NATO 2030 - Safeguarding peace in an unpredictable world

Keynote speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Sciences PO Youth & Leaders Summit

  • 18 Jan. 2021 -
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  • Last updated 25-Jan-2021 08:26

(As delivered)

Keynote speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Sciences PO Youth & Leaders Summit followed by questions and answers

Thank you so much and good afternoon to you all in Paris – or wherever you find yourselves in these Corona-times.
And thank you Dean Letta, dear Enrico, for inviting me to speak at the International Sciences Po Youth and Leaders Summit.  

It is actually a special pleasure to address one of France’s top educational institutions. 
Because France is a key NATO ally. 
A founding member of our Alliance.
And for over seventy years, it has played a crucial role in safeguarding peace.  
When I look back to my own years as a student at the University of Oslo, the world was a very different place. 
In 1987, I wrote my thesis on ‘Macroeconomic planning under uncertainty’ - on how to manage fluctuating oil revenues. 
Little did I know then about what ‘uncertainty’ would look like today.
It was the time of the Cold War. The time when NATO had to focus on a single adversary: the Soviet Union. 
And when the line between war and peace was clearer. 
Today, this is a more blurred line.
We need to deal with multiple threats. Coming from state and non-state actors. And from multiple directions – on land, at sea, in the air, in space and in cyber space.
Our adversaries challenge us using bombs and aircraft. But also bots and algorithms.  
In this more unpredictable world, we face a more assertive Russia. 
Brutal terrorist groups like ISIS.
More sophisticated cyber-attacks. 
Intensifying geopolitical competition, with the rise of China.
Potentially dangerous new technologies. 
Disruptions due to climate change. 
And deadly viruses. 
For NATO, this means we need to be prepared for any threat. And any challenge.  At any time. 
And this is actually what we are doing. 
Let me give you some examples. 
After years of cutting defence spending, all Allies are investing more in defence. 
For the first time, we have deployed combat-ready forces to the east of our Alliance in response to Russia’s aggressive actions. 
We are working together to deal with the security impact of the rise of China and new technologies. 
And we have designated cyber space and space as operational domains. 
And our militaries are supporting civilian efforts to counter the coronavirus.  
So NATO is doing more.  But the world is moving faster than ever before.  So we need to adapt even faster. 
That is why NATO leaders asked me to conduct a reflection on the future of the Alliance. 
It is why I launched the NATO 2030 initiative. 
And why engaging with tomorrow’s leaders, like you, is so valuable. 
Because you were born into this unpredictable world.  You have the greatest stake in our security.  And you must have your say in the future of NATO.
So I have appointed a group of emerging, young leaders from across the Alliance to advise me on NATO 2030. 
They will share their ideas with me in early February. 
At the same time, NATO will host ten prestigious universities - including Sciences Po - to compete in NATO’s first ever policy hackathon, to develop disruptive ideas on NATO’s future.
My conversation with you today is part of my broader engagement with young people, civil society, and the private sector. 
It will help me formulate my recommendations on NATO 2030, which I will present at the next NATO Summit in Brussels later this year.    

NATO 2030 has three priorities: 
To keep our Alliance militarily strong.
Make it politically stronger.
And ensure it takes a more global approach. 

Let me take each of these in turn. 

So first, for a strong military Alliance,  
we have to invest. 
To have the right forces with the right equipment. 
And we have to keep our technological edge.
To remain competitive in a more competitive world.
But to have strong militaries, we also need strong societies.

That is why boosting resilience is a key task for NATO.
We need more robust infrastructure.
Power grids, telecommunications – including 5G, ports, airports, roads and railways. 
And we need safer and more diverse supply lines. For example for fuel, food and as we have seen recently, for medical equipment.
Resilience is a collective effort. 
And it requires continued cooperation with partners like the European Union. 
Together, we must do more to identify and address gaps in our resilience. 
This means we need to take into account the risks related to foreign investments and foreign control of our critical assets, infrastructure and technologies.
Decisions on investments and ownership are not just financial or economic. 
We should not let short term economic gains undermine long term security interests. 

The second priority of NATO 2030 is to strengthen NATO as a political alliance.
NATO is the only place where Europe and North America come together every single day.
It is a unique political platform.
We should use this more to discuss issues that affect our security, such as the consequences of climate change. And to coordinate the use of our military, economic and political tools more effectively. 

This unique platform is also the best venue to address our differences.  
Because 30 Allies don’t always agree on everything. 
But when we disagree, we discuss.    
And look for ways to solve our differences together. 
That is what we have always done. 
And that is what we are doing today. 
For example, to deal with tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. 
NATO provides the platform for Greece and Turkey to come together.
We have developed a mechanism between the two Allies. 
To help prevent dangerous incidents and accidents.
And to pave the way for diplomatic discussions to settle the underlying disputes.

The third priority for NATO 2030 is to ensure our Alliance takes a more global approach.
NATO should remain a regional organisation for Europe and North America. 
But the challenges we face are global. 
From terrorism to nuclear proliferation. 
Pandemics to disinformation campaigns.
And of course the return of great power competition, with the rise of China.
China is not an adversary and its rise presents opportunities for our economies and our trade. 
But there are also serious challenges.
China has the world’s second largest defence budget.
It continues to invest massively in military modernisation. 
And China does not share our values. 
It does not respect human rights.
It bullies other countries.
And tries to undermine the international rules-based order. 

