Он-лайн прес-конференція перед засіданням міністрів

Генерального секретаря НАТО Єнса Столтенберга напередодні засідання міністрів оборони країн – членів НАТО

  • 21 Oct. 2020 -
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  • Last updated 22-Oct-2020 16:29

(As delivered)

Good morning.

Over the next two days, NATO Defence Ministers will meet to address key issues for our Alliance. 


  • Strengthening our deterrence and defence;
  • Boosting the resilience of our societies;
  • Fairer burden-sharing;
  • And our missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge us all.
Our militaries continue to play a crucial role in supporting civilian efforts.
And Allies are helping one another.
Setting up field hospitals and transporting patients.

And this month, Albania, Montenegro, and North Macedonia are receiving support from the new NATO stockpile.

COVID-19 has not made other challenges go away.
So it remains vital to invest in our defence.

At this ministerial, we will discuss our progress toward fairer burden-sharing.

And today, we are publishing defence spending estimates for 2020.

They show that this year will be the sixth consecutive year of increased defence spending by European Allies and Canada.
With a real increase of 4.3%.

We expect this trend to continue.

Allies are also investing more in major capabilities.
And continue to contribute to our missions and operations.

We will also address NATO’s strengthened deterrence and defence posture.

Including our response to the Russian missile challenge, which is growing in scale and complexity.

Allies have already agreed a balanced package of political and military measures.

Work is ongoing to improve our air and missile defences.
To strengthen our conventional capabilities.
Ensure our nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective.
And NATO Allies remain committed to arms control and disarmament.

We have a long track-record on nuclear disarmament.
We have reduced the number of NATO nuclear weapons in Europe by more than 90 percent over the last 30 years.

What is now at stake is the future of the New START agreement, which expires early next year.
Allies support the extension of New START by the United States and Russia.
And I welcome progress on this issue in recent days.   

Because we should not find ourselves in a situation where we have no treaty governing the number of nuclear weapons.

NATO continues to adapt in all domains.
Including in space, which is becoming more crowded and competitive every year.

Some nations – including Russia and China – are developing systems which could blind, disable or shoot down satellites.
Space is essential for our ability to navigate, communicate, and detect missile launches.
And fast, effective and secure satellite communications are vital for our troops.

Tomorrow, I expect ministers will agree to establish a new NATO Space Centre at Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany.

This will be a focal point to support NATO missions with communications and satellite imagery;
share information about potential threats to satellites;
and coordinate our activities in this crucial domain.

Our aim is not to militarise space.
But to increase NATO’s awareness of challenges in space,
and our ability to deal with them.

The resilience of our societies will also be on our agenda.
Because it underpins our ability to defend ourselves.
We have already updated NATO’s baseline requirements for national resilience.
Including on 5G and telecommunications, cyber threats, the security of supply chains and the consequences of foreign ownership and control.

But we must do more.
Because our militaries rely on civilian infrastructure, services and resources.
And we cannot have strong armies without strong societies.

Ministers will receive a report assessing vulnerabilities across the Alliance,
for instance in areas such as access to civilian infrastructure for our military forces in crisis or conflict.
And they will discuss how we can strengthen our resilience pledge
when NATO leaders meet next year.

On Friday, we will focus on our training missions.

In Afghanistan, NATO has around 12,000 troops in the Alliance’s biggest mission.
As part of the peace process, we have adjusted our presence.
Any further adjustments remain conditions-based.

The Taliban must live up to their commitments,
significantly reduce the levels of violence,
and pave the way for a ceasefire.

They must break all ties with Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups.
And they must negotiate in good faith.

The talks in Doha offer the best chance for peace in a generation.
They must preserve the gains made at such high price over the last two decades, 
including for women and girls.

NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security.
And just this week, NATO Allies and partners renewed their commitment to provide financial support to the Afghan forces through 2024.

In Iraq, the security situation remains challenging.
And NATO stands with Iraq in the fight against international terrorism.

So we will decide to step up our training mission.
And enhance our support,
in full coordination with the Iraqi Government and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

This month we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
Ministers will assess what NATO has done to put this agenda into practice.
And what more we need to do.

