Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, François Bausch, participated in the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers, which took place on 16 and 17 February 2022 at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
Chaired by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the ministerial meeting was dominated by the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. The exchanges focused in particular on the adaptation of the posture and the deterrence and defence measures in the short, medium and long term, the inventory of the defence effort and the relations with NATO's close partners, namely Ukraine and Georgia, NATO aspirants.
“The massive presence of Russian troops on the Ukrainian borders remains highly worrying”, said Deputy PM Bausch during the meeting, while considering that the diplomatic way remains promising. He stressed the need to coordinate, pursue and intensify diplomatic efforts, maintain dialogue with the aim of de-escalation on the ground by Russia. Minister Bausch welcomed the unity that NATO has shown in the context of this crisis and especially in the face of Russian attempts to divide the members. He considered that it will be necessary to maintain close coordination with the European partner in the work, and in particular in the field of cyber and hybrid, in order to maximise the coherence of the efforts of the members of NATO.
Regarding the drafting of NATO's next Strategic Concept, Minister Bausch considered that the challenge would be to provide the Alliance with a long-term vision based on the transatlantic link, democratic values, the privileged partnership with European Union (EU), natural partner of NATO. He added that the Alliance should pay much greater attention to “new security threats”, including in particular hybrid and cyber threats as well as the geostrategic implications linked to the major environmental changes underway, including climate change in particular. "In this context, NATO must reflect on how to further strengthen the resilience of our societies, our economic systems and our armed forces in the face of these 'new' threats": said Minister Bausch.
Defence Ministers also discussed NATO-EU relations in the presence of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and representatives of Sweden and Finland. “Luxembourg is convinced that a stronger European Union also strengthens NATO. We see considerable room for improvement in the cooperation between these strategic partners” commented Minister Bausch and clarified: “We do not see any competition between the two organisations; on the contrary, their respective efforts combine and are perfectly complementary. We share the opinion of those who wish to ensure total coherence and synergy between the tools available to each of the two organizations. Both contribute decisively to strengthening the security of the Euro-Atlantic area.”
In the session with Ukraine and Georgia, Minister Bausch spoke on behalf of Benelux to reaffirm full support for these two countries with regard to their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Minister Bausch asserted that a new Russian aggression towards Ukraine would have massive consequences.