by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Strategic Concept seminar on partnerships

  • 23 Feb. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 23 Feb. 2022 17:34

(As delivered - virtually)

Thank you so much Prime Minister, dear Mark, thank you so much for your kind words and also for your strong leadership and personal commitment to our Alliance, and it is great to be here with you all online.

Let me also thank to the Netherlands and Germany for co-hosting this important seminar today.
And I am delighted that former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is joining these discussions today.

Let me also thank Canada, Italy, Portugal, and Spain,
and our partners Finland and Sweden,
for co-sponsoring this event.
This is the third in a series of four seminars, 
to help prepare our next Strategic Concept.
And this seminar focuses, as you mentioned, on partnerships.


Today we are facing the most dangerous moment in European security for a generation.
Our highly valued partner, Ukraine, remains under imminent threat from Russia.

NATO Allies are united in their full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. 

We will continue to provide Ukraine with strong political, practical and financial support. 
To help Ukraine build their defence capabilities,
modernise their defence and security institutions,
and uphold their right to self-defence, 
which is enshrined in the UN Charter.

Many NATO Allies also provide important bilateral support to Ukraine.
And I welcome the recent decision by the Dutch government to provide military equipment to Ukraine to defend itself.


There is much at stake in today’s crisis.
The risk of conflict is real.

Russia is using force and ultimatums.
Not only to redraw borders in Europe.
But to try to re-write the entire global security architecture.

Moscow is challenging fundamental principles for our security.
Like NATO’s right to protect and defend all Allies.
And the right for every nation to choose their own path.

This is not only about Ukraine and Georgia.
It is also about denying other European countries, 
like Finland and Sweden, 
their freedom to choose.

Finland and Sweden are two highly-valued partners bordering the Baltic sea,
with whom we cooperate closely.
In joint exercises, operations and political dialogue.

The crisis in Ukraine underlines the importance of cooperating with our partners.
To defend our shared values and security.
Not least with the European Union.

We are working closely together on the current crisis.
I speak regularly with my EU counterparts.
And NATO Allies,
including Canada, the United States and United Kingdom,
are coordinating with the European Union on economic sanctions.
As we saw very clearly yesterday.

NATO and the European Union are two sides of the same coin.
We have different roles, remits and membership.
But what we do is complementary.

So while the EU is strengthening all the tools in its toolbox in respect to the current crisis, 
NATO has enhanced our deterrence and defence across the Alliance.
With more troops, ships and planes.

We have significantly increased our military presence in the east of the Alliance.
And we are ready to do even more.

I welcome, as you said Mark, that the Netherlands has increased the readiness of its forces for the NATO Response Force.
It is sending more troops to our multinational battlegroup in Lithuania.
And more fighter jets to Bulgaria.
This shows that the Netherlands is a highly valued and very committed NATO ally.
Beyond the current crisis, NATO and the EU are cooperating in many other areas.
From cyber security, 
to stability in the Western Balkans, 
and maritime issues in the Aegean.

We have lifted NATO-EU cooperation to unprecedented levels in recent years.
And our ambition is to go even further.
In new areas like resilience, 
emerging technologies, 
and the security impact of climate change.

The Netherlands has been a key driver of closer NATO-EU cooperation, 
including on military mobility.
And I thank you, Prime Minister Rutte, for that.


NATO’s partnerships are fundamental to our ability to preserve peace, 
promote stability, 
and increase security for all.

They are a two-way street.
That help us all adapt to a more contested and competitive world.

Over the last three decades, NATO has built a broad network of partnerships.
With countries and organisations, 
near and far.
From Finland and Sweden, 
to Colombia and Mauritania.
And from the Mediterranean, 
to the Asia Pacific region.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, 
NATO’s partnerships helped spread freedom, democracy and security throughout Europe.

Since the 1990s, NATO’s operational partners have helped increase stability beyond our borders.

And NATO’s partnerships remain essential,
as we continue to adapt to a more dangerous and competitive world today.

We also work with many other partners, for example, with Iraq.
And our partners in the Middle East and North Africa.
To stabilise our neighbourhood.
And fight international terrorism.

Through our NATO 2030 agenda and next Strategic Concept, 
we are significantly stepping up our training and capacity-building support to partners.
In areas like counter-terrorism, crisis management, peacekeeping, and defence reforms.

We also want to deepen our existing partnerships,
and develop new ones.
To work with likeminded countries to address the security implications of a more competitive world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are faced with a new normal.
A world of rising strategic competition.
And increasing challenges to our security.
Where authoritarian powers are seeking to re-write the global rulebook.
And demonstrate that might is right.

So we face a fundamental question.
About the world we want to live in.

One where big powers dictate what others do, through aggression and ultimatums. 

Or a world where everyone is free to choose their own path.
Able to live in freedom and democracy.
This is the world we want.
And the one we are working for.
We are stronger and safer when we stand together.

Thank you so much.