by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the 69th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Thank you so much, Mr President, dear Michal, Mr Speaker, excellencies, General Lavigne, ladies and gentlemen. It is my greatest pleasure to be with you all today. I always feel at home with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly as a former delegate myself. Secretary General, myself and our teams are looking forward to interacting with all of you also in the future.
I would like to thank our host, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the Danish Parliament, and the Danish delegation. Denmark indeed plays a key role in our Alliance. Your fighter jets patrol the east of the Alliance. Your Danish troops are deployed on the eastern flank.
You contribute importantly to all maritime deployments from the hard North to the Mediterranean.
And you're a driving force behind NATO's innovation agenda.
Indeed, Secretary General Stoltenberg was recently here with Prime Minister Frederiksen to speak at the conference on quantum and to open a NATO deep tech lab for quantum technologies as part of Diana. Denmark also provides Ukraine with vital economic and military aid. NATO has, is and will always rely on Denmark.
Now a few words, also from our side, to the situation in Israel, we are shocked and appalled by the terrorist attacks by Hamas against our NATO partner, the State of Israel.
Over the last two days, we have seen thousands of rockets fired into Israel, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, as well as mass kidnapping. I utterly condemn these unjustifiable and murderous acts. Our thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and the people of Israel. Israel has a right and responsibility to defend itself and its citizens.
I'm also deeply concerned that the citizens of many other countries including several NATO allies, are among the killed, wounded or kidnapped ones. The national authorities concerned are doing all they can to help their citizens in such a difficult situation.
I was in Israel just two weeks back. I met with the President, the Prime Minister, the Government. I met the young entrepreneurs. I met the people of Israel. I know that they have all the energy and the talent and the future of Israel will continue to be bright and I know that this country will overcome this difficult situation. And I applaud and thank all the other leaders who have expressed the same words of condemnation and support.
It was also an honour to follow President Zelenskyy and my good friend, Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada in this meeting here in Copenhagen.
Last week, I chaired a meeting of the new NATO Ukraine Council, where we're working together as equals to take forward these decisions taken at Vilnius summit and indeed preparing the decisions for the Washington summit of next year.
Later this week, the NUC will meet for the first time at the level of Defence Ministers, with Minister Umerov. The free world stands with Ukraine. NATO stands with Ukraine and I stand with Ukraine, the rightful place. Thank you.
And I hear only the same words of commitment from all of us that the rightful place of Ukraine as an independent sovereign nation is with the Euro Atlantic family and as a full member of our Alliance.
Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine is heading towards the second winter and our continuous support is more important than ever.
From air defences for the cities and infrastructure to fuel, food and warm clothing for their people.
We will not waver. For to do so would hand Putin and the forces of tyranny a huge and terrifying victory.
Putin wants to wipe Ukraine from the map. And why? For the delusional idea of recreating a great Russian Empire. Spheres of influence and wars of aggression have no place in the 21st century.
So we must support the fearless Ukrainian forces in their defence of freedom and liberty, also of our freedom and liberty.
Together Allies have provided Ukraine with tens of billions worth of high-end military equipment, from anti-tank weapons to advanced artillery, as well as tanks, missiles and air defence systems. And soon F-16s.
I would like to thank Denmark and the Netherlands and many other Allies for leading these efforts. Through NATO's comprehensive assistance plan, Allies have also pledged over 500 million euros for short-term critical non-lethal aid, including fuel, winter clothing, medical supplies and demining equipment.
At the Vilnius summit this year, Allies have also agreed a comprehensive program for ensuring that Ukrainian armed forces are becoming fully interoperable with NATO.
This is a strong and enduring message of hope for the troops on the frontlines, for the millions of Ukrainian families displaced from their homes and for the children of Ukraine, who deserve to grow up in a free country, able to follow their dreams and live the lives they choose.
Ukraine is pressing forward. Every meter Ukraine regains is a meter that Russia loses and success is more important than speed.
