70 Years of NATO and Iceland: a strong transatlantic bond in an uncertain world

Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Nordic House, Reykjavik (Iceland)

  • 11 Jun. 2019 -
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  • Last updated 13-Jun-2019 15:00

(As delivered)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

First of all thank you so much for having me here today.  It's a great pleasure to be back in Reykjavík, to visit Iceland once again.  I have been here many, many times before, in different capacities, and I always feel very much at home, for different reasons.  Partly of course because, being a Norwegian, I feel close to Iceland because of our close historic ties.  I feel that, in a way, the true Norwegians, they are actually living here.  Also in Norway, but I feel very much the historic relationship between our two countries.  But I also feel at home in Iceland and Reykjavík because the fact that you are one of the 12 founding members of NATO.  

So, working in NATO as a Norwegian, there is actually kind of double reason to feel close to you, visiting Iceland.  And your role in NATO is something which we highly value and it's of course partly also related to the geographic location of Iceland, in the middle of the North Atlantic, bridging North America and Europe.  And you know better than I that the first European to reach American shores was actually… I call him a Norseman, but that’s my way of not saying he was from Iceland, because in Norway we still dream of… what shall I say… someone discovering that Leif Erikson actually was from Norway. But we have realised that he's born here and regarded as coming from Iceland.  So therefore we call him Norseman, that’s a way to confuse that message.  But actually that symbolises or demonstrates your historic and geographic role in bridging, bringing North America and Europe together, and that’s the main purpose of NATO.  It is to make sure that these countries are working together, because we are safer and stronger when we stand together. 

 I just visited the beaches of Normandy and that’s a very strong reminder of how important it is that we maintain the Alliances, the strength we have developed since the end of the Second World War and through the Cold War and through now seven decades.  And you have to understand that we know and we appreciate the contributions Iceland are making… or Iceland is making to NATO, despite the fact that you don’t have an army, that you don’t have a defence budget. Partly because of your geographic location, but also through the fact that you actually are delivering different contributions to our shared security, which are of great importance for the Alliance. 

This morning, I landed at Keflavik and I met with some of the personnel, some of the people working there.  I met people on the crew of the P-8 maritime surveillance planes.  I met people working with the different communication capabilities you have there, and all of that is of great importance for this Alliance.  You help us with maritime and air surveillance in the North Atlantic.  You help us with personnel to NATO missions and operations, civilian contributions to our missions and operations, in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo.  And you also help us with providing support to partners like Georgia and Jordan.  Because we strongly believe that when our neighbours are more stable, we are more secure, so working with partners, and you are part of that, is also helping to strengthen our shared security, and again you contribute to that, despite the fact that you don’t have armed forces or a defence budget. 

Then you have always been lead on women, peace and security, gender equality.  The gender perspective in NATO missions and operations is of great importance, partly because we know that that’s the right thing to do, but it's also the smart thing to do, to recruit not only from the male part of the population but from the female part of the population, will actually strengthen our capabilities, our armed forces. 

And it is extremely important in our missions and operations, when we operate in countries like Afghanistan and Kosovo where the rights of women are not respected in the same way as we do in Iceland or in NATO Allied countries.  And therefore, to increase awareness, to train, to recruit women to for instance the Afghan police force or into the Afghan armed forces, is part of what we do, not least inspired and supported by Iceland, which has put gender issues high on the NATO agenda for several years.  Today, I will really try to be not too long, try to be brief, so I will only share with you three reflections on some of the challenges the Transatlantic Alliance is facing today. 

And then I will address all the other issues I don’t mention in my introduction, based on your questions and comments after my introduction.  But then, let me address three challenges, or three issues which we have to deal with as an Alliance, as we now face a more unpredictable and unstable security environment.  And the first challenge I will mention for the Alliance is the strength of the Transatlantic Alliance itself.  Because we have to be honest and admit that questions are being asked about the strength of NATO, the strength of the transatlantic bond between North America and Europe.  And those questions are asked on both sides of the Atlantic, both in the United States and in Europe. 

And they are asked because we see more differences, more disagreements between North America and Europe, and within Europe, than we have seen for many years, on important issues such as tariffs, trade, climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, burden sharing and many other issues.  And my message to you is that we are an Alliance of 29 countries, 29 democratic countries, and the only way to preserve the transatlantic bond is that we have continued support from the people living in these 29 Allies.  There's no way we can force NATO upon the people, upon the nations that are part of our Alliance.  So, the only way we can make sure that this Transatlantic Alliance continue to exist, and I think that it's of great importance for all of us, is that we continue to prove that it is relevant and that it's able to adapt to a changing security environment, where we also see then more disagreements between Allies than we have seen for several years. 

