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Rasmussen: ‘No role for NATO in Mali’
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Against the backdrop of an unfolding hostage drama in Algeria, euronews spoke to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general of NATO.

Originally created over 60 years ago as a counter-weight to the military power of the USSR the organisation now leads operations all over the world.

Currently faced with major conflicts in Afghanistan, Mali and Syria amongst others, Rasmussen told us what he saw as NATOs role in 2013.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

Mr Rasmussen, thank you for welcoming euronews to NATO headquarters.

We are all watching the developing situation in the North of Africa. Firstly, what’s your assessment of the hostage situation in Algeria?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack, the murders and the hostage-taking. I offer my sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the workers who were killed and I express my strong solidarity with the countries affected.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

There are suggestions that there is a new front opening up for NATO across the whole region – in Somalia, Mali and now Algeria, perhaps Niger and Mauritania. Do you see it this way?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

I don’t see a role for NATO as such. Obviously we monitor the situation closely. Actually we have been concerned for many years about the situation in the Sahel region – the activities of terrorist groups, extremists, criminal gangs. This is also a reason why I welcome the swift action taken by France in Mali at the request of Mali’s president. It’s my clear assessment that it was needed to take action to pave the way for and African-led stabilisation force.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

Obviously France is a member of NATO. Is NATO considering helping this operation with AWACS planes or drones or intelligence? After all you are all sharing resources.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

I don’t see a role for NATO as an organisation, but a number of individual NATO allies are assisting France with logistics, with transport capacity, surveillance, reconnaissance…

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

But they must be coordinating their efforts somehow through Brussels, through here. So somehow NATO is involved in this sense as a hub.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

NATO as an organisation is not involved.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

And now the European Union is training soldiers from Mali. The EU is providing medical facilities and so on. Isn’t that NATO’s job? Why is European Union doing it?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

There is a strong need for the training and education of Mali’s armed forces. So I welcome this EU training mission. We can’t allow Mali to become a breeding ground for terrorism.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

NATO has dealt with the ‘breeding ground for terrorism’ in Afghanistan. Why not in Mali?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

NATO can’t be the world’s policeman, travelling from country to country, solving all the problems. So I think it’s a good idea to have a division of labour. And let me remind you that the United Nation Security Council has mandated an African-led stabilisation force to take action in Mali.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

And now NATO, these days, is helping it’s member Turkey to defend itself by deploying Patriot missiles. But Turkey is not under threat of military invasion or systematic big shelling. Aren’t Patriot missiles too strong a weapon for this kind of threat?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

No, it’s an absolutely appropriate measure to take, a purely defensive measure. We have seen security incidents along the Syrian-Turkish borders. We have seen shelling across the border, loss of life on the Turkish side of the border. We have seen the launch of missiles on Syrian territory but close to the Turkish border.

So there is a real potential threat. An this is a reason why NATO allies decided to demonstrate a clear solidarity with Turkey and augment Turkey’s air defence so that we can assure the effective protection of the Turkish population and Turkish territory.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

But Patriot missiles could also be used for other maybe offensive actions like patrolling a no-fly-zone. Are there any plans to use them or any other weapons in further military action if the situation in and around Syria escalates?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

We have no intention to intervene militarily in Syria and we have made it clear right from the outset that the deployment of the Patriot missiles is a purely defensive measure. We have no intention to use it to prepare a no-fly-zone. Actually technically it’s not designed to prepare or enforce a no-fly-zone.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

However it changes the strategic balance. Is it a further pressure on the Damascus regime and an encouragement for the rebels – the deployment of these weapons?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

The purpose of this deployment is effective defence and protection of the Turkish population and Turkish territory. but having said that of course it also acts as a clear deterrence so that the regime in Damascus doesn’t even think about attacking Turkey. And I really urge regime in Damascus to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of Syrian people and stop the crackdowns on the civilian population. It’s absolutely outrageous what we are witnessing in Syria.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

We mentioned Afghanistan. Your operation there is at it’s late stage. After 2014 will there be any NATO personnel left in Afghanistan or will there be a ‘zero option’ as some American officials suggest?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

We have decided that we will stay in Afghanistan also beyond 2014. We follow our plan. Our plan is to gradually hand over and leave the responsibility for the security to the Afghans. This process has been started and it will be completed by the end of 2014. So by the end of 2014 our current ISAF combat mission will be completed. From January 1 2015 we will establish a training mission to give advice, to assist and to train the Afghan security forces. That’s our ambition.

Andrei Beketov, euronews:

Have you got figures of the personnel?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO:

No we have not yet decided on the size of that training mission, we will make this decision in the very near future. We are in the process of the planning that future mission.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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