Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of France Emmanuel Macron

  • 28 Nov. 2019 -
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  • Last updated: 28 Nov. 2019 16:58

(As delivered)

EMMANUEL MACRON [President of France]: [Interpreted] Good morning, or good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. First and foremost I … [inaudible] to thank the Secretary General of NATO for coming to Paris in order to prepare for the London summit. It is his third visit in Paris, each time so that we can discuss and coordinate as necessary. And I would like as well to thank him for expressing his condolences vis-à-vis the French nation and for the 13 soldiers we lost in Mali a couple of days ago.

The London summit is meant to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Alliance. But we also agree that it should be an opportunity to conduct genuine, strategic discussion between ourselves as to what today the Atlantic Alliance means and what its goals and means of actions are. I believe there are, for me, there are three priority topics which we just discussed and which I also had a chance to discuss with European leaders over the past few hours or days.

The first very important topic is how can we guarantee peace and stability in Europe? This is the initial historical vital purpose of the Atlantic Alliance, which, let me remind you, was set up in 1949, to attach the United States to Western Europe and to protect it against the Soviet threat. The world has changed. The Iron Curtain has fallen, the Warsaw Pact is gone and the Alliance is still standing as the guarantor of our joint security. It requires that today we reconsider a number of important topics in this respect.

First of all, a lucid, robust and demanding dialogue with Russia. And I very much endorse the fact that I wanted to give new momentum to this dialogue. And I also endorse that, the fact that I certainly did not show any sign of weakness or naivety in doing so.

Our Alliance has a history and a geography. And we therefore shall very much consider what our relationship is with Russia, because Russia is definitely within Europe. That being said, I profoundly respect the concerns and the security interests of all of our European partners, which are entirely mine and which I shall always defend as a priority. I also have in mind what it represents in terms of their history. And they know that this is the meaning of our commitment, concrete commitment in NATO’s deterrence and defence posture in the Baltic countries and in the Black Sea.

We are and will always be very strict when it comes to our sovereignty and that of our partners. But the absence of dialogue with Russia, did it make our European continent safer? Is it in our interest and the interest of our stability not to deal with issues of frozen conflicts and to let the situation in Ukraine worsen? I don’t think so. It is in the interest of peace and stability in Europe that we’re working on that. And this is the reason why, together with Chancellor Merkel, we will hold a Normandy Summit on 9th December to work further on implementing the Minsk agreement. And I believe we shall work on some extra European sovereignty, stronger sovereignty, and rebuild or build a new architecture of trust and security in Europe and clarify our relationship with Russia, while setting up our conditions.

For the same reasons, in the interest of peace and stability in Europe, we shall also engage a discussion on arms control. There were, historically, some multilateral as well as bilateral treaties, bilateral treaties between the United States and Russia. We expressed our regrets regarding the decisions taken by the United States to put an end, or to step out of the INF. The treaties negotiated by the United States during the Cold War are no longer. The INF Treaty was indeed negotiated by the United States, but it is our security, that of the European Allies, which is at stake. And we cannot stay in a situation where, first of all, we did our best when Russia violated these treaties. And then we cannot simply acknowledge that we’re no longer covered by this treaty, this bilateral treaty. It is, therefore, in our interest, as early as next week, to very much face up to the situation and discuss, first of all, within the Alliance, and also with a dialogue with Russia, rebuild the conditions of our security in today’s world. And the new generation of agreements which I would like to replace the INF Treaty requires some very strong work and coordination within the Alliance, in particular within the European countries, but it requires a commitment and an involvement of the Europeans. We cannot leave our security into the hands of a bilateral treaty to which no European country would be part of.

Next, a number of European countries, like Poland, were not protected by the INF Treaty as they should have been. So I would like us to take into consideration all of the security interests, in particular those of the countries which are the closest to Russia, to the border.

On this topic, and we might discuss it further in the context of your questions, over the past few days, many reacted to the French answer to President Putin’s letter. Let me be clear on that. First of all, France had the courtesy of sharing its letter to President Putin with all of the Allies, which I think is a good method, and not all of them have done it. In addition, we did not accept the moratorium offered by Russia, but we considered that we should not just ignore it, because it was open for discussion. And what was the alternative? Acknowledge the end of a treaty with no alternative. That’s not serious. This is a matter of security for Europe.