The good news is that we see that, despite the differences, we see a paradox and that is that on one side we see differences and disagreements, but on the other hand we see that actually what we do together - North America and Europe - is more than we have done for many years.  The perception is, in many headquarters or in many capitals, that actually the US is leaving Europe and the US is less committed to the security of Europe now than before.  The reality is that the United States is increasing their presence in Europe, with more troops, with more planes, with more exercises, with more investment in infrastructure. 

 And just after… just since 2016, since President Trump came into office, the US funding for what they call the European Deterrence Initiative, which is funding for US presence in Europe, has increased by 40%.  So yes, I don’t deny that there are disagreements and differences, but when you look at the facts on the ground, the fact is that the United States is increasing, not decreasing, its military presence in Europe.  And I think that’s a strong signal of commitment to European security and to the Transatlantic Alliance.  At the same time, European Allies are stepping up and they are doing more.  After cutting defence budgets for decades, all European Allies and Canada have started to increase and are investing more, and that demonstrates the commitment and the willingness of European Allies to also stand by the transatlantic bond and work together.  So, normally in politics, rhetorics are good and the reality is not so good. 

In NATO, in one way it's the opposite; rhetoric is not as good as we should have hoped, but the reality is that substance, what we actually do together, is better, meaning that we do more together - North America and Europe - than we have done for decades.  The other challenge I will mention for you is that… which is also related to Iceland, and that is, how can we maintain the High North as an area of low tensions.  And I remember as long as I've been in politics, as a Norwegian politician, it was a saying we always used, that in the High North we have low tensions.  And I think we should continue to strive for that.  And that’s of course important for a country like Iceland, being part of the High North. 

 But we need to strive for that, taking into account the reality that we see a military build up in this part of the world, we see more Russian presence, we see that they reopen all the Cold War bases, deploy more air defence systems, more submarines, more air presence, in the High North.  So, we need to find this balance between being firm, showing strength and unity, but at the same time work for dialogue with Russia.  And the NATO approach when it comes to Russia is the combination of defence, deterrence and dialogue.  And for us, there is no contradiction between deterrence, defence and dialogue.  Actually, we believe that as long as we are strong, as long as we are united, we can also engage in dialogue with Russia, partly to try to improve the relationship with Russia, try to reduce tensions.  But also, without any improvement in the relationship with Russia, we need to manage a difficult relationship. 

Because, with more weapons, with more planes with more submarines, with more exercises, with higher tensions, it is extremely important that we avoid incidents, accidents, miscalculations, that can trigger really dangerous situations and come out of control, and spiral out of control.  So therefore, just to manage a difficult relationship is also a strong argument in favour of dialogue with Russia and especially for the High North.  Iceland, being the Chairman of the Arctic Council, has a role to play in achieving that balance between strength, deterrence, defence and dialogue with Russia up in the High North.  Another area, and that’s my third point, where we need dialogue is arms control. 

And again Iceland has played an historic role.  You hosted a meeting between President Gorbachev and President Reagan in '86, which led later on, the next year, to one of the cornerstone arms control agreements we reached towards the end of the Cold War, the INF Treaty.  A treaty which didn’t reduce the number of intermediate range weapons, but actually banned them all.  It was zero.  And that treaty has served us well.  I am part of a generation which very much learned or was shaped by the deployment of Russian SS-20 missiles and, later on, NATO cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe, and then the great achievement of seeing a treaty banning all these weapons. 

The problem now is that the treaty, the INF Treaty banning all intermediate range weapons, is in demise, or is in jeopardy because Russia is in violation of the Treaty.  And it was actually the Obama Administration that first came to the conclusion or determined that Russia is deploying new land based missiles, SSC-8.  These are missiles which are mobile, hard to detect, nuclear capable, with short warning time, and therefore also reduce the threshold for any potential use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.  And the Obama Administration raised this with Russia several times.  The new Trump Administration has done the same, but so far, without Russia showing any will of coming back into compliance with the Treaty. 