The war is not only a threat to Ukraine, but also to our own security in Europe and to the entire rule based international order.
So in response to a dangerous world, we are massively boosting our own deterrence and defence, including with new defence plans, 300,000 troops on higher readiness, backed by substantial air and naval power and multinational battlegroup stations from Estonia, all the way to Romania and Bulgaria.
We are also ramping up the production of weapons and ammunition. Through the NATO Support and Procurement agency, which by the way is landing technical support for a similar agency in Ukraine as we speak. Allies and partners have signed contracts worth of 2.4 billion euros to raise ammunition stocks, including 1 billion euros of firm orders.
We're investing far more in defence. 2023 will be the ninth consecutive year of defence spending increases across European Allies and Canada.
We expect the real increase of 8.3% the biggest increase in decades. 11 allies now spend 2% of GDP on defence, a number that will rise next year.
Indeed, at the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, all Allies committed to spending at least 2% to step up their efforts immediately.
We are also stepping up our deterrence on all fronts, countering disinformation, cyber and other hybrid attacks, strengthening the resilience of our societies and our critical infrastructure, including undersea critical infrastructure.
And we are aggressively investing in new technologies. I chaired the Innovation Board in NATO, working with industry, with startups, with academia and the whole innovation ecosystem to maintain our technological edge and drive a digital transformation of our militaries.
And together with Diana we are very proud that we are the first organization to put forward and to launch a multinational sovereign venture capital fund which is the Innovation Fund of NATO, the first of its kind. And now the size of the fund is important, but the signal we sent to our startups, our young innovators all across this great Alliance of ours. And I also want to recognize here one of NATO's strategic commands Allied Command Transformation ACT Norfolk Virginia, which is leading NATO's digital transformation. And let me use this opportunity to recognize a great military leader, General Philippe Lavigne, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, who you'll hear from later.
My General we recognize your work. We've just published strategies on artificial intelligence and autonomy. We are working on ones for other key technologies, quantum, biotechnology, human enhancement, space, new materials, and every single new policy from NATO on emerging disruptive technologies are having and will always have an ethical dimension of their use. Together with European Union with other partners around the world, we can set the standards, not only for us keeping the technological edge, but to be able to make sure that our democratic values and societies are reflected in the way we use these technologies. Particularly in national security, and defence.
European Union is a key partner, other nations and organizations are partners in this great effort. As we head towards the next summit, our Anniversary Summit in Washington DC in next July will continue to further strengthen our support to Ukraine, boost our deterrence and defence, follow through on Allies new commitments on defence spending, and work more closely and more practically with our partners. NATO is and will always be a regional Alliance. But we face global challenges. So partnerships are a vital part of our security. Here in Europe, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia have Russian troops on their soil without their consent, while they in Bosnia Herzegovina suffer intense disinformation campaigns, electoral interference and cyberattacks at Russia's hand. All the tools of hybrid warfare that are deployed also against NATO Allies and our democracies.
In Kosovo, tensions remain high. In May, 93 KFOR troops were injured during protests in northern Kosovo. Last month, the Kosovo Police officer was killed. This is totally unacceptable. Violence risks setting back the whole region. In response, NATO has deployed hundreds of additional troops to Kosovo including from the United Kingdom and Romania. KFOR works to maintain a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo.
To the south, our partners in Africa and the Middle East face the ever present threat of terrorism but also a growing Russian and Chinese influence and further afield. We are developing far closer ties to our partners in the Indo Pacific region to counter strategic competition from China. Next year we'll also mark 30 years since the establishment of our Mediterranean dialogue format, and 20 years since the establishment of our eastern border cooperation format. We have to pay a special attention to our partnerships, focusing on the South, as we also have to help our vulnerable partners. The Washington summit will have a strong emphasis on our partnerships, as we should do.
I want to thank each of you and through you your national parliaments and through you to your citizens for strengthening this alliance, for investing our interests and defence, for supporting Ukraine and standing with our partners. As parliamentarians, you shape the debate. You hold your governments to account in many cases, you control the purse strings. We cannot do this without your support.