Neither America nor Europe can deal with such challenges on their own. 
That is why I don’t believe in America alone. 
Just as I don’t believe in Europe alone.
I believe in America and Europe together. 
Because together in NATO, we represent half of the world’s economic might.
And half of the world’s military might. 
So we must adopt a more global approach.
And build a community of democracies.
Together with existing partners, like Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. 
And possibly new ones, like Brazil and India. 
We must step up to defend our values and protect our way of life.

Dear students, 
I started by telling you about my university thesis.
On the uncertainty created by fluctuating oil prices. 
The message of my thesis was that we cannot get rid of uncertainty. 
But we can find a way to manage uncertainty. 

Today, this same message is true when it comes to our security. 
We do not know what the next crisis will be. 
So we have to be prepared for the unforeseen. 
Therefore, we need a strategy to deal with uncertainty.
We have one.
That strategy is NATO.
All for one, one for all. 
So that regardless of what happens, we can keep our nations safe and free.

Thank you and I look forward to your questions. 

Enrico Letta [Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) at SciencesPo in Paris]: Thank you very much, dear Secretary General, dear Jens, for your introductory remarks, for having focused on NATO 2030 as a key point of our discussion. Thank you for sharing with us some of the ideas around this perspective. 

We have some questions. I start by reading the questions and I would like, of course, to ask you to answer these questions. The first one is from Ana Lucia. The question is about, I think we will pose this question, the same question this afternoon to your good friend Josep Borrell to listen also his answer. And the question from Ana Lucia is: what is NATO’s view in regards to the prospect of a stronger European Security Union? We know very well that the debate in Europe about strategic autonomy is a debate that is crossing debate with the future of NATO and NATO 2030 discussion. So, I think maybe it is the best way to start our interaction, and the question from Ana Lucia is the perfect kick-off. I give you the floor. 

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: I strongly welcome efforts by the European Union to strengthen its work when it comes to defence. That has actually been something that NATO has called for, for many, many years. Because if more EU efforts on defence means increased defence investments, then of course, that’s something we welcome. And I believe that more efforts by EU on defence will require more investments. And that’s absolutely in line with what NATO has been asking for, for many, many years. And we will welcome that. The same increased EU efforts on defence will help to develop new capabilities, also available for NATO Allies – also, something we have been calling for many, many times and we welcome those efforts by the European Union. 

And I also think that EU efforts on defence will be important for another reason, and that is that it will hopefully be a way, at least that’s a stated goal of these efforts, to address the fragmentation of the European defence industry. That’s politically very sensitive, but it is important. Just to give you one example, in the United States, they have many, many battle tanks and they have only one type of main battle tank. So, the cost of maintenance, development, training, spare parts, goes down because you have the economy of scale, many tanks, same type: low cost per unit. In Europe, there are much fewer battle tanks and there are nine different. So, the cost of maintenance, training, spare parts, all that increases. The unit cost goes up. So this fragmentation, the lack of ability to develop one system adds very much to the cost of providing defence in Europe. 

And battle tanks is only one example. My good friend, Josep Borrell, has a long list and he uses this example many, many times of many other capabilities: ships, planes, drones. All over, you have the same problem of lack of economy of scale because of the fragmentation of the European defence industry. So, not only do they spend too little, but what they get out of that is also much too little, because the cost is so high because of the fragmentation. 

So, I believe that EU efforts on defence – and that’s the stated goal – will address these challenges: too few capabilities, too much fragmentation, too little spending. So, in that sense and in that way, EU efforts on defence is something I really, really welcome, support and have actually called for, for many years. 

But, we have to also know and recognise that EU efforts on defence cannot replace NATO. Should not compete with NATO, can never be an alternative to NATO. Partly because less than 50 percent of the people living in NATO live in an EU country; less than 50 percent of GDP in NATO comes from an EU country. And we need to, of course, mobilise 100 percent of our resources and protect 100 percent of the people. And only 20 percent of NATO’s defence expenditure comes from EU members, from NATO EU members. 

So, EU efforts cannot replace, EU cannot defend Europe. NATO is, for the NATO members in Europe, the bedrock for our security. This is partly about money. 20 percent of defence expenditure comes from EU Allies. It’s also partly about geography. Norway in the north, Turkey in the south, and in the west, of course, the United States, Canada, but also the United Kingdom, are critical for European security, for the defence of Europe. 

And then lastly, this is also about politics, because any attempt to divide Europe from North America to increase the distance, to go alone will not only weaken NATO, but it will divide Europe. 

So, I don’t believe in America alone, I don’t believe in Europe alone, I believe in North America and Europe together. And as long as we stand together, we are able to deal with any threats and any challenges. Alone, we are weak. Together we are stronger. 

Enrico Letta:    Thank you. There are other questions on the same topic, so I would like to put them together, Miruna, Luis and Yohana: the questions are, first of all, on the on the topic of burden-sharing, you just mentioned this topic. What are, in your view, the steps to have a more concrete burden-sharing, which timing? Another point is about: is there the possibility to have cooperation with different missions? What domains for the European Union and which ones for NATO, for instance? And the other one is about the structural changes: do you see the need of structural institutional reforms at NATO level in the relationship with the European Union and in the way to organise a more effective institutional framework for the cooperation between the European Union and NATO?

