In the „NATO Social Update Briefing” of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association of Hungary, we bring you the contemporary news of the Alliance every month.
Partnerships and conferences
Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană stressed the important contributions young people make to NATO in an address to the Atlantic Forum’s online Spring Conference on 9 April 2021. Young professionals, he said, play a crucial role in shaping NATO’s future, and in standing up for the Alliance’s values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.
He highlighted recent efforts to involve youth in NATO’s work, including through the Alliance’s first-ever Youth Summit, the participation of young professionals in developing the NATO 2030 initiative, and NATO’s new Young Professionals Programme.Mr. Geoană also highlighted the importance of unity and a strong transatlantic bond in building more resilient societies, and maintaining NATO’s technological edge. He stressed that we must always look to the future, to maintain the security of the one billion people who live in NATO countries.
On 13 April 2021, the annual Raisina Dialogue, organized by India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation, was held. NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg virtually addressed the event, pointing out various major factors that prove the importance of India on the global scene. He highlighted that in the past seventy years NATO secured peace in the Euro-Atlantic area, respecting democracy, and human rights. He added that the success of the Alliance rested on the ability of changing when the world was changed around them.
Now that the world is changing rapidly and unpredictably, they find it extremely important to engage more closely with their partners around the globe to protect the rules-based international order and secure democracies. In the light of these statements, he emphasized the importance of stepping up NATO’s dialogue with India in the Asia-Pacific region, as the country is at the forefront of many shared security challenges.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană outlined NATO’s adaptation to cyber threats in a keynote speech at the NATO Cyber Defence Pledge Conference 2021 on 15 April. Noting that cyber threats are increasing and targeting democratic processes and institutions, the Deputy Secretary General stressed that NATO and Allies continue to adapt. “Since we adopted the Cyber Defence Pledge in 2016, we have come a long way,” he said, while highlighting that there remains more to be done.
Mr. Geoană noted that Allies have agreed that a cyber-attack can trigger NATO’s collective defence clause, Article Five, and that cyberspace is designated as a military domain, alongside land, sea, air and now, space. “Individual Allies are also further boosting their national cyber defences in line with the commitment they made in the Cyber Defence Pledge,” he added.
The Deputy Secretary General also thanked Estonia for hosting this year’s conference, which is taking place virtually. The conference allows experts from across the Alliance and the private sector to address the most pressing issues in cyber defence and exchange best practices.Addressing conference participants, the Deputy Secretary General highlighted the importance of cooperating and engaging with like-minded partners, including the private sector and academia, to promote stability and reduce the risk of conflict in cyberspace. He also underlined that enhancing Allied resilience and leveraging technology are key elements of the NATO 2030 initiative to make the Alliance stronger.
On 6-7 April 2021 Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and senior military advisor to the Secretary General met with the President of Ukraine, Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak.
The Chairman reaffirmed NATO’s partnership with Ukraine, stressing that Ukraine is one of NATO’s closest and most important partners, and highlighted the full support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The main topics of the discussion were Ukraine’s defence reforms, the developments, the Black Sea region, and the country’s continued support to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, the Kosovo Force in Kosovo, and NATO’s Response Force.
Air Chief Marshal Peach also stated that NATO welcomes Ukraine’s efforts to implement major reforms in its democratic institutions, in strengthening the rule of law, in the fight against corruption, and in reforming its security and defence sector.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to NATO Headquarters on 13 April 2021 for a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission on the security situation in and around Ukraine. “Russia’s considerable military build-up is unjustified, unexplained, and deeply concerning,” said the Secretary General. Allies reaffirmed NATO’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, however, they also expressed concern over Russia’s behaviour. NATO continues to call on Russia to abide by the Minsk Agreements, end its support for the militants in eastern Ukraine, withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory and engage constructively at the OSCE on its military activities.
