by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the CSU conference in Wildbad Kreuth, Germany
First of all, I would like to say it is a great pleasure for me to be here in beautiful Bavaria. And to be able to meet with the CSU. And also to discuss the security challenges we are facing in Europe.
We are facing challenges from many different directions, and we saw that yesterday in Paris. Our Ally France is today in mourning, and the flags outside the NATO Headquarters in Brussels – the French flags – are on half-mast. So that is an expression of the very strong feelings and the very strong solidarity all NATO allies would like to express to our French colleagues and friends. I condemn the attack in Paris yesterday very strongly, because it is an attack on innocent people. But in addition, it is an attack on the free press, free opinion, and our open societies. And those very values are core values for all of us, for the NATO alliance. And open societies, freedom, is our best protection, best defence against terror. And these very values were attacked yesterday. So we stand with France. We express our solidarity, and it underlines the importance of working even closer together in fighting terrorism in all its forms.
I’m really looking forward to discuss security issues with the CSU, because we are facing a changing security environment in Europe. We are seeing new threats, new challenges. To the east, we see aggressive actions by Russia, destabilising Ukraine, violating international law, and they have annexed a part of another country. And that is the first time since World War Two that this has happened in Europe.
To the south, we see instability creeping closer – violence and terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria, bordering the NATO ally Turkey. We are seeing violence, chaos in parts of North Africa, and we see extremists linked to those conflicts posing a threat to us here in Europe.
So we are facing new challenges and a changing security environment. And we have to discuss and we have to develop common strategies. And we have to keep NATO strong. We have to make our forces more ready, and we have to work together with our neighbours in the east, in the south, partners, to stabilise our neighbourhood.
And to do this, we have to invest in security, to invest in defence. Because we have to strengthen our ability, and adapt to the new security environment.
In all of this, Germany is key. Because Germany is a key NATO ally. It’s a key nation in Europe, and it shows leadership in so many different ways. And I commend Germany for its great contributions to the NATO alliance. I believe that the contributions of Germany to our collective defence, to our different missions in Afghanistan and other places, are of great importance. So I’m really looking forward to discuss this and other issues together with the CSU later on today.
Q & A
SECRETARY GENERAL: To fight terror requires many different measures. It requires police, intelligence. But it also requires that NATO allies are working even closer together in fighting terrorism and exchanging information about, for instance, homecoming of foreign fighters. So I very much underline the importance of that NATO allies are working closely together in fighting terrorism. But we have to do it in many different ways. Police, intelligence, but also to work together as NATO allies.
Q: Russia has said that terrorism should be fought internationally. Can Russia be a partner in the fight against terrorism?
SECRETARY GENERAL: We have for many years worked together with Russia in fighting terrorism. And terrorism is a threat and a problem for many countries, including Russia. And that’s the reason why we still strive for a more cooperative and constructive relationship with Russia. Because we think it is important that Russia – which is our biggest neighbour in Europe – and NATO are able to work together on important issues, like for instance, fighting terror.
Q: How would you assess the situation in Ukraine right now?
SECRETARY GENERAL: It is a serious situation, because we have seen that the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been violated. Crimea has been annexed – borders have been changed by the use of force – for the first time since the Second World War. And we see that Russia is destabilising Ukraine and supporting the separatists in eastern Ukraine. So it is important that we do whatever we can to reach a peaceful and negotiated solution. And that means to respect the ceasefire, to respect the Minsk agreement, and I welcome all efforts to try to implement the Minsk agreements, and the talks which aim at doing exactly that. And also that all efforts are made to try to reach a lasting peaceful solution in Ukraine. Because it is serious that a sovereign, independent country see that its borders are violated in the way that Ukraine has seen during the last year.