Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government

  • 14 Jun. 2021 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 14 Jun. 2021 21:35

(As delivered)

Good evening, it’s great to see you all. 

We have just finished a very good meeting, NATO Summit. 
And it was really great to be together and to meet together again in person, as a truly transatlantic family, or as Prime Minister Johnson said, it was like the first day back at school, seeing all your old friends again. And that was really the atmosphere in the room. 

Today, we open a new chapter for our Alliance. 

We addressed key issues for our security and took far-reaching decisions.

We heard a strong message from President Biden on America’s commitment to NATO, and an equally strong commitment to other Allies in return.
All leaders agreed that, in an age of global competition, Europe and North America must stand strong together in NATO.
To defend our values and our interests.

Especially at a time when authoritarian regimes like Russia and China challenge the rules-based order. 

Allies welcomed today’s consultations with President Biden, ahead of his meeting with President Putin in Geneva.  

Our relationship with Russia is at its lowest point since the Cold War. 
And Moscow’s aggressive actions are a threat to our security.

NATO remains committed to our dual track approach of defence and dialogue. 
We will keep our defences strong, while remaining ready to talk.
To make our positions clear.
Avoid misunderstanding.
And prevent escalation. 

We fully support the decision to extend the New START Treaty. 
And we would welcome new strategic talks on future arms control. 
With continued coordination here at NATO. 

We stand in solidarity with our valued partners Ukraine and Georgia. 
And we will continue to support their reforms, bringing them closer to NATO. 

At the Summit today, we also addressed China.

There is a strong convergence of views among Allies.

Based on our interests, we see opportunities to engage on issues such as arms control and climate change. 
But China’s growing influence and international policies present challenges to Alliance security.

Leaders agreed that we need to address such challenges together as an Alliance. 
And that we need to engage with China to defend our security interests. 

We are concerned by China’s coercive policies which stand in contrast to the fundamental values enshrined in the Washington Treaty. 
China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and a larger number of sophisticated delivery systems. 

It is opaque in implementing its military modernisation. 

It is cooperating militarily with Russia, including through exercises in the Euro-Atlantic area. 

We also remain concerned about China’s use of disinformation.

NATO leaders called on China to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system.
Including in space, cyber and maritime domains, in keeping with its role as a major power.      

Today, leaders agreed our ambitious NATO 2030 agenda. 
To ensure the Alliance can face the challenges and threats of today and tomorrow.

We took concrete decisions in eight key areas.

First, we agreed to enhance NATO as the transatlantic forum for consultations and joint action on all matters related to our security.
And we agreed to strengthen and broaden our political consultation and coordination. 

Second, we agreed to reinforce our deterrence and defence. 
By strengthening NATO as the framework for the defence of the Euro-Atlantic area.
And recommitting to the Defence Investment Pledge we made in 2014. 
Third, we agreed to strengthen the resilience of our societies. 
With a new resilience commitment by NATO leaders.
We will develop NATO-wide resilience objectives, and concrete national goals. 
To safeguard our critical infrastructure.

Fourth, we will sharpen our technological edge.

Allies have agreed to launch a Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic – or DIANA. 
Working with start-ups, industry, and universities, this centre will promote transatlantic cooperation, and help avoid gaps among Allies.  

Allies also agreed to establish a NATO Innovation Fund, to invest in start-ups working on emerging and disruptive technologies. 

Fifth, we will step up our work to uphold the rules-based international order.

To this end, we will strengthen our partnerships in the Asia-Pacific, with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.
And seek new relationships with countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia.

We are also committed to the further deepening of our cooperation with the European Union. 

Sixth, we will substantially step up training and capacity-building for partners. 
From Ukraine and Georgia to Iraq and Jordan.
Seventh, leaders agreed that for the first time, addressing the security impact of climate change will be an important task for NATO. 

This will include regular assessments of the impact of climate change on our installations, missions, and other activities.
Integrating climate change into our exercises, defence planning and procurement. 
And developing a methodology for assessing greenhouse gas emissions from military activities. 

