by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC

  • 14 Sep. 2018 -
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  • Last updated: 15 Sep. 2018 12:39

Thank you,

Dr (Kay Coles) James,

For that generous introduction.

And for inviting me to speak with you today.

I also want to thank the Heritage Foundation for your steadfast support, over many years, for the values that NATO holds dear.

I will be brief in my introduction and then I look forward to your questions and comments afterwards.

Today I want to speak to you about the value of NATO.

NATO is very important to Europe.

That’s widely recognized.

But it is also very important to the United States.

Let me mention three main reasons why.  

First, peace and stability in Europe are of vital interest to the United States.

Second, NATO Allies share and support the fundamental values which are at the heart of American society.

And third, NATO Allies boost America’s military power.


So first:

NATO was forged in the aftermath of two World Wars.

Which led to the loss of 90 million lives.

And widespread economic devastation.

When we consider NATO’s value today, we need to take into account the devastating loss of life and the ruinous economic costs of a major war in Europe.

For nearly 70 years, NATO has helped to preserve peace and stability in Europe.

This has provided the foundation for an unprecedented period of prosperity.

For all NATO Allies.
Including the United States.

Europe and North America together represent half of the world’s economic output.

And while we now have our disagreements over tariffs, it does not change the fact that Europe and North America are each other’s biggest trading partners.

So peace and stability in Europe are the foundation for continued prosperity.

On both sides of the Atlantic.


Second, we share fundamental values that we protect and defend together.

Democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

They are the foundations of our free societies.

But they are also the foundations of our engagement with the rest of the world.

These values are magnets for other countries.
And lead them to join our Alliance.

After the Berlin Wall came down, former Warsaw Pact countries and the Baltic States all joined NATO.

Others have followed.

And more countries aspire to join.

NATO has helped to spread democratic values, free enterprise, and stability to millions of people in the eastern part of Europe. 

This represents a historic geopolitical shift.

That has benefitted the United States.

And the world at large.

Third, NATO Allies boost America’s military power.

They have nearly two million service personnel on active duty.

And cutting-edge capabilities.

France and the United Kingdom contribute 30 percent of NATO’s nuclear ballistic-missile-submarine fleet.

America’s NATO Allies also maintain dual-capable aircraft for nuclear delivery.

To enhance our deterrence and keep the peace.

Furthermore, America’s NATO Allies employ tens of thousands intelligence personnel. 

Many of them working in close coordination with their US counterparts.

Giving the United States better eyes and ears than you would otherwise have.

From tracking submariners in the Arctic to identifying terrorists that seek to harm us.

NATO allies also hosts twenty-eight American main operating bases across Europe.

These bases in Europe are not only for Europe.

They enable the US to project military power across the wider Middle East and Africa.

Providing a clear strategic advantage in the fight against terrorism and other threats.

For example, the US Africa Command is based not in Africa, but in Stuttgart, Germany.

The 6th Fleet – which operates from the Barents Sea to Antarctica – is headquartered in Naples, Italy.

And when US troops are wounded in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they are flown for  quick treatment to Ramstein, Germany.

When thinking of the value of NATO to the United States, I am also reminded of what Secretary Mattis once told me.

That never in his entire career had he fought a war without NATO allies at his side.

The US never has to fight alone.

This week we marked the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

After those attacks, NATO invoked our collective defense clause – Article 5 – for the first – and only – time.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of European and Canadian soldiers have fought alongside the United States in Afghanistan.
More than a thousand have paid the ultimate price.

And today, NATO allies continue to stand with the United States.

Not only in Afghanistan.

But also in the Global Coalition against ISIS.

And in deterring an increasingly assertive Russia.

For nearly seven decades, the United States has been able to call upon its close Allies and friends in NATO.

No other power can match that.

No other power in the world has so many friends and Allies.


So NATO supports the prosperity, the values and the security of the United States.

But it is clear that Allies need to invest more and better in our shared security.

All NATO Allies have agreed:

To stop cuts to defense budgets.

To increase spending.

And to move towards spending 2% of GDP on defense by 2024.

We are making real progress.

Last year, NATO Allies across Europe and Canada boosted their defense budgets by a combined 5.2%.

The biggest increase, in real terms, in a quarter of a century.

This year will be the fourth consecutive year of rising defense spending.

The trend was down.

Now it’s up.

We still have a long way to go.

But we are moving in the right direction. 

Let there be no mistake.

NATO’s credibility as an alliance relies on sharing the costs of defense fairly.