Jens Stoltenberg: I think it’s always important to have an open mind and also look into structural issues. And, actually, over the last years we have been able to lift NATO-EU cooperation to unprecedented levels. I signed, with the former presidents of the European Union, President Donald Tusk and President Jean-Claude Juncker, back in 2016. And then later on in 2018 . . . I think it was, two joint declarations outlining 74 different areas where Europe, EU and NATO can work more together. 

And we are now stepping up when it comes to cyber, maritime exercises and in many other areas, we are working more closely together, Europe – or EU – and NATO than we have ever done before. And that’s not strange because more than 90 percent of the people living in EU live in a NATO country. So, of course, it makes . . . and we share the same neighbourhood, we share many of the same threats and challenges. Of course, it makes a lot of sense that we work together, despite the fact that we are two different organisations and of course, also covering some different responsibilities. 

So, we should always look into how we can further strengthen, how we can further develop our cooperation and partnership. And I’m proud and I know that this is also something both High Representative Vice-President Josep Borrell, who will speak later on to you, but also President Ursula von der Leyen, President Charles Michel, they also support this idea of strengthening further the cooperation between NATO and the European Union. 

Part of that can also, of course, be a structural discussion. I’m just afraid to make structure the most important thing. We have structures. We have institutions. So, what we need is political will and the strength to implement actions. So, I’m not against structural changes. I’m only a bit afraid of making the structures the main issue instead of the content – what we actually do together – the main issue. And that has been the focus of the leadership in EU and me. 

I recently, for instance, as the first Secretary General of NATO ever, met with a whole College of EU Commissioners. President von der Leyen invited me, and that was a great honour to meet them all, discuss, and of course, what NATO does matters for the EU in many ways and vice versa on military mobility, transportation, resilience, telecommunications. 
All that is important for the EU, but also important for NATO. And, of course, it matters that we coordinate as much as possible. 

Then burden-sharing was one of the issues. Burden-sharing is important. And I think we have to understand that different US presidents have stated again and again that it is unfair that 70 percent of NATO’s defence expenditure comes from the United States. And as I said, 20 percent from EU NATO Allies and then the rest from countries like the United Kingdom, Turkey, Canada, Norway and so on, non-EU European countries and Canada, while 50 percent of NATO’s GDP comes from non-US Allies. 

It was actually President Obama who was very strong on this back at the NATO Summit in 2014, where all NATO Allies agreed that we should spend more. The good news is that we have followed up on the commitment we made in 2014. So, now all NATO Allies have invested more and have added extra. We still have a long way to go, but more Allies now meet the 2 percent guideline than ever before  - up from three in 2014 to 10 now. So, that’s a huge difference. And the timeline, which was also part of the question, is that we decided in 2014 to move towards spending 2 percent of GDP on defence within a decade, meaning 2024. 

So, burden-sharing is important. The good news is that we are making progress and that’s also part of the adaptation, to reenergise the strength of NATO. 

Let me add one more thing and then I promise to stop! Is that, of course, the incoming Administration offers a unique opportunity to revitalise, to reenergise the cooperation - North America-Europe, in NATO, and I look forward to working with the next president, President Biden, on especially these issues.

Enrico Letta: Thank you, we have many questions on the US, on President Biden, I will leave this question maybe for a second part of our discussion, because there was an interesting question on Russia and I would like to ask you: NATO constantly expanded to countries from the former Soviet sphere of influence, asks Renaud. What do you respond to those who consider that that is a fuel to Russian nationalism? So the relationship with Russia and the relationship with countries that were part of the USSR. And, if I may, add a question. The question is about also the frozen conflicts on the borders of Russia, ie, you mentioned your thesis. I have to mention my Ph.D. thesis. In this period, we were, during the Nagorno Karabakh explosion of the conflict and Nagorno Karabakh is since then, and it is still one of these conflicts. In the last months, not only frozen, but also very, very hot conflict. What do you think about all these frozen conflicts? Because we have, we had, in these years – in South Ossetia or in Donbas, more and more parts of these former USSR regions that are today in this very difficult situation. Do you see any possibilities to overcome these complicated issues? Do you see a role for NATO? Do you see other exit strategies? The topic is a very hot one. 

Jens Stoltenberg: Yes, absolutely. First, on this issue about NATO enlargement and whether that has fuelled Russian nationalism, as if, in a way – and I’ve heard that question phrased in different ways many times – as if, in a way, the enlargement of NATO has been some kind of aggressive action against Russia; has justified Russia’s use of force against other countries, like you mentioned, Donbas and Georgia and so on. And, as if the enlargement of NATO is a kind of unacceptable, assertive behaviour of NATO. 

I think we have to start with the basics. The basics is that all countries in Europe have signed the Helsinki Final Act - and also many other documents - which clearly states that all nations have the sovereign right of choosing their own path. And, to be honest, for me, you don’t need the Helsinki Final Act to agree with that. It’s so obvious that sovereign nations should have and must have the right to decide their own path, including what kind of security arrangements they want to be part of, or not want to be part of. 

So, the whole idea that, in a way, NATO has been very assertive, aggressive by moving eastwards, by enlarging with countries that were formerly part of the Warsaw Pact: Poland, Hungary, at that time Czechoslovakia - Czech Republic and Slovakia - and many other countries in Eastern and Central Europe. And including some former countries which used to be republics or part of the Soviet Union - the Baltic countries. 

