Keynote speech

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the CEPA forum

  • 21 Sep. 2020 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 21 Sep. 2020 16:13

(As delivered)

Keynote speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the CEPA Forum

Madame Polyakova,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be able to address this Forum.

Because the work of CEPA is of great value for our Alliance. So I want to start by thanking you for your relentless support.

We even have your own Wess Mitchell
co-chairing the group I have appointed to support me in my effort to develop NATO into the next decade – NATO 2030.

Allied Leaders asked me to carry out this forward-looking reflection when they met last December in London.

I have called it NATO 2030.
And it has three priorities:
Keeping NATO strong militarily.
Making NATO stronger politically.
And ensuring that NATO has a more global approach. 

Let me briefly go through each of these priorities.

First, keeping NATO strong militarily.

Our Alliance is already strong.
We are delivering on our military responsibilities with the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation.
With modern capabilities.
Higher readiness of our forces.
And increased investments in defence.
These must continue and all Allies must meet their commitments.

We know that prioritisation of defence spending in the middle of a health crisis is not easy.
But the military threats that existed before the pandemic have not diminished.
On the contrary.
Some actors are exploiting this crisis to undermine NATO and to advance their own interests.
So the commitment we all have made to spend more on defence has to stand,
and it is important that we achieve fairer burden sharing by investing more in our security.

We also see the value of our militaries in responding to the current crisis.
Our troops have delivered hundreds of tons of critical supplies around the world.
They built almost 100 field hospitals,
and helped to secure borders, disinfect public spaces and save lives.

This all shows that investing in our armed forces is an investment in a stronger and safer society for us all.

The second priority is to strengthen NATO as a political Alliance.

NATO is a unique political platform.
It is the only organisation that brings together countries across Europe and North America to discuss security issues of common concern.
We need to seize the opportunity that this presents.
And use NATO even more as a forum for frank discussion on a range of different issues.
From the conflict in the Middle East,
to global arms control,
and the security consequences of global warming.

Using NATO more politically is valuable to send a clear and unified political messages.
Because together, NATO Allies represent half of the worlds' economic and military might,
and nearly 1 billion citizens.
So what we say matters. 

Recently, we have sent a strong political message to the government in Belarus.
Calling on it to respect fundamental rights
including freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest.

We also strongly condemned the Novichok attack against Alexei Navalny.
And have urged Russia to conduct a full and transparent investigation into this horrific attack.

It was not just an attack on one individual,
but on fundamental democratic rights.
It is also a serious breach of international law,
and of an arms control treaty – the Chemical Weapons Convention.
So it demands a strong international response.

The third priority is to take a more global approach.

This is nothing new.
We are in Afghanistan in response to a global challenge: terrorism.
We have partnerships across the globe, from Colombia to Australia.
So we already have a global approach.
But the challenges we face now require us do even more.

NATO is a regional Alliance and will remain a regional Alliance.
But we need to work even more closely with like-minded countries and organisations.
To remain competitive in a more competitive world.
To strengthen our security.
And to defend the global rules-based order and the multilateral institutions that have kept us safe for decades.

This is important, for instance, when we deal with disinformation campaigns, cyber threats, terrorism, threats from space,
or even a pandemic like the one we are facing today.
No country alone can tackle these challenges.
Not even NATO alone.
It requires a global effort.  
It is also important to work together and leverage our partnerships in our approach to China.

The rise of China is fundamentally shifting the global balance of power.
It is on course to become the world's largest economy.
And it is rapidly becoming a global leader in new technology.
It already has the world's second largest defence budget.
And it is investing heavily in new capabilities,
including missiles that can reach all NATO Allies.

China does not hesitate to use its economic and diplomatic weight,
to intimidate trading partners and private companies.
And to advance its alternative vision of a world order, both at home and abroad.

The rise of China can provide new opportunities for cooperation and commerce.
But we must be clear-eyed about the challenges.
And not compromise on our values of fairness, transparency, and respect for a rules based international order.

I come to my final point.

NATO 2030 is about the future of our Alliance.
That is why I am determined to take the ideas and concerns of today's youth into consideration.

Already next week, I will engage with university students coming from 10 different universities across the Alliance.
I will discuss with them the new challenges that NATO is facing.
Including climate change and its impact on our security.

The young people I will engage with are the leaders of tomorrow.
And the ones that will deal with the decisions we make today.
So we must involve them in our reflection.  
And invite them to help shape what will be ultimately their Alliance and their future.

So ladies and gentlemen,
The three priorities I have just outlined are key to make our strong Alliance even stronger.
And to prepare it for the unexpected.
Because in uncertain and turbulent times,
a strong NATO matters more than ever.
Thank you so much.