As you know, President Trump has been outspoken on this issue.

And I have thanked him for his leadership on defense spending.

Since President Trump took office, NATO Allies across Europe and Canada have spent an additional $41 billion on defense.

At our July Summit, all NATO Allies agreed to redouble their efforts on defense spending.

This will be a main focus of the defense ministers’ meeting next month.

And I will continue to work intensively with all Allies to ensure that we deliver on our pledge. 


In an uncertain world, we have much more to do.

As we work together to safeguard the freedom and security of our nearly one billion citizens.

On both sides of the Atlantic.

Yes, we do have our differences.

And robust debates.

But two World Wars, a Cold War, and the ongoing fight against terrorism have taught us that we are far stronger together than apart.

We have always been united in our core collective defense mission.

That’s why NATO is the most successful – and the most valuable – alliance in history.

Because it embodies the vital transatlantic bond.
A bond that guarantees our prosperity, our security, and our freedom.

In Europe – and in North America.


Moderator [Mr Kay Cole James, President of the Heritage Foundation]: Mr Secretary, thank you very much for that.  It was a comprehensive view of how important NATO is to the United States and how important the United States is to NATO and it's the fact that they're mutually beneficial is the key to its success all these years.  We have spent decades here at the Heritage Foundation, talking about the importance of European security in NATO, and we’re just very privileged and very honoured to have you here today, to address all of this.

We have a lot of people in the audience that are eager to ask you some questions, but I think I will take the privilege of being here with you, to ask the first one.  And that’s to ask you about the Arctic.  Russia is clearly remilitarising the Arctic, they're building some new bases, some old bases have been reopened, and yet there's not a lot of at least official talk, I should say, in the concept of… the strategic concept of NATO, about the Arctic.  You come from a country very close to the Arctic.  We'd be very interested in what you think how NATO should be thinking about Arctic security.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]:  First of all, the Arctic is extremely important and we see, as you said, an increased Russian presence with modern military capabilities in the Arctic.  And that’s also one of the reasons why NATO is adapting our military posture, not only the Arctic, but in general.  But that also has some consequences for the Arctic.  We are, for instance, strengthening our maritime posture, investing more in naval capabilities.  We have just agreed to establish a new Atlantic Command with a headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, and that will address also some of the challenges in the Arctic.  And we are also doing more when it comes to improving surveillance, reconnaissance.  I know that countries close to the Arctic, or at least close to the… bordering the North Atlantic, like Norway you mentioned, Denmark, the UK, are investing in more modern capabilities which can address the challenges we also see in the High North.

You are right that I am come from a country which is close to the Arctic.  Actually more than that, half of Norway is in the Arctic.  So, you have to remember that the Arctic is not only the North Pole, the Arctic is everything north of the polar, or the Arctic Circle, which is for instance half of Norway.  So, what we do, for instance in Northern Norway or in Greenland or in the North Atlantic, it's also extremely important for the Arctic.

Having said all this, I would like to highlight the following: is that we used to say that we have low tensions in the High North, and I still believe it is important to try to keep tensions down in the High North.  And the reality is that partly because this is a very vulnerable area for also environmental reasons, we are also working together with Russia, addressing some of the challenges in the High North.  Something called the Arctic Council and several NATO Allies are members of the Arctic Council; Russia is a member. We work together with them on search, rescue, environmental cooperation and managing big fish stocks up there.  And I believe that there is no contradiction between being strong, present, but at the same time see the potential for cooperation in the High North.

Moderator: Thank you.  Now we'll open it up the audience.  If I could just ask you to raise your hand, we have people with microphones, if you could just wait to get the microphone, identify yourself very briefly and if you could keep the questions brief we'd really appreciate that, because we only have so much time here.  So, let's get started.  Luke, you want to get it started?