So, we have now to be prepared for the world without the INF Treaty and with more intermediate range missiles in Europe.  I really regret that and I think that we should continue to strive for arms control.  But if Russia doesn’t come back to compliance with the Treaty, we need to respond to that in a measured, a coordinated way, because Russia have to understand that they cannot violate an arms control treaty with impunity.  And one of the things we will address as an Alliance in the… also as we go towards the next Leaders' meeting of NATO Allies in December, in London, is how to respond to the Russian violation of the INF Treaty.  So, this is the third big challenge for the Alliance, how to deal with the future of arms control, INF being only a part of that, and in a way which maintain the unity of the Alliance responding to the violations of the Treaty by Russia. 

The message is that, regardless of whether we speak about maintaining the Transatlantic Alliance, or the unity of the Transatlantic Alliance, or arms control, or High North, the only way to do it is that we stand united in NATO, that we work together.  That’s important for all Allies, but it's especially important for small nations, because in international institutions all nations have a seat at the table, all nations have a say, and therefore I strongly believe that, in times with more unpredictable challenges, with more unpredictability, with new and more demanding security challenges, it's even more important that we strengthen international institutions as NATO.  So, that’s my message to you, is that; in a more unpredictable world, we need to strengthen multilateral institutions and NATO is a good and important tool to maintain, to face the uncertainties of the future. 

Thank you so much and I'm ready to answer your questions.

Moderator: Thank you very much for your presentation, Secretary General.  We're very happy to have you here in Reykjavík.  I would also like to share with you that we actually have a group of students here in the room and they have all been tasked with asking you some tough questions on security and defence matters.  They're here for a summer school actually on small states and leadership, so it makes sense that we would have some good questions for the Secretary General.  I would like to start off though, if I may, and ask you maybe to look a little bit into the future and maybe tell us a little bit about what kind of a vision you see for Iceland's role in the certainly uncertain and difficult times that we’re kind of seeing here right now, being of course a small state and, like you mentioned, of course we do not have a military and our participation in NATO is a civilian one, do you see any big changes in the role of Iceland or do you think that we are on the right path?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: No, but to some extent, I think I've… because I've tried to share with you some reflections which are relevant for Iceland, I have in one way already answered that question.  I think that you have a key role to play in making sure that North America and Europe stand together.  And because of your geographic location, because of your… how shall I say… understanding both of Europe, but also of North America, I think you have a unique role to do exactly that; to make sure that despite our differences, despite the fact that we disagree on many issues and we are different in many ways, that we stay together as North America and Europe.  And I think that, of course, all Allies, all 29 Allies have a responsibility to make sure that that happens, but Iceland has a special role to play because I think you are, in many ways really in the middle, in between North America and Europe, so you can play a kind of role of keeping us together.  Second, you have a role to play in the North Atlantic.  There is no way you can escape that, because you are in the middle of the North Atlantic, and we need you, to work together with you on maritime surveillance, on air surveillance, on dealing with all the challenges, but also the opportunities in the High North.  The fact is that the ice is melting, there are new sea routes that will be open, more traffic, more economic activity, in this part of the world.  And then you are there.  There's no way you can hide, so you will be part of that transformation, that challenge anyway, and I think you have a role to play in NATO in addressing exactly that.  And then you have the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which actually give you also a formal role to bring… also, we have… five NATO Allies are Arctic countries, then we have two close partners, Iceland… no, sorry, Finland and Sweden, and then we have Russia.  So, of course the Arctic Council is an extremely important platform for maintaining low tensions in the High North, in a world where we have more economic activity, but also more military presence in the High North.  And the third area you can do… so where you can help us, is arms control.  You have done that before, so why don’t aim at doing it again.  In a world where we see that some of the really big achievements we were able to make together, in the '80s and '90s, is now in jeopardy, especially the INF Treaty.  And you… I mean you have to remember that you played the role back in 1948, when this Alliance was founded.  I also read the speeches by Bjarni Benediktsson, your Former Foreign Minister.  It's a great speech, expressing exactly why we need NATO.  But we are stronger together, we are safer together, the purpose of standing together, one for all, all for one, is to preserve peace.  It's not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent a conflict.  And therefore, I have now repeated what I said in my introduction, but I said it once again.

Moderator: But it's well said, yes.  So, please let me know if you have a question.  I'd also like you to please say your name.  Here you go.

Question: My name is [inaudible] I'm an Icelandic journalist.  You hinted at the changing tones from the US.  We are obviously sort of used to the world where the US used to be some sort of a pillar of stability, and whereas we are now faced with somewhat erratic behaviour in the White House, peculiar ties to Russia, and what is your response to that and this sort of, as I say, this erratic behaviour, where we can't quite know what is real and what isn’t, and what is meant to be taken seriously and what isn’t?

