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NATO and Spain discuss Alliance's response to new security challenges

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

12 Mar. 2015

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Spain for its many contributions to the Alliance during a visit to Madrid on Thursday (12 March 2015). He underscored that NATO is responding to threats both to the east and the south. After meeting with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey, the Secretary General had an audience with His Majesty King Felipe VI. In a joint press conference following a meeting with Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo, Mr. Stoltenberg called Spain "a staunch Ally," adding, "you do a lot for our shared security."

The Secretary General expressed gratitude for Spain's active role in NATO missions and operations, highlighting Spain's participation in Baltic air policing, its Patriot missile battery deployment in Turkey, and its hosting of missile defence ships at Naval Station Rota. He noted that later in 2015, Spain will host NATO's biggest exercise in many years, expected to include around 25,000 troops. Mr. Stoltenberg also thanked Spain for its "major role in building security in Afghanistan."

The Secretary General warned that "Russia has broken international rules through its aggressive actions against Ukraine." He noted that "the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine seems to be holding, but it remains fragile." He added "we have seen the withdrawal of some heavy weapons, but they can be redeployed very fast." He called on all parties to ensure that OSCE monitors have the full access and security guarantees they need in order to verify the withdrawal. "This is vital for the full implementation of the Minsk agreement," he said.

Mr. Stoltenberg also highlighted security challenges to the south, including spreading instability across the Middle East and North Africa. He called ISIL "a direct threat to our security," saying "it is inspiring terrorist attacks on our streets." The Secretary General underscored the importance of working with partners to keep the southern neighbourhood stable, noting that NATO is advising Jordan on defence institution building. He added that NATO also stands ready "to support Libya with advice" in a similar way, and is assessing a request from Iraq. The Secretary General noted that by assisting neighbours, the Alliance "can project stability" without deploying its own forces.

"NATO is adapting to the challenges we face. We are more than doubling the size of the NATO Response Force from 13,000 to 30,000," the Secretary General said. He added that the Alliance is also creating a new 5,000-strong quick reaction Spearhead Force. Mr. Stoltenberg noted that in 2016, Spain will be the first Ally to lead the Spearhead Force. He called Spain's leadership "a strong signal of NATO solidarity" and proof that "Europeans are taking responsibility for their own security."

"We cannot take our security for granted," the Secretary General said. "Security is the basis of everything we have: our prosperity, our values, our open societies."

While in Madrid, Secretary General Stoltenberg is also meeting separately with Defence Minister Pedro Morenés Eulate.



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