by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the opening session of the Croatia Forum

  • 09 Jul. 2015 -
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  • Last updated 13-Jul-2015 15:21

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during his speech at the opening session of the Croatia Forum

As delivered.

Thank you so much Madame President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Excellences, dear friends.

First of all it is a great pleasure to be here, and there are many reasons for that.

One is this that in my previous life as a Norwegian politician I worked a lot on development issues and also on issues related to climate change and energy.

And therefore it is nice to be back and to meet the audience which is very focused on those issues.

And then it is easy to believe that my job now is very different from what I did before. Because defence, security is regarded, as I say, as very hot issues, while development and environment is regarded as something very different and soft.

But in reality there are very close links between the two.

Because without security, without peace it is impossible to create development. And it is impossible to address big international challenges, as for instance climate change.

So for me there is a very obvious link between the need to create stability, security, peace, and our joint efforts and ability to address other big issues as development and environment.

But the link goes both, or depends, between the two issues goes both ways. It is interdependence in the way that security is important for development, but development also contributes to security.

So actually we are addressing the same issues but from different angles. Environment, climate change is critical for promoting development and peace and stability. Development is important both for development and for security. And security is important to provide the foundations for development and for addressing climate change.
So for me it is not so strange.

Being Secretary General of NATO and at the same time being invited to address issues related to development and energy and the interdependence between the two.
Than I have to admit there is another reason why I appreciate very much to be here. And that is a more private or personal reason. And that is that I spent my childhood summers here in the 1960s.

My father worked at the Embassy in Belgrade and we actually drove from Belgrade to Dubrovnik every summer. And we spent two days and that was not because my father was a bad chauffeur, or actually he was of course, but the roads were also very bad.

And we slept somewhere in between Belgrade and Dubrovnik along the road and then we arrived and we spent our summers not in Dubrovnik, but we spent them in a small village, ten minutes from here, called Mali Zaton.

And there I learned to swim, I learned to like “sladoled”, and we had a lot of “ćevapćići” and “punjena paprika” and I also learned is “ringe, ringe, raja, došo' čika Paja” so I spent my childhood there and I was back in the 70s.

Then I haven’t been there since then. But I remember in a way the big contrast of my happy summer holidays in Mali Zaton and than Dubrovnik was the big city. And then being a Norwegian, watching television reporting from this region, from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, reporting about wars, fighting, atrocities, in the 1990s.

And now it is exactly twenty years since the massacre in Srebrenica. And we also remember that Dubrovnik was bombed. And it is great to be back and to see that now is like I remember this area in the 1960s and 70s – peaceful, no war, no fighting.

Of course many things have changed. We don’t have Yugoslavia anymore, but at least it is not a war, it is not fighting, it is development and prosperous societies.

And this change from a region which was very much affected by war and violence into a region which still has challenges and problems, at least if we speak about the whole south-east of Europe, but even despite of the challenges, it is very different than what we saw during the 1990s.

And this transformation, of course there are many reasons for this transformation, but one reason is that we have the strong security, military political Alliance NATO which for the first time in its history deployed large number of forces – sixty-thousand troops - to Bosnia and tens of thousands of troops in Kosovo, we still have troops there, but not that many.

And we work together with the European Union, with the OSCE, with the United Nations and of course because the people here, worked together with us, this region has completely changed.

And now two of the countries – Croatia and Slovenia are full members of the European Union, full members of NATO. And another countries in the region are following and inspiring and working towards a Euro-Atlantic integration.

So for me the development in this part of Europe very much underlines the interlink between security, peace and development.

And we are still working together with the European Union in this region. Different countries, different challenges. And we are still inspiring to integrate more countries into the Euro-Atlantic cooperation, because we believe it is important for the whole Euro-Atlantic area and for, of course, this region.

And by the end of the year and by the end of 2015, NATO has to make a decision, related to the enlargement of NATO, whether we are going to invite Montenegro to become the next member of our Alliance.

So NATO is still very present, we are here and we are working with countries, and we have done so since the 90s, to contribute to stability and peace in this region.
And Croatia is playing a key role, a lead role and this Euro-Atlantic integration and it has been great to visit Croatia today, and to discuss with the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, and of course the President and others, how we can continue and develop our cooperation.

Because I think we have to understand that NATO and also this region is facing a completely changed security environment. To the south we see turmoil, violence in Syria, Iraq, North Africa. We see terrorist attacks taking place in our own streets, often inspired by the violence in the Middle East, North Africa.

And then we see to the east a more assertive Russia, a willing to use military force, to change borders, to annex a part of another country, for the first time since the Second World War. So therefore we have to adapt and we are adapting, partly by increasing the readiness, the preparedness of our forces. We are implementing the biggest reinforcement of collective defence since the end of the Cold War. And we are doing so as Alliance, and we work with partners in this region, but also, for instance, Sweden and Finland in the north to make this adaptation and to be ready to face the new security environment.

But at the same time we are underlining that we don’t seek confrontation with Russia and we will not be dragged into a new arms race.
On the contrary we believe that a strong, predictable policy, strong defence, creates the foundation for a political dialogue also with Russia and we still strive for that.
When it comes to the challenges to the south – Iraq, Syria, the Middle East, North Africa – it is close, it is affecting us in different ways, there we have to, I think, draw the lessons we learned from south-east Europe, and it is very different. But we learned some lessons. That is that we have to sometimes be able to deploy forces. We did so in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that was a key. We did so in Kosovo. And we are again ready to deploy forces, to manage crisis outside of the NATO area.
And all NATO Allies participate in one way or another in the fight against ISIL.

But we also learned another lesson. And that was the importance of building institutions, reforming, increasing capacity, in the countries themselves, so they can take more responsibility for their own security.

So the idea of being able to project stability without always deploying a large number of our own troops is something which is very high on the NATO agenda now. And that is the reason why we are now working with countries like Jordan, like Tunis. We are in the process of also agreeing with the government of Iraq to help them build their capacity to stabilize their own countries.

Both because in the long run there will always be a better solution if countries can take responsibility for their own security without us NATO being forced to deploy forces.
I also promised to be brief, so I will just end by two or three very brief reflections and that is that I will leave it to you to discuss environment and development, and energy and because that is not mine, as I say, primary responsibility. But I will at least say, or tell you, despite of that I will say a few things and one thing is that when I was Prime Minister, Mr. Erik Solheim who is sitting there, he was the Minister for both Development and Environment, and that was a great success. He was the most expensive Minister I ever had and he got a lot of money and he spent them well. So now we are working on development with the OSCE and OECD. And but I think that very much linked the environment agenda with the development agenda. I think that is a very close and important thing.

The other obvious thing is of course the energy agenda and there is much to say and Erik Solheim can explain all that tomorrow, but I will just underline the importance of that it has to be a price on pollution and it has to be much more expensive than today. That we both decrease emissions, because if we price pollution it gets profitable to reduce emissions and profitable to develop new and more environmentally friendly technologies.

And in addition you can generate revenue so you can spend on, for instance, health or development or whatever you want to spend the money on.

So that is the advice I have on energy and environment. The advice I have on development is to focus on the basic needs. We focus a lot on maternal health, child health, child mortality, the millennium of development goals. And I remember we launched campaigns together with Gates Foundation on immunizing children. It is extremely cost effective we paid per child immunized and I think basic education, basic health is the keys for promoting development and it is straightforward and it needs a lot of resource.

But my main message today is that NATO is not a development organization. We are military and political Alliance, but what we do provides security, peace is critical and of great importance both for development and for the environment.

Thank you.