NATO Secretary General stresses importance of defence in visit to The Hague

  • 30 Jan. 2014 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 30 Jan. 2014 16:41

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen discussed the importance of this year’s Summit in Wales to the Alliance’s future and the value of defence during his visit to The Hague on Thursday (30 January 2014) which included talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, parliamentarians and other senior officials. “At a time of global and unpredictable challenges, our Summit in Wales in September will demonstrate the value of our unique Alliance, which brings together the world’s strongest alliance of democracies, from Europe and North America,” said the Secretary General.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen meets the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte

He said that the summit will focus on Afghanistan, improving capabilities, and broadening partnerships. “It will show that our bond is strong, and that our Alliance continues to adapt, reform and look outwards to stay fit for the future,” said Mr. Fogh Rasmussen.  The Secretary General met with the Prime Minister as well as Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert to discuss NATO’s security agenda and preparations for Wales. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen thanked the Dutch government for its continuing support to NATO missions. Dutch forces currently participate in NATO’s  mission in Afghanistan, and provide Patriot batteries to protect Turkey. They are also contributing to NATO’s missile defence system by upgrading air defence frigates. The Netherlands also participates in 17 multinational Smart Defence projects to improve capabilities.“These contributions are all the more appreciated as they come in times of budget cuts, but as our economies start to recover, we need to keep our defences strong.  Because the collective security provided by NATO forms the very bedrock of our democracy and our prosperity,” he said.

The Secretary General also met jointly with the parliamentary committees on foreign affairs, defence and development cooperation from the Dutch House of Representatives and the Senate and had an audience with H.M. King Willem-Alexander.

He also addressed a group of students at the University of Leiden’s campus in The Hague on why defence matters. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said in his speech that the value of defence as a tool for international influence and cooperation should not be overlooked. He said investments in defence benefit individual nations but also NATO. The Secretary General said that defence also leads to benefits in innovation and technology and creates jobs. He acknowledged that many Allies, including the Netherlands, have had to cut defence budgets, which has made value for money even more important. He commended the Netherlands for embracing multinational cooperation on defence and said he was confident that Dutch decision makers understand how much defence matters to peace and prosperity.