The next topic is an important topic, which we will . . . we shall work upon, not just on the occasion of the meeting, the summit, but also over the next few months is: what are the threats for NATO and how does it organise itself? NATO is a collective defence organisation, but against what or against who? Who is our common enemy? We need to clarify that. And it is a very strategic question. Sometimes I hear some saying that it is Russia or China, our enemy. Is it the purpose of the Atlantic Alliance to identify one or the other as our enemies? I don’t think so. Our joint enemy, clearly within the Alliance, is terrorism that’s struck our countries. It is against terrorist groups that the French military, the French troops, are fighting in the Sahel, and it is in the Sahel that we lost 13 of our soldiers, like I was saying. Working for the security of our Allies and our own security facing up to our operational and military responsibilities, this is what we’re doing. But to clarify that, we need a common definition of terrorism, of who the terrorist groups are and how to act in coordination against them. Let me be clear, expressing our attachment to joint security is not enough. We have to prove it. A genuine alliance requires action, deeds, decisions, not just words. I therefore very much want us to have genuine discussions within Allies to discuss our fight against terrorism in the Sahel, in the Levant, where the military intervention led by Turkey a few weeks ago in the northeast of Syria raised some genuine questions, which we shall very much deal with.

And it brings me to the third topic, which is the duties and the rights of the Allies vis-à-vis one another. In an alliance, this is what it is about: solidarity between Allies. Without, it means that you cannot take alone, without consultation, coordination, decisions which have a very direct impact on others. I very much have in mind the security interests of our Turkish Ally. They’ve suffered some, numerous, terrorist attacks on their ground. At the same time, one cannot just say, express solidarity and require support and at the same time launch a military intervention which is threatening the action of the Coalition against Daesh. And let me remind you that NATO is a member of it.

So I very much would like us to have a genuine discussion with Turkey, dialogue on this topic, as well as the compatibility of armed systems. Given that Turkey acquired some S-40, because the interoperability between our armies is very much the military added-value of the organisation.

Dear Secretary General, as you know, and as our Allies know, you can rely on France, on its commitment and on our army to defend our security. This is the reason why France is a reliable Ally. This is also the reason why France shall be a demanding Ally. At key moments, we want strategic issues to be very much discussed.

Our military know very clearly what it means to be allies on the ground. So when the Heads of State and Government meet, we shall very much match what they’re doing to protect our security and risking their life by facing up to the reality when we deal with these issues. And this is very much because I trust, I have trust in the vitality of our Alliance, that I do not want to ignore any of these challenges in London and in the coming weeks and months, given the strategic work that we will be conducting.

Thank you once again, dear Secretary General, dear Jens, for being here in presence, and for the quality of the discussions we had together.

JENS STOLTENBERG [NATO Secretary General]:
Merci, Monsieur le Président.
Dear Emmanuel,

It’s great to be back in Paris and to meet with you again.
And we just had good and open discussions, addressing a wide range of issues, addressing how we can further strengthen and modernise the NATO Alliance and how we can stand together as we face new and difficult security challenges.

France has outstanding troops, high-end military capabilities, and you have the political will to deploy them when needed.

You play a major role in the fight against terrorism, with thousands of troops deployed in the Sahel and in the Levant.

I would like to express my deepest condolences for the loss of your soldiers in Mali this week. They were there to protect our shared security. My heartfelt sympathy to their loved ones and to the people of France.

In uncertain times, we need strong multilateral institutions like NATO.

NATO is the only platform where North America and Europe can address strategic issues together. We do that on a daily basis. Issues like:

  • The fight against terrorism;
  • How to deal with a more assertive Russia;
  • And the rise of China.

And over the last years, NATO has implemented the largest reinforcement of our Alliance since the end of the Cold War. With higher readiness of our forces. With combat-ready troops deployed to the East of the Alliance for the first time in our history. with a new command structure. And we see that European allies are stepping up, and also that the United States are increasing their military presence in Europe.
So the paradox is that while questions are being asked about the strength of the transatlantic bond, North America and Europe are doing more together than we have done for decades.

And I can hardly think about any stronger demonstration of the commitment to our Alliance, to our collective defence, to Article 5, than the fact that we are actually doing more together, increasing the readiness of our forces, investing more in our security, than we have done for many, many years.

I also welcome that France is stepping up, investing more, and that you are increasing your defence budget.
And I also welcome your support for European Union efforts on defence.

Done in the right way, these efforts can strengthen NATO’s European pillar.

