Opening remarks

by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the NATO Resilience Symposium 2022

  • 05 May. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 05 May. 2022 10:27

(As delivered)

Thank you and good morning from Brussels, from NATO HQ. And thank you so much, General Lavigne and Minister Blaszczak for hosting this very important symposium and also for inviting me to speak today to you.

Mon Général, you and your team at ACT do excellent work to strengthen our Alliance and make it future proof. Resilience is an important area of your work and I appreciate our close collaboration.

As for Poland, it is a highly valued Ally. It contributes significantly to our shared security, including with troops for our missions and operations, regular contributions to air and maritime patrols, and hosting one of NATO's multinational battle groups, as well as key facilities such as our Multinational Corps Northeast, and a site for our Ballistic Missile Defence.

Poland also plays a role in today's crisis in Ukraine. You are showing incredible solidarity at this dangerous time, opening your borders to the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict, providing humanitarian assistance and military assistance, critical to help Ukraine defend itself.

Many other Allies, individually, have recently stepped up their assistance to Ukraine. Since the start of the crisis, Allies have provided and committed significant amounts of equipment to Ukraine at the speed of war. And we are committed to sustaining the economic and humanitarian support so that Ukraine can and should prevail.

At the same time, NATO has an important part to play to ensure this war does not escalate beyond Ukraine. We cannot risk a direct NATO-Russia conflict because that would lead to even more insecurity, more death, and more suffering for everyone. Our job is to keep 1 billion citizens in NATO safe.

That's why since 2014 we have been implementing the biggest increase in our collective defence in a generation. Now, with a war in Ukraine, we have further strengthened our defence with more than 40,000 troops under NATO Command from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and hundreds of ships and planes. We will continue to do that, and we do whatever it takes to defend Poland and to defend every inch of NATO territory.

We must also continue to stand together in the face of the Russian blackmail. Moscow has cut gas supplies to Poland and also to Bulgaria. This is yet another attempt by Russia to use energy as a tool to coerce and pressure its neighbours. It underlines the need to move away from Russian oil and gas, develop alternative strategies, and strengthen our energy security.

But this brings me to the to the topic of today: resilience. The conflict in Ukraine, but also the pandemic of these past years, the growing geopolitical competition, and the many other security challenges we face demonstrate the urgent need to prepare, to empower and invest in our nations’ and our societies’ ability to defend themselves.

We must be able to better respond to and recover from stress, shock and surprise. For this, we need societies, economies and infrastructures that can function despite disruption, including through more diverse supply chains and a robust technological and industrial base.

That's why Allied leaders took bold and ambitious decisions at their summit in June last year to prepare NATO for the challenges of today and tomorrow – these form what we call the NATO 2030 agenda.

Resilience is an important part of this agenda, which was given a special emphasis in the Strengthened Resilience Commitment, which builds on the promise that heads of state and government made in 2016, precisely at the summit of NATO in Warsaw, to enhance our resilience.

NATO's work on resilience is not new. The concept is grounded in Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Article 3 commits Allies to maintaining and developing their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. Building on the 2016 and 2021 commitments, Allies will do even more to ensure their resilience.

Let's be concrete: in the NATO 2030 agenda, Allies have agreed to establish nationally developed goals and implementation plans based on clear and measurable objectives; to create a Resilience Committee at NATO headquarters to advance our shared efforts into the future. I will chair the first meeting of the Resilience Committee on May 19, and I'm looking forward to incorporating the discussion you have today in Warsaw and tomorrow in Warsaw.

We also agreed to designate a senior official to coordinate national efforts and we're aiming to organise a meeting of this level in early fall. And I encourage all nations to send the top official dealing with resilience to the very important meeting of senior officials dealing with resilience in capitals.

But resilience is not a job for NATO alone. And it is not a job for civilians or the military alone. It's a collective effort. It's a ‘team sport’. It requires both civil preparedness and military capacity. It requires participation of government, the armed forces, the private sector, and empowered citizens who should be seen as assets in the service of national resilience.

And it requires close cooperation with partner countries, but also international organisations.

And here I want to make specific reference to the position and role of the European Union. The EU is also embracing resilience as a key area of work that we can further develop in cooperation with one another.

Partnerships offer opportunities to reinforce our national collective resilience through the sharing of information and best practices. Like we have done working with our Ukrainian partners for many years before Russia's invasion, providing our best advice and support while Ukraine established its own robust system and resilience, so valuable in these very challenging days and time.

Just a few weeks ago, during the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Allies agreed to strengthen the resilience of Ukraine and other partners at risk of Russian aggression, such as Georgia. This assistance would be tailored and delivered with the full consent of the countries in question and could concern areas such as situational awareness, secure communications, and of course, cyber.

In the years to come, NATO will serve as a platform for Allies to coordinate and unify their efforts, sharing information and exchanging best practices.

NATO will provide common tools by which individual Allies can develop national policies and assess their resilience, improving their resilience, which will ultimately enable them to respond, recover from challenges, better support each other, and – why not? As Dan Hamilton, who was with you in Warsaw, mentioned many times, looking also in a way to rebuild our resilience for the future.

My final point is on military capacity because without strong deterrence and defence, capable and responsive militaries, we will not be able to make the whole of societies resilient. So we need to continue to invest in defence nationally, and also together through NATO. This contributes to our overall resilience.

With all this as a backdrop, your conversations over the next two days will offer important insights. I welcome the fact that together with governmental officials, we see the private sector, we see academia, we see, in fact, a microcosm of the societal resilience we are so keen about. And I would I would like to encourage you to think about how individual Allies and NATO as a whole, our partners, and all parts of our societies can enhance resilience in the current security environment, but also anticipating the future.

There are many changes happening and many more still to come. Some of them we can look into, some others might come unexpectedly, but Allies will need to identify lessons and learn from that, not only because of the lasting consequences of COVID-19 or the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also as a part of our long term response to climate change, evolving technologies, and many other things that are here for us to reckon with.

We must not forget that different Allies will be affected differently and have their own approaches and situations and solutions. There are countries that have federal systems. We have to look also to the sub national level when it comes to resilience.

I hope this symposium will help us better understand these challenges, their implications, to share our best practices, to develop crucial relationships, and to together think deeply about how we can adapt by design to meet the challenges of what promises to be an unpredictable security environment in the years ahead.

Wishing you the best of luck here from Brussels. I want to thank you and I look forward to receiving the important contribution that we all make in Warsaw for our common work on resilience.