by Ambassador Tacan Ildem, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at the inauguration ceremony of the Slovakia NFIU, Baracks Bratislava - Vajnory

  • 24 Jan. 2017 -
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  • Last updated: 24 Jan. 2017 11:52

(As prepared)

Left to right: Ambassador Tacan Ildem, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy and the Minister of Defence of Slovakia, Peter Gajdos

Minister Gajdoš,

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is a momentous day – for Slovakia and for NATO.

On behalf of NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, I thank all of you for being here to celebrate this special occasion.

I especially want to thank the government and the people of Slovakia for their strong support for NATO and for making this day possible.

I am also grateful to all of the Allies who are participating directly in this multinational NFIU headquarters.

Slovakia, of course. But also the Czech Republic. Germany. Hungary. Poland. Romania. The United States. And my own country, Turkey.

This is the eighth NATO Force Integration Unit that has been inaugurated over the past two years.

The other seven NFIUs are located in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

This robust network of NFIU’s in central and eastern Europe perform several critically important functions for NATO and our collective security.

This multinational unit will be staffed by 21 Slovakian personnel combined with 20 international personnel.

These personnel will play a vital role in military planning, exercises, and in facilitating reinforcements, if needed.

The message is clear: NATO is here in Slovakia. We are committed to defend your country and your people against any threat or act of aggression.

More broadly, these eight NFIU’s symbolise NATO’s solidarity.

They represent NATO’s commitment to collective defence.

To the idea that we are in this together. That we will defend one another.

It’s the notion of “one for all and all for one” that has kept NATO strong, our citizens safe, and our countries at peace for nearly 70 years.

We have learned over the years that we are much stronger working together than going it alone.

All eight NFIUs are part of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan – or RAP – that was agreed to at NATO’s Wales Summit in 2014.

And RAP, in turn, is part of NATO’s response to the evolving security challenges we face following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and ongoing aggressive actions in eastern Ukraine.

We have increased our NATO Response Force to 40,000 troops.

And we can now deploy them and other forces faster than before.

So this relatively small headquarters is part of a much bigger plan.

In fact, taken as a whole, NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence capabilities since the end of the Cold War.

But let us also remember that NATO is, has always been, and will always be a defensive alliance.

The most successful alliance in history.

Everything that we do is defensive, proportionate and fully in line with our international commitments.

Our forces do not pose a threat to any country.

Our goal is to prevent conflict, not to provoke conflict.

This NFIU is designed to help us keep our countries safe.

And to uphold our shared values on which NATO was founded: democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.

So I congratulate Slovakia on this momentous day.

It is an honour for me to be here to take part in the inauguration of this new headquarters.

Today we take an important step toward greater security for Slovakia and your people.

For NATO as a whole.

And for future generations.