Opinion: Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the event: NATO Perspectives to 2030 and Beyond, 30-Nov-2021

Minister Rinkēvičs,
Dear Edgar,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen.

It’s really great to be back in Riga, back in Latvia, for a lot of reasons.

You are a staunch ally,
You contribute to NATO missions and operations in a number of ways.
And you stick to the 2% guideline.
And you host the NATO Battle Group here in Latvia.

It’s really good to be here.
Particularly because we have real snow.
There are a lot of great things to say about Brussels, but they don’t have the same quality of snow as you find here in Latvia.
So that’s a good thing.

And let me also thank the organizers of this event today.
The Institute of International Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for welcoming us and organizing this event.

I look forward to delivering my speech because it gives me the opportunity to share with you some ideas on how to develop NATO’s next Strategic Concept.

After the Washington Treaty, the Strategic Concept is NATO’s most important guiding document.
The last one dates from 2010.

Since then, our security has changed in unrecognizable ways.

Today we live in an era of systemic competition.
Russia and China are undermining the rules-based international order.
The balance of power is changing
Democracy and freedom are under great pressure.

The next strategic concept is the opportunity to show how NATO will face this new reality.

Five elements are essential.
Protect our values.
Strengthen our military power.
Strengthen our societies.
Take a holistic view.
And build NATO as an institutional link between Europe and North America.

Let me go through each of them in more detail.

First, we must protect the values ​​that underpin our Alliance.
NATO was created to defend democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
These values ​​define who we are.
They are not optional.
And they must continue to guide us in a more complex world.

These values ​​are under pressure.
Both from outside our Alliance and from our own nations.

Authoritarian regimes roll back the rules-based international order,
They promote alternative models of governance.

They use propaganda and disinformation to undermine our societies.
And malicious cyber tools to interfere with our elections.
At the same time, there are extremists and political groups in our own countries who do not respect our democratic values.

We saw a vivid example of this on January 6 when the United States Congress was attacked in an attempt to prevent a peaceful transition of power.

Global democracy is in decline.
And there is less confidence in democratic institutions.

More than ever, we must therefore demonstrate the strength of our democratic model.
And protect our values.
Abroad and at home.

Second, we must strengthen our military might.

The 2010 Strategic Concept stated that “the Euro-Atlantic area is at peace”.
But today we can no longer take our peace and security for granted.
The Russian regime is aggressive abroad and oppressive at home.
Its military reinforcement at Ukraine’s borders is worrying.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party is using its economic and military might to coerce other countries and control its own people.
Expand its global footprint from Africa to the Arctic, in space and in cyberspace.
In addition, cyber attacks are increasingly frequent and sophisticated.
Terrorist threats persist.
Nuclear weapons are proliferating.
And climate change causes instability and fuels crises.

To ensure the safety of our people in today’s unpredictable world, we must continue to strengthen and modernize our deterrence and defense.

We must ensure that our armed forces are ready and prepared for any threat.
With the right equipment.
The right training.
And the right skills.

But to ensure our security, it is not enough to have strong armed forces.
We also need strong societies.

And that brings me to my third point.

Societal upheaval can be quick and easy.
It only takes a click of a button to shut down our networks.
A message on social networks to misinform citizens.
And a pandemic to paralyze our societies.

In today’s interconnected and digital world,
our nations can be more prosperous.
But they are also more interdependent and more vulnerable.

Our competitors or potential adversaries exploit this.
They invest heavily in our critical infrastructures in order to interfere in our societies.
And use our dependence on essential supplies to promote their interests.

In Europe, we need gas from Russia to warm us up.
And avoid an energy crisis.
And we need the rare earth supplies from China to use our smartphones and computers.

To make our societies stronger,
our populations and our institutions must be able to better resist and bounce back from attacks.
Our infrastructure needs to be more resilient.
And our more diverse and secure supply chains.
It must be a collective effort.
All Allies have a role to play.
Because we are as strong as our weakest link.

Fourth, a global perspective.

NATO is and will remain an alliance between Europe and North America.

But our region faces global security challenges.
They require global awareness and global reach.

We cannot limit security to specific regions.
What happens far away matters to us here.

In fact, many of today’s threats are not limited by geography or lines on a map.
Cyber ​​attacks and terrorist attacks,
aggressive actions in space,
the use of hypersonic gliding vehicles and
intercontinental ballistic missiles,
and climate change,
are real global challenges.

Addressing them requires working closely with like-minded partner countries around the world.
It’s not just “fun to do”.
It is an absolute necessity.

We need to step up our cooperation with NATO’s partners in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
We should also engage more with other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

And we still need to strengthen our cooperation with the European Union.
And all our partners in Europe.

We cannot be safe without working with others.
But together, we can shape the strategic landscape for the better.
Compete in a more competitive world.
And defend the rules-based international order against those who seek to undermine it.

Fifth, we must make NATO a strong institution.
NATO is a powerful idea.
Nations across Europe and North America are coming together to defend each other.
And ensure our freedom and security.
‘One for all! All for one’.

But NATO is more than an idea.
It is an idea nested in a strong institution.
It creates models of cooperation.
Cultural and personal ties.
Integration on a scale difficult to undo.

He has protected us all for over seven decades.
Never have so many people been so secure and prosperous for so long.

We cannot predict the future, but we will learn from the past;
A strong alliance between Europe and North America is essential for our security, freedom and prosperity.

We must therefore continue to invest in NATO.
Politically, militarily and financially.
To make it even stronger.
Thus, it can continue to resist any crisis and any change in political climate.

Today, I look forward to hearing your ideas for the next strategic concept as well.
And what you think should be NATO’s priorities going forward.

Thank you very much for your attention.


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