I am pleased to announce that all Allies made a clear commitment to significantly reduce military emissions.
We also agreed to set concrete targets for NATO to contribute to the goal of Net Zero emissions by 2050. 

I also want to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada for offering to host a new NATO Centre of Excellence on Climate and Security.

Finally, we agreed to develop NATO’s next Strategic Concept in time for our summit in 2022.   
Reaffirming our values, and reflecting the significant changes in our security environment over the past decade. 

The NATO 2030 agenda sets a higher level of ambition.
And it provides a clear direction for the future adaptation of our Alliance.

Allies agreed that these decisions must be underpinned by the right resources – through national defence expenditure, and NATO common funding.

This will be the seventh consecutive year of growing defence spending across European Allies and Canada. 
With over 260 billion US dollars extra on defence since 2014. 

Allies are also investing in new capabilities.
And contributing to NATO missions and operations.

All of this means fairer burden-sharing across the Alliance. 
And we must maintain this momentum.  

To do more together, Allies agreed that we also need to invest more together in NATO.
To resource our requirements in a
more challenging security environment.

This will require increased resources across all three NATO budgets: military, civil, and infrastructure. 

For instance to support more joint training and exercises, 
command and control,
stronger cyber defences, 
pre-positioned equipment, 
better infrastructure, 
and more capacity-building for our partners.

So by agreeing the NATO 2030 agenda, leaders have taken decisions to make our Alliance stronger and better fit for the future.

We also took decisions on our newest operational domains: cyber and space.

Allies agreed a new cyber defence policy for NATO. 
It recognises that cyberspace is contested at all times.
And ensures that we have strong
technical capabilities, 
political consultations, and 
military planning in place to keep our systems secure. 

We also made clear that NATO is determined to defend itself in space as effectively as we do in all other domains: 
land, sea, air, and cyber. 

And I thank Luxembourg for funding a Strategic Space Situational Awareness System here at NATO Headquarters.

We also addressed Afghanistan. 

After almost 20 years, NATO military operations are coming to an end. 
We pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives or been wounded. 
And express our appreciation to all those who have served under the NATO flag.

NATO leaders reaffirmed their commitment to continue to stand with Afghanistan.
With training and financial support for Afghan forces and institutions.
And funding to ensure the continued functioning of the international airport. 

So we have made important decisions today.
To make NATO stronger in a more competitive world. 
And chart the course for our Alliance over the next decade and beyond. 
With that, I am ready to take your questions.

Reuters (Robin Emmott):
Thank you, Oana. Secretary General, on two different points you mentioned common funding. You've often talked about your ambitions, can you just clarify, is there now an increase in joint funding for military operations? And on a completely different subject, on Afghanistan. Was there an agreement today, that one nation should take charge of the Kabul airport? And was that Turkey? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Well, so the original proposal was to only strengthen the military budget, and the decision today is to increase and strengthen all three of them, because there are three common funded budgets in NATO: the civil--the civilian budget or civil budget; then there is the infrastructure budget; and then we have the military budget. And, and you can – and now the decision is to, also across all the three budgets, that we need to meet our high level of ambition, and that we need additional funding to make sure that we resource fully the higher level of ambition, we have agreed.

So this then applies for all three budgets, including activities as higher readiness, more exercises, more training, better command and control, more investments in infrastructure, prepositioned equipment, but also for instance, of the civil budget, to work with partners, and also provide support to partners in other ways. So this is a-- this reflects the entirety of the NATO 2030 agenda. And of course, the important thing is that we agreed how we should strengthen and adapt the Alliance, by doing more together. But if we're going to do more together, we also need more investments together, and therefore I welcome that. Today we agreed on all three budgets, not only the military budget, which was the original proposal. 

