''NATO 2030: a transatlantic agenda for the future''

Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg previewing the NATO Summit in Brussels at event organised by NATO, The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and The Brookings Institution

  • 04 Jun. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 07 Jun. 2021 15:02

(As delivered)

Thank you so much and good afternoon from Brussels.
Hello to Cathryn in Berlin.
And to Constanze and John in Washington.

Let me start by thanking the Brookings Institution, 
and the German Council on Foreign Relations,
for co-hosting this event with NATO.  

In ten days’ time, NATO Leaders will meet here in Brussels, at a pivotal moment for our Alliance.

We are drawing down in Afghanistan.
Ending our largest military operation.

At the same time, we are stepping up our response to growing global competition. 
Russia and China are leading an authoritarian pushback against the rules-based international order.

Russia continues its pattern of dangerous behaviour.
With its massive military build-up from the Arctic to Africa. 
It intimidates its neighbours.
Suppresses peaceful opposition at home.
And carries out cyber and hybrid attacks across NATO countries. 

China is asserting itself on the global stage.
NATO does not see China as an adversary. 

There are opportunities to engage with Beijing.
On issues like trade, climate change and arms control.
But we must be clear-eyed about the challenges China poses.

China will soon have the largest economy in the world.
It already has the second largest defence budget and the biggest navy.
And it is seeking to control critical infrastructure in our countries and around the world.

But Beijing does not share our values. 
The Chinese authorities have created an unprecedented system of surveillance and control over their own people.

They crack down on peaceful dissent and religious minorities,
threaten Taiwan, 
coerce their neighbours,
and hamper freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

So our security environment is more complex and contested than ever before.
With global competition,
sophisticated cyber-attacks,
disruptive technologies,
brutal terrorism,
the proliferation of nuclear weapons, 
and the security impacts of climate change.

None of our countries can face these challenges alone.
But the nations of Europe and North America are not alone.
We stand together in NATO.
This is what NATO 2030 is about.
Standing strong together.

And it is good to know that our recent polling confirms that over 80 percent of our citizens consider the relationship between North America and Europe important in dealing with security challenges. 

This makes an ambitious NATO 2030 agenda even more relevant. 

Let me therefore outline the key areas.

First, we will strengthen NATO as the unique and indispensable forum for transatlantic consultations.
On all issues that affect transatlantic security.
Including, for instance, on Syria, Iran, or the South China Sea.

Because NATO is not just a military alliance.
We are a political-military alliance.
And even when we may not take military action, our political unity matters.

So we must use NATO even more.
To address our differences.
Forge a common understanding.
And coordinate our responses.
Military, economic and diplomatic.

Second, we will boost our commitment to our collective defence, against all threats.

Since 2014, we have implemented the largest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation.
Enhancing our ability to defend all Allies.
On land, at sea, in the air, in cyber space, and in space.

We will rapidly and fully implement our plans to strengthen our military posture.
Continuing to increase the readiness of our forces,
modernise our capabilities,
and invest more in our collective defence. 

Strong militaries are important.
But strong societies are our first line of defence.
So we must raise the level of ambition when it comes to resilience.

Our third aim, is therefore, to develop Alliance-wide resilience objectives.
And work with Allies to translate them into concrete national goals.  
To protect our critical infrastructure.
Make our societies less vulnerable to attack and coercion.
And ensure our militaries can operate in peace, crisis and conflict.

Fourth, we must boost transatlantic innovation.
To sharpen our technological edge.
And prevent innovation gaps among Allies.
To ensure we can continue to work together.

We will create a transatlantic defence accelerator.
A new centre to foster greater cooperation among Allies on technology. 
And closer collaboration with our world-class researchers, industries and start-ups.
Underpinned with extra funding from those nations that decide to participate. 

Fifth, we must play our part in upholding the rules-based international order. 
By speaking with one voice to defend our values and interests.
And encourage others to play by the rules.
Ensuring freedom of navigation.
A safe and secure cyber space.
And setting new standards for emerging technologies.

We will strengthen our existing partnerships, 
for example, with the European Union.
And forge new engagements,
with likeminded countries around the world,
including in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Conflict and instability in NATO’s neighbourhood directly undermine our security.
So our sixth aim is to step up our training and capacity-building support for partners.
From Iraq to Jordan, and Georgia to Ukraine.
In areas like counter-terrorism, countering cyber-attacks, crisis management, and defence reform. 

