by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on launching #NATO2030 - Strengthening the Alliance in an increasingly competitive world

  • 08 Jun. 2020 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 09 Jun. 2020 10:41

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg launched his outline for NATO 2030 in an online conversation with the Atlantic Council and the German Marshall Fund of the United States

Good afternoon from Brussels.

And good morning to Karen and Fred in Washington.

And welcome to all who are following us online.

Last December, NATO Leaders asked me to make our strong Alliance even stronger.

By making sure we are as effective politically as we are militarily.
And that we remain ready today to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

This is an opportunity to reflect on where we see our Alliance ten years from now.
And how it will continue to keep us safe in a more uncertain world.

So today, I am happy to launch my reflection on NATO 2030.

COVID-19 has changed our lives in ways we could barely imagine.
And it has magnified existing trends and tensions when it comes to our security.

Russia continues its military activities unabated.

ISIL and other terrorist groups are emboldened.

Both state and non-state actors promote disinformation and propaganda.

And the rise of China is fundamentally shifting the global balance of power.

Heating up the race for economic and technological supremacy.

Multiplying the threats to open societies and individual freedoms.

And increasing the competition over our values and our way of life.

NATO 2030 is about how we adapt to this new normal.

And to do this we must:

Stay strong militarily.
Be more united politically.
And take a broader approach globally.

So first, we need a strong military Alliance.
To protect our democracies.
And to continue to compete in a more competitive world.

Threats to our security have not gone away while we are focusing on the pandemic.
Just the opposite.

As we look to 2030, we must continue to invest in our armed forces and modern military capabilities.
They have kept us safe for over 70 years, as they continue to do today.

Security is the foundation for our prosperity. Now and in the future.

But military strength is only part of the answer.
We also need to use NATO more politically.

This means bringing all the issues that affect our security to NATO’s table.
So that we can forge stronger consensus sooner and more systematically.

From conflicts in the wider Middle East region, to global arms control, and the security consequences of climate change.

Using NATO more politically also means using a broader range of tools.
Military and non-military.
Economic and diplomatic.

This is especially important as we work together, to strengthen the resilience of our societies and our economies.
And to ensure that we do not import vulnerabilities, into our critical infrastructure, industries,  and supply chains.

NATO may not always be on the front line to act.
But it must always be the forum for frank discussion and genuine consultation.

In fact, NATO is the only place that brings Europe and North America together, every day.

We have the structures and the institutions in place.

What we need is the political will to use NATO.

To decide - and where necessary - to act for our shared security.

Finally, in a world of greater global competition, where we see China coming closer to us from the Arctic to cyber space, NATO needs a more global approach.

This is not about a global presence, but about a global approach.

NATO brings together 30 Allies. On both sides of the Atlantic.
Almost one billion people.
Half of the world’s military and economic might.
And a network of global partners.

As we look to 2030, we need to work even more closely with like-minded countries.
Like Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea.
To defend the global rules and institutions that have kept us safe for decades.
To set norms and standards.
In space and in cyber space.
On new technologies and global arms control.

And ultimately, to stand up for a world built on freedom and democracy.

Not on bullying and coercion.

The challenges that we face over the next decade are greater than any of us can tackle alone.

Neither Europe alone. Nor America alone.

So we must resist the temptation of national solutions.
And we must live up to our values.
Freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
These values are what define us.
They are what make us strong.

As nations. And as an Alliance.

As we continue to compete in a more competitive world, we must keep our democracies strong.

My vision for NATO 2030 is not about reinventing NATO. It is about making our strong Alliance even stronger.
Strong militarily. Stronger politically. And more global.

To help us get there, I have asked a group of experts to provide new ideas.
I will continue to consult actively with Allies. And I will reach out to civil society, the private sector and young leaders.
As we are doing here today.

My recommendations will inform the direction NATO Leaders set out when we meet next year.

Together we can look to NATO 2030 with confidence.
Together we will keep our people safe in a more uncertain world.

