Defending the Treasure of Peace and Security

Keynote address by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at the National Defence University in Istanbul, Turkey

  • 23 Jan. 2018 -
  • |
  • Mis à jour le: 23 Jan. 2018 17:38

(As prepared)

Thank you for that kind introduction. It is an honor for me to speak to this distinguished audience at Turkey’s National Defense University.

I am also very pleased to return to Istanbul once again.

This is a stunning city filled with history and culture.

I agree with the Founder of this Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who said of this beautiful city:

“On the meeting point of two worlds, the ornament of Turkish homeland, the treasure of Turkish history, the city cherished by the Turkish nation, İstanbul, has its place in the hearts of all citizens.”

And I might add, in the hearts of all global citizens.

Istanbul is the ideal location for me to highlight the important role Turkey plays in the NATO Alliance, and how much we value Turkey’s role as a respected member of NATO.

Turkey occupies a strategic location.

In this neighbourhood, NATO recognises that you face a number of difficult security challenges.

Among all NATO Allies, Turkey is the most exposed to instability and turmoil stemming from the Middle East.

Your country has suffered a series of brutal terrorist attacks.

I want you to know that NATO stands in solidarity with Turkey in the fight against terrorism.

Our service men and women risk their lives to ensure that we can live ours in peace and security. For that we must always be grateful.

I am honoured to have had the opportunity to show a small token of gratitude and respect yesterday morning by laying a wreath at Anitkabir. And it is truly a privilege to be here among so many who serve today.


NATO is a political-military Alliance where those who serve – from our 29 member countries – come together in common cause.

Together, we discuss the many challenges we face.

Together, by consensus, we decide on how to address these challenges.

And together, we reap the benefits of this enduring commitment to our collective defence.

So I would like to impart to you today just how valuable our relationship is:

  • How Turkey contributes to NATO
  • How NATO contributes to Turkish security
  • And how we are adapting to ensure that the Alliance we have built together continues to serve the unique and essential purpose for which it was founded nearly 70 years ago – to safeguard freedom and security.

Turkey’s Contributions to NATO

Starting with how Turkey contributes to NATO, I will highlight just a few areas that illustrate the value that Turkey brings to the NATO Alliance.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting the Center of Excellence for Defence Against Terrorism in Ankara.

The Center’s mission is to “provide key decision-makers with realistic solutions to terrorism and Counterterrorism challenges.”

Since its founding in 2005, this critically important facility has worked with nearly 12,000 students from more than 100 countries.

Sharing your expertise with others who are also facing the threat of terrorism is just one way in which Turkey contributes to and through NATO.

Turkey has also made substantial contributions to NATO’s missions in Afghanistan.

You supported ISAF – the International Security Assistance Force – from 2003 until the conclusion of that operation in 2014.  And during that combat mission, 15 Turkish soldiers paid the ultimate price. Let me offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the fallen for their sacrifice. 

Today, Turkey plays a key role as a Framework Nation for the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, providing more than 550 personnel.

And I am pleased by the encouraging news that Turkey is considering an increased level of support.

You also play an important role in the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, working to expand political and practical cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.

In addition to Afghanistan, Turkey supports NATO training programs for Iraqi officers and contributes to NATO’s efforts to build stability in the Western Balkans by contributing to our operation in Kosovo.

You also contribute to NATO Trust Funds for Ukraine which support improvements in cyber security, medical rehabilitation, and other areas crucial to the security and stability of that country.

These operations, missions and activities are vital to Alliance security, and to helping our partners achieve stability.  Once again, I thank Turkey for these and so many other substantial contributions.

NATO’s Contributions to Turkey’s Security

As I said at the outset, this is truly a mutually beneficial relationship – and it has been since Turkey joined the Alliance in 1952, 65 years ago. 

I want to turn now to the steps NATO has taken to strengthen Turkey’s security.

The Alliance has increased its military presence to help Turkey respond to a more demanding security environment.

For the past five years, at Turkey’s request, NATO Allies have been reinforcing Turkey’s air defences.

Spain and Italy currently have missile batteries deployed near Turkey’s southern border. In years past, personnel from the Netherlands, Germany and the United States have also contributed to this mission. 

Today, PATRIOT and SAMP-T systems help defend Turkey against the threat of missiles from across the border with Syria.

The mission is important - and Allies are committed to it.

In addition, we have enhanced patrols by AWACS surveillance planes over your territory. 

I was pleased to visit the Konya airbase this past September, where I had the privilege of meeting with air crews from several NATO countries. 

Konya has served as a forward operating base for NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft since the 1980s.

Today, NATO AWACS operating out of Konya conduct patrols in support of Turkey and the Counter-ISIS Coalition.

We have also increased our naval presence in the Black Sea area and in the eastern part of the Mediterranean.

This brief summary illustrates NATO’s strong commitment to the defence of Turkey.

NATO’s current priorities

Indeed, NATO’s commitment to the safety and security of all Allies is unwavering.

Our collective defence clause -- Article 5 -- is at the heart of our Alliance:  An attack on one Ally is regarded as an attack against all.

That is the essence of our mutual defence commitment to one another.  It has helped NATO keep the peace in Europe for nearly 70 years.

And we have been successful as an Alliance over these past seven decades because we have been able to adapt to changing security challenges.

This has been especially evident since the watershed year of 2014. 

In response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the rise of ISIS/Da’esh, NATO has increased our collective defence capabilities and has done more to project stability in our neighbourhood.