Sorry, there was another on Afghanistan. Well we are working, with our other- - NATO Allies are now working on how to ensure the continued operation of an international airport in Kabul. There were meetings also on the sidelines of the summit today. Turkey, of course, plays a key role in those efforts.
We have not, we are not- - we are working on exactly how to do it, but it's a strong commitment from NATO, and from NATO Allies to ensure that we can continue to operate an International Airport. That is important for NATO, for our continued civilian presence, but it's important for the whole international community, and that's the reason why we really make an effort to do so. 

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Okay, we'll go to the end over there to DPA, please don't go forward, go back, yes, further, further, further, carry on, two more, and to your right. Thank you.

DPA (Ansgar Haase):
Secretary General, in the communiqué, NATO states that it would like to maintain a constructive dialogue with China, where possible. What are you going to do to have this dialogue? Could it be an option to propose China, or NATO-China council, or something like this? Thank you. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
So first of all we have dialogue and contact with China today on the military level. Also on the diplomatic and political level, I met with the Chinese foreign minister, not so long time ago, so we have different ways of maintaining dialogue with China. And for instance, on issues like arms control but also the situation in Afghanistan, on the border of China, of course, these are issues where we have common interests to look into how we can strengthen our engagement and our dialogue. 

I think what you have to realise is that NATO has come a long way. The first time we mentioned China in a communiqué and a document in a decision from NATO leaders was 18 months ago, at the Summit in London. Before that we didn't have any language at all. In the current strategic concept, China's not mentioned with a single word. Now we can read the communiqué, and you see that we have seen the convergence of views among Allies, where we, of course, again address the importance of engaging. China’s not an adversary, but also address the challenges. The investments in new modern capabilities, nuclear warheads, the coercive behaviour, and also the challenges it poses to the international rules-based order, and to our security. So if you compare those documents, you'll see that we have come a long way to develop a common position on China, and what it means for our security. 

If I can add one more thing. This is very much about what we do at home. And this is about taking care of a core responsibility to be able to protect and defend all Allies against any threats from any direction, because we know that, we see that, China's coming closer to us in cyberspace. We see them in Africa, we see them in the Arctic, we see them trying to control our infrastructure, we had the discussion about 5G. And therefore, what we do in NATO 2030 is highly relevant also for how to address China with more resilience, with more technology, and all the things we're now going to do together. 

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Okay, we're trying to take three questions over there to simplify life according to the microphone. We'll start with Washington Post in the second row please.

Michael put up your hand, please. Thank you.

The Washington Post (Michael Birnbaum):
Thank you, Michael Birnbaum from the Washington Post, thanks very much for this. Can I just ask, can you compare your experience at this Summit with the US delegation to your experience with, at Summits with President Trump? And was President Biden able to tell you anything that convinced you that Trump or another Trump-like figure won't be back in the White House in a few years and swing the United States back to a more confrontational approach to NATO? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
It is different. Then, I think that the important thing for me now is to convey a very clear message, that was also conveyed in the meeting today, that all Allies welcomed a strong commitment from President Biden to NATO and the bond between Europe and North America and NATO. And that, in return, all the other Allies, Canada and Europe, express the same strong commitment that we have to stand together in NATO in a more competitive world. That's the important thing, I welcome that. That was the message from President Biden when I met him in the White House a week ago, and that's the message from President Biden and his administration today in the Summit. 

Then I would like to add the following. And that is that I think what we learned over the previous four years was the importance of strong multilateral institutions in uncertain times. Because NATO as an Alliance, as an institution, goes beyond individual political leaders. We can weather political winds and different storms.

So if anything, it just proves the importance of building a strong NATO. There will be different political leaders elected in many Allied countries in the years to follow. But I'm confident that as long as we realise that it is in our security interest to stand together, national security interest to stand together, we will maintain NATO as the bedrock for our security. And I also welcome the fact that we have very strong bipartisan support in the United States for NATO. But if you look at the recent opinion polls, published from different sources over the last weeks, it really confirms a very strong support for NATO in general, both in North America and in Europe. So, I cannot tell you who will be the next political leaders in 30 NATO Allied countries, but I can tell you that what we have seen is the strength of strong institutions like NATO, which can deal with also different political-- different political leaders that have different opinions about many issues as we have seen over many years in NATO.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Thevessen, just behind Washington Post.

