Pre-Ministerial press conference
by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg - Opening remarks
Over the next two days, NATO Defence Ministers will make decisions to address the changed security environment we are facing.
We will continue adapting our deterrence and defence to meet threats from any direction.
Effective deterrence and defence requires both forward presence of Allied forces, and our ability to reinforce them quickly, if needed.
I expect Ministers to agree to enhance our forward presence in the eastern part of our Alliance.
This will bolster our collective defence.
And at the same time send a powerful signal to deter any aggression or intimidation.
We have already strengthened our military presence in the region.
And we are setting up eight small headquarters to support planning, exercises and reinforcements.
Our adaptation is transatlantic.
The US plan to quadruple the funding for the European Reassurance Initiative is a significant step.
It will fund a persistent rotational presence of air, land, and maritime forces.
More training and exercises.
More pre-positioning of combat vehicles and supplies.
And it will fund more investments in infrastructure such as airfields, training centres and ranges.
This will further increase NATO’s forward presence and our ability to reinforce.
We will also take decisions on how to improve NATO’s response to hybrid attacks, which combine conventional military force with subversion, cyber attacks, and propaganda.
We will speed up our decision-making.
And help ensure that we have all the tools and procedures in place.
We will develop ways to boost our resilience, the resilience of our Allies.
Because our military forces depend on civilian resources, such as food and water supplies, communications and transportation.
And we will work even more closely with the European Union on a range of issues, including dealing with cyber threats.
This is part of NATO’s long term adaptation to a new and more challenging security environment.
And it will require continued efforts, and continued investment.
On Thursday, we will also hold a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission.
Georgia is one of NATO’s closest partners.
It is pursuing domestic political and security reforms, which are bringing Georgia closer to NATO.
At the Wales Summit, we agreed a substantial package of support to Georgia.
In areas such as planning, air defence, maritime security and cyber defence.
We will discuss the progress we have made.
And how we can further intensify our support to Georgia.
Let me finally turn to Syria.
All NATO Allies are part of the counter-ISIL coalition.
I expect NATO to provide them with support.
We are actively considering the US request for NATO AWACS surveillance planes to backfill national capabilities.
And I expect we will address this issue at the Ministerial meeting tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.
As this would increase the coalition’s ability to conduct air strikes against ISIL.
NATO strongly supports all efforts to end the suffering, reach a ceasefire and start a political transition in Syria.
The intense Russian air-strikes, mainly against opposition forces, are undermining these efforts.
They are driving tens of thousands of people to Turkey’s border.
And making a desperate humanitarian crisis even more desperate and even worse.
The increased Russian air activity in Syria is also leading to violations of NATO airspace.
Overall, the substantial Russian military build-up in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean is shifting the strategic balance and raising tensions in the region.
So calm, de-escalation and political solutions are more urgent than ever.
And with this I am ready to take your questions.