2014 ‘black year’ for security in Europem, says NATO

Brussels, Jan 30 (IANS/EFE) North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that 2014 was a “black year” for European security due to the violent extremism that reached European borders and cities and Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.

“Our security environment has changed fundamentally. To the South, violent extremism is at our borders, spreading turmoil across Iraq and Syria and bringing terror to our streets. To the East, Russia has used military force to annex Crimea, destabilise the eastern Ukraine, and intimidate its neighbors,” Stoltenberg said in a press conference held to launch NATO’s 2014 Annual Report.
“Russia’s aggressive actions disregard international law and violate the security arrangements and commitments that Russia has made,” added the Norwegian politician, who urged NATO member states to allocate 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) towards defence spending.
Stoltenberg expressed regret over the decrease in defence expenditures in 2014 by 3 percent compared to 2013.
He also backed the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries, stressing the importance of a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian crisis based on the Minsk agreements signed in September by Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists.
“Russia should stop supporting separatists,” he said.
Stoltenberg also underlined the importance of strategic collaboration with Arab countries and other partners.
The defence ministers of NATO member states are scheduled to hold a meeting Feb 5 in Brussels to discuss the alliance’s defence affairs.