by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

  • 10 Feb. 2016 -
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  • Last updated: 11 Feb. 2016 10:37

(As delivered)

Good morning.

Today and tomorrow, we will make decisions to strengthen our defence and deterrence.

And I expect the Defence Ministers to agree to enhance our forward presence in the eastern part of our Alliance.

This will send a clear signal. NATO will respond as one to any aggression against any Ally.

We have already significantly enhanced our presence and readiness of our forces.

  • Allies have committed the assets we need for air policing, maritime patrols and exercises. 
  • The first six small headquarters or NATO Force Integration Units have been activated. And we are setting up two more in the near future. 
  • At the end of last year, we agreed assurance measures for Turkey – with AWACS surveillance planes, air policing, an increased naval presence in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea and we decided to continue the deployment of our Patriot batteries to augment the air defences of Turkey.

We are also doing more to deal with hybrid challenges.

I am pleased to announce that later today, NATO and the European Union will sign technical arrangements to enhance our cyber cooperation.

Our emergency response teams will have a structured framework for exchanging information and sharing best practices.

This is a concrete example of NATO and the EU working together to counter hybrid threats.

This afternoon, NATO Defence Ministers will have an exchange of views on how we take decisions in the face of hybrid threats from any direction.   

This will help ensure that we have the necessary tools and procedures in place.

And it is part of NATO’s continued adaptation.

We will also take steps to increase the resilience of our Alliance. 

In terms of food and energy supplies, and transportation and communications networks. 

This evening, we will meet with the European Union, as well as our partners Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, and Sweden. 

We will discuss how we can address together the challenges in our neighbourhood, to the south and to the east.

During the course of this ministerial, we will also discuss how NATO can support Allies in responding to the refugee and migrant crisis we see in Europe and close to Europe in the Middle East, Syria and Turkey. We will do so based on an initiative by Turkey.

Finally, the US has requested the use of NATO AWACS surveillance planes.

This can be done by backfilling national AWACS capabilities.

Thereby enabling the coalition fighting ISIL to conduct more strikes against ISIL.

I expect that ministers will endorse a positive response to this request.

Our military planners will then look into the details.

We will conclude tomorrow by a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission.

The review Georgia’s progress in delivering defence reforms and the latest security developments will be on our agenda.   

Now, I’m happy to take your questions. 

Reuters: Today you are discussing the forward presence – why should such a forward presence deter Russia when it has such powerful air defence bubbles in Kaliningrad and in the Black Sea? Would you consider a permanent force in the Black Sea? Thank you.

SG: The increased readiness and the increased forward presence of our forces is a response and something which underlines that NATO is ready to defend all Allies against any threat regardless where it comes from. Our deterrence is based on this combination of forward presence combined with a strong ability to reinforce if needed. And what we are doing now is that we are both increasing our forward presence and at the same time increasing our ability to reinforce. This is a multinational force. And having a multinational forward presence is also a very strong signal of unity of the Alliance that an attack or any kind of aggression against one will be met by a strong response from all Allies together in the Alliance. So the forward presence of multinational forces is also a strong signal of the unity and collective defence of the Alliance.

 WSJ: NATO has defined modern deterrence as a small forward presence. Why is that important? Is it because a small force is affordable or are you trying to be less provocative to Russia?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: This is because we believe that this is the best way of providing deterrence in a changed and new security environment. And we believe very much that we need to be flexible, we need to be able to reinforce if needed and we need this combination of forward presence and the ability to reinforce quickly if needed. And that’s exactly why we are adapting and changing our defence posture. So we do that because we think that modern deterrence is this combination of forward presence and ability to reinforce and we are living in another time than we did during the Cold War when we had hundreds of thousands of troops massed along the borders, facing each other. We are adapting to a changed security environment. And therefore we think this is the best way to adapt to a modern security environment.

German TV: Regarding the Turkish pledge: what can/should NATO do concerning the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: We will discuss that during our meeting today and tomorrow. It is too early to conclude because I think it is important that we have this discussion among defence ministers. We all understand the concern and we all see the human tragedy and all the challenges which are connected to the migrant and the refugee crisis, which we have seen for many years in the Middle East but which has now become a great challenge for Europe. So, of course, when Allied Turkey and also other Allies raise the question of what NATO can do to help them to manage this refugee and migrant crisis, of course we will look very seriously into the request and discuss how we can follow-up and what NATO can do.

Deutsche Welle: Have you been in touch with other NATO Allies concerning the German/Turkish request already? And in case there is a decision, is it more likely to be a reconnaissance mission by air or by sea to fight the people smugglers?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:  There have been different kinds of contacts and consultations but we will have a discussion among 28 Allies later on. The questions you ask about maritime capabilities or air surveillance and other kinds of capabilities that NATO possess are very relevant questions but I will not answer to those questions now because that’s exactly those issues which we are going to look into and discuss and find how NATO is going to provide some of these assets or some of these capabilities to help cope with the refugee crisis to fight the smugglers.

GEO TV: Black Sea security strategy. Romania calls for permanent NATO Black Sea forces. Is it possible to involve Georgia in this strategy?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: NATO has already increased our presence in the Black Sea and we are following closely the developments in the Black Sea. We have increased our naval presence, we also have AWACS surveillance planes surveilling and being present in Romania, Bulgaria, and close to the Black Sea also in Turkey. We are constantly assessing the developments in the Black Sea including the implications for NATO and then we are adapting and that’s exactly what we are doing when we are increasing our forward presence and also increasing our ability to reinforce and our efforts when it comes to surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence in that region. We also work closely with Georgia, a close partner. The cooperation with Georgia, especially when it comes to the implementation of the substantial package is part of a very close partnership between Georgia and NATO. And of course that’s also relevant for the challenges that we see in the Black Sea.