NATO stays European security bedrock: Jens Stoltenberg

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Bucharest, Feb 1 (IANS) NATO stays the bedrock of the European security and the efforts of European Union (EU) for defence are complementary to, and not competing with NATO’s, the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said here.

“It must be clear to us that the EU cannot replace NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)… We must make sure we do not weaken the transatlantic connection,” Stoltenberg said on Thursday during a joint conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The European unity cannot substitute itself to the transatlantic unity. NATO stays the European security’s bedrock,” he said, adding that after the Brexit, 80 per cent of the NATO defence spending will be provided by non-EU allies, while four of the fighting groups in the Baltic states and Poland will be led by non-EU NATO allies, which are the US, Canada and the UK.

According to the NATO chief, the EU’s common efforts in defence “help develop new military capabilities, solve part of the fragmentation of the European defence industry and improve defence spending”.

Iohannis said, in his turn, that nobody wants to create a NATO-EU competition.

“We all want to make sure that NATO’s projects and the ones that are developed in the EU are complementary, that is, to mutually strengthen and not to compete,” the President added, stressing that “we must play a very important role within NATO, but not in NATO’s place or in parallel with NATO.”

Stoltenberg is in Bucharest to attend the two-day informal meeting of defence ministers of the EU member states.

The meeting, chaired by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, is the first ministerial level event to be hosted by Romania since it took over the Presidency of the EU Council at the beginning of the year.

UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix was invited to participate in the discussion.

–IANS

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