Stoltenberg called on Russia to end this military build-up, stop its provocations and de-escalate immediately. He stressed that NATO Allies do not and will not recognize Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, and condemn its military build-up on the peninsula. The Secretary General also reiterated NATO’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He underlined that NATO will continue to provide significant political and practical support to Ukraine. Ukrainian Foreign Minister briefed Allies on the latest developments in the region and Stoltenberg stressed that these reforms will help bring Ukraine closer to NATO.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to NATO Headquarters on Wednesday (14 April). Mr. Stoltenberg called the meeting an opportunity to “closely coordinate and consult with all Allies” on the future of the mission in Afghanistan, as well as Russia’s aggressive actions in and around Ukraine, and preparations for the NATO Summit.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to NATO Headquarters on 14 April 2021, thanking him for his leadership and the “strong US commitment to our Alliance”. On Afghanistan, Mr. Stoltenberg said “we went in together, we adjusted our presence together and we will also leave together”, underscoring the importance of close consultations going forward.
The Secretary General said they would also discuss Russia’s aggressive actions in and around Ukraine, and NATO’s support for Kyiv. Mr. Stoltenberg said he would also address preparations for the upcoming NATO Summit with Secretary Austin, including the NATO 2030 agenda. The Secretary General earlier met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and the two US Secretaries will later participate in a meeting of the North Atlantic Council by video conference with all Allied foreign and defence ministers.
NATO Allies decided on 14 April 2021 to start withdrawing forces from the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan by May 1, with plans to complete the drawdown of all troops within a few months.
In a joint press conference with the US Secretaries of State and Defense following a virtual meeting of Allied foreign and defence ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “our drawdown will be orderly, coordinated, and deliberate”. He added: “we went into Afghanistan together, we have adjusted our posture together, and we are united in leaving together”.
Mr. Stoltenberg called the move “the start of a new chapter” in NATO’s relationship with Afghanistan, saying “Allies and partners will continue to stand with the Afghan people, but it is now for the Afghan people to build a sustainable peace”.
Poland decided on 20 April 2021, to deploy a contingent of troops in Turkey in support of NATO measures to bolster security in the southeast of the Alliance. Poland will support Turkey with maritime patrols over the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea with a Polish M28 “Bryza” aircraft.
The move was warmly welcomed by the NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu. This deployment was part of an agreed package of measures to help Turkey increase aircrafts and maritime activities in the eastern Mediterranean.
In 2001, Allies invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty for the only time in NATO’s history and went to Afghanistan together with clear objectives: to confront al-Qaeda. Over the past two decades, NATO has invested troops and resources in the country, and has managed to work in partnership with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its security forces.
In light of this and recognising that there is no military solution to the challenges Afghanistan faces, Allies have determined that we will start the withdrawal of Resolute Support Mission forces by May 1. Any Taliban attacks on Allied troops during this withdrawal will be met with a forceful response.
NATO will continue to support the ongoing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. Furthermore allies and partners will continue to stand with Afghanistan, its people, and its institutions. A sustainable peace in Afghanistan will have at its foundation an enduring, comprehensive, safeguards the human rights of all Afghans, upholds the rule of law, and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.
NATO assembled one of the largest coalitions in history to serve in Afghanistan. Their troops went into Afghanistan together, they have adjusted together, and now they are leaving together. The Whole can be grateful for those who have participated on the mission and forced against the global terrorism – states the Ministerial Statement.
The statement released by the North Atlantic Council expressed NATO’s commitment to support the United States’ actions following the Russian aggression in and along the Ukranian and Georgian territories. The Alliance has strongly condemned the Russian violation of the commitment for the integrity of the borders of the Budapest Memorandum, the attempts to interfere with local elections in Allied countries, and the use of chemical weapons against the Russian opposition figure, Alexei Navalny. These breaches of the international law pose a threat to the Euro-Atlantic security, therefore NATO called on Russia to immediately refrain from its destabilizing behavior, return to the adherence of the international obligations, and de-escalate the military buildup at the Ukranian border. The Alliance is open to engage in constructive dialogues with Moscow and urges the Russian leadership to return to the regular NATO-Russia Council meetings.