But the European Union cannot defend Europe.
European unity cannot replace transatlantic unity.
A strong NATO and a strong European union are two sides of the same coin.
Both are indispensable for the continued freedom and prosperity of Europe.

It is no secret that NATO Allies have differences on different issues, including the situation in north-east Syria.

But we agree on the fundamentals:
Standing together, defending each other.
Article 5, our collective defence clause, is an ironclad commitment by all Allies.

So Mr President,
The foundations of NATO are strong.

We will continue to adapt, continue to modernise.
And together, we will look on how we can further strengthen NATO’s political role.

And I look forward to meet you again next week at the Leaders’ meeting in London.

QUESTION: [Interpreted] Good morning question by … [inaudible].  You talked about it earlier. Would you be in favour of an implication of NATO in this the Sahel against jihadism one way or another? And for Secretary General, are you satisfied with the new formula of cost -sharing for the direct budget of NATO, with a reduction of the American contribution and an increase of the German contribution, according to the information that we have? And what about France? Thank you.

EMMANUEL MACRON: Regarding the Sahel, like I said earlier today, and the Secretary General said as well, France is involved and is acting on behalf of all of us. As a matter of fact, with a number of Allies who all stand by us and also engage and I salute their contribution, be it equipment or troops as well. And also allow me to salute once again our armies and our soldiers and express our trust and that of the entire nation.

Our mission there is an important one. That being said, the current circumstances in the Sahel are leading us today to consider any strategic option. I held the first meeting yesterday and over the coming weeks we will dedicate ourselves to some deep-rooted work by the government and the army, in order to look into the modalities of our intervention. And let me tell you again, all of the options are on the table.

Against this background, and depending on the decision that France will be taking, a greater involvement of the Allies is, of course, something that would be very favourable. Now, as to the financial issue, like the Secretary General said, French investments in defence, which is rooted in our planning, military planning law. Well, you know what our choices are. And then there is a clear burden-sharing and France, like we said, will not reconsider and reopen these. If some want to look into cost-sharing, as it is called, they can come on . . . if they want to see what France’s contribution is, they can attend the ceremonies we will organise on Monday to pay tribute to our soldiers and they will see what price we’re paying.

JENS STOLTENBERG: The issue of burden-sharing in this Alliance, in NATO, I think it is important to distinguish the two very different things. One is the total defence spending – how much Allies invest in their national defence. That’s total defence spending in national defence budgets. The other issue, which is about much less money, is how to fund, finance the NATO budget. The running of the NATO headquarters and some common-funded capabilities.

On the first issue, total defence spending, we have seen a significant shift over the last years. Because after the end of the Cold War, all Allies were cutting defence budgets. Now we see that all Allies have stopped the cuts. All Allies are investing more. More Allies meet the 2 per cent guideline - investing 2 per cent of GDP on defence. And the majority of Allies have already plans in place on how to meet that guideline by 2024. And France is increasing significantly. And France has clearly said that they will also meet the 2 per cent guideline.

So when it comes to total defence spending, we have seen a significant increase by Allies. And if you add together what European Allies and Canada do, they will have added more than 100 billion more for defence since 2016. And based on the national plans, they will add even more in the coming years.

So there is no doubt that we have seen a significant change. Allies are investing more, France is investing more. Allies are investing more and France is investing more. And, and this is because we live in a more unpredictable world, we need to invest more in our shared security.

Then, a total different issue is actually the issue you asked about, and that is how to fund the NATO budget, the headquarters and so on. And it’s correct that we have now agreed a new formula for sharing those costs. The US will pay less. Germany will pay more. So now the US and Germany will pay the same, roughly 16 per cent of NATO’s budget. Then the rest will be shared among all the other Allies. And this is a formula we then have agreed to finance the NATO budget.

QUESTION: … [Inaudible]. By saying that NATO is brain dead, is this your way of asking, inviting Monsieur Stoltenberg to come to Paris as soon as possible? And do you still think that NATO is brain dead? And also, within the same perspective, member country Turkey says that it will block the deployment of enlarging troops in the Balkans and Poland, if NATO does not support its military plans in northern Syria against the Kurdish militias. This is for both of you? What is your perspective on that? And finally, protecting Europe is also about digital security and cybersecurity. What is your position, for both of you, on Huawei building 5G networks in Europe?

