by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at the Defence and Security Conference, Prague

  • 09 Jun. 2017 -
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  • Last updated: 12 Jun. 2017 16:01

Thank you for that kind introduction.  It is an honour to share the same platform with Prime Minister Sobotka, President Juncker and High Representative Mogherini.    It is also a pleasure to be here in the city of the Prague Initiative, an initiative that has been central to nuclear disarmament policy in recent years.  And in my current capacity, I would like to underscore NATO’s enduring commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is at the heart of the global rules-based order to control and reduce nuclear weapons.

Prague is also a city I associate with the struggle for freedom.  Last month I was at the GLOBSEC security conference in Bratislava.  There I saw the great freedom fighter, Lubos Dobrovsky, receive the Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Award for his contribution to making the transatlantic bond stronger throughout his career. 

Dobrovsky started as a journalist, broadcasting illegally during the Soviet invasion of 1968.  Then, much later, with the Velvet Revolution, he became a leading figure in the movement for change in Czechoslovakia.  As part of the new government, he negotiated the removal of Soviet troops and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact.

It was people like Dobrovsky who moved the countries of central and Eastern Europe from tyranny to freedom, opening them up to the transatlantic community and to membership of the two great institutions, NATO and the European Union.  They are two institutions that differ in many ways, but which at their core share the same mission - to ensure our security, our prosperity, and our liberty. 

This is harder today than it has been for a generation.  We face a range of complex, long-term challenges: a more assertive Russia that has seized Crimea, the sovereign territory of Ukraine, by force and that attempts to undermine our democracies through propaganda and cyber-attacks. 

Another challenge is the rise of a particularly barbarous breed of terrorist, whose objective is to claim as many innocent lives as possible, as we saw once more last Saturday in London.  And there are other challenges, such as the increasing threat from ballistic missiles and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

These challenges demand a broad, multi-faceted approach by the international community.  NATO’s political-military alliance plays an important role in every facet.  In the last few years, we have implemented the biggest increase in our collective defence since the Cold War, and we are just days from completing the deployment of troops from across the Alliance to the Baltic countries, Poland and Romania.  

But while NATO must be part of any solution, it cannot do it all.  No institution, no individual country – not even the most powerful in the world – can do this alone.  That is why NATO places so much emphasis on close cooperation with the European Union. The EU has been playing an enormously important role through its diplomacy, sanctions policy and development cooperation, bringing us sustainable security.  

I agree with High Representative Mogherini who said, "Military might can be necessary. But it's never sufficient because of the complexity of the crises that we have in front of us." I very much welcome recent EU initiatives to strengthen European defence, such as the Global Strategy and its related decisions, and the European Defence Action Plan.  The reflection paper that just appeared is a good contribution to the debate about the future of European Defence.

Of course, NATO welcomes the proposal for a European Defence Fund to increase the effectiveness of European spending on defence.  As President Juncker and Prime Minister Sobotka said in their joint OpEd in the Wall Street Journal this week, there is a great deal that the EU can do to coordinate the efforts of member states.  At the moment, too many resources are wasted through duplication and a lack of coordination.  This is an area where the EU can make a big difference and we strongly support their efforts to do so.  A stronger European defence means a stronger NATO; and a stronger NATO means stronger European defence

In this context, let me say a few words about the unique nature of NATO’s contribution to Europe’s security.  NATO leaders have, for almost seventy years, constantly reaffirmed NATO’s commitment to defending each other. 

NATO remains the Transatlantic framework for strong collective defence and the essential forum for security consultations and decisions among Allies. Deterrence and defence is at the heart of the Alliance’s mission and purpose. Allies are committed to ensure that NATO has the full range of capabilities necessary to fulfil all Alliance missions. As a means to prevent conflict and war, credible deterrence and defence are essential.

The US is making a unique contribution to deterrence and defence by providing for extended deterrence in Europe.  Extended deterrence is not only about nuclear weapons, it is about all the considerable military capabilities that the United States deploys in defence of its allies. It is about the very considerable conventional forces that the United States has forward deployed for Europe’s defence. 

We see this in the US-led battlegroup in Poland; in the US heavy brigade that forms part of the European Reassurance Initiative for Eastern Europe; and in the $1.4 billion in new money that President Trump has just put forward in his fiscal year 2018 budget. 

Moreover, the fact that Canada has come back to Europe with forces to support NATO enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltics is another strategic signal of the importance of the trans-Atlantic bond for Europe’s security.  The battlegroup that Canada is leading in Latvia—with Latvia providing the framework but with many other NATO Allies participating—is a tangible expression of this fact.

NATO and the EU share 22 of the same member countries.  We must stand together, and work together, if we are to continue to protect the interests and security of our people. 

Last summer in Warsaw, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg signed a joint declaration with Presidents Juncker and Tusk, to set out our determination to move forward together; to increase our cooperation in a range of areas; and to do so in a spirit of collaboration, and not competition.  It is vital that we make the most of the means at our disposal, and not waste them through duplication. 

Last December, we agreed to turn that joint declaration into a concrete plan, agreeing on 42 practical measures across a wide range of areas, including maritime issues, exercises, defence industry and research, defence capabilities, and cyber-defence.  We have succeeded in implementing these measures and look forward to taking our cooperation further, looking into new areas.

But even more important is the change to the culture of our relationship.  Cooperation is now the norm, and not the exception.  This is a vitally important step forward and I’m glad to be able to reinforce that cooperation by appearing on the same platform as President Junker and High Representative Mogherini today.

This sort of close cooperation is an essential part of our adaptation to a new, more dangerous security environment.  That adaptation is ongoing.  On 25 May, we held a meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels.  We discussed burden sharing and the bond that links our two continents – Europe and North America – and what more we can do in the fight against terrorism. 

When it comes to further enhancing NATO-EU cooperation, working together to combat terrorism must be an important part of our future work. 

Neither NATO nor the EU can tackle the challenges we face in our shared neighbourhood alone.  Neither of us has all the tools to deal with the security situation around our borders.  But, together, we have the full array of tools and we can be a formidable force for peace and stability.