Short remarks

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain at their meeting in the margins of the NATO Summit

  • 14 Jun. 2021 -
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  • Last updated 16-Jun-2021 08:10

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:

So Prime Minister Sanchez, dear Pedro, it's really great to be together with you here today and we have just finished an excellent Summit, and it was a pleasure for me to welcome you and the other leaders here to Brussels, to a very pivotal, important meeting of… in our Alliance. Next year we'll mark the 40th anniversary of Spain succession into our Alliance. And I would like to thank you on behalf of all Allies for your kind offer to host next year's Summit in Spain. That will be a great opportunity to mark the 40th anniversary of your membership, and also a great opportunity for me and the other Allies to thank you, you personally, but also Spain, for being such a staunch and committed Ally for 40 years. You contribute to our shared security in many different ways. You take part in the battle group in Latvia, you contribute to air policing in the Baltic region, and Spain also hosts the Aegis ballistic missile defence ships in Rota, and your troops have served in Afghanistan. And let me pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives, and have been wounded during our mission in Afghanistan.

You have also played, and you still play, a key role in the NATO training mission in Iraq. So, Spain is really a highly valued Ally, and therefore, I look very much forward to going to Spain and to have a NATO Summit there. I have to say, on a more personal note, that I really love Spain, so for me to be able to combine work with pleasure, that's a perfect combination for me, personally. Then I would like to say that at our Summit in Spain, next year, NATO leaders will make important decisions about the future of that Alliance. We will turn into reality, many of the decisions we made today. We agreed the NATO 2030 Agenda, which is a forward-looking, ambitious agenda, but we need to make that into reality, and that we have to do when we come to Spain.

We will agree NATO's next strategic concept, which will then be the Madrid Strategic Concept, and that will be a very important document for our Alliance. So, thank once again Pedro, it's great to be together with you, and I look forward to working closely with you and all your perfect team in preparing for the next Summit. Thank you very much.

Q1: Pablo Suanzes, El Mundo:

Okay, I will go ahead, Mr. Secretary General, can you walk us through to this Summit next year? Should we just interpret that, like for our 40th anniversary celebration? Should we interpret that as a commitment of Spain providing that Spain is at the bottom of the list in investment, despite all the commitments in 2014? Or should we actually make a totally different interpretation and see it, actually, as a commitment to NATO, what's going on in the Moroccan coast, what's happening in the last month in Ceuta, and it's a show of commitment in terms of defence of Alliance and of commitment of NATO, given what's going on in not only Morocco, but also in the Sahel region providing that France is seem… seems to be stepping back a little bit of the region. Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:

So first of all, we are extremely grateful for the Spanish offer to host the next Summit. But second, I think that the Allies agreed to do that and to go to Madrid, and to Spain. Also, it’s a strong message that we recognize the important role of Spain in our Alliance.

There are many ways to contribute to our shared security, and Spain has increased defence spending, but Spain has really proven that you provide contributions to NATO missions and operations, that you develop important capabilities, and that you work together with Allies in many different ways, as part of our collective defence. I mentioned the battle group in Latvia, air policing, and the very strong commitment and contributions of Spain to NATO missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, so this is also a recognition of the importance of Spain.

Of course we can celebrate the 40th anniversary of Spain joining, but I think is much more important in a way to look to the future, and then also use this Summit in Spain as an opportunity also to focus on the challenges emanating from the South.

And I believe that we have an untapped potential in NATO to address the challenges from the South, to do more support and working with partners, to help to stabilize our neighbourhood, when our neighbours are stable, we are more secure. And I welcome also the decision we have taken in the NATO 2030 Agenda, were actually one of the points is that we should step up and provide more support to partners to stabilize our neighbourhood. And one of the reasons I also welcomed the decision that we are going to increase NATO's budgets for these type of activities is that now we can do more of these things. So we can celebrate 40th anniversary, we can recognize the important role of Spain, but perhaps most of all, we can look to the future together. And, and the personal leadership of Prime Minister Sanchez is extremely important in this Alliance, and that will be clearly demonstrated when we all meet again next year in Madrid.