Moderator: Thank you.  Should we maybe try to get two or three questions together at the same time?  Yes?  Go ahead.

Question: I don’t have a question, but I have a very short thank you note.  Your Excellency, Mr Stoltenberg, my name is Dario Karoli, I'm 19 years old and I'm coming from North Macedonia.  Following your historic visit last week to North Macedonia, together with the North Atlantic Council, I as a young person would like to thank you for your noble support and commitment to welcoming my country the future as the 30th full member of NATO, a membership that not only will ensure our peace/security and economic growth, but also greatly increase stability in the region, which is of great importance for prosperous future of all generations.  Blagodaram.

Moderator: All right, let's go ahead with the first.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: First, about President Trump, you asked me about him.  President Trump has a different style than most other political leaders.  But I think we have to, in a way, realise that you can agree or you can disagree, you can like or dislike that style.  But again, NATO is not about what we think about different persons, it's about what we think about the idea of North America, Canada and United States, and Europe standing together.  And President Trump has, in many meetings publically stated, in meetings with me stated many times, that the United States is committed to NATO, supports NATO, and is ready to continue to provide security guarantees for Europe.  But at the same time he has very clearly stated that he expects NATO Allies to invest more and make sure that we have a fair burden sharing within the Alliance.  And I know that there are politicians, for instance Iceland, who have a different view than he, on issues like climate change, trade, on many other issues.  But that doesn’t change the core message that we can agree on his message that European Allies should do more.  And it's not only a message from President Trump; it is a message that was actually also strongly conveyed by President Obama.  And when we made the decision as back in 2014 at the NATO Summit in Wales, it was not President Trump but President Obama that was the US President at that time.  And it was all Allies that agreed.  And I think it's in a way fair enough that we should try to deliver on that promise.  So, my message… I don’t know what exactly what you… also, well I accept that it's possible to disagree on many parts and with different governments in NATO, but we should be able to agree on our core responsibility to protect each other, but also then have fair burden sharing within the Alliance.  Then, Iceland is a specialist situation, because you don’t have armed forces, so that makes you… or it puts you in a different position than most other, or all other Allies.  But that doesn’t change the importance of fairer burden sharing within the Alliance.  The other thing I would just add is that the United States is not… President Trump is showing his commitment to European security, not only in words, but also in deeds.  The last… after the end of the Cold War, the US reduced its military presence in Europe, the last US battle tank left Europe in December 2013.  Now the United States is back with a full armoured brigade, many battle tanks.  So, there is no way you can say that the US is not stepping up.  They are actually stepping up.  Then, on North Macedonia; well, thank you so much.  [inaudible] I think you say.  And I have been in Skopje many times.  The first time I was in Skopje was in 1964 or something, two years after… a few years after the earthquake, and I have a close relationship to that part of Europe and to North Macedonia, to Skopje, and I am proud to be Secretary General in a time where we are able to have North Macedonia as our 30th member of the Alliance.  So, welcome.

Moderator: We have two more questions.  Canadian Ambassador, yes?

Question [Canadian Ambassador]: Thank you very much.  I am the Ambassador of Canada to Iceland.  Thank you, Secretary General.  Obviously, we completely share your objective of a peaceful Arctic, in both words and facts on the ground.  So, my question is the following: you very rightly mentioned the absence of an army here in Iceland and I think that there's much to say about the resilience of the people and the engagement of the people in defending our democracies; I think our democracies are under attack, the rule of law is under attack.  There's more and more foreign interference, influence, disinformation and cyber-attacks.  So, here on Iceland, there's no army of guards, but certainly we share the same values.  How can everyone contribute to… in Canada as well of course… how can we mobilise the people to be the true defenders of democracy and our values, with in mind this peaceful perspective of deterrence and prevention of conflict?  Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you.  We'll take one more question over there.

Question: Hey, my name is Yana [inaudible] I'm from Lund University, doing research on civil defence.  And you mentioned in your introduction that NATO has a need to kind of adapt to these new kinds of threats that we are facing today in the security field.  And in academia and also in political circles, these new threats are often described as non military ones.  What does that mean to the future of NATO then, if we’re moving away from this being afraid of military confrontation and rather using these other types of warfare systems and states also kind of trying to introduce the civil defence aspect to their total defence principles, for example?

