Daily press briefing statements made by the Ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson - excerpts -
Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy will take part in the spring ministerial meeting of NATO on April 27 and 28. It’s an informal meeting at which participants will review NATO’s current operations to which France is one of the principal contributors (600 men in Afghanistan, soon to be 1,000, and 2,300 in Kosovo). They will also have an initial exchange of views at the political level on preparation for the Riga summit in November 2006. As it’s an informal meeting, there will be no decisions per se. The foreign minister will reaffirm the priority we give to NATO’s current operations ; NATO’s capacity to make an effective contribution to crisis-management will in fact be judged first of all on these operations.
The minister will state that the Alliance’s added value lies precisely in its military capacity, not in an extension of its powers to activities in the civilian sphere for which other organizations are more suited. During his trip, the minister will attend what is usually called a "transatlantic dinner"— an informal gathering of ministers from the EU and NATO to discuss matters considered to be of common interest, without a set agenda. The meeting in Sofia will also be the occasion for a NATO-Russia Council and a Ukraine-NATO Commission session.