Secretary General celebrates NATO’s 75th anniversary with Allied leaders on the eve of the Washington Summit

  • 09 Jul. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 10 Jul. 2024 04:25

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg celebrated NATO's 75th anniversary with US President Joe Biden and all other Allied Heads of State and Government in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday (9 July 2024).

Secretary General celebrates NATO’s 75th anniversary with Allied leaders on the eve of the Washington Summit

In a speech at the Mellon Auditorium, where the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in 1949, the Secretary General underlined that NATO is "not only the most successful and strongest, but also the longest-lasting Alliance in history". He acknowledged that NATO’s enduring success has never been a given, but is rather "the result of deliberate choices and difficult decisions” – from NATO’s creation to arms control negotiations, and from NATO’s enlargement at the end of the Cold War to NATO’s support to Ukraine today. 

Warning that “there are no cost-free options with an aggressive Russia as a neighbour; there are no risk-free options in a war,” the Secretary General said that the biggest cost and greatest risk will be if Russia wins in Ukraine, as this would embolden President Putin but also other authoritarian leaders in Iran, North Korea, and China. “The time to stand for freedom and democracy is now; the place is Ukraine,” he said. Mr Stoltenberg concluded by saying that the Alliance will continue to face difficult questions in the future, but that “we are stronger and safer together, in NATO.” 

At the end of the event, President Biden presented Mr Stoltenberg with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honour, in recognition of his decade of service at the helm of the Alliance.

Earlier in the day, the Secretary General met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They discussed the decisions to be taken at the Summit to "strengthen our Alliance for the future", including on deterrence and defence, support for Ukraine and strengthening NATO's partnership in the Indo-Pacific. The Secretary General also participated in the first-ever NATO Summit Defence Industry Forum, hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce. He spoke to industry representatives, Allied defence ministers and others about NATO’s new defence industry pledge aimed at building greater transatlantic defence industrial cooperation, and welcomed that "just today, the (NATO procurement agency) NSPA signed a new multinational contract for Stinger missiles worth almost 700 million dollars."