With that, I am ready to take your questions.

OANA LUNGESCU [NATO Spokesperson]: And the first question comes from Michael Birnbaum from the Washington Post.

MICHAEL BIRNBAUM [Washington Post]:  Secretary General, thanks very much for taking our questions and for doing this. I have a question – Michael Birnbaum from the Washington Post – I have a question about, well, a US-focused question. This is the last big NATO meeting prior to the elections in November. And the stability and security of the United States is important for the security and stability of the NATO Alliance as a whole. President Trump has not committed to handing over power if the election results show him losing. That could set up a fairly confused November, December, so post-election period. I was wondering what kind of planning NATO was doing, you are doing for distracted Washington a potential distracted Washington in the post-election transition? And I wanted to ask a broader question about the last four years. I mean, regardless of the winner of . . . of the November election, NATO has moved some distance in the Trump administration, more spending, but also a lot more strains in a lot of ways. And I was curious, if there is a more friendly attitude toward the NATO Alliance from Washington starting in January, what are the kinds of things that you are still going to have to work to repair in . . . in the years ahead? Thank you.  

JENS STOLTENBERG [NATO Secretary General]: Thank you. On the first question, the answer is no, that's not an issue that has been discussed at all at NATO.

On the second issue, of course, we are 30 Allies and there are different views on many different issues. And over the last years there has been a lot of focus, for instance, on burden-sharing. But what we have seen, regardless of the differences we see on different issues from burden-sharing or trade, climate change and other issues, is that NATO Allies always are able to stand united and stand together on the main tasks of NATO, and that is to protect and defend each other. And that is exactly what we have done over the last years. And I am absolutely certain that, regardless of the outcome of the US election, that will also be the case in the years to follow, because it is in the interests of Europe, but also of North America, to stand together.

And especially in a more unpredictable world, a world where we see new security challenges, we see the global balance of power is shifting with the rise of China, it becomes even more important, including for the United States, to have friends and Allies and 29 friends and Allies, which makes all of us stronger and safer.

So NATO is an alliance where we have elections, we have 30 democracies. NATO will never interfere, never go into domestic political processes. But I am confident that regardless of the outcome of the election in the United States, but also in the elections in other NATO Allied countries, NATO will remain the cornerstone for our security.

OANA LUNGESCU: For the next question, we go to Lorne Cooke from Associated Press.

LORNE COOK [Associated Press]: Secretary General, excuse me, I don't think you can see my video. Perhaps you can see me now. You mentioned that Afghanistan decisions would be conditions-based. I want to know how NATO is going to be able to stay the course there, if President Trump pulls US troops out by Christmas as he's . . . as he's promised to do. And I'd also note just that you didn't mention Greece and Turkey, and this seems to be one of the tensest moments for NATO within its own backyard. How important is it for NATO to keep up these deconflication talks to . . . to ease these tensions? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  So, first on Afghanistan. All NATO Allies have decided and reiterated again and again that our presence in Afghanistan is conditions-based.

We have adjusted our presence as part of the peace process. But any further decision on further adjustment of the NATO presence in Afghanistan will be made based on our assessment on the conditions on the ground and on whether Taliban meets their commitments under the US-Taliban agreement. All NATO Allies welcome the agreement. All NATO Allies support the peace efforts. All NATO Allies welcome the talks in Doha. But at the same time, we need to see the Taliban is delivering, living up to their commitments. And that includes, of course, reducing violence and paving the ground for a lasting ceasefire. It includes breaking ties with al-Qaeda and all terrorist organisations. We have to remember that we are in Afghanistan to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists. And we actually went into Afghanistan after an attack on the United States. We invoked Article 5 for the first and only time to help to protect the United States after the terrorist attacks, 9/11.

And then, of course, what also matters for NATO Allies is that the gains we have made when it comes to social economic conditions, especially human rights, the rights of women and girls, are preserved. And then we'll assess and make decisions together. This is clearly stated by NATO Allies, just a few weeks ago when we had a common decision in the North Atlantic Council on the way forward in Afghanistan. And I expect all Allies to live up to this common commitments by all Allies.