NATO has a long track-record and we must build on it.
Because training and building the capacity of our partners is the best way to ensure stability in our neighborhood.

Seventh, climate change. Global warming is a crisis multiplier
So NATO must address the security consequences of climate change.

My ambition is to have a clear political commitment at the Summit.
To significantly reduce military emissions, 
contributing to net-zero.

We will also conduct an Alliance-wide assessment of our assets and installations,
integrate climate change into our planning and exercises,  
partner with industry to deliver climate-neutral capabilities,
and prioritise sustainable technology in our procurement.

As our societies move to more renewable energies,
we must ensure our  militaries are part of that energy transition.

Eighth, we will agree to develop NATO’s next strategic concept.
To recommit to our values and our enduring purpose.
And adapt to the changing security environment.

And finally, to do all of this we need to invest more.
We are on the right track, with seven years of consecutive increases in defence spending by Europe and Canada.
We must keep up this momentum.

But we should not only invest more. 
We should also invest better.
That is why we should increase NATO’s common-funded budget.
To help fund more joint training and exercises, 
stronger cyber defences, 
cutting-edge capabilities,  
and more capacity-building for our partners.

Because investing together through NATO is a force multiplier.
It is more efficient.
And it sends a strong message of unity and resolve. 

Through NATO 2030, we are adapting to a more competitive world.
Our ambitions must be high, as the challenges to our security are great.

I therefore welcome President Biden’s clear message on strengthening Alliances, starting with NATO.

We have a unique opportunity to open a new chapter in transatlantic relations. 
We must seize this opportunity.
To strengthen NATO and the vital transatlantic bond.
To keep our people safe in a more contested world. 

Thank you and I look forward to our conversation.

Constanze Stelzenmueller [Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution]: Alright thank you very much, Secretary General. I hope everybody can hear me. I'm seeing myself on your very large screen, which is an extremely weird thing to see from one's dining room table, I can tell you.

Good morning, afternoon or evening to our audiences watching from multiple time zones. My name is Constanze Stelzenmueller and I'm a fellow at the Center on the US and Europe, the Brookings Institution. And it's my honor and my pleasure to engage the Secretary General of NATO to discuss his speech and the issues before the transatlantic Alliance and the upcoming June 14 Summit and beyond it. 

And I'll be weaving in questions from my colleagues and DGAP and Brookings, as well as from the audience. Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, the incoming Head of DGAP and I have agreed that in case of my internet provider decides its bored and wants to dig up the cables, that she will step up as a moderator if anything happens with the Wi-Fi on my end. So don't be confused if that happened.

I want to remind our viewers that we are on the record here and that Mr. Stoltenberg’s job is that of a diplomat who has a message, or rather, as we just heard, nine messages at least to transmit. And I was in the visitors galleries in the Congress when he gave his address to the both houses of Congress in April 2019, and I can attest personally to the warmth and skill with which he does this in difficult circumstances. 

But I also want to make sure that at the end our viewers will at least have a clear sense of the complexities involved. So he and I will look at some very difficult questions together. And we will end on the hour sharp.

My first question comes, Mr. Stoltenberg, from Christian Mölling of the German Council on Foreign Relations – the DGAP. He says “NATO is for good reason expanding its scope in areas beyond the classical military domain. Cyber, technology, space, climate. In many of these areas, the European Union can be a valuable partner. It has brought regulatory and standard setting powers and can spend billions directly. How do you propose to ensure that the security of Europe and the US maximizes the utility of both two organizations, rather than falling prey to another beauty contest?” 

I would add that you didn't mention the EU in your speech. So I think, very interesting question and we're looking forward to your answer.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Thank you so much. I very much believe in the cooperation between NATO and the European Union. And I'm proud that over the last years we have been able to lift NATO-EU cooperation up to unprecedented levels. We do more together on, dealing with cyber threats, military mobility. We are working together in the Aegean Sea and I meet EU leadership regularly. We participate in each other’s meetings and so on. And I really also think that we should continue to expand and step up our cooperation with the European Union.

