OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is meeting his NATO counterparts Thursday to discuss the alliance’s response to the COVID-19 crisis while it continues to face daunting global security challenges.
Canada is leading NATO’s military training mission in Iraq and has troops in Latvia as part of the alliance’s deterrence efforts against Russia, which breached Europe’s border by annexing part of Ukraine in 2014.
Champagne’s office said in a statement the ministers will be talking on a secure video link about transatlantic security implications of the COVID-19 crisis and making a co-ordinated response.
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Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday the alliance has made the necessary adjustments to address Russian military manoeuvres close to NATO’s borders.
Stoltenberg and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Tod D. Wolters, are also taking part in the meeting that will look at ways to further support the non-NATO countries of Ukraine and Georgia.
They will also be looking stepping up the NATO training mission in Iraq and strengthening the alliance’s partnerships in the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan, the alliance says in a statement today.
“NATO’s ability to conduct military operations has not been undermined by the pandemic,” it says.
“Allies continue to stand together and support each other in the pandemic, through different NATO arrangements, as well as bilaterally.”
The meeting is the first for the alliance’s newest member, North Macedonia, which joined last Friday, expanding NATO’s ranks to 30 countries.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a test for all of us and highlights the crucial role NATO continues to play,” Champagne says in a statement.