You have to understand that that’s sovereign decisions by them. It’s not NATO forcing its way eastwards. It’s these countries that, through democratic processes, decide that they want to be members of NATO. And, then NATO’s door is open. We will never force a country to join. So, when our good friends and neighbours, Finland or Sweden have, for decades, decided they don’t want to be members of NATO, we totally respect that. But when countries like Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and many others, Romania, decide that they want to be members, of course, if they meet the NATO standards, they should be allowed to be members. 

And the most important thing is that whether these countries are going to be members of NATO or not, is for NATO and the country to decide. 

Russia has no right to try to intervene or to block or to stop the membership of a sovereign nation into NATO. And sometimes I use my own country as an example. Because the idea is that since Russia or since Moscow don’t like, or dislike, that Lithuania joined NATO, they should never have been allowed to join. Well, if you apply the same thinking on my own country, Norway, we joined in 1949. Norway’s a neighbour of Russia. Russia didn’t, or the Soviet Union at that time, didn’t like that Norway joined. Stalin actually expressed clearly that he wanted Norway to stay out of NATO. But, luckily, the leadership in NATO at that time, in Paris, in London, in Washington and elsewhere, they said, ‘No, Norway, the neighbour of Russia, has the sovereign right to decide its own path. They want to become a member. They meet the NATO standards. So we welcome them.’ And that’s exactly the same. We have said to other independent countries, for instance, the Baltic countries, when they wanted to join some years ago. 

So, for me, it’s almost a provocation, just to, in a way, question the right of sovereign nations to decide their own future. That’s in a way to accept sphere of influences, it’s to accept that big nations have a kind of say over neighbours. I don’t want to live in that kind of world, because I’m coming from a small country, neighbouring a big country. And if we accept that big countries can decide what small neighbours can do or not do, then we’re back to the old times where the big powers decided over the small countries. We don’t want that kind of world. We want a world built on rules, on respect for nations, regardless of the size of their armed forces or their economies or whatever. 

So, this is about fundamental principles. And if we start to compromise on that, we are in a very dangerous path towards a place we should not end. 

And that’s my answer also when it comes to, for instance … that’s the kind of bridge to some of the issues you raised about the frozen conflicts. Georgia wants to become a member of NATO. And that’s not for Russia to stop. Whether Georgia becomes a member of NATO or not is for Georgia and NATO Allies to decide, and only them. Because anything else would be to infringe on the sovereign rights of sovereign independent countries. And then, of course, you can have different arguments, but it’s not for Russia to decide what Georgia is to do. It’s for Georgia and NATO Allies. 

And, therefore, what they have done in Abkhazia, in South Ossetia, violating their territorial integrity, the sovereignty of Georgia, an independent country, is unacceptable. 
The same with the Ukraine, of course, illegal annexation of Crimea, destabilising Donbas, eastern Ukraine. It’s violating absolute fundamental principles in the way we should create a peaceful, stable world. 

NATO’s role is to provide support to these countries: capacity-building, help with reforms, NATO Allies by training, we have presence in different ways in both Georgia and Ukraine. But, of course, we need to find political solutions. Different conflicts, Moldova, Nagorno Karabakh you mentioned, different conflicts, but the main message is that we should respect the sovereignty. And, of course, we should also look for political solutions. And NATO supports the different efforts to find political negotiated solutions to the different conflicts, more or less frozen. 

Enrico Letta: There are two questions on the US and on the new President and the new US Administration. Two students, Anna and Martha. First question is, is exactly about the fact that Trump was not a great friend of multilateralism, we know very well this point. But we have to say that maybe NATO was the only multilateral forum where he was a little bit more involved and he was not only involved, but he was asking a bigger involvement, engagement, as you said, from the different Allies and from the European Allies. S,o how do you foresee the change and the role of the new Administration, President Biden’s Administration? What do you expect? And the second point is related. That’s another interesting question, Martha, saying that: given that the threat to stability in the US is increasingly internal, how would increased defence investment effectively address this threat and its causes? So, do you see a deal, or a contradiction in US between the need for more internal defence investment and the need for the US to be present at world level? What do you think about these two very large and very complicated issues?

Jens Stoltenberg: First of all, I have to clearly state that it is not for me to speak on behalf of an incoming new Administration in the United States of America, a NATO Ally. What I can say is that I look forward to working with President Joe Biden when he assumes office in a few days this week. And also with the incoming new Vice President, Kamala Harris. 

I spoke with Joe Biden after the elections and I know him as a very strong supporter of NATO, of multilateral institutions, of multilateral cooperation. And he knows NATO very well because he has served as the Vice President. And I had the honour of working with him in that capacity and also in my previous position as Prime Minister of Norway, I had the privilege of working with then Vice President Joe Biden and also in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. So, he knows Europe, he knows NATO. He has publicly over many, many years been a strong supporter of the transatlantic bond. And I’m absolutely confident that when he assumes office, that will provide a platform to reenergise, to revitalise the transatlantic bond. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there will be zero challenges and no problems, but the value of sitting around the same table is recognised. And I think we have to understand that NATO is unique because it’s the only institution where North America and Europe meet every day. We have, of course, many ministerial meetings, we have summits, but we have this day-to-day presence in the NATO headquarters with the political cooperation, the political staff, the ambassadors. We have the Command Structures, the NATO bases, the NATO Missions and Operations in Afghanistan, in Europe, in many other places, bringing together North America and Europe on a daily basis, on all levels, bringing us together. And that in itself creates a partnership, a friendship, a trust which is of great importance for the transatlantic bond, the key, the bedrock of the transatlantic bond. And I’m absolutely confident that he and his Administration will build on that. 