And I also would like to highlight that we are there to protect our own interests, because if Afghanistan once again becomes a safe haven, a place where international terrorists can train, plan, organise, finance attacks against our nations, we are more vulnerable. And that's the reason we have to make sure that we stay coordinated and live up to the approach of . . . that we went into Afghanistan together, we will adjust together, and when the time is right, when the conditions are met, we will leave together in a coordinated and orderly way. This is a commitment by all Allies and I'm absolutely certain that all Allies will live up to this commitment.

Then on Greece and Turkey, they are two . . . both Greece and Turkey are two valued Allies. They contribute to NATO in different ways and we value their contributions.

Then, of course, I am concerned about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean where we have seen increased tensions, where we have seen the deployment of military capabilities, ships, planes, at sea, in the air. And of course, for NATO, it is important to help to reduce tensions, to de-escalate and to avoid any incidents, accidents between Allies in the Eastern Mediterranean.

That's the reason why we helped to set up a deconfliction mechanism, where Greece and Turkey reiterate their support to existing procedures, conventions, regulations – regulating behaviour at sea and in the air.

Where we also established a hotline between Greece and Turkey using also secure networks, NATO communication systems, and a commitment to use this hotline if needed, 24/7.

And then also to look into how we can strengthen the mechanisms to deconflict, to make sure that we minimise the risks, for incidents and accidents. And if they happen, do whatever we can to prevent them spiralling out of control and to create really dangerous situations.

We will continue these efforts. And we also strongly believe that the deconfliction efforts in NATO, which takes place inside this headquarters, as a military technical work, is helpful also to help to support the German-led efforts to facilitate exploratory talks about the underlying main problem dispute in the Eastern Med.

So these two efforts go hand-in-hand. The more we succeed with deconfliction NATO, I think the more we are supporting the German efforts to facilitate talks on the underlying main dispute.

OANA LUNGESCU: And we now have a question from Gul Sonumut from NTV Turkey.

GUL SONUMUT [NTV Turkey]: Good morning, Secretary General. You have reminded that during the deconfliction issue there is a hotline between Greece and Turkey 24/7, but rather that Greece, I think, has used the other way round, asked the High Rep, Josep Borrell to trigger 42.7, which is this solidarity clause against a kind of mutual threat. So it's as if a NATO member state was . . . are invoking Article 5 against another NATO member state. So what is your position on that? Should it be taken seriously into consideration or not? And to that end, what would you discuss, or would you discuss this issue with High Representative Borrell? Because Greece is a NATO member state, but has asked triggering 42.7 within EU – it's rather an odd situation, isn't it?

JENS STOLTENBERG: As I've stated many times before, I am – and NATO Allies are – of course, concerned about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. I think now the time is right to focus on how to reduce tensions, how to deconflict, how to avoid increased tensions in the region. So our focus is on exactly that. And that's the reason why we also work on how to strengthen the mechanism for deconfliction, which we have established here at NATO between Turkey and Greece.

And I know that the ambition of reducing tensions, of deconfliction is a shared ambition by NATO and the European Union. And of course, I'm regularly in contact with the EU leadership, with the two presidents, President Charles Michel and President Ursula von der Leyen, with the High Representative Josep Borrell, and also with leaders of different EU member states. Many of them are also NATO members, of course.

So we are working together to reduce tensions, to deconflict. In NATO we have focussed on the deconfliction mechanism, but I think that the deconfliction mechanism is extremely helpful in supporting the efforts of Germany to try to also to address the main underlying problem.

So, our focus is reduce tensions and that is a shared ambition of NATO and the European Union.

OANA LUNGESCU: Okay. And now we can go to Maria Aroni from Antenna TV in Greece.

