by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and/or Government
Thank you for joining me so early.
United Kingdom was NATO’s first home.
So it’s only fitting that we meet here to mark and celebrate 70th years of our Alliance.
I expect Leaders to address a wide range of issues when they meet here later on today: the fight against terrorism, arms control, our relationship with Russia and for the first time in NATO’s history we will also sit down with the NATO Leaders and address the rise of China.
This provides both opportunities but also challenges and we have seen the rise of China including their investment in defence capabilities.
China is the second larger defence spender in the world next to the United States and recently displayed new modern capabilities including nuclear weapons.
So we have to address the rise of China together and I look forward to the Allies doing that at this Leaders meeting for the first time.
We will also recognise the progress that our Allies are making when it comes to burden-sharing. Since 2016 European Allies and Canada have added 130 billion US dollars to the defence budget. This number will increase to 400 billion by 2024. This is unprecedented. This is making NATO stronger.
And of course also Leaders will address many other issues including readiness of our forces, space as operational domain and also resilience of our critical infrastructure, including 5G.
So there is a wide range of issues that will be addressed and I am looking forward to welcoming all the Leaders later on today.