Then, burden-sharing. So, burden-sharing is part of that, because we have to realise that there is a very strong bipartisan support for NATO in the United States, Democrats and Republicans. And when you look at the opinion polls, actually now there is record high support for NATO in the United States. And I’m absolutely confident that one of the reasons we see this is that they see that European Allies and Canada are stepping up when it comes to burden-sharing. We still have a long way to go, but we have taken it seriously, not only to please the United States, but because we see that we live in a more unpredictable, more dangerous world, every day, everything from ISIS, changing global balance of power, cyber threats – so we need to invest more in our security. And that is recognised in the United States. And I’m absolutely certain that also the incoming Biden Administration will, of course, be focussed on burden-sharing. You have to remember that Joe Biden, he was Vice President when President Obama made this an important issue at the NATO Summit in 2014, when we made the decision to start to increase defence spending and European Allies have delivered. 

Then, I think that, of course, there are many domestic challenges in all NATO-Allied countries and over the last weeks, we have seen clearly exposed some of those challenges in our biggest Ally, the United States. But I think it’s absolutely possible for the United States, as it is for other Allies, to both address domestic challenges, unrest, whatever it is, and at the same time see the value of protecting ourselves against external threats and challenges. And actually, if anything, I think that the more we are able to prove to the United States that NATO is relevant for them and we are striving for fairer burden-sharing the more support and the stronger support we will have from across the United States to our Alliance. 

So, I don’t accept in a way the contradiction between either being focussed on domestic challenges, which of course is important for all Allies, also the United States, and/or being focussed on external threats and challenges, which is the main responsibility of NATO. If anything, I think that the more successful we are in showing that NATO delivers, in NATO we stand together, we help each other, it also helps the United States to address some of the challenges they see domestically. 

Let me just add one thing, and that is that the rise of China. The change in the global balance of power makes NATO even more important for the United States. China will soon have the largest economy in the world. They already have the second largest defence budget. They are leading in some technologies which are also important for defence. We know, disruptive technologies as artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, facial recognition, all of this is also important when it comes to future defence systems. And, therefore the United States needs friends. And in NATO they have 29 friends and Allies. And if they are concerned about the size of China, then it’s even more important to keep friends and Allies close, because together we are 50 percent of GDP, 50 percent of the world’s military might. 

Enrico Letta: Thank you. There are two questions on the Mediterranean, on Turkey and the Mediterranean. One from Aurelie and the other one is from Denise. Aurelie on Turkey. I think you are expecting a question on Turkey. Turkey is incontournable in this present situation. So what are your explanations on what will be the future of relationship within NATO Allies? Turkey is facing a period in which relationship with the European Union, relationship with the US are very tense. What . . . how do you see the situation there? How do you feel the future? And Aurelie asks also: how is your personal diplomatic relationship with Erdogan? And so this is on Turkey. And the other one on the Mediterranean, I think it’s related: is there the possibility to have more focus from NATO on the southern flank? And would such a commitment dilute the Alliance’s attention to the eastern flank? In a few words, is there a contradiction in being involved in the south, in the Mediterranean and in the rest of the scenarios? 

Jens Stoltenberg: Let me start with the last part of that question. Again, NATO has to be ready and NATO is ready and capable of dealing with threats from whatever direction. We cannot focus on one direction. We need to be prepared for threats, challenges from the east, from the south, from the west, from the north. And also from cyberspace. And, therefore, we cannot accept and we should never end in a situation where we have to choose between either focussing in that direction or in the other direction, because there will be surprises and we cannot tell from where the next crisis will happen. 

Just to illustrate, you know, I guess there were a lot of analyses and assessments and intelligence in the 90s about what was the most risky, what was the most likely attack against NATO. I think hardly anyone imagined that the biggest attack on NATO was going to happen in the United States, against the Twin Towers and Pentagon and the United States. So actually, that happened in the West, organised from Afghanistan in the Far East, or at least the East. So, I’m saying this because we cannot foresee the future and, therefore, we have to be prepared for the unforeseen in all directions. And that mind has to be there, because if not, we will be too narrowminded and we will not be able to respond in a proper way. 

Second, it’s a bit artificial, although I agree that something is north and something is south and west and east. I agree that that’s geographical directions, but from a security perspective, it’s a bit artificial to put that into these categories. Because when you speak about the east, we often think about Russia. And we see a more assertive Russia in the east, but we see them also in the south. We see much more Russian presence now in North Africa, in Libya, in other parts of North Africa, in the Middle East, in Syria. We see them in the north, in the Arctic, in the Polar seas, in the Barents Sea with new military bases, with more naval presence, new submarines. And these submarines, they can travel around. So, if we are concerned about Russia, then Russia is also in the north, in the south and also sometimes in the west. So, my message is that NATO has to be able to address challenges from all directions at the same time and they actually merge, they go together, because, for instance, cyberspace is all over. 

Then on Turkey. There is no way to hide, and I have never tried to do so, that there are disagreements and differences within NATO. And Allies have expressed their concerns about different issues, like, for instance, the Turkish decision to acquire the Russian air defence system, S-400, or the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, and other issues. I have raised those concerns myself, and I had many discussions in Ankara about these issues and expressed my concerns, for instance, about the consequences of the Turkish decision to acquire S-400. 