MARIA ARONI [Antenna TV, Greece]: Yes, sir. Thank you very much. You just said that you are hoping to reduce tension and deconfliction. But yesterday, Oruc Reis was accompanied by warships, Turkish warships, and entered an area where Greece reserves the right to extend its territorial waters. So you say that both Allies, Greece and Turkey, are valued Allies for NATO, but we see that one Ally, Turkey, continues to raise tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and breaching the international law. Yesterday, Greek and Turkish warships lined up against each other near Kastellorizo's port. So how will NATO's military deconfliction mechanism will resolve this situation? Thank you very much, thank you Secretary General.

JENS STOLTENBERG: Well, I think that the deconfliction mechanism is important, because it makes sure that we have lines in place to communicate 24/7. And of course, it is also extremely important that both Greece and Turkey have committed to use these lines to prevent any incidents and accidents.

I am not going into the legal issues. But what I'm saying is that what matters for NATO is that we help to reduce tensions by establishing the deconfliction mechanism and that we do whatever we can to minimise the likelihood for any incidents or accidents between two valued NATO Allies, Greece and Turkey.

Actually, we have done this before. In the 1990s, there was also a very difficult situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean Sea. There were actually several incidents that led to casualties, fatalities. And then NATO also established different mechanisms, lines of communications to deconflict and to avoid further incidents. That was successful. It helped to reduce tensions. And, of course, the situation is different now than in the 1990s. But I think we can learn some lessons from the 1990s that NATO can help support – and that's exactly what we are doing and working with other institutions, including working closely with the European Union.

OANA LUNGESCU: Okay. And now we can go to Radu Tudor from Antena 3 in Romania.

RADU TUDOR [Antena 3, Romanis]: Thank you Oana Lungescu, thank you Secretary General for accepting two short questions. One: what will be your message to defence ministers from NATO and to Turkey? Because from my information, Turkey has used the S-400 missile system from Russia against the . . . establishing targets against NATO vessels exercising in the Black Sea. What is your message to Turkey and to NATO defence ministers? And the second question: how is NATO preparing for the second wave of Corona pandemic? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG: I am concerned about the consequences of the Turkish decision to acquire S-400 and I have expressed those concerns several times, including in meetings in Ankara.

This is a system that cannot be integrated into NATO's integrated air and missile defence system. And we have also seen that the United States have clearly stated that there will be sanctions and that Turkey cannot be part, for instance, of the F-35 programme.

I have also, therefore, looked into and supported efforts to try to find alternatives. I know that there has been some contacts between Turkey and the United States on the issue of delivering Patriot batteries. There have also been some contacts between Turkey and European NATO Allies on the possibility of delivering SAMP/T, a French-Italian system, air defence system. And I support those efforts.

So this is a difficult issue. Of course, it is a national decision what kind of defence capabilities different Allies acquire. But at the same time, what matters for NATO is interoperability and the importance of integrating air and missile defence. And that cannot be the case with the Russian system S-400.

Then, when it comes to the second wave of COVID-19, our military forces are already doing a lot. NATO support those efforts, we coordinate, we help to transport medical equipment, patients, we help to set up field hospitals. This month we delivered some equipment to Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

And there many examples of how our militaries are helping the national civilian efforts in coping with the pandemic. And we support that from the NATO side by, for instance, coordinating transportation of, yeah, equipment, patients and other stuff which is needed in the fight against the pandemic. We are stepping up these efforts.

And we have established an Operational Plan. We have a stockpile in place. And all of these are tools that can further strengthen the efforts of NATO and our militaries in support of the civilian health services when they deal with a pandemic.

OANA LUNGESCU: The next question goes to Thomas Gutschker from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

THOMAS GUTSCHKER [FAZ]: Yes. Thank you. Secretary General, at the Global Security Conference, you recently said that it was time for NATO to revise its Strategic Concept, which, of course, is 10 years old. My question is: are you going to raise this issue with defence ministers when they meet this time? How are you going to implement the process for a new Strategic Concept? And will it be related in any way to the Reflection Group, which is also due to give its report, I think, in December? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG: NATO has a Strategic Concept, which was agreed 10 years ago. Since then – and that Concept has served us well, it defined NATO's core tasks: collective defence, cooperative security, crisis management. And NATO has been able also to adapt and change in response to a changing security environment.