We are different organizations. But of course, we know that we share the same neighborhood we share many of the same challenges, we share many of the same members, more than 90% of the people living in the European Union they live in a NATO country. So there are many similarities.

I also welcome EU efforts on defence. I think that more efforts can help to increase defence spending, it can help to develop new capabilities. And it can also, hopefully, help to overcome the fragmentation of the European defence industry. 

Having said that, EU cannot defend Europe. EU cannot replace NATO as a cornerstone for European security. 80% of NATO's defence spending is coming from non-EU NATO Allies. 

But this is not only about resources. It's also about geography. In the north you have Norway, in the south, you have Turkey. And then in the west, you have the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. And of course, all of these countries in different ways are important for defence of Europe. 

But perhaps most importantly, any attempt in a way, to weaken the bond between Europe and North America in NATO, will not only weaken NATO, it will divide Europe. 

So therefore, my main message is that yes, we should work together. Yes, I welcome EU’s efforts on defence, but not as something that can replace or duplicate, or protect Europe, because that's something we had to do to get it in NATO. Europe and North America together, in NATO. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: I think we're also going to take that as an answer implied to the strategic autonomy question which some of our viewers sent in ahead of time. I'd rather not spend, waste our precious time discussing questions of theology with you. What I will ask, though, on this point is pick you up on something that you've said in your speech, which is that you would work towards a more political NATO that speaks with one voice. Now, you know, EU-NATO cooperation, which you just said is necessary and useful, has been prevented by certain Member States. It’s a an egregious instance of useful cooperation being prevented by the unanimity principle. So how do you propose to strengthen  NATO's ability to speak with one voice given all the political divides that there are? 

NATO Secretary General: So first of all, we will never speak with one voice on all issues at all times. That will never happen. And that, in a way, reflects the reality that we are 30 different nations from both sides of the Atlantic, with different history, geography, different political parties in government. We are democracies and therefore there will always be differences. And that’s not the aim that we should all be monolithic on all issues. But I think that it is important that we stand together on the main messages. 

For instance, when it comes to standing up for the rules based international order, when it comes to responding to the authoritarian pushback we see from authoritarians powers like China and Russia. Or, for instance, condemning, as an example, condemning the outrageous forced landing of a plane over Belarus is just one example of unacceptable, unacceptable behavior. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: Let me move straight to that, in fact, because that is something that I suspect many of our viewers are equally outraged about. I would include myself in that very much.

Because I think there's quite a number of issues that we have to talk about, in the context of NATO's Eastern Flank. 

You assumed office as NATO Secretary General in October 2014, at the highest the height of the Ukraine crisis, a conflict that continues to this day, and that has led to a significant reorientation of the Alliance.

And tensions on NATO's Eastern Flank have since only become worse, raising a whole host of difficult political, technological and strategic issues. Let's begin with a Belarus question. Can you tell us to what degree Russia is implied in this incident, what this tells us about Russian strategy, and what that means for defence and deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank? I would add that Russia and Belarus have been integrating their air defences and Russia is planning to station more of its troops in its western military districts, in other words, very close to NATO's eastern border.

NATO Secretary General: As I cannot go into details about intelligence, but what I can say is to confirm exactly what you said that they are very closely integrated, they are working closer together also when it comes to the air domain. And then, you can also just see what has taken place in the public space after the forced landing of this plane, state hijacking of a civilian aircraft and that is that Russia has not condemned it. Russia has actually tried to do the opposite - to excuse an unexplained outrageous action, which was dangerous for the passengers, violating basic rules and norms when it comes to international aviation, but also a way to crackdown on democratic protest and opposition in Belarus and actually arrest an independent journalist. So we have called on the immediate release of him and his companion. We have called, as we have condemned that action very strongly. And I welcome the fact that the United States, the United Kingdom, NATO Allies, the European Union, are implementing sanctions, because it has to have consequences. And we have to impose costs on Belarus when they behave the way they did this case. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: Alright, but then let me follow on with a question from my from my colleague, Michael O’Hanlon: “Under the circumstances, do you think that NATO has military presence in Poland, the Baltic States is an adequate deterrent now, or is more needed”?

