Military Committee Conference of NATO ChoDs was concluded

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NATO Military Committee Conference, which was held for the first time in our country, closes its formal proceedings

Among the key issues discussed in this conference were the projection of NATO's stability, the achievement of the initial operational capacity of the Center for the South and the continuity support of the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkans.

Regarding the Alliance's missions, military leaders restated the continuity support to Afghanistan and underlined that KFOR's position in Kosovo is related to conditions on terrain.

At the end of the meeting, the Defense Chiefs of NATO chose the current Chief of General Staff of the United Kingdom, General Sir Stuart William Peach, as the next chairman of the NATO Military Committee, who will take over in 2018.
After the working section, Chief of General Staff of the Albanian Armed Forces Brigadier General Bardhyl Kollçaku and the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, gave a press conference.

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Press Statement by Brigadier General Bardhyl Kollçaku, Albanian Chief of Defence:

Dear media representatives, I would like to thank you for your presence today and the interest shown in the NATO Military Committee Conference in Albania.

This is the first time Albania to organize and host such a conference. Continuation of ‘open door’ policy by NATO means that Albania expects to organize a similar event after about three decades.

We chose Tirana not only because it is capital city but also to show Allies and friends our uninterrupted journey toward development and prosperity, as well as its characteristic dynamism, where the old and traditional are intertwined with the modern. We hope that the friends feel at home and return to discover on the Mediterranean, which is how our country is dubbed.

As you are aware, the security environment over the recent years has been characterized by instability, unpredictability, complexity and un-clarity. Although the signs were given before, year 2014 when Russia attacked Ukraine and annexed Crimea, openly violating international norms and laws, marked a strong turning point for us all as Allies with regard to our awareness of security matters. Of course, the Collective Defence Concept has also evolved our perception to defense, since the borders of each Ally are already our borders as well.

In the framework of abiding by the decisions reached by the Heads of States at Wales’ and Warsaw’s Summits, Albania has carried out and continues to do its share in the process of adaptation. The presence of Albania soldiers in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VTJTF), Force Integration Units in Romania and Bulgaria, Multinational Division Southeast headquarters, or Battle Group led by Canada in the framework of Forward Presence in Latvia is a clear evidence of serious and essential engagement within the Alliance, while demonstrating on a broader level the cohesion in the ranks of the Alliance, and the ability to defend itself if need arises. Security comes with a price, and for this purpose the Albanian government is committed to progressively increasing its defense budget in the coming years, reaching 2% of gross domestic product in 2024.

Albania will continue to engage in NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan for as long as necessary. Our efforts along with those of the Allies aim at preventing this country from becoming a safe place for international terrorism.

The Alliance has joined the Global Coalition against ISIS/DAESH for confrontation purposes. Albania continues to play its role in supporting it. In the framework of projecting stability, our country approves the establishment of the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub at the Joint Forced Command in Naples, Italy, and will contribute with staff for its operation, in order to prevent risks that may come from this flank, but also enhance interoperability, and develop defense capabilities of partner countries in the Middle East, South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, Albania follows the developments in Kosovo very closely, and the NATO mission, KFOR, is a success story of the Alliance. We approve the “fulfilment of conditions” approach in the process of furthering this operation. On a broader level, passing the energy corridors through the Western Balkan region requires an increased attention of the Allies to prevent negative influence aiming to destabilize and interrupt the journey of its constituent countries toward Euro-Atlantic integration.

Distinguished media representatives, I would like to express once again my appreciation of your interest in the NATO Military Committee Conference.

Thank you for your attention.

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Press statement by the Chairman of the Military Committee, General Petr Pavel:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening and thank you for coming for this press conference.

I would like to start this press conference by thanking General Kollaku and his entire team for hosting and support this Military Committee Conference. Your hospitality and efforts has been remarkable and thank you on behalf of the whole Military Committee.

As for the discussions we had throughout the day, let me now lay out several key points.

The Alliance faces a number of challenges. There are both complex internal sorry, external threats and internal adaptation tasks that the Alliance needs to address to ensure we continue to successfully fulfill the mission that began nearly 70 years ago to safeguard and defend our territory and populations from any threat, from any direction, across 360 degrees.

We started today by focusing on NATOs role in Projecting Stability as agreed at the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Whether we turn to the Middle East or North Africa or the Alliances doorstep in the Western Balkans, NATO has a role to play in shaping the security environment for the better. The Chiefs of Defence provided a number of concrete proposals with regard to military contributions to support a comprehensive, systematic and coherent approach to NATOs Projecting Stability agenda.

The Chiefs of Defence also welcomed the Hub for the South achieving its Initial Operational Capability and its role in improving our regional understanding.

With regard to the Western Balkans, the Chiefs of Defence expressed their support to continued Euro-Atlantic integration of the region, including through closer military cooperation.

As NATO adapts to the new security environment, we have been reviewing our processes to ensure a NATO Command Structure that is fit-for-purpose, robust and agile for the full level of ambition now and in the foreseeable future. After hearing from both of the Strategic Commanders, General Scaparrotti and General Mercier on the conceptual work carried out so far, the Chiefs of Defence provided additional guidance which will be reflected by the NATO International Military Staff and the two Strategic Commands in follow-on work ahead of the November Defence Ministerial meeting.

In the afternoon, the Commander of the RESOLUTE SUPPORT Mission, General Nicholson and the Senior Civilian Representative, Ambassador Zimmermann briefed us on the ongoing military and political situation in Afghanistan. The Chiefs of Defence reconfirmed their continued support to Afghanistan and stressed that the Mission remains conditions-based. They also recognized the need to fill the current CJSOR shortfalls.

The Chiefs of Defence also engaged in an in-depth discussion of the security situation in the Western Balkans. They evaluated, following a briefing from Major General Fungo, Commander of Kosovo Force (KFOR), our longest mission to date and the security environment in and around Kosovo. Reflecting on the stable but fragile security situation in the region, the CHODs reiterated that the duration of KFOR was dependent on the circumstances on the ground. They also underlined the importance of continued NATO-EU cooperation in the context of Projecting Stability.

Finally, in our last session of the day, the Chiefs of Defence elected the next Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. I would like now to congratulate Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach from the United Kingdom on his election. I am confident that with his vast experience as the Chief of Defence Staff and also as Military Committee member, he will do an excellent job leading the Military Committee and ensuring it continues to provide sound and unfettered military advice to the North Atlantic Council. I wish him best of luck in his future role, which he will assume in summer 2018.

This has been a very productive day. We engaged in frank discussion on difficult topics, and we succeeded in finding a common ground and identifying a clear way forward.

Thank You!



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