Nigel Dodds – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Nigel Dodds on 2015-11-03.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what progress there has been on delivering support to NATO aspirant countries since the NATO summit in Wales in 2014.

Mr David Lidington

There is no formal list of NATO aspirant countries. However, this term is presently understood within the Alliance to refer to Georgia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia. The United Kingdom strongly supports NATO’s open door policy for any European country in a position to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership, and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area. We therefore support the membership aspirations of all countries currently seeking to join the Alliance.

At the NATO Summit in Wales, the Alliance agreed a ‘Substantial Package’ of support for Georgia to strengthen defence capabilities and interoperability with the Alliance, and provide a new “enhanced partnership” status. Separately, Allies agreed to establish Defence Capacity Building (DCB) Missions in Georgia. The initial infrastructure for the first DCB project, the Joint Training & Evaluation Centre, was inaugurated by the NATO Secretary General at the end of August. The UK has provided a Strategic Communications Subject Matter Expert to the NATO Core Team in Georgia, while other Allies have offered similar secondments. The UK has also contributed £1,750,000 to a new Trust Fund to help facilitate these.

Following the Wales Summit, NATO intensified talks with Montenegro to help them further prepare for future membership. The UK has supported Montenegro’s aim to increase public support for NATO membership and has initiated a number of Defence Engagement activities focussed upon changing public perceptions and putting Montenegro’s international credentials and capabilities into the public eye. The UK has supported a NATO Trust Fund set up to decommission surplus arms and ammunition in the country, and has provided financial and managerial support for the provision of English Language training in Montenegro, underpinning the ability to deploy officers on international operations including NATO. Foreign Ministers are due to take a decision in December on whether to invite Montenegro to open accession talks.

Since January 2015, the UK has been the NATO Contact Point Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Embassy organised its first outreach event in Bijelijina in June, with the new NATO Commander and a representative of the Bosnian Armed Forces on the panel. Complementing its role as Contact Point, the British Embassy continues to run its officer Selection and Training project, which provides a framework and support for the Bosnian Armed Forces to recruit and train a new cadre of officers.

NATO Allies, including the UK, continue to support the conditional invitation granted to Macedonia in 2008, subject to stipulated conditions. Macedonia completed its latest Annual National Plan process in September. The UK has continued to underline to Macedonia the importance of reforms in areas such as democratic dialogue, media freedom and judicial independence in order to meet the standards expected of a future NATO Ally.