NATO Secretary General praises Croatia for contributions to shared security
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to NATO headquarters on Wednesday (29 April 2015) for talks on the security environment and NATO’s continued adaptation. Calling Croatia a “staunch Ally”, Mr. Stoltenberg thanked the President personally for her “deep strength and dedication to this Alliance for many years.”
The Secretary General thanked Croatia for its contributions to NATO’s operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo. He further welcomed Croatia’s support for NATO Smart Defence projects. Mr. Stoltenberg also expressed gratitude for Croatia’s leadership in Southeastern Europe. “Your experiences and your leadership is important for many of your neighbours,” he said.
The two leaders agreed that Russia continues to destabilise Ukraine, and that respect for the ceasefire and the Minsk agreement remain the best prospect for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Mr. Stoltenberg underlined that the Ukraine crisis and spreading turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa are a new challenge, and that NATO is responding by making its forces more prepared. The Secretary General noted that the Alliance is more than doubling the size of the NATO Response Force to 30,000, and creating a new quick reaction Spearhead Force, with lead elements able to move within 48 hours.
The Secretary General welcomed the fact that Croatia has stopped reductions to its defence spending. Mr. Stoltenberg stressed that adhering to Allies’ pledge to spend 2% of GDP on defence within a decade will help to keep NATO strong.