by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Foreign Ministers
Today and tomorrow, the Foreign Ministers of NATO will take decisions to prepare our Brussels Summit next July.
In a constantly evolving security landscape, NATO’s partnership with the European Union is more important than ever. So we will begin with a meeting on NATO-EU relations and European Defence. We will be joined by High Representative / Vice President Federica Mogherini. As well as our colleagues from Finland and from Sweden. I expect we will agree to take NATO-EU cooperation to a new level. Our forces must be able to move more quickly and easily. So NATO and the EU will aim to make military mobility a flagship and a priority for our cooperation. Terrorism is a concern to all our citizens. So we will agree to share more information to counter terrorist threats.
Women have a vital role to play in peace and security. So we will do more to recognise this in our organisations and in our operations.
Tonight we will discuss global security challenges, including North Korea. Last week’s ballistic missile launch showed once again Pyongyang’s reckless disregard for international security. And we must apply maximum international pressure in order to achieve a peaceful solution.
Tomorrow, we will focus on NATO’s role in projecting stability and fighting terrorism.
We will assess our training and capacity building support for partners like Iraq and Jordan. And our support for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, including with AWACS surveillance planes. The Coalition has made significant progress. More than 95% of the territory once held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria has been liberated. But this does not mean an end to the threat.
So as the Coalition moves from combat operations to stabilisation, we will consider how NATO’s contribution should evolve.
We will also hold a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission. We will review the security situation and the country’s ongoing reforms, which are bringing it closer to NATO.
Our partnership is outstanding.
Our forces serve side by side in Afghanistan, and train side by side in Georgia.
We will conclude with a meeting on NATO’s Open Door policy. And how we can best support the countries which aspire for NATO membership.
So with that, I’m ready to take your questions.
Q (WSJ): One, in terms of EU cooperation, do you think there is further areas to move forward in the area of cyber? And also: North Korea, Ukraine… there seems to be no shortage of crises getting worse. Are you worried about the sort of danger, in terms of security around the world? Does this feel like a more instable time than it has in recent months?
SECRETARY GENERAL: First on EU cooperation: yes, absolutely there is a potential to do more also on cyber. And that’s actually one of the areas where we’re stepping up our cooperation. Just last week, EU participated in our Cyber Coalition exercise, which is one of the biggest exercises in the world. And that’s an exercise which is making us more able to work together.
We have established procedures and ways to share real-time information on cyber attacks, warnings and information on malware. And we are looking into what more we can do. And I also participated in a cyber exercise with European Defence Ministers. And that’s actually the first time ever a NATO Secretary General has participated in an EU exercise. So we will, on the staff-to-staff level, but also on the political level, look into what more concrete steps we can do. But cyber is one of the main tasks for our cooperation.
Also I’d also like to highlight the Hybrid Centre of Excellence which Federica Mogherini and I inaugurated a few weeks ago. This is about hybrid threats, but of course hybrid threats are very closely linked also to cyber threats. So these are areas where we work together, exchange information and exercise together - key element in our cooperation.
Yes, the world is more unstable. We live in a more dangerous world. But at the same time, NATO has adapted, NATO is stronger because the world is more unstable. So we provide, every day, credible deterrence. And we have lived through crises and threats and instability also before, but we have been able to keep all our citizens, all our nations safe because we have been able to send a clear message to any potential adversary that NATO is there to protect Allies and that we’re able to respond to any attack. Meaning that we have the resolve and we have the capabilities to respond.
So when the world becomes more unstable, NATO is becoming stronger. And that’s the best way to keep our citizens safe. And we have increased defence spending, we have increased the readiness of our forces, and we are also working more closely with many partners, including the European Union.
Q (Alghad TV): I just would like to ask you about Yemen. How do you see what’s going on in Yemen, is NATO worried about it, and will it be on the agenda today? Thank you.
SECRETARY GENERAL: So we are concerned about the situation in Yemen, because we have seen many people killed, we have seen a conflict which has lasted for a long time. At the same time, NATO is not involved in that conflict, and we are not present. So what we do is that we support all international efforts to find a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict, to end the violence and to find a negotiated, peaceful solution.
Q (VG): The new American ambassador said yesterday that there is American support for you, Mr Secretary General to take a 5th year for NATO. What’s your own take on that? Are you willing to stay here for another year?
SECRETARY GENERAL: I will leave that to the nations to decide. Because it is 29 Allies who decide on the issue of how long the Secretary General shall stay in his position. And I will relate to and answer questions from the Allies if they ask me.
Q (Kurir): I wonder, will NATO stay in Kosovo or it will it reduce its presence over there? I ask you that question because some Kosovo Albanian leaders think that NATO’s presence in Kosovo is obstacle to establishing Kosovo Army. What’s your comment on that?
SECRETARY GENERAL: We don’t have any plans to leave Kosovo. KFOR plays an important role to help to create security and stability in Kosovo. Our mission there is conditions-based, meaning that any reduction in the number of troops will be based on the conditions on the ground. So that’s something we will follow. And that’s not on the agenda now, because we assess the situation on the ground in a way that is underlining the need for NATO to continue to be in Kosovo.
When it comes to the Kosovo Security Force, I have clearly stated many times before that any change in the mandate of the Kosovo Security Force has to be done in accordance with the constitution, and has to be then made based on the provisions which are in the constitution.