NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the need for Europe and North America to work together was stronger than ever in times of turmoil and unpredictability.
Attending the Munich Security Conference, the Secretary General stressed the importance of fair burden-sharing, noting that all 28 Allies have made clear commitments to increase defence spending.
“For almost 70 years, the partnership between Europe and North America has ensured peace, freedom and prosperity. It enabled us to successfully deter the Soviet Union, and bring the Cold War to an end, and this partnership also enabled the integration of Europe. European leaders have always understood that going it alone is not an option. And, after two world wars that started in Europe, American leaders know that they have a profound strategic interest in a stable and secure Europe. The only time we have invoked our collective defence clause, the Article 5, was after an attack on the United States, terrorist attacks on 9/11 in 2001. And this was more than just a gesture. Hundreds of thousands of European and Canadian soldiers have served in Afghanistan in the last 16 years. Around a thousand have paid the ultimate price.
This bond between Europe and North America, embodied in the NATO Alliance, remains essential for both. Europe needs North America and North America needs Europe. Together, we are responding to a changing security environment. NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War.
Our response is defensive and measured and proportionate. We do not seek to provoke conflict, but to prevent conflict and preserve peace. To keep our people safe, NATO is also projecting stability beyond our borders. Responding to the turmoil on NATO’s borders in the Middle East and North Africa, the Alliance is helping to train security forces in partner countries like Jordan and Tunisia. Because when our neighbours are more stable, we are more secure.
We have led the international engagement in Afghanistan for more than a decade. And we continue to train Afghan forces to keep their country secure, and deny safe haven to international terrorists.
Every NATO Ally is part of the US-led coalition against ISIL. Our AWACS surveillance aircraft support coalition air operations and NATO has just started and launched a training and capacity building programme in Iraq.
But the Alliance can and should do more.”
The Munich Security Conference is one of the world’s foremost foreign and security policy gatherings, and more than 30 heads of state and government are scheduled to attend. This year’s conference will focus on transatlantic relations, European security cooperation, relations with Russia and the conflict in Syria.