NATO Secretary General: I think it is extremely important what we have done, is that after the illegal annexation of Crimea and after the Russian military build up and the use of force against neighbours, we have implemented the biggest reinforcements of collective defence since the end of the Cold War, with the battlegroups, with high readiness of our forces, air policing and increased presence in eastern part of the Alliance. 

We are constantly assessing what more we need to do. We are investing in new modern capabilities. And part of the NATO 2030 agenda, which we will agree when Heads of State and Government come to Brussels, to NATO, in 10 days’ time will be to also agree to further strengthen our deterrence and defence, meaning also higher readiness and investments in new capabilities. So, we are always adjusting and assessing our posture. 

But we have done significantly or we have done a lot already when it comes to responding to more assertive Russia. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: But on Ukraine, next door, my colleague Steven Pifer asks: could the Alliance do more to help Kiev stand up to Moscow?, and another colleague, Jeremy Shapiro, says, notes, that there are efforts underfoot in the US Congress to grant Ukraine Membership Accession Plan status. Is Ukraine ready for that?

NATO Secretary General: We provide strong political and practical support to Ukraine. We, of course, strongly support their territorial integrity and sovereignty. NATO Allies and NATO provide different kinds of support, training, capacity building in different areas. And I urge Allies to do also more of that.

We have, our message to Ukraine is that the main focus will should now be on reform, to modernize their defence and security institutions, to fight corruption, that is important in itself, but reforming and modernizing is also the best way to move towards membership in NATO.  So the focus is now on the reform and we are helping them with that as they move towards further Euro-Atlantic integration. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: Alright, thank you very much. Diplomatic answer but a clear one. 

Mr. Stoltenberg, you mentioned resilience in your speech. And there are some key NATO member state elections coming up, in my own country, Germany in September, France and the US midterms next year. Are member states doing enough to create resilience against propaganda and disinformation coming from states like Russia and China? I note that the European Court of Auditors has criticized Germany for not adequately implementing European recommendations on combating disinformation and propaganda this week. 

NATO Secretary General: So we are doing a lot and we have stepped up as Allies, together with the European Union. As NATO, we are very much aware of that. We are faced not only with risk and challenges related to military and armed attacks, but also these, what we call, hybrid and cyber means or aggression. 

For instance, interfering in our democratic processes, disinformation, undermining trust in our democratic institutions. We have seen that in the United States, we have seen that in many European allied countries. And we are stepping up party by strengthening our cyber defences, partly by pushing back when it comes to disinformation.

I actually think that one of the most important things we can do is to make sure that we have free and independent media. Journalists that ask difficult questions, check their sources, that's perhaps the best defence against disinformation. Free and independent press.

Then, actually, of course, we have to be very focused on this because it's serious. It's trying to undermine the trust in our Alliance, to divide us. But when you look at the opinion polls, and we have some new numbers coming out now, they confirm very strong support for NATO. So those who are trying to undermine the trust in NATO has not been very successful. Because these opinion polls, it goes a bit up and down and varies a bit between Allied countries. But the main message is that it is overwhelming support for the transatlantic bond, for NATO, and for the importance of investing in our security. So overall, it is a quite strong public support for Alliance. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: And moving into the field of technology. Russia has developed hypersonic missiles, which can be based on ships as well as on land, meaning that they could, for example, also be deployed in the Mediterranean, another increasingly unstable neighbourhood. What does that mean for NATO's air defences?

And perhaps, it's perhaps reassuring that France has just successfully intercepted a ship-launch missile. But still, these hypersonic missiles present a huge challenge to, including to, perhaps future arms control conversations between the United States, the Biden administration and Russia.

NATO Secretary General: The new hypersonic missiles are part of a pattern where we have seen Russia, but also China, investing heavily in new modern capabilities, conventional and nuclear, hypersonic weapon systems, but also, for instance, intermediate range missiles which violated the INF Treaty, that led to the demise of the INF Treaty, which was a cornerstone of arms control in in Europe. 

And this pattern of behavior is why NATO has since 2014, implemented the biggest adaptation of our Alliance. We are investing more in modern military equipment. We have to remember that until 2015 NATO Allies, European NATO Allies and Canada, reduced defence budgets almost every year. Since then, we have increased defence spending every year. And of course, by increasing what we invest in defence, not least in new capabilities, we are enabling us also to respond to more complex and demanding security environment, including, for instance, new or novel Russian missile system. 

