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NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organisation : Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Affairs Ministers' session

06/01/2021 | 02:13pm EDT

Good afternoon.

We have just concluded a meeting of NATO's Foreign Ministers, to prepare for the NATO Summit on the 14th June.

Ministers addressed a range of issues including Afghanistan, Belarus, Russia and China.
And overall, the need for NATO to adapt to a new era of growing global competition.

We are presented with a number of challenges to our security that we need to tackle together.
Because no country and no continent can deal with them alone.

Against this background, Ministers addressed the NATO 2030 agenda on how to continue to adapt NATO for the future.

We all agree that at our Summit, we have a historic opportunity to reinforce the transatlantic bond.
And to prepare our Alliance for a more unpredictable and more contested world.

This is an opportunity we must seize.

Today, NATO ministers had a very good discussion on NATO 2030.

We addressed ways to strengthen the role of our Alliance as the unique and indispensable forum for transatlantic coordination.
On all issues that affect our defence and security.

We also agree that we must boost NATO's collective defence, against all threats.
Reaffirm the defence investment pledge Allies made in 2014.
And fully implement all decisions we have taken to strengthen our posture.

Ministers also addressed the need to raise our level of ambition when it comes to resilience.
With a more integrated and coordinated approach to protect our critical infrastructure.
And to make our societies less vulnerable to attack and coercion.

We also discussed concrete ways to sharpen our technological edge.
And prevent technological gaps among Allies.
By considering to establish a defence innovation accelerator - a new centre to foster greater cooperation among Allies on technology.
Underpinned with extra funding from nations that decide to participate.

NATO 2030 will also enhance our role in preserving the rules-based international order, which is challenged by authoritarian regimes, like Russia and China.

We have strongly condemned the serious violation by Belarus of the norms of international civil aviation,
and the fundamental right of the freedom to the speech.
And I welcome sanctions by NATO Allies, and the European Union.

This shows the importance of like-minded countries standing together.

Ministers also addressed the importance of strengthening our existing partnerships, and building new ones - including in the Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

Another important area we discussed is stepping up efforts to train and build the capacity of countries requesting our support.
To address instability and support reform efforts.

We also addressed the security impact of climate change.
While NATO is not the leading organisation when it comes to combating climate change, we do have a responsibility to manage those aspects that relate to our security.
In fact, NATO must set the gold standard in understanding, mitigating, and adapting to the security implications of climate change.

Finally, there is broad agreement for the need to start work on NATO's next Strategic Concept.
Because our strategic environment has significantly changed since 2010.

All of this requires NATO to do more.
But to do more, we also need to invest more.

We are on the right track, with seven years of consecutive increases by Europe and Canada.
We must keep up this momentum.
And we must invest more together.

Because investing together through NATO is a force multiplier.
It is more efficient.
And it will send a strong message of unity and resolve.


NATO 2030 is an ambitious agenda for our security and defence.
And Foreign Ministers expressed strong support for it today.

I look forward to continuing our NATO 2030 preparations with Defence Ministers later this afternoon.

With that, I am ready to take your questions.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
We have time for a couple of questions, virtually, and we'll start with Thomas Gutschker from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Thomas Gutschker):
Yes, good afternoon. Secretary General, you said we must invest more together, you did not mention whether you have reached consensus on this hotly debated issue. So let me ask you, is there agreement on this? And what do you reply, specifically to France, which is complaining that increased spending for NATO means there is less money available for EU defence purposes? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
We had a very good discussion today, and all allies agree that we now have an historic opportunity to strengthen the transatlantic bond, and to do more together. And this is important because we live in a more unpredictable and more contested world. There is broad agreement that this will require additional resources. And I'm confident that by the summit, we will set an ambitious agenda for NATO 2030. Let me also add that there is no contradiction between national defence efforts and NATO. Actually, NATO is the cornerstone for security and defence for all NATO allies, and spending together is a force multiplier, it's an efficient way of spending, and it also sends a very clear message to our own populations, and to any potential adversaries. And then, of course, spending together is a way to invest in the bond between Europe and North America. Because NATO brings Europe and North America together every day, and therefore increased common funding is a way to provide more resources, higher readiness of our forces, more exercises, investment in infrastructure, prepositioned equipment and also working with partners. And I'm confident that when leaders meet in a couple of weeks, we will agree an ambitious and forward-looking agenda on all the issues covered by NATO 2030.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
For the next question we'll go to Lorne Cook from Associated Press.

Associated Press (Lorne Cook):
Good afternoon NATO Secretary General, I hope you can hear me well. Resolute Support is ending in Afghanistan very soon. Time's running out to address some important questions for NATO. What options do you have for funding the Afghan Security Forces now that the mission is ending, and who's going to protect the people that NATO wants to help do the institution building in the country? And we've seen that a few, a few member countries are taking care of Afghans who have risked their lives to help NATO and international forces over the last 18 years. Why shouldn't the organisation, NATO itself, as an Alliance be more involved in that process?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
We are ending our military mission in Afghanistan, but we will continue to provide support to the Afghans, and we will do that in different ways. We will maintain our civilian presence in Kabul to provide advice and capacity building for the Afghan security institutions. We will continue to provide funding, and in our meeting today several Allies stated clearly that they are committed to the decisions we have already made to provide funding. And we will also help to support the Afghan Security Forces, by now working on how we can provide out-of-country training, especially for the Afghan Special Operation Forces. And then we are working on how we can support critical infrastructure including the continued running of the International Airport. This is of course important for NATO, and NATO and civilian staff in Kabul, but also for the overall larger international community, and we are addressing issues now related to security and other issues, including funding. So we are working on all these issues and I welcome the message from allies in this meeting today, that they are committed to the decisions we made when we decided to end the operation and that we will find other ways to provide support to the Afghans. I welcome the efforts of different allies to also, of course, work with and support Afghans who have been working with them for a long time. But this is an issue that has been dealt with themselves, addressed by different allies within the Alliance.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
OK, we have time for one last question from Open TV, Maria Psara.

Open TV (Maria Psara):
Hello, good afternoon from my apartment, I hope you can hear me. Sorry for my camera, it's due to technical reasons that I cannot be seen. I have a question on Belarus. Today, the foreign minister of Belarus has thanked Turkey for its help in watering down reactions from NATO allies on the plane incident. First of all, how do you react to this, and if it is true, do you think that Turkey's political choices with S-400, and now Belarus, are in line with a solidarity between allies?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
The North Atlantic Council last week agreed a strong statement condemning strongly the forced landing of civilian aircraft on its way from one NATO capital, Athens, to another NATO capital, Vilnius. We also very clearly stated that what we need now is an independent investigation and NATO allies also clearly stated that we need to see that the journalist and his companion that were arrested during the landing of the plane, they have to be released. I also said many times that we call for the release of all political prisoners in Belarus. So we had a very clear and strong statement from all allies last week. And I also welcome that NATO allies implemented sanctions, and also of course the measures and the sanctions agreed by the European Union. So there's a clear message, a united message from NATO, on this issue.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Thank you very much. This concludes this press point. We will see you again after the virtual meeting of the NATO Defence Ministers. Thank you.

Disclaimer

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation published this content on 01 June 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 01 June 2021 18:12:01 UTC.


© Publicnow 2021
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