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova [Program Manager at the Alliance for Securing Democracy [ASD], the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) – Brussels Office]: Thank you very much, Secretary General, for your insightful remarks and for sharing with us your vision and reflection for NATO 2030. It’s my great pleasure to be leading the conversation with you today. And now we will turn back to Washington, D.C. for the first two questions. Karen, the floor is yours.

Dr Karen Donfried: Thanks, Nad’a. And Mr Secretary General, what a terrific set of framing remarks. And you mentioned that your goal in this reflection process is not about reinventing NATO, but about making NATO stronger and more global. And I want to draw you out on what that means in terms of NATO’s relationship with China. We’ve seen a stark deterioration, certainly in the US-China relationship. From where you sit in Brussels, does NATO see China as the new enemy? Thank you. 

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: No, NATO does not see China as the new enemy or an adversary. But what we see is that the rise of China is fundamentally changing the global balance of power and the NATO leaders, heads of state and government, when they met in London in December, they, for the first time in NATO’s history, agreed that NATO has to address the consequences, the security consequences, of the rise of China. 

There are some opportunities, because the economic growth of China has fuelled economic growth in our part of the world, and it has helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But at the same time, we see that the fact that China soon will have the biggest economy in the world, they will have . . . they already have the second largest defence budget. They are investing heavily in modern military capabilities, including missiles that can reach all NATO Allied countries. They’re coming closer to us in cyberspace. We see them in the Arctic, in Africa. We see them investing in our critical infrastructure. And they are working more and more together with Russia. All of this has a security consequence for NATO Allies. And therefore, we need to be able to respond to that, to address that. And we need to do that by forging NATO as a stronger political Alliance. We need to do that, we’re working together with partners, not least in the Asia Pacific, including Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, which are very close and like-minded partners to NATO. 

So this was in a message coming from the leaders last December. And now we are following up on that when we now address NATO 2030 and the reflection process.

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: Very important points, and I would like to turn to the second question coming from D.C. Fred, over to you.

Frederick Kempe: Thank you very much. Strong militarily, stronger politically and more global. Mr Secretary General, that’s such an important message and this reflection process is historically significant, so thank you for this. 

One question on this, as a follower of NATO for many years, you seem to be pointing a little bit to people . . . what people call Article 2 and one language, one of the pieces of language in it says, ‘They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.’ Most people don’t know that’s in the NATO Charter. So my question running off of this is: how important is this? And you didn’t explicitly mention the European Union in your vision for the future of NATO, but this new direction would suggest a closer collaboration with the European Union?

Jens Stoltenberg:  NATO is a military and political Alliance. And you are right that sometimes I feel that we all forget in a way, the importance of the political dimension of NATO. 
Of course, NATO is about protecting each other. It’s about Article 5, collective defence. But it is also about working together in a political Alliance, addressing, for instance, the importance of resilience. That’s actually Article 3, so there are many of relevant articles. So, both Article 2 and Article 3 is about, in a way, non-military means of securing our security or maintaining peace. 

And I think that COVID-19 has demonstrated clearly the importance of addressing also non-military challenges and threats and the role NATO can play in helping the civilian society in dealing with that. 

When it comes to the European Union and Europe, I strongly believe in cooperation between the European Union and NATO. And I very much welcome the fact that we have been able to lift the cooperation between NATO and the European Union to unprecedented levels. We need to continue to do that. And I also welcome the EU efforts on defence. But at the same time, EU cannot replace NATO. We have to remember that almost 60 percent of the people living in NATO, in a NATO country, they live in a non-EU state. Eighty percent of NATO’s defence expenditure is coming from non-EU members. And we have to be able to protect 100 percent of our people. So there is no way EU can replace NATO. But as long as we work together in a good way, we can complement each other. 

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: And talking about complementing each other, I am very pleased to be receiving questions from also our viewers on social media. First question, talking about the future of NATO, we also speak about future of all the citizens and the young generations. And the question relates to that: where do young people fit into NATO, both now and in the future?

