by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee at the joint press conference following the NATO Military Committee Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen and thank you for joining us here today.
And I’d emphasise this is the first time in the fifteen years of Slovenian membership of the Alliance that the NATO Military Chiefs of Defence meeting has met here in Slovenia.
So can I begin by thanking, on behalf of the Alliance, the Chief of the General Staff Major General Ermenc, all you have done to make this event work and be a success.
The hospitality of the Slovenian Armed Forces and the people we have met has been outstanding.
So on behalf of the entire NATO Military Committee:
Hvala za vaso izrendo gostoljubnost (thank you for your incredible hospitality).
The security challenges we face together as Allies, all 29 of us, are becoming global.
We have seen in recent years that the values based system that we all share, including here in Slovenia of course, is put under pressure.
The illegal annexation of Crimea, in 2014, and the continued destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine by Russia is an example of that.
Another area where we see that challenge is the fight against terrorism.
As we recall it has been 18 years since 9/11 this week, NATO has played a key role in fighting terrorism ever since and it is the first and only time in our history that article 5, our mutual defence element, was invoked.
We know through experience that prevention is better than intervention, therefore we work to build local capacity, we train local forces so they can stabilise and secure their own countries.
All Member Nations of the Alliance benefit from membership and we are all stronger together through our unity.
Fair burden sharing within the Alliance is crucial and all allies are making progress on both defence spending, the capabilities they have and the contributions.
Collective security is a price worth paying. That’s why at the Brussels Summit last year, all Nations committed to spend more.
So I say thank you to Slovenia.
Since joining in 2004, fifteen years ago, Slovenia has made, and continues to make many important contributions to the Alliance.
Through Slovenia’s contributions to our Operations and our Missions and your improvements in capability to your increase in defence spent that is a significant contribution. Thank you.
We all agree on the benefit of collective security. We all agree that these are ever more important as we respond to the challenges I have briefly outlined.
Now, for a couple of minutes I will turn to the Conference.
The Chiefs of Defence staff format supports the forthcoming Ministerials in the Alliance, of Defence Ministers in October and of Foreign Ministers in November and then the Leaders meeting this December in London.
So the advice that we create as the most senior and longest-standing Military Committee in the world, goes directly to the Secretary General to feed into that process.
NATO is a defensive alliance but we have the capacity to undertake a wide range of military operations and missions.
As we stand here, the Chief of Defence of Slovenia and I, there are over 20,000 military personnel of NATO engaged in operations, missions and activities.
They, the armed forces, are the clearest and most powerful expression of everything the Alliance stands for.
We protect and defend the Alliance’s populations and territory against any attack.
And today, the Chiefs of Defence, here in Slovenia, reviewed and reaffirmed their commitment to those ongoing missions and activities.
We note the challenge of today’s uncertain security environment.
And we stress the need to maintain a strong deterrence and defence posture and to communicate to any potential adversary NATO’s determination to maintain and sustain a peaceful and stable Euro-Atlantic area.
The second session of our day focused specifically on Afghanistan and our mission called Resolute Support.
NATO remains committed to Afghanistan.
NATO Allies and partners will continue to train and advise the Afghan security forces.
We will help to make them stronger, so that they can fight international terrorism and create security and stability in their own country.
All Chiefs of Staff from the Alliance today their support to the Resolute Support Mission.
Our next session focused on the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area and our future Warfighting Concept.
Our deterrence and defence posture is based on an appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities.
The Chiefs of Defence noted that the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic area concept provides a clear link between our NATO Military Strategy and underlying plans.
We agreed to continue to develop these concepts further to guide future military requirements.
On the Warfighting concept, we agreed the concept and we will do further work on space, innovation, and emerging and disruptive technology.
So we are preparing for the future. We are preparing for by making our forces fit-for-purpose.
The last session of the day focused on NATO’s Military instrument of power and increasing our readiness and responsiveness.
And within a fast changing security environment, the Chiefs of Defence committed ways to increase the speed of the decision making process at the strategic military level.
We agreed that the NATO Military Authorities will develop advice to further increase the Alliance’s responsiveness.
This year, NATO and Slovenia are celebrating anniversaries – for NATO as a whole the 70th Anniversary and for Slovenia the 15th Anniversary since joining the Alliance.
We are an Alliance bound by shared history, values and goals.
Our world is changing and NATO is changing with it.
But the commitment of Allies to one another endures, clearly demonstrated by our meeting today around the table, and why we represent the strongest Alliance in history.
I will close this session from my perspective by thanking the people of Slovenia.
You made a choice 15 years ago. We stand together in our alliance with a commitment to shared security.
As the Secretary General often remarks, maybe not always in Slovenian: Dobro je imeti prijatelje.
Or since I have made such a mess of your language: it’s good to have friends.
And with that I pass the floor to the Slovenian Chief of Defence.