ZDF (Gunnar Kruger):
Secretary General, you pointed out several times, of course, the words, ‘coercive policies’ with regards to China, it's in the communiqué as well. So using harsher words than the G7 Summit and I wonder, why is that? Is there a different assessment? And number two, what are the lines that China would need to cross in order to be upgraded from a systemic challenge to an adversary or a threat?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
What matters for me is that we have a united and clear position among 30 Allies on China. And, as I said, this is to go a long way for NATO, because not many months ago we didn’t address that at all. And as always, when 30 Allies have to agree, we need to balance, we need to address also some differences, that's a natural thing. But the strength of NATO is that while there are some differences, we sit together, we work on the issues, and we come up with strong, unified, clear messages, as we have done now.

So it's not for me. I will comment on the NATO statements. I think they are clear and strong. We aren't in the business of defining exact lines, but we are just addressing together the fact that China is soon the biggest economy in the world. They already have the biggest, sorry, the second biggest defence budget, and already the biggest Navy, and they are investing heavily in new modern capabilities, including by investing in new disruptive technologies such as autonomous systems, facial recognition and artificial intelligence, and putting them into different weapon systems that they are really in the process of changing the nature of warfare, in a way we have hardly seen before, or perhaps ever seen before. And this matters for our security. There's no way to deny that. So the question is how do we address it? Not whether, or if we're going to address it. 

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Ok we’ll go to Interfax Ukraine. Second row here.

Interfax-Ukraine (Iryna Somer):
Thank you, Oana. Secretary General, Ukrainian leadership has quite high expectation, regarding membership action plan. But as far as I see from the Summit communiqué here, we are not there yet. After this summit, what will be your main message for Ukrainian leaders, and for Ukrainian people? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
My main message is that NATO stands in solidarity with Ukraine. We provide a strong political support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. And we provide practical support, and we are stepping up our practical support, both within the NATO context but also bilaterally, from different NATO Allies. I had a bilateral meeting for instance with [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau of Canada and of course, Canada is one of many Allies who are providing bilateral support to Ukraine. And in the communiqué, in the decisions we have taken today we have reiterated our decisions on, that NATO's door is open on the decision we made back in the, at the Bucharest Summit in 2008. And also that we will step up, and we will do more to help Ukraine, and also Georgia, as another aspirant country to focus on reforms that will move them closer to NATO and Euro-Atlantic integration.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Ok, we're going to CBC. Fourth row. Thanks.

CBC News (Murray Brewster):
Secretary General, Murray Brewster with CBC. Thank you for taking the question. Following on what was asked about Ukraine and the Membership Action Plan, do you actually ever foresee any circumstances under which Russia would allow Ukraine to join NATO uncontested? And separately, I wanted to ask whether or not there was unanimity among Allies that China itself is a security threat?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
I think it's extremely important to underline that every nation has the right to choose its own path. And that includes also what kind of security arrangements it wants to be part of, including whether it wants to be part of, a member of NATO or not. So the message is that it is for Ukraine, and the 30 Allies, to decide when Ukraine can become a NATO member. Russia, of course, has no say. Because they cannot veto what neighbours can do. We will not return to an age where we had spheres of influence, where big powers decided what small neighbours could do. And I very often use my own country Norway as an example. Norway is a small country bordering Russia. Of course, Russia -- or the Soviet Union-- disliked that we joined NATO back in 49, 1949. But, since Allies at that time were so strongly in favour of accepting also small neighbours of Russia into the Alliance, of course, Norway was accepted. As the Baltic countries or as Montenegro and North Macedonia, recently. So, this is about fundamental principles of accepting the right of every nation to decide, it’s for the 30 Allies, and Ukraine to decide when Ukraine is ready for membership. 

