Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. President Joe Biden at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government

  • 10 Jul. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 10 Jul. 2024 23:51

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Good afternoon.

Welcome to all of you. It is great to see you all here at this Summit. Welcome to the NATO Summit in Washington. And many thanks to our hosts, the United States, and many thanks to you personally, President Biden, dear Joe. There is no better place to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our Alliance, than right here in Washington, where the North Atlantic Treaty was signed back in 1949.

So thank you so much for hosting us all here. And thank you also, President Biden, for your personal leadership and your strong commitment over many years to NATO, to our Transatlantic Alliance. This has all made us stronger.

Let me also welcome Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. This is your first time as a full member of the Alliance, as Prime Minister attending a NATO Summit. So welcome to the family Ulf, it is great to see you here.

In this first session, we will make decisions for our future security. We will strengthen our defence. 23 Allies now meet the target of spending 2% of GDP on defence, up from just three Allies in 2014, when we made the pledge to invest more in defence.

We will increase our support for Ukraine by establishing a NATO Coordination and Security Assistance and Training for Ukraine, and by ensuring a sustained support for the long term. Support to Ukraine is not charity. It is in our own security interest.

And we will reinforce our partnerships in the Indo Pacific, to push against the growing alignment of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Let me now pass the floor to President Biden for his opening statement. So please, Joe, you have the floor.

US President Joseph Biden

Secretary-General, Allies, friends. 

Seventy-five years ago, when our nations created the Alliance, President Truman said, quote, “We hope to create a shield against aggression, the fear of aggression,” and to “permit us to get on with the real business” of creating “government and society.” 

For 75 years, our nations have grown and prospered behind the NATO shield. 

Today, we’re stronger than we’ve ever been.  Since, I took office, we’ve doubled the number of battle groups at NATO’s eastern flank in — the United States has; Finland and Sweden have joined the Alliance; and the number of Allies spending at least 2 percent on defense has gone from 9 to 23. 

That’s not happened by chance but by choice. 

At our summit two years ago, we launched a plan to modernize our deterrence and our defense.  And today, we have to ask ourselves: What is next?  How can we keep making the shield stronger?

One answer must be to strengthen our industrial base. 

Right now, Russia is on a wartime footing with regard to defense production.  They’ve — they’re significantly ramping up their production of weapons, munitions, and vehicles.  And they’re doing it with the help of China, North Korea, and Iran. 

We cannot — in my view, we cannot allow the Alliance to fall behind. 

The fact is that so many of my — my — let me put it this way: I’m very pleased that, today, all NATO members are making the pledge to expand our industrial base and our industrial capacity, like our defense-spending commitment.  This is a critical step to maintaining our security. 

The first time ever, every NATO nation is pledging to develop plans for defense production at home.  That means, as an alliance, we’ll become more innovative and competitive.  And we’re able to produce more critical defense equipment more quickly and — than — and we should — we may need it.

You know, we will not be surpassed — we cannot be surpassed by anyone when it comes to our readiness. 

Here at home, Americans have seen the power of investments like these.  In my administration, we’ve already invested $30 billion in defense manufacturing to restart or expand production across 35 of our states.  We’re investing billions more.  The result: stronger supply chains, a stronger economy, stronger military, and a stronger nation. 

Let me close this.  This new pledge sends an unmistakable message to the world that every NATO member is committed to doing their part to keep the Alliance strong; we can and will defend every inch of NATO territory, and we’ll do it together; and that we’re investing in our future strength to ensure NATO will always be ready for whatever threats we’ll face — should be a clear message we’re making to the w- — sending to the world. 

So, I want to thank you, every NATO member, for your commitment for our shared security. 

And I will now ask the press to depart so we can get started.