NATO Secretary General congratulates Germany for contributions to Alliance security
Visiting Berlin on Wednesday (2 June) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Germany is “at the heart of Europe and of the NATO Alliance”. Speaking with the media in a joint press conference with Chancellor Merkel, Mr. Stoltenberg said that Germany makes “outstanding contributions” to NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
“You play a major role in our Baltic Air Policing mission, and you also have a lead role in our new high-readiness joint task force, and Germany was key in establishing our presence in the Aegean Sea coping with the migrant and refugee crisis”, he said.
The Secretary General welcomed Germany’s decision to boost the size of the Bundeswehr, and to increase defence spending. “This is a clear demonstration of Germany’s leadership, at a time when we are facing the biggest security challenges in a generation”, he said.
Mr. Stoltenberg stressed that NATO is responding to a more dangerous and challenging security environment in many different ways. “We are responding by increasing the readiness of our forces. And by enhancing our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance”, he said.
Speaking about the NATO Warsaw Summit in July, the Secretary General said that NATO will take steps to enhance is forward presence with several reinforced battalions. “And I am grateful to Germany because Germany is ready to be a framework nation, a lead nation, for one of these reinforced battalions”, he said.
Mr. Stoltenberg said that what NATO does is defensive, it is proportionate and in line with our international commitments. “We are strengthening our collective defence not to provoke a conflict but to prevent a conflict. We do not want confrontation with Russia. On the contrary, we strive for a more constructive relationship with Russia. And we keep channels for political dialogue open. Dialogue is even more important when tensions are high”, he stressed.
Speaking about threats emanating from the south, the NATO Secretary General said that to protect Alliance territory NATO must also be ready to project stability beyond its borders. “Therefore, we are training Iraqi officers in Jordan. We assist Jordan and Tunisia to strengthen their defence capacity. And we stand ready to help the new government in Libya, if so requested, as part of a broader UN led effort”, he said.
Mr. Stoltenberg stressed that one of the most effective weapons in the fight against terrorism “is to help local forces defend their own countries and to fight terrorism themselves”. He commended Germany for its key role in Afghanistan being a lead nation in the north and said that “NATO will stay engaged in Afghanistan and we will restate our commitment to Afghanistan at our Warsaw Summit”.
The NATO Secretary General also met in Berlin with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, with Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and with members of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees of the German parliament. He also addressed a meeting at the Koerber Foundation.