Rasmussen Stresses NATO’s Changing Role in the Mediterranean

BELGIUM–(ENEWSPF)–16 June 2011.  NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, delivered a speech at the Spanish Senate on NATO’s changing role in the Mediterranean, particularly focusing on Operation Unified Protector and NATO’s future role in the region.

The Secretary General stressed that the progress made in its Libya operation over the past three months: “We have seriously degraded the ability of the Qadhafi regime to attack civilians. We have opened air and sea access for humanitarian assistance. And we have closed it to arms and mercenaries.” He further highlighted that last week NATO Defence Ministers have made it clear that “there is a solid determination to fulfil the historic mandate of the United Nations Security Council.”

Fogh Rasmussen went on to outline the way forward for NATO in the Mediterranean region, focusing on three main areas: improving NATO’s own capabilities, increasing the practical support NATO offers to the countries of the region and enhancing NATO’s political dialogue with those countries.

The Secretary General highlighted the way forward for a post-conflict Libya: “The international community needs to start planning for that day. And I believe that planning should be led by the United Nations. Once the crisis is over, it will be necessary to reform the military and security sectors. NATO has extensive experience in this field. We should stand ready to respond to any calls for help. And that support should be available to other countries in the region too.”

During his visit to Madrid, the Secretary General met with Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez and Defence Minister Carme Chacon. They discussed NATO relations with Russia, NATO’s reform and the Alliance-led operations in Libya and Afghanistan.