A two-day meeting of NATO defence ministers which was attended by State Secretary for Defence Zdravko Jakop agreed on an operation plan for response to a second wave of COVID-19 pandemics.
NATO defence ministers meeting, attended by the Croatian State Secretary for Defence Zdravko Jakop, held a two-day meeting (17 and 18 June 2020) via secure video-conference, dedicated to the preparations for a second wave of COVID -19 and NATO’s support to the member nations and partners. The meeting was also attended by the High EU Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and the Vice-President of the EU Commission Josep Borell and defence ministers of partner countries (Australia, Finland and Sweden).
In his opening address NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg delivered a report on COVID -19, presenting NATO’s achievements in response to the pandemic and the key role of the armed forces of the member nations in support to civilian institutions.
The ministers discussed the geopolitical consequences of the crisis and the impact of the pandemic on NATO-led operations and missions and NATO’s response to disinformation and propaganda.
The ministers decided on NATO’s operational plan for a possible second wave of pandemics, featuring the establishing of a stockpile of medical equipment and supplies, and a fund aimed at urgent acquisition of medical supplies and services. They also agreed to update NATO guidelines for national resilience taking into account cyber threats, the security of supply chains, and consequences of foreign ownership and control. The document ensures the member nations’ better preparedness in the event of new crises and swifter recovery from the present ones.
State Secretary for Defence Jakop in his contribution stated that the COVID-19 pandemic was a unique opportunity to test and upgrade the Croatian crisis management system. The State Secretary also emphasised Croatia’s timely and efficient response to the crisis, and the resulting high number of cured patients and diminished new incidence, and also that the members of the Croatian Armed Forces deployed in operations and missions had to be provided the proper medical care, reliable COVID-19 tests and protective equipment.
The session was important for the Republic of Croatia in the light of the outcome of the national response to COVID -19, and of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU, featuring the intensified NATO-EU co-operation.