Ireland's relations with NATO are set within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and Partnership for Peace. The primary aim of Ireland's Partnership for Peace participation is to enhance the Defence Forces' interoperability with other professional military forces for the purpose of engaging in UN-authorised peacekeeping and peace-support operations led by the UN, EU or NATO.
Over the past 20 years, participation in Partnership for Peace has been fundamental to Ireland being able to keep abreast of developments in areas such as training, humanitarian aspects of peacekeeping and interoperability and it enhances the ability of our peacekeepers to work alongside those of our partners. It also enables us to share our own peacekeeping skills with a wide range of countries. Ireland's involvement has delivered significant improvements for our Defence Forces in terms of capability development and operational capacity. This has enabled us to make a positive impact, particularly in undertaking more demanding international crisis-management operations.
As a result of NATO's recent reorganisation of its partnership structures, the responsibility for partners in Partnership for Peace is being transferred from the defence policy and planning division to a newly formed directorate within an operations division. This new directorate is called the Defence Institution and Capacity Building Directorate.
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It will involve all partnership programmes transferring to the new directorate and that includes the planning and review process, the defence and related security capacity-building initiative, Building Integrity, the Defence Education Enhancement Programme, the professional development programme, and the military career transition programme. It becomes, in effect, a one-stop-shop for partner countries like Ireland.
One of the purposes behind the consolidation of these programmes in a single staff structure is to ensure greater coherence and co-ordination between the programmes and to ensure that the programmes are better aligned with the agreed objectives of the individual partnership relationships.
Ireland's future relationship under our Partnership for Peace role with NATO will continue as originally established, which enables Ireland to tailor its participation to reflect our national priorities and adopt activities and goals on an independent and self-selecting basis. It remains fully consistent with Ireland's policy of military neutrality, which is characterised by non-participation in military alliances.
I am satisfied that Ireland will continue to benefit as we move to the new partnership directorate. I look forward to the opportunities that this will bring to further enhance capability development and modernise our defence forces.