Moderator: Thank you, Yana.  And then, Kapta, at the back there?  And then we have…

Question: Yes.  Good afternoon, Mr Secretary General.  My name is Kapta Konosion.  I think there is no need to refresh the memory of a Norwegian about the longstanding defence base that we had in Iceland, North American, NATO defence base.  My question is really, how would you, as a sort of a common nominator for NATO, you're the leader of NATO in some respect, regard the Icelandic wish for a more and stronger and more permanent military presence in Iceland nowadays?  We of course have the naval surveillance units, as you mentioned, that come here periodically, and you also have the air policing units that come here periodically.  But how would you… would you support a Icelandic wish for a more permanent basing in Iceland?

Moderator: OK, three varied questions to answer then.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: So, first one, Canada.  So, first of all, Canada is a very highly valued Ally and of course you are very important in the High North and I appreciate that actually Canada is also stepping up, investing more.  And Canada is also coming back and increasing its military presence in Europe.  Canada is leading one of the four battlegroups we have deployed in the eastern part of the Alliance, the battlegroup in Latvia, so Canada really shows that you are part of the transatlantic bond we build together in NATO.  Then, you asked me about how we should convince the people, mobilise the people for our values.  Well, there is no other way to do that than to go out and tell them the beauty, the story and the beauty of our values and then the success story of NATO and the importance of standing together.  Because again, we are an Alliance of democracies and there is no way… we cannot force people to agree with us, we can only convince them by arguments, by democratic… or through democratic discussions and debate, and of course by showing, through what we do, that we are responding to some real security needs or threats and challenges.  And therefore, the best way we can convince people that NATO is important is to adapt and change.  And NATO is changing.  Over the last years, since 2014, we have implemented the biggest adaptation of NATO since the end of the Cold War.  For the first time in our history, we have battlegroups in the eastern part… combat ready troops in the eastern part of the Alliance, because we saw what happened in Crimea and Ukraine and we don’t want anything like that to happen to any NATO Allies.  So, we have deployed now multinational battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance for the first time in our history.  We have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force.  We have stopped the cuts in defence spending; we are increasing.  We are doing more on cyber.  We have adapted our command structure; we have a new command for the Atlantic in Norfolk.  And we have stepped up of course our fight against terrorism.  I think that what NATO Allies and NATO did in the fight against Daesh/ISIS in Iraq and Syria, just proves the importance of having strong and military capabilities to defeat Daesh.  We didn’t defeat Daesh through dialogue; we defeated Daesh through the use of military weapons.  So, by doing all this, we will show that we still need NATO.  So, that’s the best way to convince people in democracies, is actually to give them reasons to see that we still need an Alliance.  Then, the new…

Moderator: Yeah, new threats.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: New threats.  I think you are right that one of the challenges with the new threats, which are very often referred to as hybrid threats or cyber hybrid threats, is that there is a more blurred line between peace and conflict, a blurred line between military aggression and non-military aggression.  It's an attempt to have covert and overt operations.  And the whole thing is to try to find ways to intimidate other countries, to… what shall I say… to use force, but in a disguised way.  And that was what we saw in Crimea, in the beginning.  We have seen, in a very different way, attempts to try to meddle in democratic processes in NATO Allied countries.  We have seen the cyber attacks.  We saw the use of a chemical agent in Salisbury, in the United Kingdom.  And this is a challenge, and it's a bit different than a conventional attack.  But of course NATO has to respond also to this, and we are responding, partly by significantly stepping up our cyber defences, strengthening the way we protect our own networks, helping Allies to protect their networks, and we are also exercising more together and increasing awareness in all member states on how dangerous a cyber attack can be.  We actually decided that a cyber-attack can be as damaging, as dangerous as a conventional attack, so a cyber attack can trigger Article 5.  A cyber attack can trigger the full response from the Alliance.  Better intelligence is important because one of the purposes with hybrid threats is to be able to deny that you are attacking.  Attribution is extremely difficult and challenging, so everything related to better intelligence, better situational awareness, is also helpful in responding to hybrid attacks.  And then, higher readiness, because… and again, to look to Crimea, I think that one of the challenges is that you need then to be able to react immediately, if anything like that will happen against a NATO Allied country.  Now we have forces deployed in the eastern part of the Alliance, as I said, in the Baltic countries and Poland, we have higher readiness of our forces and that sends a messages that, if something like that was going to happen in a NATO Allied country, NATO is able to respond immediately.  And the reason why we do that is to prevent anything like that from happening.