Earlier this year, you ratified accession to NATO of Finland. Thank you for that. And we look forward and we are working relentlessly to welcoming Sweden into our Alliance soon.
Later this month in yet another example of how Sweden is integrating into our Alliance. It will host the NATO Industry Forum in Stockholm. One of Putin’s aims in fighting this war was to have less NATO. He has failed utterly. Instead, he has achieved the exact opposite, dramatically more NATO. Difference.
We face a fundamental challenge not only to our nations and our peoples, but also to our values to the things that make us who we are. We are not a military alliance. We're not even a political military alliance. We are a fundamental alliance based on our values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. This is what we are. These are you all should defend and this is something that also authoritarian regimes, see our values not only something to aspire to, but also as a threat. That's why a free and democratic Ukraine is a direct threat to Putin’s regime.
Many of you in this room, especially from the newer members, not everyone is a founding member like Denmark or Norway, and I'm happy that Sweden, Finland are coming to join the other two Nordic nations, but many of us including myself from the newer members, we have lived under the Iron Curtain. We know what tyranny, dictatorship and communists is all about. We should tell more directly to our young generations that this is the most appalling experience a human being can be exposed to. Never never again. And I think my friends from the newer member states of our Alliance will be telling this story, as I know it as our newest member, Finland and soon Sweden will tell also our partners in the south why they really decided after years or centuries of neutrality to join our Alliance and to counter the propaganda and fake news that Russia is spreading all around about this. Leaving open free democratic societies is a blessing. And this alliance is also about protecting our way of life. So thank you so much for everything you do. I wish Michal the best of success. And I know that the Q&A will be always merciless, like always. Thank you so much.
Exchange of views
NATO Deputy Secretary General: Thank you so much for the questions.
First of all, thank you for reconfirming our strong support for Israel and the condemnation of this terrorist and murderous attacks.
To Nicu Falcoi and thank you so much [responds in Romanian].
In Vilnius, our leaders also approved upon the exceptional work of our military commanders the most ambitious and transformative deterrence and defence planning, force structure, command and control, multi domain operations, including air and missile defence systems. And I applaud our Baltic Allies for encouraging and pushing forward for also a rotational air missile defence systems, especially on the eastern flank. So my answer is that now we have to make those plans executable, implementing them, putting also the money where our mouth is, and making sure that our military leaders and also political leaders, all of us are basically just implementing what they decided: the three regional plans [which are] Nordic, Central European and southern Europe, and in the case of Romania, the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. We are working with Admiral Munsch. We are working with our SACEUR. We are working with governments in the region. I also want to applaud the decisions by Italy in the battlegroup they lead in Bulgaria. And our French Allies in what they do in Romania, because this Black Sea situation continues to be complex. So my answer is we have to invest more. And if we fully implement our regional plants, all these concerns that are legitimate will be taken care of. And this is something I know that my home country of Romania will also be actively participating in.
Julie, thank you so much for the question on the Black Sea grain deal. Russia is such a systematic, barbaric player that we know that in wintertime they try to destroy the energy infrastructures of Ukraine. And in summertime, they try to destroy another big component of its national security and also its economy, which is the agro-industrial production and exports. So this is why NATO and Allies have stepped up our surveillance over the Black Sea, including with patrol aircraft, reconnaissance drones. We also went to constant efforts to revitalise the grain deal, of course with the support of the UN. And also the massive supports by Allies in the region, Romania, Bulgaria and others that are making significant efforts to substitute the volumes of the Black Sea grain exports through land, railroad, and Danube. And there's no surprise knowing the pattern of Russian behaviour or misbehaviour, that they are attacking the Ukrainian maritime Danube ports. And that's why also in Romania, neighbouring Romania and also neighbouring Bulgaria, there is this issue. So we constantly try to help Allies mobilise the resources and provide them with ISR intelligence and the protection they need.
