By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
ANKARA (AA) - NATO chief has said he strongly supports the EU-led efforts to find a solution between the two communities in the disputed island of Cyprus.
In remarks made to journalists in Brussels on Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: "I think what we have proven over the last couple of years is that even with the conflict in Cyprus unsolved, we have been able to move forward on strengthening the NATO-EU cooperation."
According to his comments viewed on the official NATO website, Stoltenberg was asked about how could cooperation between NATO and EU move forward without a peace deal on Cyprus. "Yes, I would like to see a solution to the conflict in Cyprus, but no, that’s not a precondition on moving forward on NATO-EU cooperation,” he said.
He added that Tuesday's meeting of NATO foreign ministers “[will] address some of the security challenges we are all facing and we will do that by addressing a wide range of the issues but at the core of the meeting is the importance of the transatlantic bond, the bond between Europe and North America."
When asked to evaluate the agreements on logistics between the EU and the U.S., Stoltenberg said he welcomes it. "Because that is one building bloc of what we are going to do later on here at NATO, and that is to strengthen the transatlantic bond, by strengthening the cooperation between NATO and the European Union."
The NATO chief said the combination of "military and non-military means of aggression, hybrid [and] cyber terrorism requires that NATO and the European Union work together."
"We also think that stronger NATO-EU cooperation is even more important because the European Union is now more focused on strengthening a European defense," he added.
About the future relationship with Russia expected to be discussed in Tuesday's meeting, Stoltenberg said: "It is important to sit down…to discuss those issues where we disagree."
"So far this year we have been able to convene two meetings of the NATO-Russia Council. And there we have also discussed also issues like Ukraine. We didn’t come to any agreement, we continue to disagree, but I think just to meet, to sit around the table and to have a frank and open discussion on also the difficult issues is important," he said.
"We will continue to keep that kind of dialogue open in different ways but also through the NATO-Russia Council. Then we will also continue to work for reciprocity when it comes to transparency, risk reduction, and also the full implementation of the different agreements we have, for instance in the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] framework on transparency and risk reduction," he added.