by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the European Union Defence Ministers meeting in Romania
First of all, Minister Leş, it’s great to be back here in Bucharest, and I’m looking forward to meet with the EU Defence Ministers.
I meet regularly with the EU Defence Ministers, and High Representative Federica Mogherini regularly meets with Foreign and Defence Ministers at NATO and I think that reflects a very strong cooperation and close cooperation between NATO and the EU.
And we have been able to strengthen the cooperation between EU and NATO over the last years. Responding to a more demanding and challenging security environment, and it’s even more important that EU and NATO work closely together. We work together on issues like cyber, like hybrid threats, in the maritime domain, we have coordinated exercises and we also work together on issues related to Women, Peace and Security. And tonight we will discuss the issues the issues related to Women, Peace and Security and this is important for EU, it’s important for NATO and it’s important for our joint efforts.
NATO is responding to a more challenging security environment also by adapting our forces, our structure, Romania is very much part of that. I welcome the strong efforts of Romania to strengthen the Alliance. And we are also investing more in defence. Since 2016 NATO Allies across Europe and Canada have increased defence spending by 41 billion US dollars, and by the end of 2020, by the end of next year, I expect this figure to rise to 100 billion US dollars. So this is showing the commitment of all NATO Allies, and the strength of our Alliance and the importance of strengthening our collective defence. And with that I’m ready to take any questions if there are any.
Secretary General: It is up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty. Because Russia is responsible for putting the Treaty in jeopardy. Russia has developed and deployed new intermediate-range missiles for some years now. This is a clear violation of the INF Treaty and at the NATO Foreign Ministerial meeting in December, the United States made it clear that they will start the withdrawal process from the Treaty within a 60 day period if Russia doesn’t come back into compliance. All NATO Allies agree that it’s important that Russia comes back into compliance in a transparent, verifiable way. This is urgent because the 60 day period will end this weekend. And if Russia doesn’t come back into compliance, then we have to be prepared for a world without the INF Treaty and with more Russian missiles violating the Treaty. These missiles are hard to detect and mobile. They are nuclear capable. They can reach European cities. And therefore, this is something which is of great concern and it undermines a cornerstone of European security – the INF Treaty.
Secretary General: We welcome EU efforts on defence. And I have stated that again and again that for NATO it’s a good thing that Europe, the European Union do more together when it comes to defence, because we believe that can develop new capabilities, increase defence spending and also address the fragmentation of the European defence industry. At the same time, it is of course important that the EU efforts on defence doesn’t compete with NATO, but complement NATO. And this has been stated clearly by European leaders again and again. Because there is no way that EU can substitute NATO. After Brexit, 80 percent of NATO’s defence expenditure will come from non-EU NATO Allies. And three of the four battlegroups we have deployed in the eastern part of the Alliance will be led by non-EU Allies. We also have to understand that European unity is important, but European unity cannot substitute for transatlantic unity. Two World Wars and that Cold War taught us that North America and Europe have to stand together. And that’s the main task of NATO – to make sure that Europe and North America stand together, addressing a lot of challenges in the security environment.