But, I believe … at the same time, I believe that our task is to look for ways forward to address these concerns and to make sure that NATO is the platform we actually are, providing a meeting place for Allies to sit down, discuss, have open, frank discussions, when there are disagreements, to try to find ways forward, positive approaches. And that’s exactly what we had done when it comes to the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, Libya, or other issues. And we have been able to make some progress. For instance, establishing the deconfliction mechanism between two NATO Allies, Greece and Turkey, is important, because, we have seen before  - we actually saw in the 1990s that similar tensions between Turkey and Greece in the same area, in the Mediterranean and also in the Aegean Sea, actually led to casualties, to downing of planes, helicopters,  and fatalities. We need to avoid these kinds of incidents, accidents now, as we have seen before, because they are dangerous, they can lead to the loss of lives and they can spiral out of control. 

And that’s exactly why we have established this mechanism at NATO with a hotline between the two countries. They meet, we have technical military communications. They have agreed to cancel some military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean. All of this – and we are looking at how we can expand this mechanism – all of this to reduce risks, for incidents and accidents. We have seen some already, but we need to prevent them from happening again and becoming more serious. And we also believe that the NATO efforts on military deconfliction is a way to pave the way and help to support political negotiations on the real underlying issues, disagreements, between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean. And we have seen also some positive steps in that direction, the resumption of talks between Greece and Turkey. 

So, I’m not saying this is easy, but I’m saying that NATO’s role is to bring Allies together and look for ways to find solutions. Also, because I think we have to understand that, yes, there are concerns and disagreements, but, at the same time, Turkey is an important Ally. They have the second biggest army in NATO. We can just look at the map. Geography matters. They have a strategic location. The only NATO Ally bordering Iraq and Syria. Have helped us in the fight against terrorism, helped to liberate the territories controlled by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. NATO uses infrastructure in Turkey to support that fight. We have the AWACS surveillance planes flying out of Konya, a Turkish base, helping the Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS. And no NATO Ally hosts more refugees than Turkey and no NATO Ally has suffered more terrorist attacks. So, we need to stand together. Yes, there are differences, but then NATO provides the best platform to sit down and address those differences. 

Enrico Letta: There are some questions on climate change. And, of course, it will be one of the topics that, in this Youth & Leaders’ Summit, will be focussed, there will be one entire panel on this topic. So, it would be very interesting for us to have your take on that. So, Stanisla, Arnaud, John – different questions but the questions are all focused on the . . . is there a role for NATO in facing issues as climate change? Is there a strategy in NATO 2030 on these topics? What role can NATO play in cross-border environmental challenges? What is your reaction on these questions? 

Jens Stoltenberg: Climate change is extremely important. And climate change is important for many reasons. Also because it affects our security. Rising sea levels, warmer weather, more extreme weather, more flooding, more wildfires, will directly affect the livelihood of people all over the world. But it will also be a conflict multiplier. Force people to move. Increased competition over scarce resources: water, land, and so on. So, in that sense, climate change is also a security issue. And, therefore, NATO has to address climate change. 

And NATO 2030 is also about how can NATO adapt, how can NATO respond, how can NATO in a better way deal with the security consequences of climate change? Of course, NATO is not going to, in a way, be the main platform for negotiating climate agreements like the Paris Accord. That’s for the UN, that’s for those institutions to do. And I think we all should support those efforts, not try to establish competing structures. 

But, NATO’s responsibility is to address the security consequences of climate change. And that’s partly just by analysing, understanding, demonstrating the security consequences. Because that will add to the urgency. That will make it easier for those who are negotiating climate agreements and working for mitigation efforts, measures to reduce emissions. I think that will give them one extra argument. I think they already have more than enough arguments. But, if they need an extra argument in combatting climate change, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases or global warming gases, then security is yet another argument for doing what they are already doing. 

So, I think by providing facts, by being transparent, by analysing the problem, the security consequences of climate change, we are helping all those in different countries, in the UN system, in the climate convention to address these issues, and that’s one role of NATO. 

We also need to understand the problem, because we need, when we do our assessments of threats, of challenges, and adopt our posture and prepare, then we need to understand the consequences of climate change for our military forces and the conflicts we may be faced with in the future. And this is everything from, for instance, the challenges we see emanating from the south, the instability, migration, refugees, but also very practical issues. Rising sea levels will affect our naval bases. We already see that in many places in the world. Soldiers are operating out there in extreme weather already, in the High North or in the deserts and the jungles. And of course, equipment dealing with, for instance, extreme heat. We have a Mission in Iraq, they have seen the consequences of extreme heat in Baghdad, in Iraq. So, whatever we do will also have to take into account more wilder weather, extreme weather in different ways. And that will affect the development of capabilities, equipment for our personnel. 

And thirdly, NATO could also do its part to try to help reduce emissions. And, therefore, I welcome that we have different programmes in NATO trying to reduce, for instance, the dependence on fossil fuels. Dutch soldiers increasingly use solar panels instead of diesel generators during operations. The United States and Canada are looking at integrating solar panels into their combat gear so as to power their electronic equipment. And all other NATO countries are experimenting with hydrogen fuel cells and batteries to generate and store electricity. 

