by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the launch of his Annual Report for 2018
It is a great pleasure to launch my Annual Report for 2018.
The Report shows that NATO continues to modernise.
With Europe and North America doing more together than ever before for our shared security.
Responding to the challenges of today; adapting to the challenges of tomorrow; and investing in the future.
At the Brussels Summit in July, we took more than one hundred decisions to strengthen our Alliance.
- We strengthened our deterrence and defence, including with a new Readiness Initiative.
- We agreed a major update of the NATO Command Structure, with two new commands – one for the Atlantic and another to support military mobility in Europe.
- We carried out Trident Juncture 2018, NATO’s largest exercise in a generation.
- We boosted our cyber defences, including with a Cyberspace Operations Centre.
- We stood united in calling out Russia for its use of a nerve agent on British soil and its breach of the INF Treaty.
- We stepped up in the fight against terrorism, with a new training mission in Iraq, and more support for Afghanistan.
- We deepened our partnerships, from Ukraine and Georgia to Jordan and Tunisia.
- We worked more closely than ever before with the European Union, including on maritime security and military mobility.
- We invited North Macedonia to become a member of the Alliance, showing that NATO's door remains open.
- We completed the move to this new headquarters, a modern home for a modern Alliance.
And at our July Summit in Brussels, we agreed there is a new urgency to ensure fairer burden sharing across the Alliance.
All Allies have stopped the cuts. All Allies have started to increase. Last year, European Allies and Canada increased their defence spending by almost 4% in real terms. Since 2016, they have actually spent an extra 41 billion US dollars on defence. And we expect that figure to rise to 100 billion by the end of next year.
You can find the specific national figures for each country in the Report.
When it comes to capabilities, 25 Allies spent more in real terms on major equipment last year than in the previous one.
This includes investment in fighter aircraft, helicopters, tanks, missile defence and drones.
Allies are also stepping up their contributions to NATO deployments. With more than twenty thousand troops serving from Afghanistan to Iraq and Kosovo, to the Baltic countries, and Poland.
So we face a paradox:
At a time when some are questioning the strength of the transatlantic bond, we are actually doing more together – in more ways and in more places – than ever before.
Because we live in an unpredictable world, NATO’s unity is more important than ever.
As we mark the 70th anniversary of this Alliance this year, we must continue to stand strong and stand together.
NATO Foreign Ministers will meet next month in Washington. And our Heads of State and Government will meet in London in December.
These will be opportunities to celebrate seven decades of peace and prosperity. And to look to the future. Our world is changing and NATO is changing with it. But our commitment to one another endures. For seventy years, we have worked together to prevent conflict and preserve peace.
And standing with unity and resolve, NATO will remain a pillar of stability for generations to come.
And with that, I’m ready to take your questions.