Afghanistan, NATO-EU relations, Libya and Russia, as well as the future challenges of NATO enlargement. These were the questions of the table for Foreign Minister Emma Bonino’s discussion with NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, at the Farnesina today, 25 July.
Minister Bonino began by reiterating Italy’s commitment, post-2014, to support Afghanistan’s security in a cohesive framework with the Allies, while working to promote the extensive involvement of NATO member countries and partners. She stressed the need for the international community to focus its efforts not just on security but on improving the country’s civil and economic conditions. At the same time, she added, the Afghans will need to respect their commitments in terms of democratic reforms, governance, inclusion and the protection of human rights. Indeed, concluded Minister Bonino, the presidential elections in 2014 will be an important test for the Afghan authorities.
The Foreign Minister also underscored the importance for the EU and NATO to develop and deepen their collaboration, both on the political level and by promoting synergies and shared projects. One aim is to optimise defence and security spending: a need that is all the more pressing in light of member states’ ever-tighter budgetary constraints.
Emma Bonino also reiterated Italy’s support for NATO to strengthen stability in Libya: “one of our foreign policy priorities”, she told Rasmussen. She also illustrated Italy’s commitment to launch a training programme for Libyan armed and security forces, once Ramadan is over.
Lastly, Minister Bonino thanked Rasmussen for his committed efforts to develop NATO-Russia relations, which must increasingly focus on fostering mutual trust. Afghanistan and missile defence could be two fields on which NATO could work, in concrete terms, with Moscow.