Speech by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the To Be Secure (2BS) forum in Montenegro
Thank you so much Jasmina, and many thanks to Savo Kentera in the Atlantic Council of Montenegro for invitation I received to speak with great pleasure to your great event.
And congratulations by the way on celebrating 15 years of dedicated work on strengthening democracy, security, and stability in Montenegro and the wider region.
Your work is most valuable.
And so are the discussions that take place at this Forum.
And it is an honour again to join you today – even if only virtually. Hope to do it in person in the near future.
Prime Minister Krivokapić,
Ladies and gentlemen,
This year in June, we marked the fourth anniversary of Montenegro’s NATO membership.
And we were honoured to have both the President and the Prime Minister at NATO Headquarters in the last months.
Your country is a valued Ally, making important contributions to Euro-Atlantic security.
Montenegrin troops were in Afghanistan for over a decade.
They are engaged in NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
And I welcome that Montenegro is increasing its defence spending.
These contributions make all of us stronger and safer.
And they help build stability in the Western Balkans – a region that is of strategic importance for NATO.
Lasting peace and stability in this region require our continued collective effort and permanent attention.
Individual countries all have a part to play to preserve democracy and rule of law, to advance domestic reforms, and to achieve good neighbourly relations.
Progress on all these fronts is key for the full integration of this important part of Europe in the Euro-Atlantic family.
And you can count on NATO to continue to support your Euro-Atlantic aspirations and help you move towards a peaceful and prosperous future for all.
Our policies in the region – including our Open Door policy – help strengthen stability and build greater cooperation in the Western Balkans.
Stability has also been the priority of our KFOR mission in Kosovo for more than 20 years now. And we firmly support the EU-facilitated dialogue and other efforts aimed at the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, as the only path forward in achieving a lasting political agreement and stability for the whole region.
Just recently, we saw how important this dialogue has been to de-escalate tensions in northern Kosovo. And I welcome the arrangements between Belgrade and Pristina to find a way forward, and encourage both sides to stay the course of dialogue.
There is excellent cooperation between NATO and EU regarding Kosovo. Our KFOR mission is playing a fundamental role to ensure the effective implementation of this arrangement on northern Kosovo, in accordance with its UN mandate.
On a broader scale, in this unpredictable world, we must work together and even more closely than ever before.
As Allies and with other countries and partners that share our values – democracy, freedom, rule of law and human rights.
The closer we cooperate, the better the chance we have at protecting our democratic way-of-life against those that attempt to harm us.
We do face many challenges.
Strategic competition is rising.
Russia is more oppressive at home and more aggressive abroad, in particular in the Western Balkans.
Moscow’s military and hybrid activities are aimed at destabilising our societies, undermining our institutions, and weakening our democratic systems and the trust of our citizens in the way forward.
China is using its economic and military might to control its own people, coerce other countries, and assert control over global supply chains, critical infrastructure, and other assets. Including in our region.
Beijing is investing in ports, in railways, in roads. It also has a growing media presence across the Western Balkans and influences the narrative in its own advantage.
We also face more frequent and sophisticated cyber-attacks, persistent terrorist threats, and of course, the security impacts of climate change.
All these challenges are far greater than any country can tackle alone. There is no better way to stand-up to them, than standing together. And that is what we do in NATO.
Standing together all 30 Allies in every single second, in a 360 degrees logic and approach.
When they met at the NATO Summit in Brussels in June, our leaders decided to strengthen NATO even more.
They agreed on NATO 2030 – an ambitious agenda for our future security and permanent transformation of our great alliance.
To ensure that together, we remain ready for the challenges of today and of the ones of tomorrow.
Concretely, we continue to strengthen our deterrence and defence at home. By spending more on defence, investing in high-end capabilities, and further boosting the readiness of our forces.
At the same time, as part of NATO 2030, we are strengthening our resilience, boosting our cyber defences, and addressing the impact of climate change on our security.
And we are also investing in the latest technologies, to sharpen our technological edge and to maintain our technological superiority.
Together, we’ll continue to tackle instability, fight terrorism, and safeguard the rules-based international order, by stepping up training and capacity building for partners.
And deepening our relations with other countries, international organisations, the private sector and academic institutions.
And let me stop here one second. That’s why I am so happy to be with you today. Because in this global context, which is shifting, the best way forward is to make sure that this triad between public sector, our governments, our state institutions, our private sector, and our academia and civil society work closer together than ever before.
This is what we do in innovation, this is the way to do in making sure that our Alliance adjusts to this very complex environment that we are living in.
This is why Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and I myself will be working closely with all Allies as we move this ambitious agenda forward and prepare for the Summit in Madrid in late June 2022.
Montenegro is a very supportive nation of NATO 2030. And I am confident that you, and all other Allies, will remain actively engaged as we turn the NATO 2030 decisions into action.
As we are launching a process of consultation and negotiations of the new Strategic Concept, as we are preparing our great Alliance - now more than seven decades old - to stay young and to invest into the next decade of this unique Alliance of ours.
Good luck with your works, we are watching and listening to the continuation of this debate.
I thank you so much. And I do hope that sooner rather than later, we’ll be able to meet in person.
Congratulations and keep up the good work.