Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the inauguration ceremony of the NATO Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) Regional Centre, Kuwait City

  • 24 Jan. 2017 -
  • |
  • Last updated 30-Jan-2017 10:14

(As delivered)

Your Highness,
Prime Minister,
Foreign Minister,
Sheikh Thamer,
Secretary General,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a real honour to be here today and I am really delighted to be back in Kuwait once again, for my second official visit as NATO Secretary General.

Last year I toured the construction site for this impressive facility.

Today I am honoured to celebrate the opening of the ICI-NATO Regional Centre.

In doing so, we mark two important milestones:

  • A milestone in the friendship between NATO and Kuwait;
  • And a milestone in the blossoming partnership between NATO and the entire Gulf region. 

We owe a debt of gratitude to Sheikh Thamer Ali Al-Sabah.

So I thank him for his leadership and steadfast support. Thank you so much.

I also want to thank the State of Kuwait in hosting and the people of Kuwait for your generosity and in hosting this Centre, for being such a strong and valued NATO partner and for your long-standing leadership in promoting regional security. 

NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative – the ICI – was designed to contribute to long-term regional stability.

So I am extremely pleased that our three other ICI partners are represented here today:

Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

I am also glad to welcome the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation, and the representatives from Saudi Arabia and Oman.

This Centre is a historic first:

NATO’s first such presence in the Gulf region.

It will be a vital hub for cooperation between the Alliance and our Gulf partners.

As well as with Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the Gulf Cooperation Council, including in our important fight against terrorism.

We will work together in a range of different areas, including:

  • strategic analysis;
  • civil emergency planning;
  • military-to-military cooperation;
  • and public diplomacy.


The partnerships we will strengthen through this Centre are vitally important to NATO.

Because the security of Gulf countries is directly linked to the security of all Allies.

We face common security threats like terrorism, weapons proliferation, and cyber attacks.

And we share the same aspirations for peace and for stability.

So it is essential that we work more closely together than ever before.

We have now developed individual cooperation programmes with all our Gulf partners.

Because modern security institutions and well-trained local forces represent our best weapons in the fight against violent extremism.


NATO  has a long history of working with partners to project stability beyond our borders.

Over the past year, we have trained hundreds of Iraqi officers in Jordan to better fight ISIL.

And we are now extending our training and capacity-building efforts into Iraq itself.

NATO continues to fight terrorism in other ways, including with direct support to the Counter-ISIL Coalition.

Our AWACS surveillance flights provide surveillance data to support Coalition air operations.

And all Allies contribute individually to the Coalition in different ways.

My message is this:

In addressing the most pressing security challenges of our time, we are much stronger together than we are alone.

And that’s what this NATO-ICI Centre is all about.

Deepening trust. Building cooperation. And working together to make our nations safer.

Today, I am proud to say that NATO has a new home in the Gulf region. And that we have opened a new chapter in our deepening partnership.

I would like to close by once again thanking Kuwait – and all our partners here today – for their strong support.

And for making the opening of this Centre today possible.

Thank you so much to all of you.