Former Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg takes up office as NATO chief

2014-10-02 12:48:08

Jens Stoltenberg succeeds Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO secretary general.

Former Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg takes up office as NATO chief
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Former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Russia and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant are the main threats NATO faces as he took up his post as secretary general.

Stoltenberg, who becomes the 13th leader of the world’s biggest military alliance, chaired Wednesday his first meeting of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s decision-making body.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels following the meeting, he said: "These challenges make clear why we need NATO."

Russia "maintains its ability to destabilize Ukraine," he added, pledging that air and naval patrols in the Baltic region would continue as well as naval deployments in the Black Sea.

NATO stepped up patrols in the areas where Russia borders NATO members following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March.

Referring to the missile batteries deployed in southern Turkey to guard against any possible attack from Syrian soil, Stoltenberg, who was appointed in March, went on: "Our Patriot deployment contributes for the air defense of our ally Turkey."

The U.S., Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries in 2012 to bolster Turkish air defense in response to a request from Ankara for NATO assistance.

The Netherlands said it would withdraw its batteries in Turkey in January 2015 whereas the U.S. and German contingents will remain in Turkey. Spain will replace the Dutch units.

Stoltenberg said his main responsibility was to implement the decisions taken at the Wales summit last month.

He identified three main priorities: keeping NATO strong; helping to keep the region stable through partnership; and maintaining a "rock solid" bond between Europe and North America.

Stoltenberg said his first visits would be to Poland and Turkey. He succeeds Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who had occupied the post since 2009.

Anadolu Agency