Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers on 17 and 18 February at NATO Headquarters

  • 15 Feb. 2021 -
  • |
  • Mis à jour le: 15 Feb. 2021 17:33

(As delivered)

Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on 17 and 18 February

Good afternoon.
This week, NATO Defence Ministers will address key issues for our Alliance. 

This is our first meeting with the new Biden administration.
And an opportunity to prepare the NATO summit in Brussels later this year.

We will start discussing my proposals for NATO 2030.

We will also address burden-sharing, and our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will meet with our partners Finland, Sweden, as well as EU High Representative Borrell.

Our summit later this year, will be a unique opportunity to start a new chapter for transatlantic relations. 
When we meet, I want to present leaders an ambitious agenda for transatlantic security and defence.

That is what NATO 2030 is about.

So on Wednesday, I will present a set of proposals to Ministers to start preparations for the summit.

Let me outline the key points.

First, I will suggest to increase NATO’s funding for our core deterrence and defence activities.

This would support Allied deployments in our battlegroups in the eastern part of our Alliance, air policing, maritime deployments and exercises.

Spending more together would demonstrate the strength of our commitment to Article 5, our promise to defend each other. 
And it would contribute to fairer burden-sharing.

I will also propose to adopt clearer and more measurable national resilience targets to ensure a minimum standard of shared resilience among Allies.
And an annual review of vulnerabilities in Alliance critical infrastructure and technologies, including those stemming from foreign ownership and influence. 

To preserve our technological edge, I will propose a NATO defence innovation initiative. To promote interoperability and boost transatlantic cooperation on defence innovation.

I will also propose ways to increase political coordination between Allies.
With more consultations on more issues, including economic matters related to security.

We have the procedures in place to do this today. But what we need is more political will to use them.

We also need to take a more global approach to deal with global challenges.

China and Russia are at the forefront of an authoritarian pushback against rules-based international order.

So we should enhance our political dialogue and practical cooperation with like-minded partners to promote our values and protect our interests.



I will also propose to strengthen training and capacity building for partner countries in our neighbourhood, because prevention is better than intervention. 

We also need to address the security implications of climate change.
I will therefore propose that NATO should set the gold standard on reducing emissions from the military sector and contribute to the goal of net zero carbon emissions. And conduct an annual assessment of how climate change might impact our troops and deployments.

Finally, I will recommend to update NATO’s Strategic Concept.
To jointly address the changing strategic environment.
To recommit to our values.
And to reinforce the transatlantic bond.

This will be the start of our discussion on NATO 2030.
So I really look forward to hear the Ministers’ views, as I prepare and refine my proposals for the summit.  

On Thursday, we will turn to our missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

NATO strongly supports the peace process in Afghanistan.
This is the best chance for a lasting political solution.
And all parties must accelerate progress to seize this historic opportunity.
NATO has significantly adjusted our presence as part of the peace process.

However, peace talks remain fragile.
And the level of violence remains unacceptably high.
Including Taliban attacks on civilians.

The Taliban must reduce violence, negotiate in good faith and live up to their commitment to stop cooperating with international terrorist groups.

Our common goal is clear:
Afghanistan should never again serve as a haven for terrorists to attack our homelands.

So our presence is conditions-based.
While no Ally wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary, we will not leave before the time is right.

So Ministers will continue to assess the situation on the ground and monitor developments very closely.

We will continue to take all measures to ensure the safety of our troops.
And consider next steps in a deliberate and coordinated way. 

NATO’s mission in Iraq is another key contribution to the fight against international terrorism.

I expect Ministers will agree to launch an expanded mission, with more Allied personnel training and advising in more security institutions across the country.
The mission will expand gradually, in response to the situation.  

This follows requests from the Iraqi government, and close coordination with the Global Coalition.

So that together we can ensure that ISIS does not return.
Everything we do is underpinned by fairer burden-sharing across the Alliance.

Ministers will review progress.

2021 will be the seventh consecutive year of increased defence spending.
Since 2014, European Allies and Canada have contributed a cumulative extra of 190 billion US dollars.
Nine Allies are expected to spend 2 % of GDP on defence.
And twenty-four Allies are expected to spend at least 20 % of investment in equipment.

This is good news, but we must keep up the momentum. 

And with that, I’m ready to take your questions.