Question: My name's Luke Coffey, I'm the Director of the Foreign Policy Centre here at the Heritage Foundation.  Thank you, Secretary General Stoltenberg, for your great defence of the importance of NATO to the US, and to the Alliance as a whole in the 21st century.  British Parliamentarian and Chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, recently proposed this, what I think is a great idea, to name the new NATO Headquarters after Senator John McCain, and I think that there would be bipartisan support on this side of the Atlantic, and there were some positive signals from the other side of the Atlantic on this idea.  So, I was wondering if you could tell us what you thought about this proposal personally and if NATO as an Alliance is actively considering this great idea.  Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]:NATO Allies and I personally very much respect the late Senator John McCain for many reasons, but not least because of his very strong support and commitment to NATO, to the transatlantic bond.  He travelled often to NATO Allied countries in Europe.  I met him many times in Brussels, in Munich and elsewhere, and also of course in Washington, and he had a lifelong career in support of NATO and the values that NATO defends.  I also had the honour of participating in the funeral of Senator McCain, a couple of weeks ago here in Washington, and I know that all Allies respected him very much and honour his memory.  NATO doesn’t have a tradition of naming buildings after politicians.  You know, we are 29 Allies with a lot of presidents, kings, heads of state and government, so we haven’t introduced that tradition.  So, I'm certain that we will be able to honour John McCain, but not necessarily through naming a building.  And actually, we honour John McCain every day through the fact that we stand together in NATO and deliver a strong transatlantic deterrence and defence.

Question: Thank you, Secretary General.  Jeff Rathke from the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies.  Two questions, if I could.  The… often we hear criticism from Washington about the contributions that Germany makes to the Alliance, in particular its level of defence spending.  I'd be interested in your comments on how you see the trends in Germany and what issues you prioritise in your dialogue with Germany, and also whether you think there's any grounds for fear that NATO Allies in the East might provoke a conflict with Russia.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: First, on whether NATO Allies would provoke a conflict with Russia.  We will not.  NATO is a defensive Alliance.  NATO has proven that for many, many decades and the increased presence of NATO troops in the eastern part of the Alliance is a defensive response, a proportionate response to what we have seen Russia being responsible for, Ukraine, Crimea, illegally annexing Crimea, destabilising eastern Ukraine, and therefore, NATO is and will remain a defensive Alliance.  And that’s the case for all Allies.

When it comes to Germany, we all agree, also Germany, that Germany has to invest more in defence.  So, that’s something we agreed at the NATO Summit in July.  We have stated that also before and Germany has started to increase defence spending.  And they have actually put forward a plan to increase defence spending by 70% over a decade, which is significant and this is money which will be helpful to modernise their armed forces, to buy new modern equipment, and they have started this build up.  I welcome that because what Germany does really matters, because the German economy is so big, so when they start to move it also affects the total defence spending of NATO.  Burden-sharing within the Alliance is of course very much about defence spending, but is also about what we call contributions and capabilities, and Germany is contributing, for instance to the NATO presence in Afghanistan, is the second largest force contributor to our mission there and they are responsible for the northern part of Afghanistan, they're one of the lead nations or framework nations.  And Germany is also contributing to other NATO missions and operations, in Kosovo, but also for instance being a lead nation for one of the battlegroups, the one we have in Lithuania.  So, the short answer is to that yes, Germany should do more, but Germany agrees and they have started to invest more in defence.

Moderator: Other questions?  Here in the middle.

Question: Thank you very much.  My name is David Nikuradze and I represent Georgian television station Rustavi in Washington DC.  Secretary General, I wonder if there is any update about NATO enlargement and Georgia's possible membership.  Thank you, Sir.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: We had a very good meeting with the Georgian President in Brussels during the Summit.  I met with President Margvelashvili and we addressed the importance of strengthening the partnership between NATO and Georgia.  NATO strongly supports the sovereignty, the territorial integrity of Georgia, and of course we don’t in any way recognise the presence of Russian forces in parts of Georgia.  We also reiterated at the Summit in July, NATO Heads of State of Government, that Georgia will become a member of NATO.  We help Georgia with implementing reforms, we provide political support, practical support.  We have established a training centre - training and evaluation centre in Georgia, and we help with implementing reforms of defence and security institutions.  So, Georgia is making progress, we welcome that.  We will continue to support Georgia and help Georgia as it moves towards closer Euro-Atlantic integration, including towards membership in NATO.  Let me also add that we are extremely grateful for what Georgia does for NATO.  Georgia participates in NATO exercises, contributes to our NATO Response Force, but not least Georgia is one of the main partners, sending troops, contributing with troops to our mission in Afghanistan.  So, Georgia is important for NATO and NATO is important for Georgia, and we continue to strengthen our partnership.

