European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker underlined “the importance of NATO operations in the Aegean sea”, in line with the recent EU – Turkey Summit conclusions. Both President Juncker and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg appeared to be convinced that “EU – NATO cooperation will lead to substantial reduction of irregular crossings”, with better management of EU’s external borders, after their meeting in the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels.
“The security environment is changing rapidly and both NATO and EU have to adjust to this situation”, Juncker stressed. The two men discussed the threats Europe is facing, with Juncker underlining the need of both EU and NATO to be moving to the same direction, focusing on the quality of their talks and cooperation. “I feel encouraged because it became obvious that a stronger EU means stronger NATO and stronger NATO means stronger EU” said the President. “It is of vital importance that both EU and NATO are moving in the same direction. We will be working on that to allow us to present common views at at the NATO Summit later in July this year”, added Juncker.
From his side, Stoltenberg talked about an “excellent meeting and cooperation” between NATO and the EU, as the two can achieve “better and more” in close cooperation. “I welcome the commitment to strengthen the cooperation between EU – NATO”, stressed Stoltenberg, putting migrant crisis on the table. “We are working closer than ever as addressing the crisis” NATO Secretary General added while presenting the immediate response of NATO as 24 hours after the decision on Aegean waters cooperation with Greece and Turkey, NATO sent the first ship. “Last weekend we decided to expand the operation”, by increasing the area the area of operation, as now NATO moves to Greek and Turkish territorial waters, he added.
List of common action doesn’t end there, as there is also an increasing cooperation between NATO and FRONTEX, as exchange of liaison officers is taking place. “NATO vessels and FRONTEX activities cooperate also in levels of data exchange, something important for both the Greek and Turkish sides. At the moment, Stoltenberg confirms that 2 ships are operating in the area, that are to become 5 in the coming days, equipped with helicopters. Stoltenberg talked about “advanced capabilities that are providing support to cut the lines between illegal networks and trafficking across thee Aegean sea”. “Strong Europe i good for NATO strong NATO is strong for Europe”, Stoltenberg concluded.