Minister Banožić participates in the regular meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Defence Ministers on February 16 and 17, 2022, at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
Defence Minister Mario Banožić participates in the regular meeting of NATO member states defence ministers held on February 16 and 17, 2022, at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
On the first day, ministers exchanged views on the current security situation in Eastern Europe, which poses one of the most serious threats to Europe’s security.
The participants pointed out that NATO is a defence alliance whose task is to preserve peace so it does not pose a threat to Russia or any other country. All involved unanimously agreed that NATO is ready to defend all allies from any security threats they may face. Therefore, NATO will maintain the so-called “dual-track approach” to Russia. On the one hand, it ensures diplomatic efforts to bring Russia back to the negotiating table to re-establish constructive dialogue and, on the other hand, provides strong deterrence and defence to ensure the Alliance’s ability to protect all allies.
Ministers also agreed that there could be no negotiation on fundamental Euro-Atlantic values. These values make up the foundation for the transatlantic link between Europe and North America. This link is the critical segment of NATO’s new Strategic Concept. Therefore, the ministers took the opportunity to present their views to align their political and military directives to the new strategic context. NATO will adopt the new Strategic Concept at the 2022 Madrid Summit (29-30 June 2022). Alongside the North Atlantic Treaty, it will be a crucial guiding document. Furthermore, it will reaffirm NATO’s values, tasks, and purposes. The New Strategic Concept will contain a joint assessment of the security environment, and it will encourage the adaptation of the Alliance to an unpredictable and fast-changing world.
The increasingly unstable security environment has shown that member states, but also NATO as a whole, need to make additional efforts in the area of defence investment strategies. For that reason, the ministers agreed that it is necessary to continue allocating resources and investing in the equipment and modernization under the Readiness Action Plan adopted at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed satisfaction with the allies’ efforts, noting that 2022 will be the eighth consecutive year of rising defence spending across European allies and Canada.
In this context, Minister Banožić informed other allies that the Republic of Croatia became one of the nine NATO members whose budget exceeds 2% of GDP for defines. Out of that amount, it allocates more than the minimum agreed 20% for modernization and equipping. The situation changed following the decisions on purchasing Rafale multi-purpose fighter jets and infantry fighting vehicles Bradley.
Finally, Minister Banožić pointed out that Croatia will continue to fulfil all its obligations as a responsible NATO member that contributes to international security. In addition, he welcomed the recent arrival of USS aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman in the Adriatic Sea as another indication that NATO recognizes Croatia as a committed and reliable ally.
Minister Banožić emphasized that Croatia will continue to improve its security capacities to ensure maximum resilience of the society to security threats, risks, and crises.