by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the 67th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
President Connolly, dear Gerry.
We met last week and now we meet again, so this is really good for our friendship, that we continue to meet every week on both sides of the Atlantic. And also thank you for the way you lead this very important assembly which is important for the whole Transatlantic family and for building NATO as a stronger and stronger Alliance.
Also many thanks to you President Rodrigues and the Portuguese delegation for hosting us at very beautiful place. It’s great to be back and to see you all. And of course Prime Minister Costa. We also met recently when we inaugurated the new cyber academy here in Portugal, demonstrating how committed Portugal is to our Alliance.
Dear friends and colleagues.
It is great to be able to meet again in person, and not least because then I can, for a long time I haven’t seen you Nancy, but it’s great to meet
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not least because you really deserve the award for Woman, Peace and Security that you just received. Because you have been such a strong voice for security and for women for so many years. So really, congratulations.
Then, I would also like to recognise some other members of this assembly, because I understand that 3 longstanding NPA members and friends of the Alliance, Karl Lamers, Ulla Schmidt and Lord Jopling, are going to attend this meeting and that will be the last NPA assembly they attend, so many thanks for your longstanding commitment, for everything you have done and your commitment to strengthening the Transatlantic bond between Europe and North America. Many many thanks to all of you and I will miss you.
It is a pleasure to be back in Portugal.
Portugal is a staunch NATO Ally.
You contribute to our shared security and to our collective defence in many different ways.
You help fight international terrorism, including in Iraq and Africa.
Portuguese jets and ships are part of our air policing missions and the maritime operations.
And Portuguese forces take part in our multinational brigade in Romania.
And you also host a number of different NATO facilities, including our cutting-edge cyber academy, we inaugurated as you said not so many weeks ago.
You were also a host nation and a lead nation for NATO’s largest exercise this year – Steadfast Defender 2021.
All of these contributions demonstrate Portugal’s strong commitment to NATO and the transatlantic bond.
In turbulent and unpredictable times, this commitment is as important as ever.
And all NATO Allies, on both sides of the Atlantic, continue to stand by it.
And I say this knowing that Allies do not always agree on every issue.
But ultimately, we all agree on what really matters:
That we are stronger when we stand together.
In Afghanistan we stood together for 20 years.
And together, we took the decision to leave, after extensive rounds of consultations.
It was not an easy decision.
Because we faced a dilemma.
To stay and risk renewed combat and an open ended military presence.
Or to leave and risk the Taliban returning to power.
The Taliban’s return to Afghanistan is a tragedy for the Afghan people.
And heart-breaking for all of us who supported them over all the years.
I am deeply grateful to all who served under the NATO flag.
The investment and sacrifices we made were not in vain.
For 20 years, no terrorist attacks have been launched from Afghanistan on our countries.
And our military presence helped create the conditions for significant social and economic progress.
Looking ahead, the international community must preserve these gains.
And continue to bring Afghans at risk to safety.
We must use all the leverage we have to hold the Taliban accountable for their commitments.
Including on safe passage, human rights, and terrorism.
At NATO, I have launched a thorough assessment of our engagement in Afghanistan.
To learn the lessons.
Because by learning we adapt.
It is too early to conclude the outcome of this process, but one thing is clear:
the crisis in Afghanistan does not change the need for Europe and North America to stand together in NATO.
In fact, the need for transatlantic unity is bigger now than it has been at any time since the end of the Cold War.
Because the challenges we face are far greater than any country, or continent, can tackle alone.
Russia is responsible for aggressive actions against its neighbours.
A massive military build-up from the Barents Sea to the Mediterranean.
And attempts to interfere in our democracies.
China is assertively using its might to coerce other countries and control its own people.
And China is coming closer to us.
In Africa, in the Arctic and in cyber-space.
And by investing in our own critical infrastructure, from 5G networks to ports and airports.
And other threats are emerging.
Including cyber-attacks, disruptive technologies, nuclear proliferation and climate change.
Brutal terrorism continues to exist as a real threat.
So, we must strengthen NATO.
That is exactly what our leaders decided to do at the Summit in June.
They agreed NATO 2030 – an ambitious agenda for our future security.
This includes increasing national resilience,
to make our societies, infrastructure and supply chains less vulnerable to attacks.
Boosting our cyber defences.
Investing in the latest technologies,
and addressing the impact of climate change on our security.
Together, we will continue to tackle instability, fight terrorism, and safeguard the rules-based international order,
by stepping up training and capacity-building for partners.
And deepening our relations with other countries, international organisations, the private sector and academic institutions.
One partner is of particular importance for our Alliance and we are cooperating ever more closely with the European Union.
And I am glad to be working with President Ursula von der Leyen and President Charles Michel on a new Joint Statement,
to further strengthen NATO-EU relations,
to be ready before the end of this year.
I strongly welcome the EU’s increased efforts on defence.
NATO has been calling on European Allies to invest more and provide more high-end capabilities for many years.
But these efforts should not duplicate NATO.
Our nations have finite resources, and only one set of forces.
And we need to use them in the best possible way.
Delivering on the NATO 2030 decisions requires proper funding.
We are on the right track, with seven consecutive years of increased defence spending by European Allies and Canada.
Including by Portugal, as all other European Allies.
It is essential to keep up this momentum.
For this, I count on your continued support.
Because you are the ones who ultimately decide our defence budgets.
It is not only about spending more.
It is also about doing so together.
More common funding is a force multiplier.
An investment in the transatlantic unity.
And a strong message of our unity and resolve.
So we need to increase NATO’s common funding, based on requirements.
Finally, as part of NATO 2030, we also agreed to develop NATO’s next Strategic Concept.
It will give us an opportunity to chart the way ahead for the Alliance,
and reaffirm the centrality of the transatlantic bond to our security and our defence.
It provides us also with the opportunity to recommit to our core values, democracy, the rule of law and individual liberty.
Our leaders will endorse the next Strategic Concept at the Madrid Summit in 2022.
In the meantime, I have started internal consultations with Allies on NATO’s evolving strategic environment, approach and priorities.
I will also convene seminars in Allied capitals to bring together NATO leadership, officials and expert communities.
And I look forward to a robust engagement with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in the weeks and months ahead.
This Parliamentary Assembly has been a strong voice for our democratic values,
and we need to recommit to them as we continue to adapt our Alliance.
And President Connolly and I, we have addressed how we can do this in many meetings, also at our last meeting in Washington at the Capitol. And I welcome the fact that initiatives have been taken so we can have a real debate on how we can further strengthen NATO as a tool to uphold our core democratic values.
Today, you have agreed important resolutions that will help guide our governments and your parliaments as we turn the NATO 2030 decisions into action.
Looking ahead, I count on your continued support and engagement.
To keep the transatlantic bond solid,
and our people safe.
Thank you and then I’m ready for all your questions. Thank you.