Ladies and Gentlemen; distinguished guests.
The NATO summit in Cardiff is, in my opinion, the most important NATO summit in recent years. Yes, it has been stated before, but this time it is different. It is different because the security landscape in Europe has changed.
Our shared vision of a Europe whole and free is challenged by those who disregard the rule of law. The unison condemnation of Russian aggressive actions in Ukraine at the Summit leaves no room for interpretation. Likewise, the instability in our southern neighbourhood is causing grave concern. ISIL’s disregard for human life and rights is unacceptable to all of us.
Readiness and Responsiveness
The Summit gave a clear response to these challenges. An important message is the refocus on collective defence, and that the Alliance is ready to improve our readiness and responsiveness.
Norway has long argued the need for NATO to focus more on collective defence. We therefore strongly support the Readiness Action Plan, which emphasize both preparedness and responsiveness.
Another important component is the reassurance measures. Norway’s and other Allies’ decision to deploy forces to Latvia is a strong and united message about the Alliance’s solidarity and collective will to assure and deter. It is about establishing predictability. Multinational presence in NATO’s Eastern Europe is the new baseline for deterrence. Norway will take its share, and later this fall we will send a company to Latvia for training and exercise purposes. Next year we will be part of Baltic Air Policing, and we will have land forces on stand-by in NATO’s Reaction Force. This will be an important test of the new concept described in the Readiness Action Plan.
In the long term Norway seeks constructive cooperation with Russia. Our policy has two key elements: firmness and predictability. Although we are under no illusions, our story with Russia is very different than Latvia’s and other Eastern European countries’. Norway has a long-standing common border with Russia, and we have had peaceful relations with Russia for more than one thousand years. Today our geography requires us to co-operate on certain practical areas.
But it does not change the fact that, when the dust settles, when the aggression in Ukraine comes to an end, the security landscape in Europe will be fundamentally changed. This will obviously have consequences.
Revitalize (transatlantic bond)
This Summit again reminded us of what NATO is all about. At the end of the day our purpose and rationale is peace and security. The relevance of NATO lies in upholding the common values and principles on which the Alliance was created. At the same time we must adapt to a changing security landscape.
To deal with these new challenges we need to revitalize the transatlantic bond. It is essential for NATO’s relevance and robustness. All heads of states and government emphasised this at the Summit, one way or another. The transatlantic relationship rests on US leadership and American engagement in Europe. And equally important, European allies willingness to take their fair share.
As we face a fundamental shift in the security landscape in Europe, the US leadership will be as important as ever. The events in Europe over the past months have equally shown the value of NATO as a political Alliance. Through NATO, Europe and North America have demonstrated unity and sent a powerful message to Russia.
Our political credibility requires NATO to be militarily capable. We need to strengthen NATO as a forum for consultation on defence and security, and we need to make sure we have the necessary military capabilities.
This leads me to my final point.
Recommit (to burden-sharing)
To ensure a credible and capable NATO that is prepared and ready to take necessary action, European allies need to recommit to defence spending. President Barack Obama has been clear in his message that European members must contribute more to transatlantic burden-sharing. European Allies have to step up. The goal of 2% is important, but it is not going to happen without political will and determination.
We also need to spend our resources wisely. Multinational options should be more actively pursued in order to fill the capability gaps. We need also to invest efficiently, in capabilities that enhance our common security. I am very pleased to learn that Latvia has decided to increase its budget over the next five years. We should “look to Latvia” in that respect.
Less than a month ago, the Chancellor of Germany, Andrea Merkel, pledged to support the Baltic countries against a possible Russian threat. Norway holds the same position. We are in it together.
Thank you for your attention. I am looking forward to the debate together with my distinguished colleges.