Well you can see the language, we have agreed. And we addressed China's behavior, the coercive behaviour, the investments in new military capabilities including nuclear systems. And also, what they do regarding international rules-based order. All of that poses challenges to our security, and that's the reason why we have the language we have in the statement and a clear message in the communiqué. But I'll also say, that's the reason why we take the concrete decisions in the NATO 2030 agenda, because again, this is partly for instance about making sure that we keep the technological edge. So when we established the Technology Accelerator, it is about making sure that we keep the technological edge in a world where China is investing heavily in these new modern technologies.

When we're concerned about Chinese control over critical infrastructure, 5G, airports, many other critical infrastructures. So, when we strengthen our resilience on developing resilience targets and national goals, that's also about protecting against any challenge to our residents, but including also potential challenges from China. Or, when we do more, both on cyber, on space, is also something which is relevant for the challenges we see stemming from China. Lastly, when we have agreed to work more closely with, for instance, Australia, Japan, the Asia Pacific countries, that's also about, of course, how to respond to a more assertive China.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
And we’ll go to Imedi in the first, second row. 

Imedi TV (Ketevan Kardava):
Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary General, you have spoken, and mentioned, open door policy and future enlargement of the Organisation. After discussion with NATO leaders, can you tell us more about the future membership of Georgia, and what is the biggest stumbling block for Georgia's accession? Because the main question now is, in Georgia is, why is Georgia still not in NATO? Thank you very much.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
The message is very much the same as I just provided about Ukraine. And that is that NATO Allies stand in solidarity with Georgia. We provide political support, practical support. We will never accept that parts of Georgia are not under Georgian control, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And we are stepping up our practical support for Georgia, including with the training centre outside Tbilisi and in other ways. And Allies are committed to provide support, and to also make it very clear that Georgia is a highly valued partner, not least in the Black Sea region. And we will continue to provide practical support. Then it is for the 30 Allies and Georgia to decide when the time is right. We need consensus in this Alliance to make these decisions, so I cannot give you a date, but I can say that we will continue to support the reform efforts, which are moving Georgia closer to NATO. 

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Ok, we’ve got Politico over there.

Politico (David Herszenhorn):
Thank you, David Herszenhorn with Politico. Secretary General, could we go back to China for just a second and I wonder, have you addressed with the leaders a concern we hear maybe from some Allies that one of the reasons China hasn't appeared in communiqués all that often is that the Alliance has not yet given itself the legal authority, under the Washington Treaty, to operate outside the North Atlantic space? And do you envision the necessity for treaty change? And should this be a notice, that in fact, NATO is prepared now to operate anywhere in the world, outside the North Atlantic space, if it perceives a threat?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
So first of all, we operate outside NATO territory. We have done that since the end of the Cold War. And this was a discussion back in the early 90s, that's correct. Someone said that either NATO has to go out of business or out of area. And then we helped-- and then we actually went out of area, we went into Bosnia and Herzegovina and helped to end a brutal, bloody war there. And a few years after we went into-- also we helped to end the atrocities and the fighting in Kosovo. And then, after the 9/11 attacks.
Since then we've been at the forefront of fighting international terrorism, and we have had a big military operation in Afghanistan on the borders of China. So this idea that this is something completely new, that NATO is going out of area, is very strange, because we’ve been out area for decades.

But then, back to my main message. To respond to the challenges we see that China poses to our security, is not about moving NATO to Asia. It's very much about what to do at home. Resilience, technology, cyber defence. Because we see that China is coming closer to us. There is no need for any change in the NATO Treaty to respond to that. Actually, NATO is going to do exactly the same as we've done for more than 70 years, to protect and defend all Allies against any potential threat, but the threats and challenges have changed. So the way we do it of course changes. We assessed that instability in the Balkans was a threat to us. In one way it was simpler during the Cold War because then we had one enemy, one threat, and that was the Soviet Union. But since then, the world has become a bit more complicated and the strength of NATO is that we have been able to adapt and respond to a more complicated world. And we will continue to do that, and NATO 2030 is exactly about how to be loyal to our core task- defend and protect all Allies- but in a changing world. And as I said, this is very much about the things we are doing at home to make sure that when we see China coming closer to us in cyber, controlling infrastructure in Africa and the Arctic, training together with Russia in North Atlantic waters. Of course it matters for NATO.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Ok, we’ve got Der Spiegel over here.

