by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the occasion of NATO's 75th anniversary celebration with the Chair of the NATO Military Committee and Ministers of Foreign Affairs

  • 04 Apr. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 04 Apr. 2024 09:55

(As delivered)

Dear Friends.

Today we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the strongest, most enduring and most successful Alliance in history.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
In the years following the Second World War, 
the fear of yet another devastating war was real.
So on this day in 1949, the Foreign Ministers of twelve countries from Europe and North America, 
came together to sign the Washington Treaty.
To create our Alliance.
It kept our people safe through the long years of the Cold War.
From the Berlin Airlift and the Cuban Missile Crisis to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In 1979, I served in the Norwegian army.
If there was a war, we would be on the front line.
But I was not afraid.
Because I knew we were not alone.
We had the might of the NATO Alliance behind us.
When the Cold War ended, 
NATO helped to bring two brutal ethnic conflicts in the Balkans to a close.

In 2001, after 9/11 attacks, for the first time, we invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, 
which states that an attack on one Ally is an attack on all.
NATO has been on the front line in the fight against terrorism ever since.

2014 and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea was another turning point.
Since then, we have undertaken the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence in generations.
Today, NATO is bigger, stronger and more united than ever.
In the beginning, we had 12 members.
Today we are 32. 
So we must be doing something right!
We have helped to spread peace, democracy and prosperity throughout Europe.
And today, we also celebrate important anniversaries for many of our members.

Two World Wars, the Cold War and every challenge we have faced since then,
have taught us that we need each other.
Europe needs America for its security.
Fair burden sharing is essential.
And Europe is investing more.
Much more.
This year, the majority of NATO Allies will invest at least 2% of their GDP in defence. 
At the same time, North America also needs Europe.
European Allies provide world-class militaries, vast intelligence networks and unique diplomatic leverage.
Multiplying America’s might.
Through NATO, the United States has more friends and more Allies than any other major power.

I do not believe in America alone.
Just as I don’t believe in Europe alone.
I believe in America and Europe together.
Because, we are stronger and safer together.


This morning, Admiral Bauer and I laid the wreath at memorial stone here at the NATO Headquarters.
To pay our respects to all those in uniform who have served under the NATO flag.
And remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
We honour them.
And their lasting contribution to peace and freedom for us all.

Dear friends,
As we mark the 75th anniversary, 
we have the great privilege of having our founding treaty with us. 
For the very first time at the NATO Headquarters.
It’s just in front of me.
You can watch it afterwards.
That’s the Washington Treaty, the original and I like the Washington Treaty.
Not least because it is very short,
Just 14 paragraphs over a few pages. 

Never has a single document with so few words,
meant so much to so many people.
So much security,
So much prosperity,
And so much peace.

All because of its solemn promise.
That we stand together,
And protect one another.
As we have for 75 years.
Thank you and happy anniversary! 
Thank you.