by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber
First of all, thank you so much for having me here today, Manfred Weber. It’s a great honour for me to visit the EPP and to meet with you because you represent the biggest group in the European Parliament, but the parliamentarians belonging to the EPP are also one of the really important groups within the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and I appreciate very strongly the cooperation with you, both within the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and also when I meet the European Parliament.
We live in a more challenging security environment with more threats, more challenges than we have seen for a generation. And NATO is responding, NATO is adapting, and I saw a part of that yesterday in Tapa, not far from Tallinn in Estonia, where NATO has deployed one our battlegroups, multinational battlegroup of NATO forces, led by the UK, but showing how NATO is responding, how NATO is there to send a clear message that an attack on one Ally will trigger the response from the whole Alliance. We are also adapting in many other ways, we are increasing the readiness, the preparedness of our forces, and we are responding both to a more assertive Russia in the East, but also to all the violence, the turmoil we see to the South, with terrorism and instability.
Part of the NATO adaptation is also to strengthen the cooperation between NATO and the European Union. And I welcome so much the progress we’ve been able to make in strengthening cooperation between the two most important institutions in Europe, NATO and the EU, in many different fields, but for instance also in cyber. And cyber is an area where Estonia, the host nation, has really paid a key role and it’s also an honour to meet with you because Estonia is hosting NATO’s Centre of Excellence for Cyber Defence and are leading the work when it comes to pushing forward cyber defences, and we see that that’s a real threat to all of us, and an example of where we need strengthened cooperation between the EU and NATO. I welcome strongly the European defence because I strongly believe that strong European defence is good for the EU but it’s also good for NATO. We have to remember that more than 90% of the people living in an EU country, live in a NATO country. So there’s no way you can strengthen the defence of Europe without at the same time strengthening the defence of European NATO Allies and NATO. So therefore for me there is no competition between strong NATO and strong EU, for me a strong Europe is the same as a stronger NATO. So I’m looking forward to meet with the parliamentarians and to discuss the challenges we face together.
Q1. Unidentified journalist: Question from Estonian media: The main subject discussed here by the European defence ministers in cooperation with PESCO (inaudible), from your position, what is the main first tangible result you expect from this cooperation and by when do you think it could happen?
A1. Secretary General: I don’t represent the European Union so I think I need to leave it to the EU to in a way explain the details of PESCO but PESCO is one way of strengthening the European defence and also to strengthen the European cooperation on defence, and as I said welcome strong European defence. Exactly how the EU decides what kind of technical mechanisms and institutions and frameworks they decide to use to achieve that, well that I leave to the European Union. And the all-important message that I have is that to avoid duplication, because as Manfred just stated, one of the reasons why we need stronger European defence is to make it cheaper, meaning that we can have more defence for the investments we do in defence. If the EU starts to duplicate what NATO does then we are undermining both NATO and EU and we are doing things in less efficient and more expensive ways. So we have to avoid duplication and we have to avoid and we have to avoid any misunderstanding about NATO being the guarantor of collective security, of territorial security. I welcome very much stronger European defence but we have to remember that the deterrence, the defence which NATO is based on and which is the guarantee of European security is based on the transatlantic link. And the US and Canada are not members of the EU and I don’t believe that they will be in the near future either, so meaning that, especially when the UK leaves the EU, 80% of NATO’s defence expenditure will be non –EU. Three of the four battlegroups we have deployed in the eastern part of the Alliance, the Baltic countries and Poland, will be led by non-EU countries, the US, Canada and UK. So we should just avoid any misunderstanding about the need for a strong transatlantic bond, strong NATO and therefore we should not, in no way, create the misunderstanding that EU can replace NATO, because of the collective defence, the transatlantic bond which is so important for the security of European Allies.