NATO Chief Wants Stronger Ties With Partner Countries

By Dialogo
March 04, 2010

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen wants the military alliance to strengthen relations with non-member partner countries like Finland and Sweden, he said in an interview published Wednesday. "I am currently preparing reforms to our partnerships, which would make them more dynamic and, therefore, also more significant for the partners," Rasmussen told Finland's largest daily Helsingin Sanomat. Ramussen wants relations to become "politically even more significant", but did not specify NATO's plans for practical measures to expand cooperation, the paper reported. "I would like to bring political leaders into partnerships more," said Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister and took NATO's top job in August 2009. NATO is currently updating its Strategic Concept to reflect changes in the emphasis of global security challenges -- including terrorism, energy supplies and climate change -- since the last revision in 1999. As part of this process, it is seeking input from non-member partners, and Rasmussen is due to attend a seminar on the future of NATO crisis management hosted by the Finnish and Swedish prime ministers in Helsinki Thursday. Rasmussen told Helsingin Sanomat that Afghanistan, where Finland and Sweden have soldiers serving under NATO's peacekeeping operation, was a model example of NATO's regional defence starting far from the alliance's borders.