Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Sven Mikser, Minister of Defence of Estonia

  • 20 Nov. 2014 -
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  • Last updated: 21 Nov. 2014 11:11

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Estonia's Minister of Defence Sven Mikser jointly meet the press at NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn

Sven Mikser (Defence Minister of Estonia):  (...) But over to you Secretary General.

Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General):  Thank you so much. And it's really a pleasure to meet with the Defence Minister and my old friend Sven Mikser; because we have met before.  We have worked together before.  And now it's a great honour to meet you in the capacity of Defence Minister and meet you in one of my first visits as Secretary General of NATO.

And it's also a great pleasure to be here at the Cyber-Defence Centre of Excellence; and to see and to learn more about the work Estonia, NATO and this centre is doing to meet to respond to the threats we are facing in cyberspace. 

And cyber-attacks can be as dangerous as conventional attacks.  They can shut down important infrastructure.  They can have a great negative impact on our operations. And therefore, it is important to develop our ability to respond to different kinds of cyber-attacks. 

And Estonia is also offering its cyber-range training centre to NATO. And I really appreciate that offer.  And in addition, Estonia is now hosting the Cyber-Coalition 2014 Exercise. And this is the largest NATO cyber-defence exercise ever. And more than 600 experts are involved and we met with them... some of them now.  And they briefed me. And I'm really impressed by the work they are doing and the knowledge and the skills they are providing to NATO.

We have defined and we stated at the Wales Summit that cyber-defence is part of NATO's collective defence. And therefore, we are focussing on how we can improve and develop our cyber-defence; because it's becoming more and more important.

In addition to addressing the challenges related to cyber-defence and being here at the centre, we also... as Sven said, we also addressed other issues, especially related to the implementation of the Readiness Action Plan. 

And the Readiness Action Plan is the biggest reinforcement of NATO's collective defence since the end of the Cold War.  We are going to implement it in full, on time. And that is important. We are keeping NATO strong. And NATO is protecting and defending all Allies against any threat. And that's the reason why we have a strong military alliance is that we are going to provide security to all Allies, also of course Estonia.  So therefore, it's great to meet you and great to discuss with you and very interesting and meaningful to be here at a centre which provides such high competence skills in cyber-defence.

Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson):  We now have time for just a few questions.  I will start with Sky News.

Q:  Thank you, Secretary General, Alistair Bunkall from Sky News.  Perhaps I could ask you two brief questions. You talked about cyber-defence being part of the collective defence.  Do you envisage a scenario in the future where a cyber-attack could illicit a traditional military response, boots on the ground perhaps? And a word on Russia, if I may: What's the part they play in cyber-threat?  How is their traditional military threat growing?

Jens Stoltenberg:  We will always do what it takes to defend all Allies.  Cyber-attacks is something which might not happen.... or most other attacks we are prepared for attacks that might happen in the future.  Cyber-attack is something which is happening every day.  And we are responding every day to different kinds of cyber-attacks. 

I think it's wrong of me to speculate in what way we are responding.  We are responding in the ways which are required; which are necessary. And we do what it takes to protect all Allies against any attacks including cyber-attacks. 

It's hard...  I mean we are facing attacks from many different places and from many different kinds of cyber-attacks.  And it's hard to tell exactly where all of them are coming from.  But the important thing is how we are responding to the attacks. And NATO is responding in a very resolute and very strong way to all kinds of cyber-attacks, very much because of the skills and the expertise which is developed at this centre. 

Oana Lungescu:  (Inaudible)... from Estonia.

Q:  My Estonian (inaudible)...  Mainly for the Secretary General...what...  In a broader sense, what can media do... in order to..  promote either national or reliance on security?

Jens Stoltenberg: What media can do? 

Q:  Yes.

Jens Stoltenberg:  I would be very careful to say anything about what media can do.  Because in my view, we are... the main purpose of NATO is to protect free, open, democratic societies.  And that includes an independent media.  So I have strong opinions about many things.  But one of the things I don't have any strong opinion about is how media shall behave in open democracy. So I leave that to the media in a way to decide what the media is going to do. 

Oana Lungescu:  (Inaudible) Times.

Q: (Inaudible) NATO has quite an established cyber-defence capability.  And NATO individual members are developing offensive cyber capabilities.  Are there any plans for NATO to develop a collective offensive cyber capability?

Jens Stoltenberg:  Our cyber-defence is defensive.  It's defence.  And our responsibility... NATO's responsibility is to defend our own systems.  And then, in addition, we are helping... assisting Allies to develop a defence... a cyber-defence.  And we are doing that, for instance, to exercises like this by sharing information and by working together with Allies.  But that's about defensive actions... defending, protecting our systems, our Allies against attacks.  It's not about aggressive actions from NATO against others.

Oana Lungescu:  Financial Times

Q: Hum, Secretary General and Mr. (inaudible)... the President of Lithuania said that Mr. Putin is a terrorist.  What impact do you think any move to loosen some sanctions on Russia?  Will it be economic sanctions?  Or do you think that we should keep pressure on Russia or increase sanctions?

Sven Mikser:  I may start... I would say that what the current Russian regime has been doing in Ukraine in regard to the conflict in Ukraine including the annexation of Crimea earlier this year is in violation with virtually every international normal behaviour.

And I very strongly believe that the international community should maintain pressure on the regime in Russia in order to bring it into accordance with those international norms of behaviour.  Economic sanctions are an integral part of that pressure.

Jens Stoltenberg:  I'll just state that I very much welcome the economic sanctions that are imposed by all NATO Allies and also by all the nations against Russia; because as the Defence Minister just said, Russia has violated international law.  It has violated its international obligations.  And it has violated the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. 

And this kind of behaviour should have a consequence.  It should have a cost.  And the economic sanctions are imposing a cost and tells Russia that there are consequences when they are behaving in the way they are doing.  So I welcome the sanctions...  Economic sanctions is not a responsibility of NATO.  But NATO Allies are imposing sanctions. And I, of course, welcome that. 

Oana Lungescu:  Romanian TV

Q:  (Inaudible)... related to the (inaudible) Readiness Joint Task Force... Do you respond to quotation ... potential of threats on the NATO border? Have you decided about it yet? or maybe you could give us some new information ... Who will be the host nation for preposition of the equipment designation of the specific basis ?  Who is going to provide the system  if Lithuania is on the table?

Jens Stoltenberg: So we have decided on the Readiness Action Plan.  We have decided to implement all the different elements of the Readiness Action Plan.  Parts are already implemented.  For instance, the assurance measures which means that we now have more boots on the ground.  We have more planes in the air.  And we have more ships at sea than we had before.  And we're going to continue with this increased military presence in our Eastern Allied countries.

In addition, we're going to do other things, like for instance establishing a Very High Readiness Force or Spearhead Force.  This is a work in progress.  So all details are not yet decided.  But for instance, we are going to have command and control elements deployed forward in six countries, in the three Baltic countries and in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.  And we are going to follow up on the implementation.  We are going to have an update on the implementation on the NATO Foreign Minister meeting in December.  And then we're going to take decisions on the Defence Ministerial Meeting in February. So we have already implemented and we're going to implement more.  But details are going to be decided later on. 

Oana Lungescu:  Thank you very much.