Online pre-ministerial press conference
by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs
NATO Foreign Ministers will meet over the next two days to address key issues.
We will discuss the NATO 2030 project and the continued adaptation of our Alliance.
As well as Russia’s military build-up.
The rise of China.
And our mission in Afghanistan.
We went into Afghanistan to support the United States after the 9/11 attacks.
And to ensure that the country is never again a platform for international terrorists to attack our homelands.
We have been there for almost two decades.
And the country has come a long way.
We now see an historic opportunity for peace.
It is fragile, but it must be seized.
As part of the peace process, we have adjusted our presence.
The United States has recently decided to further reduce its troop numbers.
But NATO’s training mission continues,
with over half of the forces from European Allies and partner nations.
No one wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary.
In the months ahead, we will continue to assess our presence based on conditions on the ground.
We face a difficult dilemma.
Whether to leave, and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists.
Or stay, and risk a longer mission, with renewed violence.
Whatever path we choose, it is important that we do so together, in a coordinated and deliberate way.
Ministers will also address Russia’s military build-up around the Alliance.
Russia is modernising its nuclear arsenal and fielding new missiles.
It is deploying more forces in our neighbourhood, from the High North to Syria and Libya.
We also see an increased Russian presence as a result of the crises in Belarus and Nagorno-Karabakh.
So, Ministers will discuss what more we should do to respond to Russia’s growing military activity.
And to maintain the arms control regime. Including limitations on nuclear warheads, as the New START treaty is due to expire next February.
We will also be joined by the Foreign Ministers of Georgia and Ukraine in a separate session.
To address the security situation in the Black Sea region.
And our support for these two valued partners.
NATO foreign ministers will also assess the global shift in the balance of power with the rise of China.
We will be joined by our Asia-Pacific partners: Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
And also by Finland and Sweden,
and the European Union High Representative.
China is not our adversary.
Its rise presents an important opportunity for our economies and trade.
We need to engage with China on issues such as arms control and climate change.
But there are also important challenges to our security.
China is investing massively in new weapons.
It is coming closer to us, from the Arctic to Africa.
And by investing in our infrastructure.
China does not share our values.
It does not respect fundamental human rights and tries to intimidate other countries.
We must address this together, both as NATO Allies, and as a community of like-minded countries.
We should, therefore, continue to consult closely, and cooperate where possible.
To bolster the resilience of our societies
and to protect the values and norms we share.
So as we face new global challenges, we will discuss how we can make our strong Alliance even stronger.
Earlier this year, I appointed a group of experts to support my work on NATO’s continued adaptation – the NATO 2030 project.
The group will brief Ministers on their findings.
Their report is one input into NATO 2030.
I will continue to consult with civil society, young leaders, parliamentarians, the private sector, and of course with Allies.
Based on all of this, I will put forward my recommendations to NATO Leaders, when they meet next year.
And with that, I am ready to take your questions.