NATO and the EU have agreed to a seven-point plan to counter cyberattacks, information warfare and irregular militia. The alliance's foreign ministers are meeting for the first since the election of Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, NATO and the EU made a public show of unity in the face of criticism from Donald Trump, hailing their deepening cooperation even as the US president-elect insists that the country's European allies start pulling their own weight militarily. The trans-Atlantic alliance and the continental bloc have agreed to a nonbinding pact that would allow the six EU states not in NATO to benefit from some of the US's military support.
"We are strengthening the trans-Atlantic bond and the vital link between North America and Europe," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (right in photo) told a news conference with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (left) after Tuesday's meeting.
Tensions between Turkey and Greece have limited the EU's cooperation with NATO. Turkey, which belongs to NATO but not the EU, opposes the alliance sharing intelligence with the EU; Greece, which belongs to both blocs, does not want Brussels sharing any sensitive information with the alliance that might make it back to Ankara.
'A good thing'
Trump challenged longtime US foreign policy in Europe by saying the United States might not defend NATO allies that do not pay more for their own security. His comments particularly alarmed East European NATO countries, which have become particularly vulnerable in the face of a more assertive Russia, which has already annexed Crimea and meddled in the civil war in Ukraine.
"With a changing security environment, it's a good thing for NATO and the European Union to combine efforts," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.
The US contributes nearly 70 percent of NATO's combined annual defense expenditures and has long pressed its allies to fork over much more. Fewer than half a dozen of NATO's 22 EU members spend the alliance's agreed-upon target of 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense annually. The agreement reached Tuesday between NATO and the European Union follows a separate accord on a EU defense fund to pay for helicopters, planes and other equipment - in part to send a signal to Trump.
Attending his last NATO foreign minister's summit, US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to try to soothe the fears of his nation's long-standing military allies. "The US commitment to NATO transcends politics," Kerry told journalists on Tuesday. "I am confident that the majority of both major parties are committed to NATO," he added.
mkg/bw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)