Joint press conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Denis Mercier and Belgian Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders at the NATO-Industry Forum - Secretary General's opening remarks

  • 09 Nov. 2016 -
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  • Last updated: 09 Nov. 2016 18:04

(As delivered)

So good evening.

First of all I would like to say that I very much appreciate to be here tonight and to be here together with Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders and also with General Denis Mercier.

Because I think that reflects the importance of this NATO Industry Forum and we have a higher level of participation than we have ever had at these kind of conferences before and that reflects the importance of cooperation between the industry and NATO and I’ve underlined myself many times the importance of strengthening the cooperation between NATO and the defence industry. We are totally dependent on a strong defence industry, a strong European defence industry, a strong North-American defence industry. And this industry has provided NATO with the best equipment and the most modern capabilities over decades. But we have to make sure that that is also the case in the future.

At the same time of course what NATO does is important for the industry because NATO plays a key role in deciding how much we spend on defence, on what we spend and how we spend.

All this is of course of great importance for the industry. And therefore I welcome the fact that NATO made the decision in September 2014 to increase defence spending and now we are delivering. Defence spending is going up in Europe. 2014 was the first year in which we saw increased defence spending across Europe and in Canada. This matters: if all those NATO Allies that spend less than 2% of GDP on defence invested 2% of GDP in defence that would account for 100 billion US dollars, which is roughly the same amount as the total of the United Kingdom and France combined.

Then of course NATO is important when it comes to on what we invest and on what we spend. NATO defence planning process but also our efforts to spend 20% of total defence budgets on investments is key. And then NATO plays a role as a platform to create multinational cooperation to make sure NATO Allies work more closely together. We have some common funded projects, the AWACS of course but also the successor of the AWACS, Alliance ground surveillance and other common projects and one of the issues where we are going to work closer with the EU is also on capabilities and I welcome very much the strong commitment of the EU to strengthen European defence and to work more closely with NATO and I’m looking forward to meeting with High Representative Federica Mogherini and also Commissioner Bienkowska later on, reflecting the strong cooperation between NATO and the EU.

Then I give the floor to you, Didier.

Question 1: Reuters (inaudible)

Secretary General: We are monitoring the deployment of the Russian aircraft group Kuznetsov. We do that, as we always do, in a responsible way. This is something that we have done before. Russia has a right to operate in an international waters. The unusual thing this time is that Russia has deployed the aircraft carry group to eastern Mediterranean to be part of the combat operation against target in Syria. That is something of a great concern. We have seen that there was a significant Russian build-up in Syria and they have conducted many airstrikes, also many civilians have been killed. So anything that can add to that capacity is a reason for concern. We follow, we monitor in a normal way deployment of Russian ships carry group. We do it in a responsible way.