Written statement to Parliament

NATO Wales Summit: 50 days to go

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Minister for Europe has updated the House on preparations for the NATO Summit in Wales.

The Rt Hon David Lidington MP

The Minister for Europe Mr David Lidington said:

I wish to update the House on preparations for the NATO Summit in Wales on 4-5 September, 50 days from now. Our theme for this Summit is Building Stability in an Unpredictable World.

This will be the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in the UK. It requires us to accommodate, move, feed and protect up to 185 VIPs, around 4000 delegates and 1500 media representatives. We have reserved over 24,000 room nights in 80 hotels in Newport, Cardiff and Bristol. It is a huge undertaking and preparations are on track.

The Wales Summit will be one of the most important in NATO’s history, and comes at a key moment for the Alliance. NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan is drawing to a close and, as events in Ukraine and Iraq have shown, the world faces more complex threats than ever before. This Summit will show that NATO, the most successful military alliance in the world, remains strong, united and ready to meet and defeat any threat.

NATO is the bedrock of the UK’s defence and security. As a leading player in NATO over the last 65 years, the UK continues to contribute to Alliance operations around the world today. Beyond Afghanistan, there are British personnel serving in the Baltic Air Policing mission and counter-piracy missions. The UK is also home to NATO’s Maritime Component Command and the Headquarters of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.

In today’s unpredictable world, familiar threats remain, but new challenges are appearing alongside them. At the Summit, we will therefore focus on three key themes. First, we will discuss the situation in Afghanistan as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission draws to an end, and decide how we will continue to support the Afghan government. We must sustain Afghan confidence in their resourcing as we make this transition.

And we should take the opportunity to recognise the sacrifices made by the Alliance’s armed forces, and commit to safeguarding the welfare of our veterans and their families. In this context, we want to build on the Government’s work on the UK Military Covenant, by persuading all Allies to articulate shared values on the importance of supporting our armed forces and their families, during and after their service, and by sharing best practice on supporting service personnel, supporting transitions into civilian life and supporting the wounded, injured and sick.

Second, we need to agree on the long-term implications of the Russia-Ukraine crisis and how the Alliance will continue to provide for the collective security of all Allies. We must take the necessary decisions to strengthen NATO’s ability to respond quickly to threats, including new ones, to reassure those who fear for their security, and to deter further aggression from Russia.

Third, we must agree how NATO will adapt itself to address the new risks and challenges from an unstable world of failed states, regional conflicts, terrorism and cyber-attacks. In particular, we should show Alliance unity through a commitment to invest in our defence sectors and agree how NATO can provide practical support to countries that need to strengthen their security sector by launching specific NATO defence capacity building missions. It also means building the broadest global security network ever by strengthening NATO’s relationship with partners elsewhere in the world, ensuring that we have the relationships necessary to tackle threats wherever they emanate from.

The then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs had a productive meeting with NATO Foreign Ministers at the end of June - the last major milestone before the Summit - where they agreed some key deliverables for the Summit. Foreign Ministers endorsed a package of support measures to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to defend itself and agreed on plans to develop a robust Readiness Action Plan for the Summit in September. They also reaffirmed NATO’s commitment to an “Open Door” policy and agreed continued support for the aspirant countries who hope to join the Alliance in due course.

Parliament has an important role to play in preparing for the Wales Summit. Portcullis House recently hosted an exhibition on the past ’65 years of NATO’ and I welcome the fact that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly will meet in London on 2 September to discuss these issues before NATO leaders meet in Wales. This Summit also offers an unrivalled opportunity for all of us to shine the spotlight on Wales. In advance of the Summit, we are highlighting Wales’ strong commercial sector and encouraging the world to visit Wales by showcasing the tremendous potential in Wales for investment and business, tourism and higher education.

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Published 16 July 2014