NATO is warning that the unrest in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia could cause economic hardships and increase illegal immigration to Europe.
Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the resulting instability also may have a negative impact on the Mideast peace process. But he noted that the turmoil does not pose a threat to NATO's member states.
Rasmussen said Monday the alliance has close ties with Egypt and Tunisia and other moderate Mideast nations, but it has no intention of intervening in those countries.
He urged European NATO members to stop slashing defense budgets, noting that current events "serve as a timely reminder that we cannot take security for granted, even in our immediate neighborhood."