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Published On: Thu, May 25th, 2017

2017 NATO summit in Brussels as Belgium hands new headquarters to the alliance

nsnbc : NATO’s 2017 summit started in Belgium on Wednesday and continues Thursday as “the alliance” discusses its new profile, policies and challenges and has its new headquarters handed over to it by the Belgian state.

Jens Stoltenberg_NATO summit_2017On the top of the agenda this year is fairer burden sharing which translates into primarily the United States’ demand that other NATO members pay a greater share of the NATO budget and submit more troops to NATO missions. Thursday will mark the handover of NATO’s new headquarters from Belgium. “This will be a historic milestone: a new home for a modern Alliance,” said the Secretary General Stoltenberg. He noted that the site, a former military airfield during both World Wars, will now become a venue for dialogue and cooperation between Allies.

NATO Allies will also address burden-sharing across NATO, including how to meet the pledge all Allies made in 2014 – to stop the cuts; gradually increase and move towards spending 2% of GDP on defence within a decade. “We will decide that Allies will share and report on their progress every year,” said Mr. Stoltenberg.

Aarhus mod Krig og Terror - Danish anti-war activists deployed "peace bomb" in Aarhus.

Aarhus mod Krig og Terror – Danish anti-war activists deployed “peace bomb” in Aarhus.

The 2% demand, however, is one of the least popular demands and was one of the core arguments against the alliance used by anti-war activists across Europe, such as Aarhus against War and Terror in the Danish city of Aarhus.

Mentioning the role of the air field that now hosts the new NATO headquarter, Stoltenberg also didn’t mention that the airfield was primarily used by “western allies” who would become adversaries to the Soviet Union. The “dialog between allies” Stoltenberg mentioned and the “exclusion of Russia”, positioning it as new “adversary” does not help build peace and security say many of the peace activists in NATO member states.

However, Stoltenberg stated that the summit will demonstrate NATO’s ability to change as the world changes. He noted that the parliaments of all 28 Allies have ratified Montenegro’s accession to NATO, a step forward for stability in the Western Balkans. “NATO’s strength allows us to defend our nations at home, to train partners abroad, and to engage in difficult but important dialogue,” he said.

Stoltenberg said that NATO made progress both with regard to the fight against terrorism and fairer burden sharing. Speaking on the meeting on Thursday he said today, we will adopt an action plan to enhance NATO’s contributions. Our largest military operation ever was launched in Afghanistan in a direct response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

13,000 NATO troops continue to train Afghan forces. We will assess our level of support and the future of the mission. Training local forces is one of the best weapons in the fight against terrorism. We are already training Iraqi forces. And our AWACS surveillance planes provide information to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Today, we will decide to expand our support to the Coalition. With more AWACS flight-time, more information sharing and air-to-air refueling. All 28 Allies are members of the Global Coalition and today, we will agree on NATO’s membership in the Coalition. This will send a strong political message of NATO’s commitment to the fight against terrorism. And improve coordination within the Coalition. But it does not mean that NATO will engage in combat operations.

At the same time, we will agree to establish a new terrorism intelligence cell here at NATO headquarters. Improving how we share intelligence, including on foreign fighters. And we will decide to appoint a coordinator to oversee NATO’s efforts in the fight against terrorism.

The other major topic we will discuss is fairer burden sharing. In 2014, all Allies agreed to spend more and better on defense. Including moving towards investing 2 percent of GDP on defense within a decade. In 2015, cuts came to a stop. And in 2016, total spending across Europe and Canada increased by billions of dollars. This is not just about cash. But also modern capabilities. And meaningful contributions to NATO’s missions, operations and engagements. Today, we will take steps to keep up the momentum. We will agree to develop national plans every year. These will set out how NATO Allies intend to meet their pledge. So that we continue to match words with action.

He said “The stakes are high. This is about our security in a more uncertain world. So I look forward to welcoming all NATO leaders, as well as the Prime Minister of Montenegro, soon to be our 29th Ally”.

F/AK – nsnbc 25.05.2017

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