Moderator: Mr Secretary, let me shift the topic a little bit.  You're talking about what NATO is doing and how important it is to our mutual security, but let me shift the question to public diplomacy and public support for NATO, both here and in Europe.  It's been over 30 years since the Cold War ended.  The challenges today from Russia are somewhat… on the one hand they're similar, on the other hand they're entirely different.  Many younger people, who were not alive during the Cold War, are being asked to support and even participate in some cases in military operations on behalf of NATO.  Can you say a few words about how we need to go beyond sort of making the case, if you will, to states and politicians and experts, to the public at large, about how important NATO is to the security, particularly for younger people?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Of course we can never take the support for NATO for given and new generations, who have not… who don’t remember, who have never experienced a war, of course it's a different thing for them.  But having said that, I think the good news is that, when we look at the opinion polls, there’s actually strong support for NATO, not… especially in the United States.  And the support for NATO has increased… I can't remember… 60 something per cent.  So, it's a strong support for NATO in the United States, as it is in European Allied countries.  And according to the latest figures from the Pew Research Institute, the support is at an historic high level.  So, the challenge is, in a way, to maintain that high and bipartisan support for NATO.  I think that’s partly about showing that NATO is important, both when it comes to collective defence in Europe, deterring Russia and any other potential adversary from attacking any NATO Allied country.  But it's also showing that NATO's able to respond to some of the new threats and challenges, in cyber, hybrid, and therefore NATO is modernising its cyber capabilities and responses to hybrid threats, and of course in the fight against terrorism.  The fight against terrorism is not a completely new challenge, it has been there for many years, but NATO is playing a key role, both in our presence in Afghanistan  We have to remember that the reason why we are in Afghanistan is to prevent Afghanistan ever again become a safe haven for international terrorists.  And there are many problems in Afghanistan, but at least we have prevented Afghanistan from once again becoming a platform for launching terrorist attacks against our own countries.  Now we are also starting a training mission in Iraq.  So, NATO is able to respond to many different challenges.  Let me add one more, and that’s, for instance, the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe.  NATO is also helping to respond to that, with our presence in the Aegean Sea, where we help to implement an agreement between Turkey and EU on stopping the flow of illegal migration over the Aegean Sea.

Moderator: Now let's go over this way.

Question: Idrees Ali.  I cover the Pentagon for Reuters.  The Russian disinformation sort of idea is nothing new, but it's gained attention after the 2016 elections here.  Could you sort of talk about the Russia disinformation campaign and how that’s developed over the past few years, and specifically how you see sort of Russia using disinformation in Macedonia, ahead of their referendum later this month?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: As we have seen many examples and we have seen many reports about how Russia tried to meddle in our democratic political processes, in different NATO countries and in partner countries of NATO.  Also through disinformation, using social media and so on.  And we also have seen that in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1, which is now close to… which will have a referendum on 30th September on the name deal, and if they agree to that deal they can become a member of NATO.  We also have seen Russia, for instance, trying to not only prevent the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1 to become a member of NATO, but also try to prevent Montenegro from becoming a member.  We have seen a failed coup attempt there.  And we have seen they're using media and social media disinformation to try to influence political processes in different European and NATO Allied countries.

NATO is responding to this in many different ways.  This is partly about cyber defence, it's partly about responding to disinformation and propaganda, and I think that the best way to respond to propaganda is not with propaganda.  But the best way to respond to disinformation and propaganda is to provide the facts, the truth.  The truth will prevail.  And therefore what we try to do is provide the facts.  NATO as an Alliance can do so, the Headquarters, we have some Centre of Excellence on these issues, but of course also the different member states have a particular responsibility to respond, to be aware, and to see the dangers of Russia trying to meddle in domestic political processes.  I also strongly believe that a free and independent media is extremely important in responding to any attempt to spread disinformation and propaganda.  So, a free independent media that is able to ask the difficult questions, to be critical, to check their sources, is also extremely important to establish resilience against any outside attempt to meddle in our political processes.

Question: Hi, Amanda Macias.  I cover the Pentagon for CNBC.  I'm wondering if you can discuss the unique situation Turkey is in with their desire to buy the Russian missile system, S-400 and also wanting to buy the F-35.  Can you talk about those two big ticket items and how they conflict with each other?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: It is a challenge and it is well known that there is a disagreement between Turkey and especially the United States on this issue.  Decisions on acquisition of military capabilities is a national decision, but what is important for NATO is of course interoperability, that the different systems can work together.  And I have discussed this many times in Ankara, also discussed it in Washington, and I hope that it's possible to find a solution, because what we see now is a challenge for all of us, that there is this disagreement on the issue of S-400, the Russian air defence system which Turkey has decided to buy, and also the decision and actually Turkey being part of the F-35 programme.  And I also welcome the fact that there is a direct bilateral dialogue between Turkey and the United States on this issue, and also the fact that NATO has been a kind of platform for this dialogue.  I know that this was an issue that was addressed for instance during the Summit in July in NATO. 