We are developing our air and missile defence capabilities. Many Allies are now in the process of acquiring new systems like Patriot system and SAMP/T systems, fifth-generation aircraft is an important part of air and missile defence, and Allies are requiring that, and then we will continue to work for arms control.

And of course, arms control has always been important, but if anything even more important with more advanced weapon systems and also disruptive technologies integrated into new systems. So I welcome the fact that the United States and Russia have agreed to extend the New START agreement. And I'm looking forward to both discussing arms control at the Summit in ten days’ time at NATO. But also the fact that the President Biden, after the Summit, we'll go and meet the Russian president, because I think they have many things to talk about, including arms control. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: Let me stay here with resilience and technology. The US has now been the object of three major attacks on critical infrastructure. SolarWinds, the Colonial Pipeline, the beef industry in recent weeks and months. All of these perpetrated by criminal actors… And my colleague Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook from DGAP asks “how should Article 5 commitments be understood with respect to violations of NATO nations’ cyberspaces? 

NATO Secretary General: What NATO has done over the last years is to strengthen our efforts, what we do together when it comes to cyber and cyber defences, protecting our cyber networks. We have done that in different ways. 

First of all, we have established cyber as a military domain, alongside air, sea, land. We now have cyber as a military domain. We have established the Cyber Operations Center. And we have also decided that a cyber attack can trigger Article 5, which demonstrate that we regard cyber attacks potentially as as serious as a kinetic attack. We will of course never tell our potential adversaries exactly where the threshold is for triggering Article 5, but we have told them that cyber attacks can also trigger our collective defence clause.

Then, we help each other, support each other in strengthening our ability to protect us, our cyber networks, including by holding big cyber exercises and sharing best practices. But since the cyber attacks become more and more frequent and more and more sophisticated, we need to constantly adapt and constantly improve. And again, this is also what NATO 2030 is about. Not least to develop this technology accelerator, which is about strengthening, establishing a centre, a tool for how to coordinate efforts among Allies when it comes to technology. And also one in North America and one in Europe, enabling us to also work more closely across the Atlantic, to make sure that we don't have the technological gap among Allies. Because we have to be sure that we're able to work together and cyber is one of the many places we see the need for investing more in technology. And NATO 2030 is about that. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: Indeed. Let me move now from questions of NATO's Eastern Flank, to the Alliance itself. Because we're quite capable of disagreeing with each other without the help of external challenges. And we all know that in the past four years, a complete wreak was only very narrowly averted. Yet we, as you said, in your in your speech, we know that we cannot address the world's major challenges alone, we really are each other's essential allies. And I'm getting a flood of questions here on my WhatsApp stream about Turkey.

The question, I mean, there are three variations of this, but the question is, and I'm going to put it to you as it's being asked here by a number of people: can Turkey, given its behaviour, continue to be seen as a reliable NATO Ally? And I would add, is there any leverage that NATO has or NATO Member States, to, shall we say, influenced Turkey's behaviour and make it understand that there are costs to imposing itself on NATO in the way that it has done in the past?

NATO Secretary General: NATO is based on some core values: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty. And I attach, personally, great importance to those values. And I know also that Allies do the same. And Allies have expressed their concerns and I have done it in also Ankara, because this is an issue that has been discussed and raised within NATO several times.

And I think that NATO is a platform to also have open discussions when there are differences, when there are concerns, and that we sit around the same table and that we, in an open and frank way, express our views and also express our concerns. When we have concerns, for instance, about to what extent we live up to our core values. Then I think it's also important to remember that Turkey is an important NATO Ally. You can just look at the map and realize the importance of these lands, the landmass of Turkey. And also the only country, the only NATO Ally that borders Iraq and Syria. 

Turkish infrastructure, airports, infrastructure has been extremely important in fighting ISIS or Daesh. General John Allen knows about that Turkey played an important role in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and we continue to work closely with the NATO Ally, Turkey, in stabilizing our southern neighbourhood.

And Turkey is also important when it comes to dealing with the migrant and the refugee crisis. We have the NATO maritime presence in the Aegean, where we actually link Turkey together with Greece and Frontex, EU and helping to implement the agreement between Turkey and the European Union. 