But at the same time, I think we have to realise that we, over the last 10 years, have seen such fundamental changes in the security environment that the time has come to modernise, to adapt, to revise NATO's Strategic Concept, because we have seen a more assertive Russia. It is a very different situation now after Crimea, the military build-up by Russia, which happened especially in 2014, with the illegal annexation of Crimea, than in 2010, when we adopted the current Strategic Concept.

We have seen a new and more brutal form of terrorism with the rise of ISIS. We have seen more hybrid cyber threats. And we have seen climate change more and more as a crisis multiplier. And we have seen the global balance of power shifting, with the rise of China.

All of this together have changed the security challenges we face in such a fundamental way that I think the time has come to look into a new Strategic Concept. Of course, this has to be decided by 30 Allies and discussed by 30 Allies, both to decide to launch the process for a new Strategic Concept and, of course, at the end of that process, decide how a new Strategic Concept will look like.

I don't expect this to be a main issue at the defence ministerial meeting this week, but I expect that the issue of a new Strategic Concept will be part of the NATO 2030 discussion. And, of course, the NATO 2030 process, which is supported by the Expert Group that will deliver its report before the Foreign Ministerial meeting in NATO in December, all of this contributes to this overall discussion about the future of NATO.

I look forward to the report from the experts. I look forward to the discussion at the Foreign Ministerial meeting and then, after that, I will, based on consultations with the capitals, with the NATO Allies, I will put forward my proposals for heads of state and government when they meet next year.

So NATO 2030 will lead to some concrete proposals, which I will then put forward for heads of state and government next year, and they will make the final decisions. I think it's too early for them to decide a new Strategic Concept. But of course, one thing they could decide is then to start a process leading to a new Strategic Concept later.

OANA LUNGESCU: for the next question we'll go to Teri Schultz from Deutsche Welle/NPR.

TERI SCHULTZ [Deutsche Welle/NPR]: Hello. Thank you very much. Can you hear me?


TERI SCHULTZ: Okay, great. Thank you. Hi. Thanks, Sec Gen. My question is about arms control. You've just had a visit, an update from the US Special Presidential Envoy about his talks with . . . with Moscow. And it's quite hard to decipher the statements coming out of . . . of both sides. They each seem to say, though, that the other side is moving in the direction of the other. So I'm interested in . . . in your . . . what do you think the prospects are for actually coming up with something in time to replace New START? What's the status of the discussion on making this a multilateral treaty and how reassured are NATO Allies, or . . . or not reassured are they, by the way the time is ticking toward the expiration of this . . . this February deadline for New START. Thanks.

JENS STOLTENBERG: First of all, we welcome that the United States is closely consulting with NATO Allies on the issue of nuclear arms control in general and on New START in particular.

Ambassador Billingslea has consulted with, met with NATO Allies many times. He also consulted with them and met with the North Atlantic Council yesterday.

Of course, the New START agreement is a bilateral agreement between the United States and Russia. But nuclear arms control matters for all NATO Allies and for NATO. So therefore, it is important that we are closely coordinated and that we have close consultations.

I have expressed that I would welcome an extension of New START, because I believe that we should not end up in a situation where we have no agreement whatsoever governing, regulating the number of nuclear warheads in the world. I have expressed that previously and I welcome, therefore, the news we have seen over the last days. And also Billingslea briefed us on that yesterday.

At the same time, I also think that one of the reasons why we should welcome an extension of New START is that that gives us more time to address a lot of other issues, which is not today covered by the New START agreement. One of them is the rise of China. China is investing heavily in new nuclear capabilities, modernising their nuclear forces. And China is becoming more and more a global power. And with that global position also comes global responsibilities, including being part of future nuclear arms control agreements.

We need verification and, of course, we need also ways to cover all those nuclear weapons, which are currently not covered by New Start – what we call non-strategic weapons or short-range, intermediate-range weapons – are today not covered by the New START agreement.