Jens Stoltenberg: I think the most fundamental answer to that question is that peace matters, especially for young people, because it’s only by providing peace and freedom, which is the core responsibility of NATO, that young people can decide themselves what kind of life they would like to live. Job, education, but also to address all the other important issues we are faced with, like climate change or, now, the fight against racism. Without peace, we will fail in all those efforts. So peace and freedom is so fundamental for everything else we do. And I, I’m not young, but I’ve even I take peace in one way for granted, because peace has been, in a way, the normal in Europe, for NATO Allied countries in North America and Europe, since we established NATO for more than 70 years. 

But peace has not been a normal thing in Europe. Actually, Europe, NATO Allies, were ravaged by war for centuries. So the most important thing for young people is to make sure that they can take peace as granted as I’ve been able to take. And the only way to make sure that that happens is that we continue to have NATO as a strong alliance, preserving peace and freedom.

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: Thank you very much. The second question I would like to raise with you is from Teri Schultz, journalist from the Deutsche-Welle and NPR, who also shared her question over email. Considering the current events and developments, what’s happening with the troops in Germany, her question is: how do you comment on US media reports that the US is planning to withdraw almost 10,000 troops from Germany? 

Jens Stoltenberg: So, I can never comment on media leakages and media speculation. But what I can say is that we are constantly consulting with the United States, with other NATO Allies on the military posture, presence in Europe. 

Of course, after the end of the Cold War, we saw the US gradually reducing its military presence in Europe. Over the last few years, we have actually seen an increase in the US presence in Europe again. And this is not only about Germany; we have seen, for instance, a new US brigade deployed to Europe. We are seeing more rotational presence. We have seen US taking a lead, or the lead function, in the NATO Battlegroup in Poland, more rotational military presence of US forces in the Baltic countries, in Romania, including with a base for missile defence. And of course, we’ve also seen a naval presence in the Spanish Rota Base in Spain. And even in my own country, Norway, we see now more US presence. 

So over the last years, we’ve actually seen more US presence, including investing in propositioned equipment, more exercises. 

Naval presence, the first time we had a US aircraft carrier, now, during the Trident Juncture exercise. Just a few weeks ago, we had significant US naval presence in the north, we have seen them in the Black Sea, in the Mediterranean and so on. 

So the thing is that European Allies and the United States, we are doing more together now in Europe than we have done for many, many years. I think that reflects the fact that we have actually been able to strengthen the military cooperation within NATO over the last years. 

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: Thank you very much. Now, we will have, we will give an opportunity to two of our viewers to ask a question directly over . . . over Zoom. The first question you will hear will be from Victoria Bucataru.  

Victoria Bucataru [Alumnae of the GMF Marshall Memorial Fellowship Programme]: Yes, hello to everyone. And I will . . . I’m very delighted to participate in this event with Mr Stoltenberg. And thank you very much for your remarks, which I find very important. And one of them is that we really have to take care of peace and we shouldn’t take it for granted. I think that this is one of the most important things. But I will get back to question and I’m here representing or being an alumnae of the GMF Marshall Memorial Fellowship Programme. And this question is also coming, me being in the Republic of Moldova, and this is a great opportunity.

So first of all, we have to acknowledge that the spontaneous global crisis provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic has enforced a trend which was gaining more and more ground, that is national versus collective. As a result, how do you see the security architecture developing in a way that it meets the individual and collective needs of the countries, both members of NATO, of the Alliance, but also partners? And how do we keep in these circumstances, our collective values alive, as they are still seen as one of the main premises for peace? Thank you. 

Jens Stoltenberg: Well, I strongly believe that in uncertain times we need strong multilateral institutions and NATO is one of the biggest, most important international institutions we have established. We saw NATO emerge out of the Second World War and was, the whole institution was established to prevent war from ever again affecting the people in NATO Allied countries. 

And I strongly believe that if there is anything we could learn from the crisis and the decades that has passed since NATO was established is that: when we are faced with uncertainty, then we need strong international institutions. So, I think this is a time to strengthen multilateral institutions, to strengthen multilateral cooperation and including to strengthen NATO. And that’s exactly why we have launched NATO 2030, the reflection process, to make sure that we change, that we adapt as the world is changing. 