Also, I like to thank the European Union for being such an active part in making sure that alternative routes are available to our Ukrainian friends and their exports.
From our friends from Albania. First of all, let me remind all the colleagues of the massive Iranian attacks against Albania when they are hosting a meeting of the opposition to the Iranian regime. This leads also the next question, and this is also an indication why we should do a much better job as NATO to strengthen our cyber defences. That's why we invented, we created new political instruments in NATO, not only the third Foreign Ministers meeting per year in formal. But also a national cyber coordinators meeting every year, massively important for the first time ever, national resilience coordinators annual meeting in NATO. And also we're very happy that the national security advisors of NATO are meeting once a year. So just to tell you that we are looking into this. When it comes to KFOR, of course, it's frustrating to see that after decades basically, the situation in the region becomes remains so fragile. But our role as KFOR, and by the way we are the third responder there; it’s EULEX and of course the authorities there. And I want to thank again UK and Romania for deploying additional 600 troops. And these are only prudent steps for KFOR to have the forces, capabilities and flexibility necessary to fulfil our UN mandate. And also to maintain, this is something we are very much insisting on. And there is a new commander of KFOR that is taking command over, I think, this very week.
And now Italian Allies have done this before and our Turkish Allies shall also be doing this. Also Denmark has been doing Iraq for us brilliantly, a few years back. So what they're trying to make sure is that we keep our impartiality, in the eyes of the local population. There's no other solution than de-escalation and the EU-led facilitated dialogue for finding a durable solution. It is not up to NATO to decide on the political side but we’ll stay with KFOR for as long as it takes and adapting our force according to the situation. And we hope to achieve lasting peace and stability for communities in Kosovo. And as a Romanian this time, I know as I mentioned for Ukraine and for the Republic of Moldova and for Georgia that their place is with us. The full Western Balkans should also be with us as full-fledged members of the European and Euro-Atlantic family. And I know this will take place sooner or later. This is the solution to have all of us, all of our democracies together, irrespective of how difficult sometimes the scars of the past will be there with us.
To our Belgian friends, I think President Zelenskyy put it quite convincingly like always. And of course we are concerned about Iran's destabilising activity, its support for terrorists. As you know we have a NATO mission in Iraq that is also very, very important to our Iraqi partners. And it's clear that the nuclear program is of utmost concern. So we call on Iran to fulfil its legal obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, support for sanctions.
There is also something quite important happening in the Middle East. And this is something that NATO doesn't have a direct role in. But we are cognisant of the fact that the Abraham Accords is a massive transformation of the regional architecture. And I'm not here to have suppositions, but I know while visiting Israel recently and seeing the meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu on the UN General Assembly margins, that the idea of a deal between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the US would also be a game changer. And this is probably also one of the calculations of Iran in making sure that this thing does not happen. It is not up to me to speculate but I'm just saying that this is something which is also a massive potential transformation of the architecture in the Middle East.
And thank you for also, I remember the question in Luxembourg [intelligible] we'll see what will happen.
NATO Deputy Secretary General: Thank you again to President Connolly.
You know how much the Secretary General, myself, all our teams are taking the issue of the values of this alliance not only to the letter but also to the very spirit of that thing.
And of course, sometimes consensus-based organisations have their own specific way to operate.
And this is something that we cannot substitute the lack of consensus on any policy in NTO. But I can say again and again, that in everything we do – even short of formalising the recommendations of this great body and we hope that this consensus would and could be reached – we are doing everything we can in making sure that the values part is embodied in everything we do.
From building integrity to women, peace and security. From human security to everything we do.
This who we are, and this is not just an answer in a Q&A session here. This is who we are. We profoundly believe in the values that are underpinning our Alliance. And we hope that we'll be able to find a consensus to move things forward. And of course, there was also a remark about the Washington Summit, the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the most successful Alliance in history. We are so successful not only because we are strong in terms of defence, but also because [we are] united because of our values. So please consider that myself and our Secretary General, we are doing everything we can to encourage consensus, and make sure that we instil in everything we do the fundamental values of our organization.
