Joint press point

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir

  • 11 Jun. 2019 -
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  • Last updated: 12 Jun. 2019 09:59

(As delivered)

Joint press point with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrin Jakobsdottir

Thank you so much Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir, dear Katrín,

It’s great to be back in Iceland. I’ve been here many times before and I really feel at home, for many reasons. Partly because Iceland has always been close to my own country Norway but also because Iceland is one of the founding members of NATO. And the fact is that despite that you don’t have a defence budget, you’re actually contributing to our shared security in many different ways. And in NATO we highly value the Icelandic contribution to our shared security.

Your strategic location in the Atlantic helps to bind North America and Europe together. Which is the main purpose of NATO, to keep North America and Europe together. Second, you help us with maritime and air surveillance in the North Atlantic. This morning I visited the Keflavik air base. I met the personnel, I spoke with them and they updated me on the very important work you help us do from the Keflavik base.

And then we are grateful for your contributions to different NATO missions and operations. Your contributions are civilian, but they are highly valued in our training mission in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Kosovo. And we also thank you for the help  you provide when it comes to working with partners, like Georgia and Jordan.

So you contribute a lot, and my main message today is to thank you for your contributions.

Then you play the lead role on Women, Peace and Security. We know that it is extremely important to also include women more in our efforts, both in what we do at NATO HQ but also in NATO missions and operations. It’s important that we do them in a way which protects women, who we know are always the most vulnerable in an armed conflict.

And then you mentioned the different issues we’ve discussed. Arms control, where Iceland has played a key role hosting the Gorbachev-Reagan meeting back in the eighties. Now we see that the INF Treaty that followed after that meeting, the INF Treaty that banned all intermediate range weapons is now in jeopardy because of Russian violations of that Treaty, and we continue to call on Russia to come back into compliance with the INF Treaty.

We also discussed the situation up in the High North. The message has always been that in the High North we have low tensions and we need to try to continue to work to maintain low tensions in the High North despite the fact that we see more military presence, especially of Russian capabilities, up here in the High North.

And then of course we need to adapt to the fact that we see more hybrid and cyber threats and that’s part of the big adaptation of NATO which is now taking place and we will address this continued adaptation of NATO when we meet again at the Leaders meeting of NATO in London in the beginning of December.

So my message today is that we live in a more unpredictable world. In uncertain and unpredictable times we need strong multilateral institutions like NATO and Iceland is contributing to the strength of our Alliance.

So thank you so much.

QUESTION: Yes. I believe this is the first time that the Secretary General of NATO meets the Prime Minister in Iceland. She is actually against Iceland’s membership of NATO.  Has that in any way affected your meeting?

JENS STOLTENBERG: NATO is an Alliance of 29 democracies and in democracies there are different views and different positions on many things, also on the issue of NATO, and that’s nothing new and for me different views, discussions, are not signs of weakness but actually a sign of strength.  Then what I know is that there are different views within parties in Iceland when it comes to NATO, but this strong majority in the Icelandic parliament and the political platform for the Government is supportive of NATO and that’s what matters for me as Secretary General of NATO.  But I also add that I have been prime minister of Norway in a government where we have a party that was against NATO, but we have a kind of parallel situation where we negotiated a political platform for the government and the platform was supportive of NATO and then it didn’t create any problems for Norway’s position in NATO, the fact that one of the parties was against.  So the answer is no, it has not created any problems; it just reflects that there are different parties in democracies as we see in Iceland and in other NATO allied countries.

QUESTION: You mentioned cyber security, both of you, of course Iceland being a small state with limited capacities and defence, not only militarily but also in the field of cyber security.  What are the future proposals to actually somehow strengthen the capacity for detecting, tracking and preventing these cyber-attacks?

JENS STOLTENBERG: Actually if we’re doing this could you go to the mic?



KATRIN JAKOBSDOTTIR: Just to begin with I think cyber threats are a growing concern to all international cooperation because we are sensing, because they are a very different threat to our security than the typical nation state threat where we have a defined military, it’s often very difficult to trace cyber threats, where they are coming from and they’re not necessarily coming from nation states, they might be coming from individuals or some organisations but I still think that they are receiving more attention now within NATO and other international organs that than we have seen before.

JENS STOLTENBERG: So first of all, I think that what we see now is that NATO Allies and NATO as alliance are doing more than we have done before in responding to hybrid and cyber threats. At our summit not many years ago, we decided that actually a cyber-attack can trigger Article 5, meaning that a cyber attack can be as serious and as damaging as a conventional attack.  Second, we have decided that we must strengthen our cyber defences and we have done that over the last years by significantly improving the systems, the methods, the way we address cyber threats, both when it comes to what NATO Allies do, but also what NATO as an alliance does in protecting our networks: we have developed our, we have established some teams that can be deployed quickly to Allies which need help to protect their cyber networks.  And thirdly, we are sharing best practices, we are exercising more together, and by doing that we are increasing awareness and strengthening our ability to work together.  The thing with cyber threats is that they are constantly evolving so we need to constantly change the way we are responding, and as Katrin’s just said, I think one of the challenges with cyber threats is that attribution is always difficult, to decide who is behind, because they can use servers in others countries attacking us and being government or non-government actors. So also everything we do when it comes to intelligence, surveillance, improving our abilities to monitor and to understand who is attacking us is also part of a response to cyber threats.

KATRIN JAKOBSDOTTIR: But it’s a very big challenge because if we want to embrace all the opportunities that come with the fourth industrial revolutions, we are also actually experiencing a very different set of threats to our infrastructure, for example.  OK, we have time for one last question because now we’re starting another meeting in four minutes.  OK. [INAUDIBLE].  OK.  Thank you. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Who will win the match tonight, Iceland or Turkey?

JENS STOLTENBERG: Two NATO Allies, it’s not for me to…

KATRIN JAKOBSDOTTIR: Iceland will win that match!  [LAUGHTER] But of course!  Thank you.  Thank you very much.