An interview with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg30.10.2014 | 20:50
In an interview he gave to OnAlert and journalist Nikos Evagelatos, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke about Turkey's recent violations of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, the wave of illegal immigrants from Syria and the security threat posed by the Islamic State.
When asked about whether he believes that Cyprus and Turkey have the same share of responsibility in the area the NATO secretary General replied that "I think that everyone should refrain from actions that might further increase the tensions in the region especially at times like this because now we are facing so many challenges and threats from outside, from the instability in Syria, ISIL in Iraq/Syria and also from a more aggressive Russia in the eastern parts of Europe " and added that “we should focus on these threats and stand together as allies.”
The issue of illegal immigrants and the influx of immigrants from the Middle East and Syria was a crucial question to which the NATO Secretary General stated that "Illegal immigration and immigration issues are very important for the whole of Europe and especially of course for a country like Greece which is very close to the point of where the high numbers of immigrants are coming into”. He stressed however that the issue of illegal immigration is not a military issue.
Mr. Stoltenberg also placed emphasis on the new role to be undertaken by the outgoing Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos in Brussels.
The current crisis in Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by ISIS played a leading role through out the interview with the NATO Secretary General. Concerning the need for a ground force offensive against ISIS Mr. Stoltenberg agreed “that airstrikes alone cannot solve the problem” and stressed that NATO is ready “to help Iraq in developing and enhancing their armed forces " noting that at present “there is no request for a NATO direct military involvement in Syria.”
Watch the full interview the NATO Secretary General gave to OnAlert concerning the crisis surrounding Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, NATO's role towards the influx of immigrants from Syria and the Middle East and the threat of the Islamic State.
The NATO Secretary General also met with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. During their meeting they discussed the threats to security in the wider reagion as well as issues relating to Russia and Ukraine. The NATO Secretary General did not fail to mentio that Greece has been a committed Ally to NATO for over 60 years.
During the earlier press conference with deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos, the NATO secretary General mentioned the NATO operation Active Endeavour and stressed that NATO is "really grateful for Greece’s contribution to security in the Mediterranean region, particularly in Operation Active Endeavour." He didn't fail to show how impressed he was from the military exercise "Pyrpolitis" which he attended earlier in the day (for photos of the military exercise click here).
He referred to the crisis in Ukraine and called on Russia to end its destabilising actions and to withdraw its forces from Ukraine.
The NATO Secretary General made it quite clear that NATO did not support the elections planned by the separatists and stated "that the planned holding of so-called elections by armed separatists in eastern Ukraine would undermine the Minsk agreements and would not contribute to a peaceful solution".
During the press conference Jens Stoltenberg once again stressed that allies should refrain from tensions in the south Mediterranean area, in reference to Turkey's violations of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone and that they should instead focus on challenges coming from the Middle East, which he called more "important challenges".
The recent increased air activity by the Russian air force along NATO's borders was a crucial point which was addressed by the Secretary General during the joint press conference. Based on this Stoltenberg stressed that "we are not in a Cold War situation" but he didn't fail to add that Russia's behaviour "has undermined a lot of trust and has rolled back very much what we have tried to create", in reference to the years since the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The new Secretary General was succinct concerning NATO's stance towards Russia and made a point of mentioning the increased military capabilities NATO is implementing due to Russian aggression. Stoltenberg stated that NATO allies are in fact investing and implementing Assurance Measures. Meaning that NATO will not only be in high readiness but that there will be an increased air policing. This being an answer, as Stoltenberg stated, to Russia's own increased air activity. It's clear that the new Secretary General wants to make a dynamic start to his new NATO role and what better reason to do this than Russia's 'antics' in and around Eastern Ukraine during the past few months.
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