by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers by teleconference
NATO Defence Ministers have just met to decide on the next steps in our response to COVID-19.
NATO’s core task is to continue delivering credible and effective deterrence and defence. That is what we have done throughout the pandemic.
We have taken all the necessary measures to ensure our forces remain ready, vigilant and prepared to respond to any threat.
Because it is essential that this health crisis does not become a security crisis.
NATO and Allied militaries have also played a key role supporting the civilian response to COVID-19.
This includes the airlift of essential medical supplies, transport of patients, and constructing field hospitals.
Medical authorities around the world have warned that we could see a second wave in the pandemic.
So NATO is preparing to provide strong support to civilian efforts if that happens.
Today, ministers took three decisions.
We agreed a new operation plan. To provide support to Allies and partners.
We also agreed to establish a stockpile of medical equipment and supplies.
And we agreed on a new fund, to enable us to quickly acquire medical supplies and services.
I welcome that many Allies have offered to donate medical equipment to the stockpile.
And to contribute to the financing.
This is a sign of Allied unity and solidarity.
Just as Allies have supported one another, and our partners, in the first wave of COVID-19, we stand ready to support each other should a second wave of the pandemic strike. To reduce suffering, and to save lives.
We will also work closely with the European Union and other international partners.
And we will step up our broader preparations to respond to any type of health crisis in the future.
Ministers also discussed national resilience.
We need to protect our critical infrastructure. Such as civil transportation, energy, and communications. Resilience is our first line of defence, and our collective security depends upon it.
So today, ministers decided to update NATO’s guidelines for national resilience to take greater account of cyber threats, the security of supply chains, and consequences of foreign ownership and control.
I am also glad that we were joined by the High Representative/Vice President Borrell, and our close partners Finland, and Sweden.
And we have intensified our cooperation with the EU in recent months. In areas including cyber defence and countering disinformation.
Our strategic partnership makes both the EU and NATO stronger and safer.
And as we look to NATO 2030, I am convinced that we must take an even more global approach. Working with like-minded countries.
So I am pleased that we were also joined by the defence minister of our close partner Australia. Participating in a meeting of this type for the first time.
Some of our partners may be far away, but we face many of the same challenges. And we share the same values. So it simply makes sense that we should work even more closely together.
And with that, I am ready to take your questions.