But I don't think there's a contradiction between addressing these issues, including China, including more weapons systems and looking into how to strengthen verification and at the same time, extending New START. Because that will give us more time to address these challenges. And that's the reason why I welcome the recent announcements that there is an increased likelihood for an agreement between Russia and China to extend New START.

I cannot, of course, go into the details of those talks, negotiations. I just welcome the announcement both from Russia and from the United States, that we have seen some positive steps in that direction. And I hope that that will lead to an agreement between Russia and the United States.

OANA LUNGESCU: For the next question, we can go to Lailuma Sadid from Afghan Voice.

LAILUMA SADID [Afghan Voice]: Thank you, Secretary General. As you mentioned, the situation in Afghanistan is challenging and also Taliban refused to make ceasefire. Is that good time to leave Afghanistan? Because you mentioned at the … [inaudible] you went together with the US and you will make a decision together. Do you think this is a good time to leave Afghanistan? And also, do you believe that the peace process going in a good track? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG: It is important that peace talks have started. First of all, it is important that the United States and Taliban agreed more than a year ago . . . no, earlier this year on the agreement between Taliban and the United States that led to the start of the intra-Afghan talks. And therefore, I also strongly welcome the fact that now, for the first time, for decades, we see that the government and Taliban meet, sit around the same table. And I think that the talks which are now taking place in Doha, the intra-Afghan talks, they are the best possible chance for a lasting, peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan we have seen for many, many years. So I welcome that. And that's progress. These are steps in the right direction.

Having said that, I know that, of course, peace processes are always difficult. There are many hurdles to be dealt with, to overcome. And we have to be prepared for setbacks and disappointments as we continue to push for progress in the intra-Afghan negotiations. These are intra-Afghan negotiations, meaning that this now is an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process. The Afghans are sitting around the table, not NATO. No other countries. We support, we observe, we help. But these are negotiations between Afghans. And at the end of the day, it's only the Afghans that can create peace in Afghanistan.

What we do is that we support the talks, the intra-Afghan negotiations, partly with strong political support. We observe the negotiations with our Senior Civilian Representative in Kabul, who is attending the talks, or observing the talks in Doha.

And then we also support the peace efforts by remaining committed to Afghanistan. We recently decided to continue our funding for the Afghan security forces throughout 2024. That's a substantial amount of money that NATO Allies and partners provide to Afghanistan.

And second, we have made it very clear that our presence in Afghanistan and any future adjustment in our force levels in Afghanistan is conditions-based. We have to assess the conditions, including the Taliban has to break ties with terrorist organisations, because the reason why we went into Afghanistan was to fight terrorism, international terrorism, after the 9/11 attack on the United States. And of course, the reduction of violence, that can pave the way for a lasting ceasefire.

So, all of these conditions have to be closely assessed, analysed, and then based on that, we will make a decision together, coordinate our efforts, based on the principle: in together, adjust together, and when the time is right, when the conditions are met, then we will leave together. But not before.

OANA LUNGESCU: And we now go to Hans-Uwe Mergener from Mittler Report.

HANS-UWE MERGENER [Mittler Report, Germany]: Thank you. Good morning, sir. My question is simple, maybe you have already covered some items out of it.  In the German press today there are several messages concerning Allied … [inaudible] an Allied operation, 'Allied Hand' – can you elaborate a little bit about it? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG: I'm not familiar with what you refer to.

HANS-UWE MERGENER: German newspapers report that there is a NATO emergency plan called 'Allied Hand', and that several nations have committed, amongst them Germany. Let me check. Germany and . . . and others. Medical personnel, engineering capacities . . . sorry, capabilities and experts in order to . . . to support. And German newspapers mentioned that there are four nations, UK and France among them, contributing to that mission.

JENS STOLTENBERG: Yeah, well, if you're referring to the Operational Plan we have established for assisting Allies with the pandemic, COVID-19. Then we have a plan. We have a stockpile. And we also established a financial mechanism. And then Germany, among other Allies have decided to contribute support to these efforts with . equipment, with different kinds of support. And we also have what we call a NATO coordination centre, where we go to Allies and partners and see if they have any equipment, any capabilities that can be used to provide support to other Allies or partners.

