March 6, 2016 - NATO took swift decisions to deploy ships to the Aegean Sea to support our Allies Greece and Turkey, as well as the EU's border agency FRONTEX, in their efforts to tackle the migrant and refugee crisis. NATO ships are already collecting information and conducting monitoring in the Aegean Sea. Their activity will now be expanded to take place also in territorial waters.
Our commanders have defined our area of activity in close consultation and coordination with both Greece and Turkey. Our activities in territorial waters will be carried out in consultation and coordination with both Allies. The purpose of NATO's deployment is not to stop or push back migrant boats, but to help our Allies Greece and Turkey, as well as the European Union, in their efforts to tackle human trafficking and the criminal networks that are fueling this crisis.
NATO’s Maritime Command has also agreed with FRONTEX on arrangements at the operational and tactical level. NATO and FRONTEX will be able to exchange liaison officers and share information in real time, to enable FRONTEX, as well as Greece and Turkey, to take action in real time.
This is an excellent example of how NATO and the EU can work together to address common challenges. I welcome the fact that we were able to finalise these arrangements in such a short time. In this crisis, time is of the essence, and cooperation is key.