BRUSSELS: NATO Defence Ministers will take decisions to strengthen the Alliance’s security and lay the ground for the NATO Summit in Madrid next June. Speaking at the start of the two-day meeting on Thursday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Ministers will adopt a new set of capability targets for all Allies.
“They will also agree an overarching plan for the defence of the Euro-Atlantic area, ensuring we have the right forces in the right place at the right time,” Stoltenberg said. NATO will also adopt its first strategy on artificial intelligence and Allies will sign up to an innovation fund with the aim of investing one billion EUR. Also on the agenda are talks on how to preserve the gains made in the fight against terrorism after the end of the Alliance’s military operation in Afghanistan.
And tomorrow, the ministers will meet with our closest partners, Sweden, Finland, and the European Union.
And we all look forward to discuss how we can further strengthen the partnership.
When asked what is your most important lesson that you will tell the ministers that the NATO should draw from the disaster in Afghanistan.
Stoltenberg replied that we are in the midst of the lessons learned process, I think it’s a bit early to draw final conclusions.
And we have to remember that we were faced with a very difficult dilemma in Afghanistan; either to leave and then risk Taliban returning, and we were clear about that risk, or to stay, but then risk more casualties, more fighting, more violence, and also, most likely the need to increase number of NATO troops in Afghanistan.
So after extensive rounds of consultations among all allies, we agreed together to end our military presence in Afghanistan.
The lesson learned process has to focus on both what did not work, but also what worked, because it is of course a tragedy for the Afghan people, that Taliban is back, it’s heart-breaking for all of us who supported Afghanistan for so many years, but at the same time we should recognize that we actually made significant achievements.
Our mission was not in vain. We prevented Afghanistan from being a safe haven for international terrorists, and prevented any attack against any NATO ally over 20 years.
Now we will stay vigilant and preserve those gains. Not least by holding, using the leverage we have on the new Taliban regime to make sure that they live up to their commitments on terrorism, on human rights, and safe passage.
When a reporter asked about nuclear deterrence, and the fact that the you know, the new Norwegian, the Labour government in Oslo intends to go to the state party conference on the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty. I would love to hear your reaction to that and possibly an advice to other NATO members, considering the same, since Norway is the first ally with intentions to go there.
Secretary General replied that NATO’s aim is a world without nuclear weapons.
“But as long as there are nuclear weapons, NATO will retain a nuclear deterrent, because we don’t believe in unilateral nuclear disarmament. We don’t believe that a world where Russia, China and countries like North Korea have nuclear weapons and we do not, is a safer world.”
“We believe in balanced verifiable nuclear disarmament, not in unilateral nuclear disarmament. And therefore, NATO’s position on the ban treaty is very clear, we don’t believe in that treaty as a way towards nuclear disarmament. And I also expect that all allies will take this into account, when they address nuclear issues and consult closely with other NATO allies, and I expect that these issues will be raised and discussed at the Defence Ministerial meeting today.”
After meeting, NATO defense chiefs have approved a global defense plan for the alliance to protect the 1 billion people of its member states from any threat. This was announced on Thursday by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference following the first day of the meeting of the defense ministers of the alliance countries in Brussels.
“Ministers today approved a comprehensive plan to protect our alliance in the event of crises and conflicts, which will allow us to be confident that our forces will remain in the right place at the right time to protect our one billion people from any threats,” he said. According to Stoltenberg, NATO defense ministers also approved mandatory tasks for the alliance states to acquire new weapons and equipment.
The North Atlantic Alliance will respond to the intensive modernization of China’s army, the acquisition of new nuclear and cyber capabilities by Beijing, Stoltenberg said.
“Part of the picture of new threats and challenges is China, which is intensively modernizing its military capabilities, acquiring new nuclear and cybernetic capabilities. he said.