And again, since we see that the global balance of power is shifting, we see the rise of China and compared to China, even the United States is not the biggest one. Soon China will have the biggest economy in the world, they are leading in investing in a lot of advanced technologies, and including parts of Artificial Intelligence, quantum computing and so on, then it’s even more important that we stand together, North America and Europe together, because we cannot manage this alone. We need to do this together. 

So my main message is that, when things are difficult, then it’s even more important that we stand together and that we do that, North America and Europe together. 

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: Thank you. Thank you very much. And before we come back to social media questions, we have the second question, over Zoom again.

Question: Yes, hello Secretary General, and thank you so much for your leadership in these very turbulent times. You already mentioned that NATO is increasingly expected to deal with non-military challenges like disinformation, cyber, energy and climate, and that NATO doesn’t necessarily hold all the tools. In addition to the partnerships that NATO has with other countries, for example, in the NATO . . . in the Asia-Pacific, how can NATO update and possibly expand its partnerships network to make sure it has the right partners to tackle these challenges? So I’m thinking along the lines of private sector partners, other international organisations. How can it expand that network? Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg: Well, the strength of NATO is that not only do we represent 30 members, close to one billion people, half of the world’s military might and economic might, through the 30 members of NATO, but we are also working with 40 different partners around the world and we are working with other international institutions like the European Union. We have been able to strengthen that with the UN. 

And again, since we live in a world which is constantly changing and we are faced with many different threats and challenges, at the same time, the importance of working together with partners has become even more critical for NATO. And that’s the reason why we are focussing on that. 

And again, one of the purposes of NATO 2030 is to look into how we can further strengthen partnerships in many directions, addressing, not least, different non-military threats. We have seen, you know, cyber, we have seen disinformation and propaganda, as you mentioned. And I strongly believe that the best answer to propaganda is not propaganda. I believe that the truth will prevail and facts, the truth, is the best way to counter propaganda, disinformation. The aim, of course, of propaganda and disinformation campaigns as we have seen, for instance, connected to COVID-19, is to undermine trust in our democratic institutions, is to divide Allies and reduce our ability to work together. 

What I believe is that the best way to counter propaganda and disinformation are to provide facts, the truth. And the best way to do that is to have a free and independent press: journalists asking the difficult questions, checking their facts, checking their stories. That’s the best way to make sure that propaganda and disinformation doesn’t succeed. 

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: I’d like to follow up on this question of propaganda or disinformation. During the crisis that we are all facing now, the global health crisis, have you seen an increase of disinformation or propaganda that was targeting NATO, or specifically trying to undermine NATO?

Jens Stoltenberg: Well, we have seen several examples where stories, propaganda, disinformation has been used to try to divide us, to undermine trust in NATO Allied countries. We have seen both from Russia and China attempts to, in way, blame NATO Allies for the existence of the coronavirus. And we have seen stories that we are not able to support and help each other. 

The reality is that actually, NATO Allies are helping each other a lot. All Allies are affected, but not all Allies in the same way at the same time. So we have seen, we have seen SACEUR, our Supreme Commander here in Europe, coordinating a lot of efforts of military. We have seen how military has been essential in transporting a lot of equipment, medical evacuations, or transporting patients, medical personnel, setting up field hospitals, thousands of beds, helping to control borders. So the military, supported by NATO, has been key in making sure that NATO Allies are helping each other and also partners. So, again, the reality is that we need facts, we need the truth. That’s the best way to counter disinformation, also when it comes to COVID-19. 

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: And have a proactive communication of those facts. 

Jens Stoltenberg: Absolutely. And therefore, I try to do that, a lot of excellent people in NATO working with communications, messaging every day, and they do an excellent job. I know that in different capitals, NATO Allies are doing what they can to proactively counter disinformation, which is dangerous, because it can really undermine trust in our democratic institutions. 

