For 10 years, NATO’s relations with the Gulf partners have grown deeper and stronger. And this is good, because the more we cooperate, the safer we will be. . . .
I believe there is also considerable scope for NATO to deepen our cooperation in the Gulf region. Particularly in three areas:
First, through greater cooperation between our military forces.
During the NATO-led Libya operation three years ago, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates contributed impressive assets fast and effectively. In the recent months, Gulf countries have shown that same ability to plug into a complex military operation, fighting ISIL.
This was not luck. But the result of years of military-to-military cooperation. Information sharing. Joint training and exercising. And then putting our shared experience into practice when the time came for action.We must continue to strengthen those vital connections. And our ability to work together.
Second, we can do more together at sea.
Many NATO Allies depend on imports of oil and gas. Gulf countries depend on the secure transport of those exports. So we have a clear, common interest in ensuring the safety at sea.
Gulf countries have taken an increasingly active role in strengthening maritime security. Including by working with NATO and other navies.Thanks in large part to NATO’s operation “Ocean Shield”, piracy off the Somali coast has declined dramatically.
But to keep the pirates at bay, we need to sustain this effort. So I invite Gulf partners to join NATO and the “Ocean Shield” operation. To combat a common threat to the security and well-being of our nations. To further strengthening the ties between our forces. And to demonstrate your growing contribution to stability in the region and beyond.
Finally, we must deepen our political cooperation.
Bilateral contacts remain important. They give us a better understanding of your concerns. And how we can address them.
But we also want to strengthen our multilateral consultations. Between NATO Allies and all our Gulf partners. And between NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council. To develop a shared outlook of the security challenges of this region. And a solid basis for our practical cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 10th anniversary of our partnership is a good time to take stock of how far we have come. But also to consider how far we still need to go. To deliver the stability we need in the neighbourhood we share.
Excerpts from keynote address by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the North Atlantic Council – ICI seminar celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, Doha, Qatar, December 11, 2014.