Allies – including Turkey – have agreed on and implemented the most significant reinforcement of our collective defence since the Cold War.

We have:

  • Set up eight multinational headquarters in the eastern part of our Alliance.
  • Tripled the size of the NATO Response Force to 40,000.
  • And established a 5,000 strong Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, ready to move within days.  I very much appreciate that Turkey has agreed to take on a leading role in this force in the near future.

NATO is increasing our presence in the south east of the Alliance, centered on a multinational brigade in Romania.

We have also stepped up air policing over the Baltic and Black Sea areas. 

We have deployed four multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

We do all of this to prevent conflict, to deter potential aggression, and to ensure our collective defence. After all, NATO is and has always been a defensive alliance.

In addition to ensuring that we can provide for our collective defence, NATO is working to project stability beyond our borders.

When we talk about projecting stability we are recognising that if our neighbours are more stable, we are more secure.

NATO works with more than 40 partners around the world. From Jordan and Tunisia to Georgia and Ukraine, Australia and Sweden to Afghanistan and Iraq – we work with a diverse network of partners to improve security and stability for all.

As we do this, we draw on the experience we have gained and lessons we have learned.

For example, our experience in Afghanistan has taught us that training local forces is one of our best weapons in the fight against terrorism – a challenge that affects us all.

So we are adding three thousand more trainers to our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.  We are there to train, advise, and assist the Afghans so that they can best provide for their own security – and to prevent that country from ever again becoming a safe haven for international terrorism.

We are also increasing our support for partners across the Middle East and North Africa with a range of training and defence capacity-building programs. The goal is to help them defend themselves and better face external threats while strengthening their institutions in line with transparency and accountability standards.

We have been training Iraqi officers, both in Jordan and inside Iraq, with a focus on countering Improvised Explosive Devices, improving Military Medicine and supporting maintenance of former Soviet equipment.

As I mentioned earlier, NATO is a member of the Global Coalition to defeat ISIS/Da’esh. We are contributing to the Global Coalition with AWACS surveillance flights.

We know the fight will not be over, even when Da’esh no longer controls any territory.

And we are considering how our role might evolve within the Global Coalition by building on our efforts to train Iraqi forces, and increase the counter-terrorism capabilities of our partners in the region.

Finally, we are improving our awareness and the way we share information. This is one of the main purposes of our new Intelligence Division at NATO.

We have created a new Hub for the South at our Command in Naples.  This Hub will  contribute to our understanding of challenges from the region, and to our work with partners to counter those challenges.

We know all too well that terrorism is a foe that must be fought on many fronts and with many different strategies.

Preview of the 2018 Brussels Summit

By any reasonable measure, NATO has achieved a great deal over the past few years in adapting our Alliance to an ever-evolving security environment.

But there is always more to do.   

To ensure that NATO continues to protect our nearly one billion citizens and preserve the peace, NATO must continue to adapt.

We are preparing for our next Summit, which will be held in July in Brussels.

I won’t go into too much detail here, but I do want to give you an overview of the topics that I believe will be on the agenda when all of our leaders gather this summer.

I anticipate two main themes:

How to do even more to project stability and fight international terrorism; and 

How to further strengthen our Deterrence and Defence. 

I’m sure that we will also discuss a range of other related subjects, including our approach to Russia, increasing security cooperation between NATO and the European Union, and modernising the Alliance. 

This last topic will involve reorganizing NATO’s Command Structure.

I want to say a few words about this because our Command Structure is the backbone of our alliance, including the Headquarters of Allied Land Command in Izmir.

The Command Structure underpins both our strengthened deterrence and defense posture as well as our ability to project stability beyond NATO’s borders.

One new element is the likely creation of a new cyber operations center, which is important as we strengthen our cyber defenses.

A new command for the Atlantic is planned to ensure sea lanes between Europe and North America remain open and secure, along with a new command focused on military mobility — to speed up the movement of military forces and equipment within Europe.

These topics and others will be discussed, and decisions will be made to map out NATO’s future direction.

And Turkey will, no doubt, play a significant role in shaping NATO’s policies as we continue to our adaptation in the years ahead. 

Conclusion:  Treasuring Values, Peace and Security

Even as NATO has adapted over the years, some things must never change.

We must continue to treasure and uphold our enduring values: democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. 

Immediately after the July 2016 coup attempt here in Turkey, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, condemned it and expressed NATO’s solidarity with our valued Ally. 

He visited Ankara shortly thereafter, in September. 

He has spoken of the shock he felt when he saw the damage to the Parliament building.

We all agree that any attempt to undermine democracy in any of our countries is unacceptable.

I pay homage to the memories of those who lost their lives during the critical hours of the coup attempt and pay tribute to the Turkish people who stood up against this heinous act in defence of its elected government and democratic institutions. 

A democratic, strong and stable Turkey is important for our shared security.

All NATO members are free and independent countries.  Each nation joined NATO because of a belief that there is no contradiction between sovereignty and solidarity – and that we are stronger together than we would be alone.

So as I close today, I do so recognizing the wisdom of those who came together to form this Alliance – as well as the dedication of those who ensure that we remain true to our principles as we adapt to an ever changing and challenging world.

Turkey is a vital member of the Alliance and has been for over 65 years. As we look to the future, we can be confident that in continuing to work together through NATO, our values and our security will be upheld in the fight against terrorism as in our fight against all threats to our security.