So yes, there are differences. Yes, there are disagreements and the discussions we had within the Alliance on some of the issues you just mentioned, is an example of that. But then, I believe that NATO is a platform also for these kind of discussions and consultations, because that's the only way we can move forward and try to find a way to move together. 

Let me add one more thing. NATO it can be a platform to address when there are really concrete concerns as we have seen, for instance, in the eastern Mediterranean, with the tensions between Greece and Turkey. And NATO has been able to establish a de-confliction mechanism between Greece and Turkey to minimize the risks for incidents and accidents as we saw in the 1990s when actually plane.. there were causalities and planes, ships and planes collided in the air and at sea. We need to prevent that from happening again. And this de-confliction mechanism we have been able to establish at NATO has helped to establish some means of communications, some procedures which are helpful to, at least avoid incidents and accidents in the eastern Med. For me, that's a perfect example of how NATO can address differences between the Allies.

Constanze Stelzenmueller: That said, Secretary General, I was going to ask you about the Mediterranean because not only is this a place where several NATO member states, as you've noted, have been butting heads with each other. The Turks and the Greeks and the French, among others. But where tensions are really rising, and where NATO member states in general have been resistant, quite strongly resistant to even entertaining the notion that we might have a NATO framework for military operations of whatever kind or to have political conversations at NATO about these issues. 

What can you do to change that? And do you think there should be a role for NATO even further, as America potentially withdraws from the Middle East, in stabilizing the region, for example, by patrolling The Straits of Hormuz, or the Gulf of Aden?

NATO Secretary General: When it comes to the eastern Mediterranean, as I said, that we have been able to use the NATO structures, the fact that Turkey and Greece meet every day here at the NATO Headquarters, to bring them together and to establish a mechanism which we have also been able to expand on how to prevent incidents and accidents. And I think that's not a small thing. That's a big thing, because we have seen before, that these kind of tensions can lead to really dangerous situations with casualties. 

Second, I think that this de-confliction mechanism has at least helped to pave the way for talks, between or exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey on the underlying disputes in the region, which is also helpful and important. 

And then, thirdly, well, over the last months we have seen actually some reduction in tensions. Partly because these exploratory talks have started and also partly because, for instance, the Turkish drilling and seismic surveys in contested waters have been suspended or has ended. So, I am not saying that everything is fine, I am not saying that all problems are solved. But I'm saying that compared to where we were not so long ago, we are in a better place now. And NATO will continue to be a platform, a framework for trying to facilitate efforts to reduce tensions and find a way forward. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: Secretary General, we've got just short of 15 minutes and we of course have to talk about the Alliance and China. But I want to take us now by way of a question about burden sharing in Europe. And the first one, I'm going to perhaps use a slightly off-kilter entry. You know that the US is going to do, begin a Nuclear Posture Review this year. There are debates about possible shifts for [inaudible] use that are making European Allies, including those that have nuclear weapons, quite nervous. Rightly because they raised a number of thorny issues: extend of deterrence, the role of the French and UK in nuclear deterrent, and of course would require an increase in the conventional deterrent in Europe.

How do you see your role in managing this debate? And doesn't that mean ultimately telling the Germans they're going to have to really shoulder a lot of the land based conventional deterrent in Europe in the future, more than they're doing now?

NATO Secretary General: I'm not sure if I fully understand the question, but, yes, of course the European Allies have to invest more in defence and have to take more responsibility for our collective defence in in Europe. That's exactly what we have agreed to do and that’s exactly what we are doing.  European Allies are stepping up after years of reducing investments in defence, all European Allies and Canada have increased their investments. And by investing more over many years, we are getting more capabilities, higher readiness, more exercises, the new equipment and more forces.

We still have to do more. But we are on the right track. And I'm absolutely certain that at the Summit in ten days’ time that will be appreciated and recognized. And United States also sees the advantage of European Allies and they recognize the progress that the European Allies and Canada are making.

But the good news is that the United States remains committed to European security. Over the last years, we have seen some increase in US forces in Europe, we have seen the new battlegroups, one of them led by the United States another one led by Canada, linking together North America and Europe. 

