by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during and following his meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May
JENS STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much Prime Minister and let me start by thanking you for your personal leadership and also for the very strong commitment and in doing commitment by the United Kingdom to NATO and to the Transatlantic Bond and you showed that in so many different ways, not least by spending more than 2% on defence and more than 2% of GDP on defence and by doing so, you lead by example and it’s good to see that other allies are now following you and they’ll start to increase defense spending. We still have a long way to go but at least then, we’re starting to move in the right direction and more defense spending in Europe is important for the Transatlantic Bond, for fair burden-sharing between Europe and the United States and it’s also an important part of the way we adapt NATO to a more demanding security environment and I would also like to commend the United Kingdom for the way you are contributing to that adaptation of NATO, leading one of our battalions, battle groups in the Baltic countries, in Estonia.
You will lead under our Very High Readiness Joint Task Force next year and the key role your forces play when it comes to modernizing and strengthening our cyber-defences. I would also like to point out the key role the UK plays when it comes to the fight against terrorism and stabilizing our neighbourhood. We are together in Afghanistan, we are together in Iraq, the UK plays a key role in the coalition fighting ISIL and the UK participated in NATO missions and activities in the Aegean Sea cutting the lines of illegal trafficking, human trafficking and also in training. So the UK is really a staunch ally and I look forward to discuss our cooperation in our meeting now, so thank you so much.
So first of all, we had a very good meeting. Prime Minister Theresa May and I, we discussed many different issues and I commended the UK for its strong and enduring commitment to NATO, to the Transatlantic Bond and I also pointed out that the UK shows its commitment to NATO in so many different ways, especially by spending more than 2% on defense and more than 2% of GDP on defence and by doing so, the UK is leading by example, and the good thing to note is that other allies have started to follow the UK, because defense spending in Europe, among European NATO allies, have started to increase. That is important, because increased investments in our defense is one important element in our response to a more dangerous security environment and that’s something I welcome, and I also welcomed the many other contributions of the UK to NATO. The UK will lead our High Readiness Joint Task Force next year and the UK will also be leading one of the battle groups we are going to deploy to the Baltic countries from this summer.
Then, we also underlined the importance of the Transatlantic Bond and she confirmed the message from President-elect Trump, the message President-elect Trump also conveyed to me in the phone call I had with him on Friday and that is that the United States will remain committed to NATO, to the Transatlantic Bond and to the security guarantees for Europe. So I look forward to working with President-elect Trump and I also look forward to welcoming him to our summit in Brussels next year. That will provide us with a good platform to show unity and to reiterate the strong commitment of all NATO allies to defend each other.