I use these examples to illustrate that, whatever we can do to try to increase energy efficiency of our battleships or our battle tanks or our operations and missions in general will be good for the environment. It will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, but it will also reduce the vulnerability of our forces. Because we know from many operations, for instance, in Afghanistan, that just the transportation of fossil fuel, of diesel, is actually a very huge, challenging task. And there is a need for a lot of fossil fuels, diesel, to generate, for instance, electricity at the different camps we have. 

So, if we are able to switch to other more environmentally renewable, friendly sources of energy, we help to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, CO2, global warming gases. But, we also make our forces less vulnerable and more resilient. So, that’s a double reason to do exactly that. And we are looking at it. We are working on it. We are stepping up. And NATO 2030 is very much about that. 

Enrico Letta: We are approaching the end of our time, our conversation, but of course, there’s many questions on China, so I ask you to take the questions together and to try to give a global answer. Robert: what will be the key steps for NATO to build a successful relationship with China? Luis: how can Allies work together within NATO to address the rise and political assertiveness of China? Marlene: What is NATO’s role in the South China Sea and East China Sea disputes? And Stanislas, a more general question: is there . . . do you see a risk that NATO 2030 could further antagonise China? So it’s . . . it will be one of the most interesting topics, I have to say that, and I take the opportunity also to announce to our students that March 3, we will dedicate our usual Wednesday to focus on the G20, because G20 this year will be probably the unique opportunity for Chinese leadership, US new leadership and European leadership to be together. And so we will have the Italian Sherpa, the president of the G20 this year, addressing students. And it will be, I think, interesting. I say that because, of course, the relationships between China, US and Europe are probably one of the most interesting focus in this period of Biden taking the lead of the US. So, many questions. What what are your answers? 

Jens Stoltenberg:  My answer is that China is not an adversary for NATO or to NATO, and actually the rise of China provides a lot of opportunities for all of us, for our economies, for our trade. And we also have to understand that the rise of China has already fuelled a lot of economic growth in Europe, in the United States and all over the world. And, of course, the rise of China has also been very important when it comes to alleviating poverty, because the fact that hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, has been extremely . . . the rise of China has been extremely instrumental in doing exactly that. 

So, I will first recognise that the positive effect, the opportunities of the rise of China. But, at the same time, we have to realise that there are some serious challenges. China is a great power that doesn’t share our values. For several centuries, the biggest and strongest power in the world has been a country which has been sharing our values: democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law. For some centuries it was the United Kingdom, then later on the United States of America. But now, soon, the biggest economy in the world will be China. In purchasing-power terms, it has already surpassed the United States. Soon it will also surpass the size of the American economy in market value. So, that’s something new. 

And the new thing is that the biggest economy in the world, is something we find in a country that doesn’t share our values. And we see the way they behave, partly against their own population in Hong Kong, how they treat minorities, or the Uyghurs, millions of people being forced into different kinds of camps, heavy censorship, no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly. And a brutal social control with these social points, monitoring everything that goes on the Internet, giving awards to those who behave in the right way and punishing those who behave in the wrong way. This is an authoritarian system which is using advanced new technologies to monitor, to control their population in a way we have never seen before. 

But, we also see how they behave against countries, also not only against their own population, but also against other countries in the world. Australia called for an independent investigation into the sources of COVID-19, or the coronavirus. China has punished them with sanctions or restrictions on trade and so on. Canada, they have arrested Canadian citizens as a kind of punishment for what Canada did in implementing the rule of law in their own country. And I know this myself, because I was Prime Minister in Norway when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident. And they wanted Norway to regret and criticise that decision. And since we didn’t do that, they punished us by blocking trade, blocking all political dialogue, blocking all meetings, trying to inflict severe damage on the Norwegian economy as a punishment. 

So, they are bullying neighbours, bullying countries all over the world, including, for instance, Norway and that’s a behaviour which we have to take very seriously. And, therefore, I think we need to work even more closely with partners, likeminded democracies, as Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan. And we have a lot of our partners all over the world, but also looking into whether we can develop new partnerships with, for instance, countries like India or Brazil. 

China is also strong militarily. They are developing new nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, second largest defence budget, new naval capabilities, aircraft carriers and so on. And this is something we have to take into account when . . . and they are also leading in many of the technologies which will be important for the future weapons systems, artificial intelligence, facial recognitions and so on. 

So, therefore, we need to invest. Therefore, we need to make sure that we maintain the technological edge. And that’s exactly what we are doing in NATO, partly due to the shifting global balance of power. 

And then we also have to realise the challenges related to our infrastructure, the resilience of our societies. We had a discussion about Huawei, 5G, and we have seen a convergence of minds, positions, views in NATO over just the last year. And we have developed in NATO something we call The Resilience Guidelines, based on requirements for resilience, stating clearly that all Allies have to make sure they have safe and secure telecommunications, roads, airports, all the critical infrastructure. And, therefore, we also need to take into account the risks related to foreign ownership. And I think we have seen a very important discussion and also development in European countries and the United States, Canada, about the risks related to vulnerabilities in, for instance, 5G networks. 