Moderator: And then the one about presence here in Iceland.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Yes, sorry, presence in… yeah, sorry.  First of all, I think that we already see a presence of NATO in the High North and in Iceland, and we also see some increased presence, meaning that we now speak about the High North in general, because I know that countries like the UK, Denmark, Canada, Norway, are investing in new and modern capabilities which are used in the High North.  UK and Norway are investing in new maritime surveillance aircrafts, so P-8, which are extremely advanced aircrafts which can track submarines.  That’s important for situational awareness in the High North.  New frigates, more exercises on anti-submarine warfare, Canada is also investing more in capabilities which are… which will be used in the High North, and we are exercising more together in the High North; the Trident Juncture exercise which actually Iceland was hosting together with Norway, was the biggest exercise in NATO for decades and by far the biggest exercise in the High North.  And for the first time for decades, we actually had a US aircraft carrier deployed in the North Atlantic.  All of this is presence in the High North.  Not all of it on Iceland, but it's close to Iceland and around Iceland, and some of these capabilities are also then using Icelandic infrastructure, communication systems, airfields; Keflavik, to conduct their missions and operations in the airspace and in the maritime, or at sea in the North Atlantic.  So, my main answer is that we have already increased our presence and also then, with the new Atlantic Command, we underpinned that message.  Then, we will always assess, of course together with Iceland, because in Norway we can decide without the consent of Iceland, the level of presence in Iceland.  But that’s something we will constantly assess and adapt, and change our presence depending on the needs.  But it's… to be relevant for Iceland, it doesn’t have to be in your country, it can be around your country, and we are increasing our presence in the High North.

Moderator: I think we have one more last question there, in the back.  Because I do believe we're out of time after that.

Question: Thank you, Mr Stoltenberg.  I have a really short question, sorry for that.  Where was Leif Erikson born?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Where?


Question: Which country?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: So, I think he was born here.  And Norwegians just have to admit that.  That’s the reason why we call him a Norseman, because Norseman is a bit of a blurred message and that’s the only way we can have some ownership to him.  But his father…


Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: But there is a question over that guy.

Moderator: We have one more here.  OK?  Let's see if we have a microphone.  Hold on, one second.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Because they asked for a question for a long time.

Question: My name is [inaudible] and I would like to ask you to give us a short briefing on how or what you think historically the influence of NATO as such, played a role in… when the Americans came here in the first place.  Do you understand what I mean?  I'm asking if NATO had some important influences on the decisions made for the Americans to come here in the first place.  And my second question is, after the American Navy left in 2006, I asked because there are some issues who have not been completed in Iceland regarding their dwelling here in Iceland, and if NATO is, in a way, feeling itself responsible for what happened or if NATO could assist, having these issues which are not completed, somehow resolved, because there have been many attempts made to solve these problems, but without success.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: OK.  First.. the first… to be honest, I thought the Americans came here in the 1940s and…

Moderator: After the World War, yes.  In the World War.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Yeah, during the Second World War.

Moderator: Yeah.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: And also, Leif Erikson is born in Iceland and NATO was established after the Second World War.  So, that’s at least two historical facts.  So, NATO was not part of the US decision to come to Iceland during the Second World War, because NATO was not established.  We were established in 1949.

Question: I believe it was in 1951.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: OK.  To be honest, I don’t know to what extent that was decided within NATO or was a bilateral arrangement, but the thing is that NATO has always been this mixture of things which have been decided inside NATO, as an institutionalised decision in NATO, and bilateral arrangements.  And the reality is that it doesn’t always matter so much whether it's a NATO decision or a bilateral decision, or a decision taken by NATO Allies outside the formal NATO structures, but very often then shared or consulted within the NATO family.  But you have to check with some historians who know more about what exactly happened in 1951.  So, I'm not the right guy to answer that question.  Yeah.

Moderator: The other question is about the land, I presume, and cleaning up of land after…

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Land?  OK.

Moderator: Yes.  It's also a bilateral issue, I would like to give out.  Let me, just for the final comment here, before we round this off, I'd like to actually give you this report that we just finished writing and it's actually reassessing the Stoltenberg Report, that your father of course wrote ten years ago, and we’ve just published it, so I'd like to just present you with this.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Thank you so much.

Moderator: Yes.  And thank you so much for coming.