Refugees: EU-NATO coordination set to deepen, say Mogherini and Stoltenberg

EU and NATO coordination has started to tackle the refugee crisis and will be further deepened, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told MEPs and national MPs in the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

“European and national parliaments can play a crucial role in these times and should remain connected”, said Ms Mogherini, welcoming the participation of members of national parliaments in the debate with MEPs on Tuesday morning.

After outlining recent EU foreign affairs “success stories” (Colombia peace process, nuclear deal with Iran, etc.), Ms Mogherini turned to more worrying issues, such as the conflict in Syria, but remained optimistic: “After 5 years of war things are moving in the right direction”, she said, welcoming the Monday’s US-Russia deal to enforce a ceasefire in Syria. Asked about the EU’s role in this conflict, Ms Mogherini replied that “the major EU role is the humanitarian one, which does not mean being a charity but working on a humanitarian access on the ground.”

“We see failures in management of refugee flows but we do not underline enough the success we achieve in saving lives”, she continued, pointing out that “Decisions on relocation, resettlements, hotspots, returns have been made. All must be implemented now and it requires a mix of efforts on national and European levels.” The EU partnership with NATO will be “deepened to tackle this crisis”, she promised.

“EU-NATO relations are of vital importance, especially when we face a more assertive Russia and extremism and violence in the Middle East and the North Africa region”, said NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg. He presented three NATO priorities: more strength, dialogue and prevention, and hinted at a willingness to put more forces on the ground in the Baltic States.

MEPs and MPs welcomed NATO’s decision to help EU to tackle the migration crisis in the Aegean sea, by providing Greece, Turkey and the EU’s FRONTEX border agency with intelligence and surveillance support. “NATO is required for our collective security and for helping to tackle refugee crisis”, concluded Foreign Affairs Committee chair Elmar Brok (EPP, DE).