Der Spiegel:
Mr Secretary General. Looking at the list of challenges from China you have mentioned, an outside observer might be hard-pressed not to see an adversary in China. At the same time, a number of Allies are strongly economically connected to China. Germany, among them. To which extent does, do these economic bonds hamper steps that might need to be taken to counter security challenges from China?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
So first of all, I think it is important to understand that we need to address the challenges that the rise of China poses to our security, even though many Allies have a lot of economic ties with China. And in one way, that's what we want to express in the communiqué today. So it's not ‘either or’. It's not like you either do nothing, and trade, or you do a lot, or are not able to trade. The world is not that simple. So I think that what is important today is that, of course, individual NATO Allies have addressed both the opportunities and the challenges related to the rise of China for many years. The new thing we have seen today is that we strongly agree that we should do this together, as an Alliance, because we understand that we need to stand together. China is soon having the biggest economy in the world. Even the United States which used to be the biggest, in almost all domains, they realise very clearly that when it comes to China, it is a huge advantage for the United States to have 29 friends and Allies. 

So I just think that we could strengthen our cyber defences. We can make sure that we don't have vulnerable 5G systems, we can make sure that we invest in advanced technologies, we can work on arms control with China, and continue to trade with them. So for me that's not ‘either or’, it's actually to combine but stand together because that makes us all stronger.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Agenzia Nova, the lady in the second row.

Agenzia Nova (Giulia Torbidoni):
Thank you, Giulia Torbidoni, Agenzia Nova Italian News Agency. Mr NATO Secretary General, I want to ask you if you have thought about the southern front? So the Mediterranean region. And a second question about Afghanistan and NATO 2030. I want to ask you if-- what, what of your presence in Afghanistan, are you going to bring with you in the future, of the future of NATO? And what on the other front, is not so positive and is time to upgrade or to remove from the toolbox of NATO? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
First, the Mediterranean and the South. Yes that was discussed and addressed during our meeting. NATO has to be able to respond to threats and challenges from all directions. We are in Iraq, which is part of our efforts to prevent ISIS from returning. We are increasing our training mission there. We strongly believe that prevention is better than intervention, so we believe that the best way of stabilising our neighbourhood is to train and build local capacity. We also work with other Mediterranean partners. We have a partnership also in Mauritania, we're looking into whether we can step up and do more with them also in the Sahel region. But these are issues which are now discussed among Allies and also with Mauritania. And certain Allies are of course are extremely concerned about the situation in Northern Africa, including Libya.

On Afghanistan, we are ending the Resolute Support Mission. But we will continue to provide support to Afghans in at least four ways. First, we will fund the Afghan Security Forces. When we came to Afghanistan almost two decades ago, there were hardly any Afghan Security Force at all. Now there is an Afghan Security Force of roughly 3000 personnel, and we, all Allies, promise to continue to fund them, that's critical. Second, we are working on how to organise out-of-country training of Afghan Security Forces, especially the Special Operations Forces. Thirdly, we are, we have decided to continue our civilian presence in Afghanistan to provide advice, capacity building. And fourth, we will really work hard to maintain critical infrastructure, such as the airport, to enable both the presence of NATO, as the civilian presence of NATO, but also of course, presence of the broader international community, and diplomatic presence, but also of course the development aid community. So these are four important ways where we will continue to provide support. 

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Thank you very much. I know there are more questions, but we'll have to wrap this here. Thank you very much. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Thank you. Have a nice evening.