by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers
We have just finished a meeting on Afghanistan, with all nations contributing to our Resolute Support Mission.
Our training mission is helping the Afghan security forces create the conditions for peace.
Ministers were briefed by the mission’s Commander, General Miller, and by NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative, Ambassador Kay. While many challenges remain in Afghanistan, we now have a unique opportunity for peace.
Allies fully support the efforts of the US Special Representative, Ambassador Khalilzad, to achieve a political settlement.
He is regularly consulting with Allies at NATO, including earlier this month.
And we remain in close contact with him.
NATO is strongly committed to Afghanistan.
We have recently generated forces for the next rotation, throughout next year.
And we have confirmed our financial support for the Afghan security forces through 2024. We will stay in Afghanistan for as long as necessary, to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists. We went into Afghanistan together.
And we will take decisions about the future of our mission together.
This morning, we discussed our work to strengthen NATO’s defence and deterrence.
This includes our readiness initiative, known as the “Four Thirties”.
Allies will make available:
- 30 combat ships;
- 30 land battalions;
- 30 air squadrons;
- To be ready within 30 days.
We have already generated around three-quarters of the forces required.
There is still work to do, but by the end of the year, we aim to be at full strength.
Today, we took another important step in NATO’s adaptation, by approving a new overarching space policy. Space is essential to the Alliance’s defence and deterrence.
From the ability to navigate and track forces, to satellite communications, and detecting missile launches. Our new policy will guide our approach to space, the opportunities and the challenges. This is not about militarizing space. But NATO can play an important role as a forum to share information, increase interoperability, and ensure that our missions and operations can call on the support they need.
Fair burden sharing underpins everything we do as an Alliance. And we are making major progress. 2019 will be the fifth consecutive year of real growth in defence spending by European Allies and Canada. By the end of next year, they will have added a cumulative total of well over one hundred billion US dollars. This year, we expect 8 Allies to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defence.
That is up from just 3 Allies in 2014. And 16 Allies are expected to meet the benchmark of at least 20 percent of defence spending devoted to major equipment. These are encouraging steps. And we are moving in the right direction.
But I count on all Allies to step up their efforts even more. This is about our shared security in a more unpredictable world. Burden sharing will be an important topic at the meeting in London with NATO leaders in December.
And with that, I am happy to take your questions.