Joint press point

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón - Secretary General's opening remarks

  • 31 May. 2018 -
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  • Last updated: 31 May. 2018 17:08

(As delivered)

President Santos,

It is really a great pleasure and an honour to welcome you here at NATO HQ. And as I told you, you are the first Head of State and Government I receive in this new building, but not only that, you are also the first Head of State from Latin America I received, and you are the first Nobel laureate I receive, so this is really a great day for me and it’s a great day for the cooperation, the partnership between Colombia and NATO.

Your leadership has helped to transform your country.  And I pay tribute to your relentless efforts to secure lasting peace and stability in Colombia. And we really appreciate what you have achieved through the peace process and the agreement that provided the platform for the peace in Colombia.

Colombia is NATO’s newest partner.

And our first partner from Latin America.

Our partnership is based on our shared commitment to international peace and stability. And over the past five years, our cooperation has provided real benefits – both to Colombia and to NATO.

And we discussed how we are working together in different fields, like demining, but also interoperability, how we work together when it comes to military education and training, and we would very much like to strengthen and to expand that cooperation with Colombia.

In 2015, Colombia worked side-by-side with NATO forces off the Horn of Africa.

Helping to suppress piracy and secure international shipping lanes.

Your commitment to NATO’s Building Integrity programme has helped boost the transparency and professionalism of Colombia’s defence institutions.

And Colombian personnel have sharpened their skills through courses at the NATO School in Germany, and the NATO Defence College in Rome.

Today, we discussed how to take our cooperation forward in the future.

We agreed to work together in areas of mutual interest, including: cyber defence, demining and promoting the role of women in peace and security.

NATO could provide expert advice to help Colombian forces work more closely with Allies. And Colombia has unique skills to offer NATO, including in countering improvised explosive devices.

The Alliance could also benefit from Colombia’s expertise with respect to the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

NATO is committed to working with partners like Colombia that share our values and interests.

Our support comes at the request of the Colombian government and we will always respect your autonomy and your independence.  

So President Santos, once again welcome to NATO. It has been a great pleasure to meet with you and I thank you once again for your personal commitment to our partnership but also to peace and friendship between the people living in NATO and the people of Colombia.

Thank you and welcome.