rules through its aggressive actions against Ukraine. The Secretary General further stressed that extremism is spreading in the Middle East and North Africa. “The recent loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea is a tragic consequence of this instability we see,” he said. “This is a human tragedy. We agree we have to be united to tackling this crisis. It is a huge international challenge which demands a comprehensive response,” the Secretary General underlined. He welcomed the decisions made by EU leaders on the situation in the Mediterranean and stressed that “there is no simple solution posed by migration”.
“It is about addressing the root causes and the instability in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia”, he said.
The Secretary General underscored that NATO will continue to work closely with its partners in order to keep the southern neighbourhood stable. NATO stands ready to support Libya with advice on defence institution building. The Alliance is already doing this with Jordan, and assessing a request from Iraq, he noted. “If our neighbours are more stable, we are more secure,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.
The Secretary General underlined that NATO is also adapting to new security risks by more than doubling the size of the NATO Response Force from 13,000 to 30,000. We are also creating a new 5,000-strong quick reaction Spearhead Force, he said, adding “Portugal will play an important role.”
While in Lisbon, the Secretary General is also meeting with President Aníbal Cavaco Silva, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, and Defence Minister José Pedro Aguiar-Branco.
Leopold James De Rothschild