by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the 68th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NPA)
So good morning,
President Connolly, dear Gerry, it is great to see you again.
Thank you for the warm welcome.
And President Gil and President Batet, thank you for hosting all of us here today.
And good morning honourable members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Dear friends and colleagues.
[I think I have to wait until it is quiet in the audience…]
It is always a pleasure to address this Assembly.
And it is always a pleasure to be back in Madrid.
The last time I came to Madrid was when we had the magnificent NATO Summit here in June.
I think that both the hosting of the Summit and also the hosting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly demonstrate the very strong commitment by Spain to our transatlantic Alliance.
At the Madrid Summit, we took some very important decisions at a critical time for our Alliance.
We made bold decisions on a long range of issues.
And let me just mention a few.
We decided to step up support to Ukraine.
Further strengthen our deterrence and defence.
And invite Finland and Sweden to become NATO members.
We also adopted the Madrid Strategic Concept, to adapt the Alliance to a more dangerous and more competitive world.
So the Summit in Madrid was really a transformative Summit.
And now, as we look ahead to our Summit in Vilnius, in Lithuania, next year, we are implementing the decisions we took in Madrid.
First, on Ukraine.
President Putin made two big strategic mistakes when he invaded Ukraine in February this year.
He underestimated the Ukrainians’ bravery and will to fight.
And he underestimated the unity and relentless resolve by NATO Allies and Partners to support Ukraine.
He thought he could defeat Ukraine in a matter of days.
Nine months later, Russia continues to face setback after setback.
And the Ukrainians continue to liberate their territory from occupation. Most recently, Kherson.
But it would be a great mistake to underestimate Russia.
It retains significant military capabilities and a high number of troops.
Russia is willing to suffer substantial casualties.
And is willing to inflict horrific suffering on Ukrainian people.
We have seen drone and missiles striking Ukrainian cities, civilians, and critical infrastructure.
So we must be prepared to support Ukraine for the long haul.
Yes, I know that this support comes with a price.
In our countries, many people face a cost-of-living crisis.
Energy and food bills are rising.
These are tough times for many.
But the price we pay as NATO Allies is measured in money.
While the Ukrainians, they pay a price which is measured in blood.
And if we allow Putin to win, all of us will have to pay a much higher price.
Authoritarian regimes around the world will learn that they can get what they want with brute force.
This would have direct consequences for our security.
It would make the world more dangerous. And us more vulnerable.
That is the reason why we cannot allow President Putin to win in Ukraine.
So we need to stay the course together.
And I count on all of you, as members of parliament, to keep making the case for supporting Ukraine.
Second, deterrence and defence.
We have been strengthening our defences since 2014, in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
We have implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War.
Now we are doing even more. To prevent the conflict in Ukraine from escalating beyond Ukraine.
So we have doubled the number of battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance – from four to eight.
Increased our ability to reinforce them up to brigade level.
And we are putting more troops on higher readiness. So they can respond faster wherever and whenever needed.
To do all this, we need to invest more in defence.
We have already made, as you know, many significant decisions and we have made, together, a lot of progress.
2022 will be the eighth consecutive year of increased defence spending across Europe and Canada.
By the end of the year, we will have spent well over 350 billion extra US dollars on defence since we made the pledge in 2014 across Europe and Canada.
At the Summit in Vilnius, defence investment will be an important topic.
And I expect Allies to continue making progress. Including with commitments beyond 2024.
Because 2% of GDP on defence should be considered a floor, not a ceiling for our defence investments.
Here again, I continue to count on your support .
One of the main messages in the Madrid Strategic Concept is the link between strong defences and strong societies.
The war in Ukraine has exposed some key vulnerabilities.
For too long, we have been dependent on Russian oil and gas to heat our homes and fly our jets.
And we have seen how Russia has weaponised energy and tried to use it to blackmail us.
And to prevent us from supporting Ukraine.
But Putin has not succeeded.
Allies are now diversifying their supplies.
We are moving away from fossil energies and investing in renewable sources.
This is good for our security.
And it is good for the climate.
But we need to be careful not to create new dependencies. Most notably on China.
We see growing Chinese efforts to control our critical infrastructure, supply chains and key industrial sectors.
Chinese rare earth minerals are present everywhere. Including in our phones, our cars, and our military equipment.
We cannot give authoritarian regimes any chance to exploit our vulnerabilities and undermine us.
For this, it is essential that we boost the resilience of our societies and our infrastructure.
Resilience is a collective effort, and I count on you all to play your part here too.
Finally, Finland and Sweden.
In Madrid, all Allies made the historic decision to invite these two countries to join NATO.
We signed the accession protocols.
And now, the ratification process is almost completed.
With twenty-eight out of thirty Allies having already ratified.
In Madrid, in June, Türkiye, Finland and Sweden signed the Trilateral Memorandum.
Finland and Sweden have delivered on their commitments.
They are strong partners in our joint fight against terrorism.
So the time has come to finalise the accession process and to welcome Finland and Sweden as full members of NATO.
It will make our Alliance stronger, and our people safer.
It is also time to step up our cooperation with our partners, near and far.
With those most affected by Russian aggression and coercion.
Like the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
And with all like-minded countries around the world.
From Latin America to the Middle East, and North Africa to the Indo-Pacific region.
We share security interests and face the same challenges.
We can and should tackle them together.
To defend freedom against oppression.
Democracy against tyranny.
And to uphold the international rules based institutions that benefit all of us.
President Connolly, dear Gerry, I know these values are dear to you.
NATO is dear to you.
And as President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly over the past two years, you have done an extraordinary job to make the transatlantic bond and NATO even stronger.
You and I, we have worked together, and I have enjoyed our excellent relationship.
I thank you for your remarkable leadership of this Assembly.
And I look forward to working with your successor, senator Garriaud-Maylam, to prepare for the Vilnius Summit next July.
So thank you so much for our excellent cooperation.
And, with that, I am actually ready to take your questions.