NATO says alliance keeps the transatlantic bond stronger

By Monitoring Desk
Friday – March 5, 2021
BRUGES (Belgium): North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) secretary general (SG) Jens Stoltenberg, Thursday, said, “As a committed European, I do not just believe in European integration. I also believe in transatlantic cooperation. Because a strong transatlantic bond is the bedrock of Europe’s security. For more than 70 years, NATO has embodied this unique relationship. Our alliance is the only place that brings North America and Europe together every day to discuss common security challenges, to preserve peace and prevent war.”

According to a press release, the NATO SG made a keynote speech at the college of Europe, at the invitation of the rector, Federica Mogherini, the former high representative of the European Union (EU) and vice-president of the European commission, in Bruges in which he highlighted the importance of transatlantic cooperation.

NATO SG Stoltenberg explained to the audience how NATO continues to adapt to address a range of challenges, including Russia’s destabilising behaviour, terrorism, cyber-attacks, disruptive technologies, climate change, and the rise of China. He outlined the NATO 2030 agenda to prepare the alliance for the future.

He made clear that in uncertain times we need strong institutions, like NATO and the EU, to defend our values and to promote our interests. He said, “Any attempt to divide Europe from North America will not only weaken NATO, it will also divide Europe. So I do not believe in Europe alone, or North America alone. I believe in North America and Europe together, in NATO, in strategic solidarity. Whatever challenges we face, we are stronger together.”

NATO SG Stoltenberg continued: for centuries, conflict in Europe was our constant companion.

The 7 years’, the 30 years’, the 100 years’ wars.

The Napoleonic wars, the Franco-German war, and two world wars, are only a few examples of many.

And NATO was established back in 1949 help make that this didn’t happen again, to stop this meaningless bloodshed in Europe.

The alliance has had to bring peace and democracy to a divided continent over decades. And enabled strong European integration from the very start.

For 40 years, Europe and North America stood together in NATO to deter the Soviet Union.

After the Cold War, we helped the newly free democracies of Central and Eastern Europe to fulfil their euro-Atlantic aspirations.

NATO membership paved the way for EU membership.

And in the 1990s, NATO ended two ethnic wars in the Western Balkans.

After 9/11 when the United States (US) was attacked, NATO allies stood in solidarity. Deploying hundreds of thousands of troops to Afghanistan.

And today, NATO remains at the forefront of fighting new more brutal forms of terrorism.

Through the US-led global coalition to defeat ISIS, we have helped liberate vast territory and millions of people in Iraq and Syria.

Following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has implemented the largest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation. Deploying combat-ready troops in the east of our alliance, to deter any aggression.

Let’s not forget, that this attempt to redraw borders by force, as we saw in Ukraine and Crimea, happened only a few years ago.

So the need to prevent conflict on our continent and to defend Europe remains very real. And the commitment of NATO and NATO allies to protect and defend each other has therefore not changed.

Today, NATO stands 30 allies strong. And keeps almost one billion people safe. But our alliance continues to change as the world around us changes. And we must continue to adapt, as we address challenges, both old and new.

China is not our adversary. But it has the world’s second biggest military budget, and it does not share our values. The rise of China and all of these global challenges make it all the more important for Europe and North America to work together.

Because no single country and no single continent can face these challenges alone.

But together in NATO, we represent half of the world’s economic might, and half of the world’s military might.

And we now have a unique opportunity to open a new chapter in relations between Europe and North America.

I welcome US president Joe Biden’s clear message on the need to rebuild alliances and strengthening NATO.

And I look forward to welcoming him and all other allied leaders to our summit in Brussels later this year.

At the heart of our preparations for the summit and at the heart of the summit will be NATO 2030, an ambitious and forward-looking agenda to prepare our alliance for the future.

We must reinforce our unity, which derives from our promise to defend each other.

By strengthening our deterrence and defence, as well as our political consultations.

We also need to broaden our approach to security. By increasing the resilience of our societies, maintaining our technological edge, and addressing the security impact of climate change.

And we must defend the rules-based order. By building a community of global democracies, with like-minded countries that share our values.

Stronger cooperation with the EU is part of this ongoing adaptation.

NATO and the EU are already working closely together in many areas.

Supporting our partners from Afghanistan to Ukraine. Countering disinformation and cyber-attacks and working on maritime security.

And I see potential for strengthening our cooperation even further.

I have stated many times that I welcome EU efforts on defence with the fullest possible involvement of non-EU allies.

So I welcome therefore the recent US decision to join the project on military mobility, which is a flagship of NATO-EU cooperation.

This can enable US and other NATO troops and equipment to move faster across Europe. For instance to reinforce NATO battlegroups in the Baltic Sea region.

A EU that spends more on defence, invests in new capabilities, and reduces the fragmentation of the European defence industry, is not only good for European security.

It is also good for transatlantic security. And that’s exactly also why NATO has called for Europe to do more in addressing these challenges, including increasing the competitiveness of the European defence industry. It will be good for Europe, but also good for the whole of NATO.

At the same time we know that the EU cannot defend Europe alone.

More than 90 percent of EU citizens live in a NATO country. But EU members provide only 20 percent of NATO’s defence spending.

This is not only about money. It is also about geography. Iceland and Norway in the North are gateways to the Arctic. Turkey in the South borders Syria and Iraq.

And in the West, the US, Canada and the UK link together both sides of the Atlantic. All these countries are vital for the defence of Europe.

And most of all, it is about politics. Any attempt to divide Europe from North America, will not only weaken NATO, it will also divide Europe.

So I do not believe in Europe alone or North America alone. I believe in North America and Europe together.

Whatever challenges we face, we are stronger together. In uncertain times we need strong institutions. Like NATO and like the EU. To defend our values, promote our interests, and keep our nations safe and free.