And you mentioned my speech in the Congress. And my main message in that speech was that it's good to have friends. So strong NATO is, of course, good for Europe but it's also good for the United States. And I feel that’s message is very much agreed, not only in Europe, but also in Washington. And the Biden administration has conveyed the one very clear message that now is the time to reinvigorate, to strengthen the transatlantic bond and NATO. And therefore, for me, it's not either US or Europe, it's actually Europe and North America working together in strategic solidarity, which I believe really is the best way to keep us all safe. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: Okay, thank you very much. Let's come to the final question that I'm getting a lot of questions here about, of course, many of my colleagues have asked about, and that is NATO and China. And, as you say, it's good to have friends, but our American friends are shifting the strategic focus to China and the Indo-Pacific decisively. They're strengthening the maritime presence, which ain't cheap, as we say here. And it is not increasing its defence budgets. And I think that has implications for us. I also want to remind us all, just in case anybody was forgetting it, that today is the 32nd anniversary of the brutal crackdown on the Chinese democracy movement and Tiananmen Square and we're looking at a China, as you said, that is pursuing a global dominant strategy not just in its own region, but in the Middle East and Africa and NATO's neighborhood, Member States neighborhood and within the territory of the Alliance. 

So, like many of my colleagues and many of our questioners here, our viewers are asking, what exactly is the role that you see for NATO in dealing with China, and more generally, in the Indo-Pacific? 

NATO Secretary General: Almost all the proposals in NATO 2030 are relevant for how NATO could address the rise of China. And more political consultations among Allies, strengthening deterrence and defence, investing more in technology, sharing technology, facilitating the development of new technology, resilience, reaching out to new partners, working with partners in Asia-Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea. And also the fact that we're going to decided to develop our next Strategic Concept. All of this is in different ways relevant for how NATO should address the rise of China. 

Resilience is about protecting our infrastructure. We had a very important discussion about the telecommunications and 5G illustrating the importance of resilience. And when we're now working to develop resilience goals and more guidelines on how to protect our infrastructure, relevant for China. 

New technology accelerator is extremely important when it comes to meeting the challenges that China poses by being a lead in some of these technologies. And…when we are now going to have a new Strategic Concept, we have to remember that in the existing Strategic Concept of NATO, we don't mention China with one single word. I can guarantee one thing that in the new Strategic Concept, China will be mentioned.

So just the idea, just a decision that we, as part of NATO 2030 will decide to develop new Strategic Concept, illustrate that we have come a long way. We also have to remember that the first time we mentioned China in a NATO document, agreed by Heads of State and Government, was at the NATO Summit in December 2019. That was the first time. And now we have conducted a lot of work at NATO.

We have come a long way, we see a convergence of views, there are still differences. We don't agree on everything. But the document, the communiqué, the leaders will agree here in Brussels at the NATO Summit we will have much more language on China than we have ever had before. And there will be concrete decisions on technology, on resilience, and so on, which are all relevant for the way we handle the rise of China.

Constanze Stelzenmueller: Let me push you on that a little bit. Because, as I say, I think that's going to be a huge question in the next two weeks. From the G7 Summit to the NATO Summit. 

We all know that there are enormous interests involved. Not just military, but economic, and that there are a significant divergence of views on this, not least between the United States and my own country, Germany, which is heavily invested economically in trade with China and investment in China.

How does your promise of a more political NATO translate into producing, you know, some form of unified platform? I'm not going to say consensus on this? 

NATO Secretary General: You will see that in ten days’ time because then we will issue our communiqué. And again, I cannot go into details, but I think there are reasons to expect that when they meet they will agree a communiqué, which has more language, more messages on China than ever before. Then, I have to admit that's not so much because before we had very little, but anyway, it will be more now than at any stage before in NATO's history. 

And I'm also confident that when we agree the new Strategic Concept, China will play a more prominent role than ever before.

We will have consensus. And that's exactly the way we work. And that's the impressive thing that, of course, given the fact that there are differences, and we don't have to look eye to eye on all issues, not all issues related to China either, we are actually able to agree on some core messages, and some core issues.

This is not about declaring China as an adversary. There are issues where we have to sit down and work with China. Climate change, arms control, the rise of China is important for our economies and so on. But at the same time, Allies recognise now to a degree never seen before, also the security consequences, or the shifting global balance of power caused by the rise of China. And that that matters for our security. 