Speaking of Sweden and the accession of Finland, in Madrid both new candidate countries were given candidate status in record time. I have to say, because he's not here, the Secretary General played a personal immense role in putting all the players together, and he spent hours longer, I was in Madrid myself, to forge this consensus. The same thing happened in Vilnius, and I know that we’ll be sparing no effort to making sure that the two remaining Allies that have not yet ratified Sweden’s accession will be in the position to do that as soon as possible. And again, our Secretary General, myself, our teams will be sparing no effort to making sure that we'll have this 32nd member of Sweden, a great new Ally amongst our ranks.
This leads to the question of our Lithuanian friends about NATO membership for Ukraine. I remember spending hours with President Zelenskyy in Vilnius because to be honest, he was not very happy with what we were about to decide. And we spent hours with him and other leaders spent hours with him telling him that we are moving from two steps enlargement, so no Membership Action Plan like Sweden and Finland, and the creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council, the fact that we are really working as equals. I'm telling you, it was a pleasure to see the Ukrainian representative sitting between Türkiye and UK, alphabetically around the NATO table last week when I chaired.
We are really going in that direction.
It is not only a matter of conditions, technical conditions. Because also Ukrainian friends, and some of the Allies say let's not introduce additional bureaucratic checking boxes because this is a political decision. We are all politicians here. This is a political decision. And when I mentioned in my speech ‘fully interoperable with NATO,’ this is also a big component in that direction. I cannot say and prejudge when our leaders and EU parliaments will be in the situation to have consensus for this one. But I know that Ukraine is closer to us than ever, and I know that there are places with us. I also want to applaud the European Union [for the] strategic courage and boldness in inviting Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, I hope, also Georgia and of course completing the work in the Western Balkans. This is also part of the trajectory of Ukraine. They are belonging with us, and I think we owe them everything we can to help them be with us also in formal legal terms. So thank you so much for that question.
When it comes to the Croatian question, it's clear that the Western Balkans are a part of European architecture when Russia plays a very perfidious and malign influence. We have no evidence, direct evidence through our intelligence, at least at this point, that there is a direct connection between what happened recently in Kosovo and Russia per se, but it's clear that there is some form of coordination among national or non-state actors, like the ones we have seen perpetrating this attacks. We also know that our Allies and our partners in the region need our help more than ever, because this hybrid toolbox is used against the Republic of Moldova, like never before short of military intervention. And the second part is Western Balkans, when they use this [toolbox, as there is] many, many, many, many things they have. So we're counting on our Allies in the region who know the region well. I know the region well. I care about the region well. I remember it being chair of the OAC, helping our North Macedonian friends keep the country together and look where they are with us today. I know that this region will also be part of our family. We keep a very, very vigilant eye on all interferences and influences in the region and thank you for the questions.
NATO Deputy Secretary General: To our Dutch dear friends and Allies. We are living in democracies and democracies not an autocratic regime where you can basically ignore the views of your public opinion. So us as political leaders we have to always have to find ways to continue to communicate to our public opinions and of course, to our national parliaments and to our national governments and to our media, and to our social media if we can, why it is so important for Ukraine to prevail in this war. And this is a case to be made for the ones concerned about the rise of China. There is an obvious argument that China is watching carefully what we do and what we don't do. What we are committing to be doing and what we are not delivering upon what we commit to be doing. Because everyone is watching Ukraine, not only with the lenses of European security as we do, that's our job, but also to the lenses of the old order in the making –on the remaking as we speak. This is also important when it comes to whatever ideas China might have in the South China Sea when it comes to Taiwan. If we had this difficulties with Russian gas and cutting coal to finding alternatives to Russian gas. Imagine what would happen if semiconductor industry in Taiwan would be disrupted from the world economy, what that would mean. So I'm not improvising here arguments, but I'm saying that Ukraine is important, morally, strategically, politically in itself, but the consequences of the way in which we support and Ukraine prevails or god forbid, fails in this war would have global consequences not only for us, but also for the rest of the world.
