Minister Cannon Builds on Relations with NATO Allies and Partners

(No. 373 – December 4, 2009 – 7:15 p.m. EST) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today concluded his participation in a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels that addressed a number of key security issues. During this meeting, Minister Cannon discussed the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan with Canada’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners as well as with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Ranjin Dadfar Spanta.

"As President Hamid Karzai said in his inauguration speech, Afghans must take the lead when it comes to their own security and the delivery of governance and basic services, and the Afghan public must be able to see this," said Minister Cannon during the ISAF foreign ministers’ session.

Minister Cannon conveyed to his counterparts that 2010 would be a transitional year for Afghanistan, and that today’s meeting should be seen as an important step in the lead-up to the Afghanistan Conference to be hosted by the United Kingdom in late January.

"Canada remains focused on achieving progress on its six priorities and three signature projects it is implementing in Afghanistan between now and our military withdrawal in 2011," said Minister Cannon.

"I welcome the alliance’s decisions today under its open door policy, including the invitation to Montenegro to move toward NATO membership by joining the Membership Action Plan," said the Minister. "I also welcome the decision that Bosnia-Herzegovina will join the Plan once it achieves the necessary reforms. Like our allies, I look forward to welcoming Macedonia to the NATO table as soon as possible, as NATO allies declared at the 2008 Bucharest Summit. At the same time, allies reaffirmed that Ukraine and Georgia will become NATO members and commended their progress toward Euro-Atlantic integration by implementing reforms under their annual national programs."

Minister Cannon also attended a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at which important decisions were adopted to enhance NATO-Russia cooperation in areas of common interest. He also held a series of individual meetings with foreign ministers as well as with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, during which Minister Cannon expressed Canada’s firm commitment to continue protecting the Arctic’s environmental heritage, promoting its economic and social development, and exercising Canada’s sovereignty in the region.

Canada is strongly committed to NATO and views the alliance as the primary forum for security consultation and cooperation between Europe and North America. NATO meetings constitute an opportunity to advance Canada’s interests, principles and values.

For more information on Canada and NATO, please visit Canada and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

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