And I think that for the United States, it demonstrates the value of NATO. Because the United States has normally always been the biggest in all domains. When you compare the United States with China is not always the biggest anymore. Soon, China will surpass United States when it comes to the size of the economy. They have already passed the United States when it comes to the size of the navy. China is aiming to have the predominant military power by the mid of this century. And China is leading in some of the most important technologies, including like, for instance, some parts of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. 

So for the United States, to have not only to address the rise of China alone, but to actually have 29 friends and allies in Europe and Canada, is a great advantage, especially if or when they are concerned about the consequences of the rise of China. 

So NATO has become even more important for the United States because of the shifting global balance of power caused by the rise of China. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: And I think it's also fair to say that views on China have hardened significantly, as they have on Russia in recent months and years in Europe, and in my own country. 

We've got just about time for one last question, and I'm going to read it to you. It comes from Jeffrey Rathke, a former US diplomat and the now the President of the AICGS, the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies: “You highlighted the development of the new Strategic Concept. One of the weaknesses of the 2010 Strategic Concept was that Allies were not united enough to identify the threat that Russia represented to sovereignty and territorial integrity of European states. And you confident that that will be different in 2021-2022 Strategic Concept. President Macron is calling for a strategic dialogue with Moscow. And countries like Hungary are sympathetic to Russia and their illiberalism?”

I think this question is important again, because it brings us back to the divisions on values, values as fundamental as our commitment to representative democracy within the Alliance. And I want to end on that question. 

NATO Secretary General: I cannot tell you today what the language will be and the precise formulations will be in the new Strategic Concept, which will then start to draft after the Summit in a few days’ time. That will be a process where all Allies will be involved. But I sense, and I know that there is a very broad support in NATO for what we refer to as the dual-track approach to Russia.

We have very clear eyed about the security consequences, the aggressive actions which Russia is responsible for. We have seen that in Georgia, in Ukraine. And we have acted on that with the big reinforcement of our collective defence we have seen over the last years. And we will continue to make sure that we have credible deterrence on defence, and we are investing more and more, more that we have done in many years, in our defence. And in NATO 2030, we also address the issue of investing more together.

Then, at the same time, we believe in dialogue with Russia. Partly because we need to strive for a better relationship with Russia. We have now a low point in our relationship with Russia, since the end of the Cold War. But we need to continue to strive for a better relationship with Russia because Russia is our neighbour.

But even if we don't believe that it's possible to have a better relationship with Russia in the foreseeable future, we need to talk to them. Because we need to talk to them on issues like arms control, and we need to talk to them on how to manage a difficult relationship. So for me, dialogue with Russia is not a sign of weakness. For me, dialogue with Russia is a sign of strength. 

And I often refer to my own experiences as Prime Minister of Norway. We talk to Russia, even during the coldest periods of the Cold time. Not despite of NATO, but because NATO provided us with strength that enables to sit down the Russians and talk to them on the delimitation in the Barents Sea, and the military communications, and energy, and many other issues.

So again, I cannot tell you exactly what Allies will agree a year from now. But I can, I'm confident that in one way or another will continue to formulate this message of deterrence and defence and dialogue  with Russia. Because we need to address many issues with our neighbour, Russia, even though we disagree with them at the same time on many issues. 

And we, of course, we condemn what they do in in Ukraine and elsewhere. So for me, yeah, this is about values. Because Russia, is, they are authoritarian power. We see how they crackdown on their own opposition, tried to poison opposition leaders. And how they also use force against the neighbours.

But no contradiction between very clear-eyed understanding or the challenges Russia poses. At the same time, they need to sit down and talk to them. 

Constanze Stelzenmueller: Secretary General, Mr. Stoltenberg, you have been extremely generous with your time and very gracious in responding to my barrage of questions both from the viewers, my colleagues and myself. I thought this was extremely informative, either it was fun, I hope it was useful for you. 

And I wish you all the very best for not just the upcoming Summit but for those choppy waters that I lie ahead and all these issues. I think we're lucky to have you as NATO Secretary General.

I will just say this morning, thank you so much to you and your staff for working with us today to do this event. And also to our partners from DGAP at the German Council on Foreign Relations. This has been great. Thank you so much. And I do hope that, if there is a next time, that it will be in person.

NATO Secretary General: Thank you so much.