EMMANUEL MACRON: [Interpreted] As to your first question, I always had an opportunity to meet with the Secretary General ahead of all of our summits, so it is always the case. And I very much was looking into the current situation and the past two summits were strictly dedicated to reduce, and I very much respect that, the financial burden for the United States. But the questions are raised, are still open, and we do not have answers yet.

Peace in Europe, the post-INF, the relationship with Russia, the issue of Turkey, who is the enemy? So as long as we did not sort out these issues, let us not negotiate about cost-sharing or burden-sharing. So maybe we needed a wakeup call to continue, and I’m pretty glad about it that this was the case and now we shall very much look into our purpose and our ultimate goals. Now we need a methodology between the Heads of State and Governments with the Secretary General and the organisation, so that on the basis of these questions, we can make some useful progress in the weeks to come. But I very much fully stand by what I did in lifting the ambiguities, because I thought we have the responsibility of not simply continuing to talk about financial issues, given what the genuine challenges are today.

Against this background, you raised – and that was your second point – the cybersecurity and digital security, and rightly so. Is it a topic which is crucial for NATO. I believe it can be in a world of interoperability, where we very much rely on communication equipments and systems. It is along this line that I’ve requested our services to work on that, never pointing out a particular operator or a particular country, but I believe what we need is, at the level of each country and then at the European level, European Union level, and for some topics within NATO’s Allies, very much consider our operational autonomy. What are the consequences, also, on what today we consider as trade operations? Our armies are more and more interconnected. They will be using the 5G. Are we sure that all of the information, the intelligence we share through these channels are under our control? It is not just a commercial issue, it is a strategic one. And very often I note that people very much enjoy some discussions as a matter of principle about the country or another. But the very same have hardly any consideration for the consequences of the commercial or trade decisions taken. I’m not pointing fingers, but I’m saying that on some military activities, or some activities we might be launching either alone, or within NATO, or with some of our European partners, what are our technological vulnerabilities? We should consider any threat whatsoever. It is a fundamental thing, and I think we should very much have a different approach to that. It is essential for the future. Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG: NATO is a strong Alliance, but more than that, we are adapting, we are agile and we are active. So we are responding to a changing world. And the reason why NATO is the most successful alliance in history is that we have been able to change when the world is changing. And that’s exactly what we have done over the last years, that’s exactly what we are doing. We continue to modernise this Alliance by now addressing space, which is critical for our military operations on the ground and also by addressing all the threats and challenges we see in cyberspace. We are stepping up our joint efforts to fight international terrorism. And as I said, we have just implemented the largest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation by higher readiness of our forces, and these are issues we will then continue to address when we meet at the Leaders Meeting in London. In uncertain times, we need strong multilateral institutions and therefore we need a strong NATO.

Then there’s no secret that there are disagreements and differences between NATO Allies. We are 29 different Allies, and of course, there are differences. But the strength of NATO is that we have had the same kind of differences before, but every time we have been able to overcome them to agree around our core task: protecting and defending each other, one for all and all for one. And by doing that, we have been able to preserve peace for an unprecedented period in Europe, which is the main task for NATO, is to preserve peace.

On Turkey, that’s an example where we see differences. And I expressed my concerns about the consequences of the Turkish military operation into northeast Syria. So there are differences. But at the same time, we all agree on the importance of not jeopardising the gains we have made in the fight against ISIS. We have to remember that all NATO Allies have . . . are part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS/Daesh. The fight is not over, but we have made enormous progress. Not so many months ago, ISIS controlled a territory as big as the United Kingdom. Eight million people. We have liberated all those people, millions of people and all that territory. And we have a strong agreement in NATO that we must continue the fight against ISIS. And we just met in the Global Coalition where all NATO Allies and NATO are members.

On 5G, the 5G will affect all sides of our societies. It will connect almost all things working together, so it is important for transportation, for electricity, for . . . for all aspects of the civilian life. But of course, also important for military operations. Therefore, the resilience, the security of these systems are of great importance. And that’s also the reason why we recently agreed updated baseline requirements in NATO for telecommunications infrastructure. Our Defence Ministers did that a few weeks ago, including requirements for 5G. This is about making sure that all Allies have risk assessments that analyse vulnerabilities, that they look into risks related to, for instance, foreign ownership, foreign investments, infrastructure, and by doing that, we don’t name any specific country or company. But we make sure that all Allies take these risks seriously and that we make sure that when we invest in 5G, we do that in a way which doesn’t undermine the resilience of our societies.

EMMANUEL MACRON: Merci beaucoup, thank you Mr Secretary General.