So NATO has provided support to Afghanistan, to Tunisia. We are looking to other countries where we are providing support. And Germany is part of that effort. Some of this is done in a NATO framework, through our Disaster Coordinated Response Centre, our coordination centre. Some is done directly through the different NATO mechanisms we have established. And some is done more bilaterally.

Anyway, that doesn't matter so much, the thing that matters and that NATO encourages, and which also will be addressed at the meeting this week, is that our militaries help the civilian health services, the civilian authorities, to deal with a pandemic. And Germany has been really at the forefront of doing that, providing help to other Allies, helping to transport patients. Actually, they've also provided some hospital beds, care units and so on to patients from other NATO Allied countries. And NATO encourages that kind of help, including transportation. We have transported, for instance, a field hospital, a huge hospital, to West Africa. It was provided by the United Kingdom and some other Allies.

So we are working together, pooling our resources, to try to be as effective as possible and provide as much military assistance as possible in the fight against the pandemic.

OANA LUNGESCU: For the next question, we go to Montenegro, to Jovana Djurisic from Pobjeda.

JOVANA DJURISIC [Pobjeda, Montenegro]: Hi. Good afternoon, Secretary General. You have announced that NATO will help Montenegro with . . . with medical equipment and also ventilators. So can you please let me know what kind of care . . . help Montenegro can count on and when. It will be my first question. And the second question would be about military exercises in Montenegro. Montenegrin Minister of Defence, he has decided to postpone the military exercise, which was scheduled today and tomorrow, because of the protests from local people and political and civic actors. So what is your suggestion and what is your advice, actually? Can exercise be held in a place which is predicted to be a nature park, on the other side and the . . . from the different point of view, military has to do exercises. So what is your advice? Where we can do these kinds of exercises and in which conditions? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG: First of all, when it comes to support to Montenegro, we will provide support with ventilators. That will happen in the near future. And that shows and demonstrates NATO's solidarity in practice, that NATO Allies help and support each other.

Of course, if there is need, the NATO Allies will also be ready to look into further support. But at least there will be some support coming in the near future in the delivering of ventilators.

On exercises, well, I cannot comment on a specific location of an exercise in Montenegro. I'm just confident that there are ways to reconcile the need to protect nature and, at the same time, to exercise forces, which is important for all Allies and all countries to be able to exercise their forces.

OANA LUNGESCU: We have more questions coming in, but I'm afraid we'll only have time for one last question from Iryna Somer from Interfax-Ukraine.

IRYNA SOMER:     Very good morning. I would like to come back to Secretary of General, reflection NATO 2030 - how to make Alliance stronger militarily and politically. When do you think you will be ready, this, your report, and will this document reflect interests of partners countries, particularly aspirant countries, Ukraine and Georgia? And second part of my question, you already mentioned a meeting of major leaders in 2021. Is it already known where and when such meeting can take place? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG: There will be an expert report later on this year. And then I will, based on that report, and consultations and inputs and guidance from Allies – and also the discussion we will have at the Foreign Minister meeting in December – I will then put forward my proposals for the heads of state and government.

As part of that process, both of the Expert Group and my consultations, which will take place before I put forward my proposals, of course, I will also consult with partners, including Georgia and Ukraine, because for NATO partnerships are of great importance. Georgia and Ukraine are highly-valued partners. They are important for NATO because, for many reasons, but also because they contribute to NATO missions and operations, but also, of course, it's the strategic importance of the Black Sea Region has just increased. And, therefore, to work closely with and to discuss with and listen to a partner like Ukraine or Georgia is an important part of the whole NATO 2030 process.

There will be a Leaders Meeting or a summit next year. No decision has been taken exactly on when and where. But that will be taken in due time so we can plan and organise a meeting in a good way.

OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference. Secretary General, over to you for any final words you may have.

JENS STOLTENBERG: Okay. Thank you so much. I miss meeting you all in person. Hopefully we can do that in the not-so-distant future. But in the meantime, stay safe and stay healthy. All the best. Thank you.