Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the NATO Summit Brussels
Tomorrow and Thursday, NATO leaders will meet here, at our new headquarters.
NATO embodies the bond between Europe and North America. Which has kept our people safe for almost seventy years.
We are an Alliance that exists to prevent conflict and preserve peace. We are an Alliance that constantly adapts to a changing world. Above all, we are an Alliance that delivers.
At the Summit, I expect we will deliver once again. In strengthening our deterrence and defence. Stepping up in the fight against terrorism. And achieving fairer burden-sharing.
Investing in defence is a matter of credibility and fairness. It is about our security in a more unpredictable world.
That is why we will discuss defence spending and burden-sharing tomorrow.
In 2014, Allies agreed to stop the cuts, start to increase, and move towards spending 2 percent of GDP on defence within a decade. Since then, we have made major progress. We still have a long way to go. So we must redouble our efforts.
Today, I can announce that we are releasing new 2018 defence spending estimates for each Ally. And they are encouraging.
They show that compared to 2014, all Allies have stopped the cuts.
All Allies are increasing spending.
Last year saw the biggest increase in a generation.
And this year will be the fourth consecutive year of real increases.
The estimates also show that we expect 8 Allies to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defence this year.
Compared to just 3 Allies in 2014.
Allies are also investing billions in new major equipment.
And stepping up their contributions to missions and operations.
So we have reversed the trend. Before, the trend was down. Now it is up.
For decades, our nations were cutting defence spending by billions of dollars.
Now they are adding billions of dollars.
I would like to thank all our nations for the efforts they are making to keep our defences strong in a more unpredictable world.
And I would like to thank President Trump for his leadership on defence spending.
It is clearly having an impact.
Last year on the President’s initiative we agreed to develop national plans to raise defence spending.
Based on these plans we estimate that European Allies and Canada will add an extra 266 billion USD to defence between now and 2024.
This is significant. Tomorrow we will also take decisions to step up NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism.
We will launch a new training mission in Iraq, with hundreds of NATO trainers. We will also help set up military schools. To increase the professionalism of Iraqi forces.
This will be a non-combat mission. But it will help Iraq prevent the re-emergence of ISIS and other terrorist groups.
We will also agree additional support for key partners in the Middle East and North Africa.
We will increase our support for Tunisia. With expert advice in areas including counter-terrorism and counter-improvised explosive devices. And we will step up support for Jordan. Including on cyber defence, counter-IEDs, and crisis management. Prevention is better than intervention. And helping our partners prevent and manage crises makes us all safer.
To further strengthen our deterrence and defence, we will adopt a Readiness Initiative – the “Four Thirties”. This is a commitment to have, by 2020: 30 mechanised battalions; 30 air squadrons; and 30 combat vessels, Ready to use within 30 days or less. We will agree a new NATO Command Structure. Including a new command for the Atlantic, in Norfolk, Virginia.
And another for military mobility in Europe, in Ulm, Germany.
Military mobility involves moving troops and equipment quickly, wherever they are needed.
And over the last four years, NATO has invested over 2 billion euros in infrastructure making this possible.
Including sea terminals, fuel containers, and runways.
And tomorrow, through our close cooperation with EUROCONTROL, we will also increase air mobility. Aircraft supporting NATO missions will be given a NATO Call Sign. And receive priority handling by Air Traffic Control in Europe. In peacetime and in crisis.
Tomorrow, we will also discuss NATO’s response to hybrid threats.
And agree to set up new counter-hybrid support teams, to support Allies at risk. Our strengthened defences will extend into the cyber domain. With a new Cyber Operations Centre as part of the new NATO Command Structure. And the ability to draw on Allies’ national cyber capabilities in NATO missions and operations.
Over dinner, we will meet with our colleagues from Finland and Sweden. As well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission.
Together we will discuss the main security challenges confronting the transatlantic area. Including challenges from the Middle East and North Africa, a more assertive Russia, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
This morning, I met with President Tusk and President Juncker.
We have just signed a new Joint Declaration setting out a shared vision of how NATO-EU cooperation can make us all stronger and safer. And contribute to fairer burden sharing.
On Thursday, we will meet with the Presidents of Georgia and Ukraine, two of our closest partners. Together we will address regional challenges. We will also discuss their defence reforms and NATO’s continuing support.
We will close the Summit with a meeting on Afghanistan, joined by our Resolute Support partners.
Our presence in Afghanistan is vital to ensuring the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorism.
And Allies are increasing their commitment, both in forces and funding.
We have added around 3,000 more trainers to our mission.
At the Summit, I expect we will also agree to extend funding for the Afghan forces beyond 2020.
And we’ll express our full support for President Ghani’s bold peace initiative. And his government’s reforms.
Finally, I expect that following last month’s historic agreement on the name issue, we will agree to invite Skopje to start accession talks.
Once the agreement is finalised and implemented, we will be able to invite the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1 to become NATO’s 30th member under its new name: the Republic of North Macedonia. A strong signal that NATO’s door is and remains open.
Our Summit comes at a time when some are questioning the strength of the transatlantic bond. And I would not be surprised if we have robust discussions. Including on defence spending.
Different views are normal among friends and Allies.
But I am confident we will agree on the fundamentals. North America and Europe stand together. We will take decisions to strengthen our Alliance and protect our citizens for years to come.
With that, I am ready to take your questions.