We always say what is happening Europe today could happen in East Asia and the Pacific tomorrow. Of course, when it comes to us in Europe, and a continent that has been, you know, over centuries, part of this sphere of influence kind of thing. I believe that the idea that we can –we give even indirectly even by passivity the right of Russia to have its own sphere of influence, as a definition is countering everything we hold dear, UN Charter, NATO's Washington Treaty, European Union's treaties. So I think we have still arguments are to make. Winter is coming, which is no surprise not only in Ukraine but so for our –in Europe will be probably, again, a conversation about inflation and energy prices. So this will not be an easy conversation for us. I hope and I know that we'll be able to prevent war fatigue. But we know that it's more difficult for us to keep this level of commitment than it is for the other guys to do the same. So the sooner we anchor Ukraine into Europe and to the Euro Atlantic family one or another, I think this will also be an important dimension of that issue.
Now, from our Finnish friends and newest Allies, I know that Sweden will be joining ranks and I cannot tell when because that's a matter of national sovereign decision of the remaining Allies, but I know they are invited to every single Council I chair or Secretary General chairs, they have become more intimate as we speak. I mentioned the NATO Industry Forum. So I would say that they are so close to us that now it's more of a political, final, important steps for them to be formally part of the Alliance but I think in spirit and in practical terms, they are already very close to us. And of course the Baltic Sea and the Nordic sea, the North regional plans, the northern part will be taking the important role of Sweden and they want to fill in, into the new equation. That's massively important for us. So we have to keep full confidence and we work readiness –the Secretary General is investing a lot of his political capital and time to making sure that we get this 32nd Ally on board as soon as possible.
And [speaks in Spanish], is something which is, in my view, in our view, is immensely important to our security. And I'm applauding the fact that many of the Allies including in Madrid at the Summit, including in Vilnius, they re-emphasize the importance of this part. I will make one comment. I mentioned the Mediterranean Dialogue. In Madrid, our leaders took a very important decision to help Mauritania with a defence capability package, DCB package, I can say here, because you also have the strings of the purse indirectly of these, that we have not delivered yet on our promises that our leaders took almost one and a half years ago back in Madrid to Mauritania, the only country probably in the Sahel that is still solid, relatively solid and also willing to work with us. So I think we have to do much more. I'm not here to plead for NATO in the Sahel, it's complicated but I am saying once we have a partnership with our –let's prove them, as Prime Minister Frederiksen said, Let's really show that our offer is better than the other one. There's still a lack of coordination between what we do nationally and multi-nationally, EU- NATO bilaterally.
The other thing that I would like to mention is the fact that, especially now with the situation in Gaza, and also we see Hezbollah trying to do also damage from the other side. We have four joint partners between NATO and the EU, the Republic of Moldova, Bosnia Herzegovina, Jordan and Tunisia, in the South. Nothing should stop us to work together and [speaks in French] tried to showcase in Jordan, in Tunisia, in Mauritania, where we have partnerships today that we can do and we can do and we should do much more. And I really hope that –in the Summit we have in Washington will be putting not only more language, but also more money and also more coherence and also more real commitment to these countries. I mentioned terrorism, I mentioned climate change security, you mentioned food security. Migration is still a huge challenge that is coming and politically speaking is such a sensitive issue for us in Europe or America. So I'm just saying that we should try really to do not only write papers, have final communiques, but really help them become stronger and less fragile. And I believe that on the way to the Washington Summit together, we'll be able to really show our Southern partners that we're really living up to our promises and we understand the geostrategic consequences of not doing enough in the South as well as we do for Ukraine as we do when it comes to China, new technologies that's also a very important part of the Washington Summit decisions, I hope.