Let me add then one more thing, and that is that Turkey is a very important Ally for NATO for many reasons, but not least because of its geographic location.  If you look at the map you see how big Turkey is, but also how Turkey is bordering Iraq, Syria, and you will understand why Turkey has been so important in the fight against ISIS/Daesh.  Infrastructure bases, air bases have been extremely important in the success we have had in degrading and fighting ISIS.  Turkey is also important when it comes to dealing with the migrant and refugee crisis.  They host millions of refugees.  And they are important to implement the agreement between EU and Turkey on managing the flow of migrants over the Aegean Sea.  Turkey is also the Ally which has suffered, without a comparison, most terrorist attacks, and it's important that we understand that this is something which really is appalling, to see the high number of terrorist attacks in Turkey.  And they also suffered a failed coup attempt.

So yes, there is a problem, there is a challenge, with the decision to buy S-400 combined with the F-35.  I welcome the dialogue - this is addressed.  But at the same time it is important to recognise the importance that Turkey is playing to the whole Alliance.

Moderator: Let's go back over here.

Question: Courtney McBride with Wall Street Journal.  Thank you for doing this.  You’ve discussed contributions and capabilities a little bit, but are you concerned that some of the public discussion of NATO, particularly with respect to burden-sharing, has been framed in financial terms?  And sort of how do you counter that narrative?  And then separately, if you could give us your thoughts on PESCO and just how that relates to NATO, whether that is potentially a risk that member states may reorganise their priorities and perhaps to the detriment of NATO?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: So, burden-sharing within NATO is not only about spending, it is also about, as I said, contributions.  So European Allies sending troops to Afghanistan, European Allies being responsible for some of our battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance, and capabilities, so different weapon systems and so on.  But burden-sharing is also about money; it's also about spending.  So if you, by financial terms, mean spending, I am not concerned about the fact that we are also discussing spending in NATO.  Actually I am raising that issue in all my meetings, because NATO Allies have to invest more in defence.  All NATO Allies reduced defence spending after the end of the Cold War because then tensions went down.  I have told many audiences like this before, that in the 1990s I was Minister of Finance in Norway and then I was responsible for cutting defence spending in Norway, so I know exactly how to do that.  And that was in a way the natural thing to do, because when tensions went down then it's right to reduce spending, as long as we are able to increase defence spending when tensions are going up.  And therefore later on, as Prime Minister of Norway, I was also responsible for starting to increase defence spending.  And therefore I also call on all Allies to invest more.  And, you know, during the Cold War, most Allies spent 3% of GDP on defence.  Now we call on them to spend 2%.  The good news is that they have really started to move.  When we made the decision back in 2014, it was only three Allies that spent 2% of GDP on defence.  This year, we expect eight Allies to spend 2% of GDP on defence.  And also, those who spend less have really started to increase.  And as I said, last year we had 5.2% real increase in defence spending, across Europe and Canada, the biggest increase since the end of the Cold War.  And since Trump became President, NATO Allies - European NATO Allies and Canada - have increased defence spending by US$41billion.  So, we are really going in the right direction.  We are pushing for more, but we have seen a significant shift.  I don’t know whether I answered the questions, but I at least addressed the issue of spending.

PESCO, which is this structured cooperation within the European Union on defence. I welcome stronger EU efforts on defence, because I believe that that can contribute to fairer burden-sharing; it can develop military capabilities in Europe and it can also address the fragmentation of the European defence industry which actually adds to the cost of developing new capabilities in Europe.  I support this, as long as this is not developed into an alternative to NATO.  As long as this is complementary to NATO, we should welcome EU efforts on defence.  It has been clearly stated from European leaders, from the EU, that this is not about duplicating NATO, this is not about creating an alternative to NATO, but this is about strengthening the European pillar within NATO.  And, as long as that’s the case, we should welcome it, because we need more European capabilities, we need more European cooperation on defence.  For instance, the US has one type of main battle tank; in Europe they have seven.  So, it is much less economy of scale, much more costly.  So, if the European PESCO cooperation can address the fragmentation of the European defence industry that will actually be good for all of us.  But European EU efforts on defence can never replace NATO, partly because if you look at the facts and the figures, when UK leaves EU 80% - 80% of NATO's defence expenditure will come from non-EU Allies.  So, that’s no way that can replace NATO.  And this is not only about money, but also about geography, because if we look at geography you have… in the North you have Norway, Iceland, North Atlantic; in the South you have Turkey and some other Allies, and in the West you have Canada, United States and UK.  And, of course, any credible defence of Europe needs those capabilities and also the geography of these Allies to be effective in defending Europe.  So yes, I believe in stronger European defence; I believe in stronger EU efforts on defence, but not as an alternative, but something which is complementing NATO.

