Many NATO nations are also members of the European Union and the nations are trying to square the defence requirements for each alliance, the head of NATO noted at a conference.
“I welcome EU efforts on defence,” the secretary general said.
“They are an opportunity to further strengthen the European pillar within NATO and contribute to better burden-sharing. But with opportunity comes risk: The risk of weakening the transatlantic bond; the risk of duplicating what we are already doing; and the risk of discriminating against non-EU members of the NATO alliance. The reality is the European Union cannot protect Europe by itself,” Jens Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg also discussed what he called “the re-emergence of nuclear challenges.”
After the Cold War, the alliance placed nuclear issues on the back burner, but Russia’s modernisation effort, Iran’s nuclear program and North Korea’s emergence as a nuclear nation placed it in the forefront once again.
“Let me be clear, our goal is a world without nuclear weapons, but as long as they exist we will remain a nuclear alliance,” the secretary general said.
“A world where Russia, China and North Korea have nuclear weapons, but we do not, is not a safer world. That is why the ultimate guarantee of NATO’s security is the strategic nuclear forces of allies, particularly those of the United States.”
Stoltenberg said the world may be more dangerous and unpredictable now, but he feels conflict is not inevitable.
“To preserve the peace, we need the military strength of the NATO alliance, combined with the political courage to seek dialogue, to deescalate, reduce tensions and find peaceful solutions to our differences,” he said.