NATO Deputy Secretary General: Thank you so much, [speaks in Italian], for the questions. Congressman Wilson. There is an older conversation about burden sharing in NATO and I mentioned in a previous answer to a different question, I can really feel politically, strategically that the European Allies and Canada are understanding that you cannot rely only on the US and you have to do a better job and invest more in defence. I'm confident that this will be the case. A subspecies of the burden sharing conversation is how much US and other Allies and partners are doing for Ukraine. I think that's a conversation which is from the same species, but is more specific. And of course, we are adding up numbers also in NATO. I think we should do a much better job working with US Congress, including with your staffers, including with Congressional budget office with all the ones who you make reference to in your own deliberations in the US. And if you add up what your non-US Allies and partners in the Ramstein process, there are 50 nations, not only NATO Allies, that are really doing a great effort, also military assistance for Ukraine. Next week, we'll have another also in Brussels, a separate Ramstein process meeting.
And this is something very important, if you add up the economic support, the macroeconomic support, the humanitarian support, the fact that we also have to compensate Russian gas. And by the way, this is lots of [inaudible] also from America coming to our economies. If you also had the fact that between now and 2030, European Allies and Canada will be purchasing more than 600 of F-35. That's also a sort of return on investment if I can put it like this strategically. So I think we have to do a better job on our side than the other Allies to really aggregate numbers convincingly, politically communicate. And we'll also try to counter some voices that are arguing that America is shouldering all the effort and the other side are doing –we're doing a lot and I think European Allies are doing quite a lot and I think we are slowly going –I don't say on par. But if you look, and also the cost that we have to quantify, let's say probably with other more economic organisations, the support for displaced Ukrainians with millions in our countries to have a Ukrainian language teacher in a school in Romania or in Germany or in Poland, costs money. That's also a cost. So I think we have to do a much better job in communicating this and but I know that strategically Allies understand that we have to show the Americas effort, which remains indispensable for our security, but we also have to do that.
For our Danish friends and Allies. I was recently meeting in Headquarters in Brussels, the delegation organised of course by Denmark, and we welcomed the Representative of Greenland in HQ recently. We have this NATO troops trained by tens of thousands in Europe's Arctic. And we were, of course, very respectful of the arrangements that each of the Allies have internally, that's not our business. But I'm saying that when Denmark is encouraging Greenland or Faroe Islands, or in [inaudible] so we are ready to engage and this is something we do and that's our business to make sure that we respond to what Allies are coming our way.
[Speaks in Italian], in particular skies in my home country of Romania. Thank you for what you do. I answered partially to the question about the South in a previous question. I also believe that I mentioned, let's have Mauritania. Let's try to make sure that NATO and the EU are working much better. I also believe that –I give you an example of something that happened to me. When I arrived four years back in NATO, I received a delegation from Ghana, coming to see us at NATO headquarters, Defence Minister, Foreign Minister, National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence, everybody was there. We want to become partners of NATO partners, official partners, the first sub Saharan partner of NATO, because we have none, why we don't have because we need consensus to do these things. And then we approved domestically Ghana to be our newest partner and then they backpedalled, they changed course, and I'm also saying this because in your dealings with partnerships, I think we have to make all of us a better job to tell other partners that NATO is a useful instrument that together with other bilateral support and European Union support. We can do a much better job in this issue. I want to say that we are now establishing a group of top experts on the South in NATO as we speak. I want to thank our Portuguese Allies if they're here, and I know Italy and others will be giving us top-level people, Portugal has given us a wonderful lady, top professional and they will have the task to recommend to us in NATO. And we are ready to share [inaudible] also with your great body, your fresh ideas about how you can do a better job also in the South. This is very important to me. I'm coming from the East, but in fact I'm coming from the Southeast. So, I understand the 360 degree approach in this Alliance and I want to reassure our Allies that the South is very much on our mind.
NATO Deputy Secretary General: Know when enough spending for defence. This is a political question and it needs a political answer. My answer would be reflecting the strategic circumstances of that specific time. So sometimes, you know, 2% could be a rigid indicator, but it's also something that I believe is for NATO the right upward trend without prejudging what will be the needs for our Alliance and for our nations in the in the in the future. It's true that many European Allies have collected a peace dividends on behalf of our American friends. They are protecting us. And in a way when we hear our American Allies saying that you should also shoulder those burdens.