Moderator: The last time the NATO Strategic Concept was published was in 2010 and there's a lot that’s happened since then.  There's been the invasion of Ukraine, Arab Spring, the migrant crisis and the Russian intervention in Syria.  Is it time to update the Strategic Concept?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Some argue in favour of that some people like to do that.  I think that it's not a must to do so, as long as we are able to adapt our strategy and adapt NATO to a changing world.  And that’s exactly what we have done.  So yes, we have not a new Strategic Concept, but we have a new strategy.  Meaning that we have actually proven that we have changed NATO fundamentally, because we have implemented the biggest adaptation of NATO since the end of the Cold War.  For the first time in NATO's history, we have battlegroups, combat-ready troops in the eastern part of the Alliance; four battlegroups in the three Baltic countries and Poland.  We have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force, the High Readiness Force we have.  We have just agreed to a new readiness initiative, with 30 battalions, 30 battleships and 30 air squadrons, ready to move within 30 days or less.  We have stepped up our fight against terrorism and we are doing much more when it comes to cyber and hybrid and so on.  So, as long as NATO is able to change through what we do on the ground … I'm not saying that the Strategic Concept is not important, but I'm saying that actions are actually the most important thing, and we have been able to adapt NATO.

Moderator: We have time for one more question.  See if I can go over here.  Well, there's some very… hands in the corner back there.  Thank you.

Question: Hello Sir, my name is Grzegorz … [inaudible]. I am a student of Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security.  I've got for you a question connected with Eastern Flank.  Last week, Estonian counter-intelligence arrested two men for espionage for Russia.  One of them was a Major in Estonian army headquarters.  Could you, sir, tell us anything about damages countered by that espionage activity?  Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: What we have seen is a more assertive Russia; a Russia which has invested in many different types of capabilities, also in intelligence.  But I will not comment on intelligence.  That will be just undermining what NATO is doing and NATO Allies are doing in the area of intelligence.  But what I can say is that because we see a more assertive Russia investing in modern capabilities, modernising their armed forces, exercising in much bigger formations, as we, for instance, now see in the ongoing Russian exercise in the far east, and not least because Russia has been willing to use military force against neighbours - in Georgia and Ukraine - that’s the reason why NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement to our collective defence.  And that’s the reason why NATO Allies have started to invest more for the first time since the end of the Cold War.  NATO is not mirroring tank-by-tank or plane-by-plane what Russia is doing, but we are responding when we see that the security challenges are changing with a more assertive Russia.

Then I would like to underline that Russia is there to stay. Russia is our neighbour, and NATO is not seeking confrontation with Russia.  But for us, there is no contradiction between being firm, strong in our approach with Russia, as we are, but at the same time seeking dialogue and try to reduce tensions with Russia.  Because Russia will not go away.  Russia will remain our biggest neighbour.  And I know very well, as a Norwegian politician coming from Norway, a small country bordering Russia, that it is possible to have a firm, predictable approach to Russia, but at the same time work for dialogue with Russia.  Even during the coldest period of the Cold War, small Norway was able to have a working relationship with Russia on defence and security issues.  Our military speak regularly with the Russian military up in the North, on energy, environment, with the border line, but that was not despite NATO, despite Norway's membership in NATO, but it was because of Norway’s membership in NATO, because NATO membership provided the strength and the platform to engage with Russia.  So, I say this because we will all be losers if we move into a new Cold War, a new arms race.  So, we have always to find that balance between being firm, predictable, delivering credible deterrence and defence, but at the same time trying to develop a better relationship with Russia, including arms control and a political dialogue with Russia.  And that’s exactly what NATO is doing.

Moderator: Mr Secretary, we've run out of time.  We thank you very much for your time, for coming here to the Heritage Foundation.  We know it's personally your first visit here, but we hope to see you again in the future.  Maybe we can make this a regular event, an annual report to the Heritage Foundation on the state of NATO.  But we really appreciate your speech, appreciate the time you’ve spent with the audience here.  It's been a very in-depth analysis and a comprehensive review of what's going on.  So, please everyone, join me in a round of applause for the Secretary General.

  1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.