But again, I strongly believe that the idea of free and open societies, freedom of expression, we need free and independent press. Those institutions are important, because, in the long run, that’s the best way to make sure that people have reliable sources of information and that any attempt to spread disinformation, false stories are not successful. 

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: Very good. I would like to go back now to our questions on social media. We received a question over Twitter from about Iqbal Yousafzai in Afghanistan. So, NATO’s perhaps longest and the most challenging mission has been in Afghanistan, has been transforming. On 1 June, we welcomed the new NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan. So his question relates to that. And he’s asking: how will the NATO 2030 process, the future of NATO, affect Afghanistan’s security and stability and perhaps wider Asia stability in the next decade? 

Jens Stoltenberg: Of course, it’s a bit too early for me to predict the exact outcome of the process NATO 2030, because we are now launching it, we are starting it. But I believe strongly that we will have more focus on NATO as a training alliance, how NATO can train, build local capacity, enable countries themselves to stabilise their own countries. Because I think the lessons learnt from Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere is that, of course, NATO has to be able to intervene to deploy a large number of combat troops in big combat operations. But in the long run, the best weapon we have to fight terrorism and to stabilise countries is to enable countries to stabilise their own countries and to fight terrorism themselves. 

And that’s exactly what we do in Afghanistan. We have been there for almost 20 years. But I think what we have done over the last years has been to focus on enabling the Afghans to fight the terrorism themselves, to stabilise their own country. And there are many problems, many reasons to be concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, but there is a huge achievement that we now have a strong Afghan security force which is able to fight terrorism themselves. 

We welcome the agreement between the United States and Taliban, because that is the first very important step towards lasting peace in Afghanistan. And lasting peace in Afghanistan, we can only have if there’s intra-Afghan negotiations, an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led process. And we support that. And I believe that the best way we can do that is to continue to train and help the Afghan security forces so they can create peace and stability in their own country themselves.

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: Thank you very much. And talking about the peace and stability in the future where we are also facing new threats or advanced . . . or new challenges we might now be unaware of, coming from cyber or the use of technology in different ways. We have a question that came over email. Now, considering the fact we are 10 years since the adoption of the Strategic Concept and we are looking into the next 10 years and hopefully beyond as well, the question: is it time for a new Strategic Concept for . . . of NATO to address cyberspace and hybrid threats, with the potential disruptive role of technology in the 2030 horizon? Do we need and should we have a new Strategic Concept?

Jens Stoltenberg: So, first of all, again, I think it’s a bit too early to say whether the process NATO 2030 will lead to a new Strategic Concept for NATO. For me, the most important thing is that we continue to change and adapt. One of the main reasons why NATO is the most successful alliance in history is that we have been able to change every time the world has changed. And we need to continue to change, because the world continues to change. 

And the aim of NATO 2030 is to make sure that happens. And I think that we have seen that in the Strategic Concept NATO has today, we have identified three core tasks: collective defence; crisis management, including fighting terrorism; and cooperative security, so, working with the partners all around the world. 

This Strategic Concept was agreed back in 2010. That was before Crimea, before ISIL, Iran, Iraq, Syria and all the challenge we have faced since then. The reality is that NATO has been able to implement the biggest adaptation of our Alliance seen in decades, since the end of the Cold War, with High Readiness Forces, new battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance, with a new Cyber Command, declaring space as an operational domain, reforming our command structure, investing more in defence. So we have really undertaken huge changes of NATO with the same Strategic Concept. 

So for me, the most important thing is not whether we have a new Strategic Concept or not. The most important thing is that we are able to change NATO as the world is changing. 

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: And adapting to the crisis like we are also facing today, the global health crisis. And, as you mentioned, there are a lot of non-military threats that we are already facing and probably will be facing also in the future. And NATO has been adapting to these . . . to facing and countering these threats. And also the question from another viewer over Twitter, came in the context of the coronavirus, asking: if civil emergency planning will continue to be prioritised or expanded in the NATO 2030, let’s say in the next years’ perspective? 

