Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg press-conference on upcoming meeting of NATO Defense ministers in Brussels HQ, opening remarks:
‘Over the next two days, NATO Defence Ministers will address the Alliance’s response to a more challenging security environment.
This is a pivotal time for NATO. We face great security challenges. But the strength and the unity of our Alliance are greater.
NATO is founded on the bond between North America and Europe, and in good times and bad, that bond has been unbreakable. We stand together. We defend each other. And that is good both for Europe, and for North America. I’m confident that Defence Ministers at our meeting tomorrow and the day after tomorrow once again are going to reconfirm the enduring importance of the Transatlantic bond.
NATO has responded to global challenges by adapting to meet them. We are now delivering on the decisions we took at the Warsaw Summit in July. We are in the process of deploying four multinational battlegroups to the eastern part of our Alliance to strengthen our deterrence and our defence. We are also stepping up our ability to anticipate and respond to crises in the South in order to project stability in our neighbourhood.
NATO’s continuous adaptation requires responsibilities to be shared fairly among Allies. Fair burden-sharing and increased defence spending underpins the transatlantic Alliance. So we will at our meeting stress the importance of fair burden-sharing and higher defence spending for the Alliance.
After many years with steep cuts in defence spending, we have turned a corner. Today, I can present to you new updated figures for 2016. Defence spending in real terms has increased by 3.8% among European Allies and Canada. This is significantly higher than what we had originally foreseen. And it amounts to roughly 10 billion dollars more for our defence. This makes a difference but it is absolutely vital that we keep up the momentum.
During this ministerial, we will also focus on the fight against terrorism, and threats stemming from the Middle East and North Africa. NATO is providing support to the Counter-ISIL Coalition and working to train partners like Iraq, Jordan and Tunisia. But we can and should do more.
We will also launch a review of the NATO Command Structure, to ensure we have the right tools to deal with the challenges we face. And we will agree further steps to resist hybrid war fair, hybrid threats, including with strengthened cyber defences.
We will conclude the ministerial with a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission, where we will discuss the security situation in the region and Georgia’s reforms, which are bringing the country closer to NATO.”
14 february 2017