I think it also makes a lot of sense. It would be perfect to have a world where we don't need these kind of investments, but unfortunately we need them. You also mentioned the fact that we are we should defend our territory: yes we do, in Vilnius the new defence plans are exactly that. And we have just last week, the fourth generation structure meeting our charts met, and they have to live up nations up to the commitments for those plans. Yes, we do a lot for deterrence and defence. But let me also make a point about the non-geographical threats to our security. Space is non geographical, we had to do more in space. Cyber is non-geographical, we had to do more for our digitalized economies, not only militaries. I mentioned AI and quantum and biotech coming our way. What do we do if we lose our edge to China and others? What will happen to our economies? What will happen to our democracies? You need to invest in your national security.
And when I say security is not only defence budgets, it's also economic security, is energy security, is technological security, is supply chain security, is climate change and security. It costs money. It's up to each nation to decide where to put the money that's a sovereign decision of nations and national parliaments. But I'm just saying that the world is complicated, my friends, and we have to invest more to secure our democracy and freedom and there's no way around it, how you do it in each order, that's something that we fully respect on behalf of each of the Allies. And also something about what we call near peer competitors. We had a meeting in NATO last week, I think, talking about AI, generative AI, and we had Eric Schmidt from Google, the founder of Google. And basically, we had a question about ethical use of AI and we have here a great nation of Denmark being doing so great on Quantum. And we ask them, I mean, the industry, what do you think will be the constraints we put on ourselves if we apply to our militaries, the ethical use of AI and quantum in the near future? And he said one thing in order to afford to have ethical use in national defence for AI, you have to be ahead of your competitors. That's also something we have to reflect on quite a lot.
Dear President Poroshenko. Thank you for the question. I cannot prejudge what Allies will be deciding in Washington. I know that we are moving Ukraine closer to us and Ukraine is getting closer to us. The only suggestion I make as somebody who has been working so hard in my country, Romania's accession to NATO and European Union. I was foreign minister when we joined NATO. I was foreign minister when he closed the negotiations. The only advice I would give as a friend, as a friend and as a neighbour. I know you also have Romanian sympathies in your family. Please don't overlook as difficult as it is also the most structural domestic reforms.
And I know how difficult it is to have, let's say, more transparency in your public life. To make sure that while fighting a bloody war, you have also to do structural reforms. I know it's very easy to preach. But I'm saying: continue to do that. Because those reforms are not only for you to get into NATO is also for you to get a stronger economy and a stronger society. And the last thing please work with us and EU making sure that you don't duplicate your efforts while starting negotiations – I hope in December for joining the EU – and also doing things with us. If you do something building integrity in your armed forces with us they should be okay for the EU. If the EU is doing something relevant in your work on your other issues, it should be relevant to us so we are here to help you, so that as you move towards the EU and NATO, you optimize your efforts and you make more synergy between the two sides of the same coin: NATO and EU are two sides of the same coin as I mentioned to our French friends and Allies. So I have high expectations from this thing,
Though, Georgian friends. Let me tell you one thing. Before the war of aggression started in Ukraine by Russia, Georgia, who was and still is the most robust enhanced opportunity partner that NATO has. We are not doing… with no other partner short of Ukraine today, for obvious reasons, as much as we did with you guys. It's up to you: which way and how you want to build upon this this long record of cooperation you've been for long, long, long years, the champions of reforms not only in the Caucasus or in the Black Sea region, but also in Central Eastern Europe.
You are doing better than many of the countries that are now members of EU and NATO. So it's up to you. Continue the reforms, stay the course. I know the Georgian people want to be part of the democratic civilized West. But I'm not here to give you political guidance. I'm here to say that if you want to reinvest in doing with us, the sky's the limit. But the ball is in your court and I hope that you'll take this message back and reinvigorate our very strong partnership already.