Jens Stoltenberg: We are already in the process of working more on resilience of our societies. We have something we call baseline requirements for civil resilience of our societies, and that includes the ability of any society, or all our member states, to deal with mass casualties. And we have seen the value of that during the corona pandemic. 

But we are also seeing that there are some lessons we all have to learn. We need to really look seriously into, for instance, do we have the systems in place to have the necessary equipment in right time, at the right place, at the right time, for instance, protective equipment. So we are now looking into how to update these requirements. 
We are working on a plan in NATO, both to address a potential second wave of the coronavirus, of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a more long-term plan to cope with pandemics more in general. 

So again, it underlines that resilience – be it infrastructure, telecommunications, 5G or healthcare, access to protective equipment – all of that matters for the civilian society, but it actually also matters for NATO as a military alliance and our military capabilities. And we have to support and work together as we have actually done during the COVID-19 crisis. We have seen significant military support to the civilian efforts coping with or dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: And while we are dealing with this and using the civilian efforts to cope with pandemics, another question, via Twitter, is about adversaries also beyond the pandemic that might be potentially causing more even, let’s say, existential issues to the Alliance. The question is: how do you envisage NATO’s relationship with Russia over the next 10 years?

Jens Stoltenberg: Well, NATO’s relationship with Russia is based on what we call a dual-track approach. We have seen a more assertive Russia. We have seen a Russia being willing to use military force against neighbours in Georgia, in Ukraine, investing heavily in new, modern capabilities, including new nuclear capabilities. They are deploying now a new missile called SSC-8, a missile, which can reach European cities, reduces the threshold for a potential use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict and led to the demise of the INF Treaty, a treaty that banned all intermediate-range weapons. And, so, they are heavily modernising their nuclear arsenals and also adjusted their doctrines. 

We have responded to this not by mirroring what Russia is doing, but by making sure that we have credible deterrence and defence, because that’s the best way to prevent a conflict, is to remove any room for doubt, any room for miscalculation about NATO’s readiness, willingness to protect all Allies. And as long as we provide that deterrence, there will be no conflict, no attack. 

So that’s one part: what we call deterrence and defence, and make sure that we continue to provide that. At the same time, Russia is our neighbour, Russia is here to stay, Russia will not go away. And we believe in dialogue with Russia. We will strive for a better relationship with Russia. We strongly believe in arms control. A new arms race will be dangerous and very costly. And therefore we continue to work hard for arms control with Russia. And that’s part of what we call dual-track, the dialogue approach to Russia. 

And I can just say myself, as a former Norwegian politician, prime minister for 10 years, is that: I know that it’s possible to talk to the Russians and to actually make agreements with them. We did that, Norway-Russia for many, many years on military issues, on energy, on border issues and many other issues, environment, fisheries, and that was not despite of NATO, but it was because of NATO. NATO provided a platform for us to work with Russia.

Dr Nad’a Kovalcikova: And on this note, of the importance of the cooperation and the dialogue, it was a great pleasure for me to lead the conversation with you. We have to wrap up. We have more questions coming in. Unfortunately, we do not have more time today. Hopefully in the future, maybe in 10 years, if not sooner. And I would like to turn back to Washington, D.C. for concluding remarks. So back to Fred. Over to you, Fred. 

Frederick Kempe: Mr Secretary General, I don’t know what the global virtual equivalent is to a standing room only audience, but we’ve had it here today. And there are still 100 questions out there or more. We hope to have you back soon again. On behalf of Karen Donfried and everyone at GMF and everyone at the Atlantic Council, thank you for these really important reflections. 

We look forward to working with you on deepening the political dimension, on the global dimension and, of course, on the related China dimension. We . . . for our guests, thank you for joining us today. We hope that you can join us Thursday, June 11th, this Thursday, 10:00 a.m., Washington, 4:00 p.m., Brussels, 6:30 p.m. Kabul, for President Ashraf Ghani, and have a good week until then. Mr Secretary General, thank you again for these really important comments to make an institution stronger that needs to be strong during these times.