And that links to the question about the South China Sea and the East China Sea. NATO is not going to move into the South China Sea. Some NATO Allies, of course, sail there. It’s about freedom of navigation. But, NATO as an alliance is not going to move into the South China Sea. But that’s not the issue. The issue is that China is coming closer. We are not going to move in there, but they are coming closer to us: in cyberspace, investing in our infrastructure, in the Arctic, in Africa, and also with weapons systems that can reach all NATO Allies. So, there is no way we can deny or hide or not take into account that there are security consequences of the rise of China that NATO has to address. We will do that in a way which doesn’t antagonise or establish a new adversary. But, we need to understand and also address the security consequences of a fundamental shift in the balance of power, which is caused by the rise of China. 
That is what NATO 2030 is very much about: NATO remaining a regional alliance, but developing a stronger global approach, because the threats and the challenges we face are more and more global. Thank you so much.

Enrico Letta: Thank you. There are many other questions. It is not possible to take all the questions, but I ask you in one minute to say maybe one word on two topics that will be at the very heart of our discussion in these very days, because we will have two panels discussing, debating on space and on cyber. So Lisa and Veronique are asking: space was declared an operational domain in 2019. What concrete steps is NATO undertaking to strengthen its collective space capabilities?  Veronique: responsibilities on space-related questions are extremely widespread over NATO and member states, how can this misalignment be resolved? And on cyber, the topics that Anna and Benji are asking are related to: which kind of steps do you see in the future, I mean, NATO 2030 perspective, for having at the European level and at NATO level an upgrade in the possibility to respond to cyber threats? I’m sorry, because I know we are at the end, but maybe if you give us just some nuances of what you think in these final minutes?

Jens Stoltenberg: First on the cyber. NATO has recognised the importance of cyber over the last years, and more and more so. Not so long time ago, we actually decided that a cyber-attack can trigger Article Five, meaning that we regard a potential cyber-attack as damaging, as serious, as a conventional attack. So if we have a serious cyber-attack, we can decide to trigger Article 5 – one for all, all for one – as our Collective Defence clause. We don’t have to respond in cyber. That’s up to us to decide. But, a cyber-attack can trigger Article Five. And that demonstrates the seriousness of a potential cyber-attack. Cyber-attacks take place daily, so we cannot trigger Article 5 every day. But, we send the message that, if needed, we trigger Article 5 as response to a cyber-attack. 

Second, we have established cyber as an operational domain alongside land, air and sea. And that’s, in a way, to make sure that we have the best way to organise, to plan, to exercise our cyber defences. And it is absolutely impossible to foresee a conflict in the future which doesn’t include a cyber dimension, because it is so important for everything we do. And, of course, cyber is also integrated in our other capabilities: our new aircraft, our ships, whatever it is, they have cyber elements. They have cyber as a part of what they do. And, therefore, cyber is extremely important for all our defence capabilities. 

We have also created a new Cyberspace Operations Centre and we have established a malware information-sharing platform, where we’re also working with the European Union to share a real-time information about malware cyber-attacks. We also have teams where we can deploy, help Allies who are under cyber-attacks. 

The last thing I would say is that: perhaps the most important thing is that we share best practices, we help each other and we have big exercises. Because cyber is partly about defending the NATO networks to NATO operations and NATO missions. But, of course, it’s also very much about helping Allies to defend their systems. And we do that by sharing information, by conducting exercises and sharing best practices and constantly adapting and improving the way we do cyber defences in NATO. 

Sorry, one more last thing, and that is that we have also started to integrate what we call ‘national cyber effects’, sometimes also referred to as ‘offensive cyber’ into our planning and our missions and operations. We have seen the importance of these kinds of cyber effects in fighting Daesh/ISIS. NATO Allies were instrumental in attacking the home pages, the networks, the cyber capabilities of Daesh in Iraq and Syria. That was of great importance because Daesh/ISIS used cyber to recruit, to spread their information, to finance and to conduct operations. So be able to penetrate these systems with offensive cyber is also part of what NATO Allies do and where NATO is working together on these issues. 

On space … what happens in space is important for what goes on on the Earth: communications, GPS, intelligence, surveillance, all of that is dependent on different space capabilities. And you are right that different Allies have a lot of different capabilities. One of the purposes of establishing space as a domain and also strengthening the focus on space in NATO is not for NATO to develop space capabilities, but it is for NATO to make sure that NATO Allies work more closely together, learn from each other, coordinate more their efforts, and that we can share information and support the activities we have with different space capabilities. 

So, this is, what should I say, the first steps. We have just recently established a Space Centre at our base in Ramstein. And then we will go step-by-step, filling this framework of space as an operational domain with more and more content. But, it’s very much about mobilising, working together with Allies and trying to coordinate their efforts in a better way. 

Let me just end by saying that this has been a great honour to address this distinguished audience and to listen to your questions. I hope that at some time I can meet you in person. And, in the meantime, you are more than welcome. And I’m actually looking forward to that SciencesPo will participate in the NATO hackathon, which is, for the first time ever, a way to try to invite students and also then for SciencesPo to take part in developing new ideas, disruptive ideas for NATO and make sure that the younger generation have their say in the development of the future of NATO. But, once again, thank you so much for inviting me. It has been a great, great thing to meet you all. And Enrico, it has been great to see you. See you again and all the best. 

Enrico Letta: Thank you very much and thank you for your generosity, you answered 26 questions. So I think it’s a record, in one hour. So very, very good. Very good kick-off. Now it’s time for panels. And then 4:15 Paris time, we will have Josep Borrell and 5:00 Paris time we will have Florence Parly. Thank you, thank you so much.