Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Lisbon on Wednesday (26 May 2021) for meetings to prepare the NATO Summit, and to inaugurate a cutting-edge new cyber academy.
Meeting with Prime Minister António Costa, Mr. Stoltenberg praised Portugal for its many contributions to NATO, including deployments to the Alliance’s multinational presence in Romania, work to fight international terrorism through NATO missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Portugal’s presence in Africa. He further commended Portugal for hosting NATO facilities, and for making NATO-EU cooperation a priority of the country’s presidency of the European Union.
The two leaders discussed preparations for the NATO Summit in Brussels on 14 June. Mr. Stoltenberg underscored that the NATO 2030 initiative will be at the heart of the Summit, saying “we must take ambitious decisions, and demonstrate our commitment to the transatlantic bond both in words and in deeds.”
They also discussed the situation in Belarus. Mr Stoltenberg said: “I strongly condemn the forced landing of a passenger jet on its way from one NATO capital to another. This amounts to state hijacking, put at risk a large number of citizens of Allied countries, and is a blatant attack by the Minsk regime on fundamental democratic rights and independent media.” He added: “I welcome the sanctions agreed by the European Union. And demand the immediate release of journalist Raman Pratasevich and his companion Sofia Sapega, as well as all other political prisoners, including the members of the Union of Poles. There needs to be an urgent international investigation into this outrageous incident.”
Secretary General Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Costa also addressed the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, and plans for NATO’s continuing support, including training and financial sustainment for the Afghan forces. They further discussed what more NATO could do to help in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel. “I commend Portugal’s commitment to this area, which is of strategic importance to NATO. We are looking at ways to step up our support, including through the G5 and our NATO partner Mauritania,” said the Secretary General.
Later on Wednesday, Mr. Stoltenberg will inaugurate the NATO Communications and Information Academy in Oeiras, alongside Prime Minister Costa. The Academy will play a key role training the next generation of Allied cyber defenders, helping to keep NATO’s technological edge. In the evening, the Secretary General will attend a meeting of the Council of State, chaired by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
On Thursday, the Secretary General will visit the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier of the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, taking part in NATO exercise Steadfast Defender 2021. He will also take part in a meeting of European Union Defence Ministers.