Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Annual National Conference on Europe, Oslo, Norway.
It is a great pleasure to attend your Annual National Conference on Europe. So let me start by saying “tusen takk” to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and to Oslo University.
This morning, I had the honour to attend the Liberation Day ceremony at Akershus. I pay tribute to those freedom fighters that fought for Norway’s freedom and independence.
I applaud the Norwegian spirit of freedom that demonstrated to the world a good example of the will to fight oppression.
I salute the Norwegian nation that stood up and fought for her freedom.
Through those dark days of World War II, the Norwegian people understood that freedom is priceless and it takes will and courage to fight oppression if you are to preserve your freedom.
Sixty-four years ago, your country and mine were among the twelve founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. NATO’s creation was an investment in a stable and secure Europe. An investment not just by European nations but also by the United States and Canada. It has been a wise investment for us all.
Thanks to NATO, we have enjoyed the longest period of peace and prosperity in our history. Our Alliance has successfully safeguarded the values that unite us as a transatlantic community: freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.
For the first four decades, we prevented the Cold War from getting hot. And for these past two decades, we have proved to be just as valuable for our security, but in a different way.
We have opened our door for new members. We have engaged many other countries in partnership, dialogue and cooperation, including Russia. And alongside the European Union, we have expanded the zone of peace and stability in Europe.
We have also demonstrated our determination, and our ability, to respond to crises and challenges. Both close to home, as in the Balkans and Libya. And at a strategic distance, as in Afghanistan. Norwegian forces have made — and continue to make — a vital contribution to these efforts.
We are building a NATO misile defence to protect against the growing threat posed by long-range missiles. We are also building up our defences against cyber attacks. And we are patrolling key maritime routes to counter piracy. Because in our increasingly connected world, any disruption to our transport, energy and communication systems will be at great cost – not just to our economies, but also to our security.
An arc of crisis now stretches from the Sahel, across North Africa and the Middle East, and into Central Asia. And developments in North Korea are just the latest reminder that instability in one nation can affect regional and international stability.
While these challenges are very different, they are all collective challenges. They affect all our nations. And they require a collective response. That is why defence matters. And why NATO matters.
But the security that NATO offers does not come for free. All Allies need to make the appropriate investment in defence. Because to deal effectively with the full range of security challenges, we need the full range of security capabilities. We need an Alliance that remains capable and credible. So we need forces that are flexible, modern and deployable.
At a time of economic austerity for many of our nations, some say we can’t afford the price of security. But I say we can’t afford the cost of insecurity.
I am a former Prime Minister, and an economist by training. I know that defence cannot be divorced from economic reality. Governments simply have to balance their budgets. And that includes defence budgets.
But we must not forget that our freedom, our prosperity and our well-being rest on our security. And on our ability to provide the stability that is necessary for our economies to function and flourish.
Our investment in NATO is a mutual investment, shared among all the Allies. It provides us all with a position of strength and influence. And it gives all of our nations – big or small — far greater security than they could ever achieve on their own.
But today, there is a serious imbalance in the investment made in our Alliance. The figures are stark. The United States now accounts for three quarters of NATO’s defence spending. This imbalance has serious operational and political consequences.
A new generation of American politicians and voters are asking why they should continue to “subsidise” Europe’s security, if European nations themselves seem unwilling to pay their share. If this trend continues, I am concerned it could undermine the support for NATO. And that could put the vital bond between Europe and North America at risk.
So how do we move forward? How can we continue to safeguard our freedom? And how do we preserve our ability to tackle risks and threats to our security, even at a time of austerity? I see three key priorities.
The first priority is to hold the line on defence investment. There is a lower limit of how little we can spend on defence, while still being able to meet our responsibilities. That limit has been reached. We cannot afford to make any further cuts. And we must ensure that, as soon as our economies recover, we start to invest more in defence, and in NATO.
The second priority is to work more closely together. So that we use our resources more effectively. Let me give you two examples.
The first concerns equipment. Many modern military capabilities are extremely expensive – and some nations cannot afford to buy them on their own. But by working together with other nations, they can share the costs and acquire the critical capabilities they need – and the Alliance needs. This is being “smart” with the way we invest in defence capabilities – and we call this approach “Smart Defence”.
The other example concerns our forces. Our Afghanistan, Balkans, and Libya operations have given our forces considerable experience of working together. This is a vital skill we need to keep. But our operational tempo is likely to reduce in the coming years, so we need to find another way to maintain this operational edge. And this is the purpose of our “Connected Forces Initiative”. By training and exercising more together – both with Allies and with partners – our forces will maintain their ability to operate together.
The third priority is to create a new, and better, balance in NATO.
When we acted to protect the people of Libya from a murderous regime two years ago, European nations showed that they are willing to lead a NATO operation, and to provide the majority of capabilities. The Norwegian air force made a tremendous contribution to the success of that effort.
But Libya also confirmed what we have seen in Afghanistan. And what we saw again with the French-led operation in Mali earlier this year. That European nations continue to rely on the United States to provide certain high-end capabilities that are key to modern operations — long distance transport aircraft; air-to-air refuelling aircraft; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.
I am glad that European nations have now started to work together to address this imbalance – and to fill these critical gaps. I continue to encourage them to cooperate more – whether within NATO, or within the European Union, or within bilateral or regional groups. Here again, Norway has set an example for others to follow. You are working together effectively with your Nordic and Baltic neighbours, with NATO Allies as well as NATO partners. And NATO is already seeing the benefit of this cooperation.
Norway has also helped the Alliance develop new approaches to building security. You have drawn the attention of your Allies to emerging challenges, such as the security implications of climate change. And you have highlighted the role of women in peace and security, which has become a major consideration in our operations, our training, and many other activities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am confident that your generation will continue the courageous and exemplary work of earlier generations. And that Norway will continue to be a powerful example for others in Europe.
Your country understands that all European nations face crucial choices on the future of our continent. On the balance in our relations with our North American Allies. And on Europe’s role and relevance in the wider world.
More than six decades ago, we made a very wise investment. We invested in a security alliance between Europe and America that has served us extremely well.
We now need to make sure that NATO continues to serve us as well in the future. And there is no alternative. We need to invest today – politically, militarily and financially – so that we can be prepared for whatever tomorrow may bring.
Because we need hard capabilities to back up our diplomacy. To ensure that Europe retains credibility and influence. To sustain our continent’s role as a global actor. And to help keep the spirit of freedom alive.
Exclusive interview with the Romanian President Traian Basescu: What we need is a competent Government capable of generating sustainable growth and jobs. Public trust in European Union, a record low, because EU didn’t deliver what it promised. Petty political interests are placed by the current coalition above the national interest
Take part in the #EUCanBeatCancer campaign. EPP group urge the Member States to join forces and fight cancer together
EPP Group, the largest political family in the European Parliament, is launching a cancer awareness campaign, the disease that causes one of four deaths in Europe.
Through #EUCanBeatCancer campaign, the EPP group calls for better cooperation between research centers in Europe, more money for cancer research, but also fair and accessible care across Europe for citizens.
How can you get involved in the #EUCanBeatCancer campaign
You can join the 1537 citizens already registered in the campaign through 4 simple steps:
- You subscribe using the email address HERE
- Follow the #EUCanBeatCancer campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
- Use the Twibbon in the profile picture
- Draw the Twibbon symbol and post it in order to show support
Everyone has their own story about cancer, even European politicians or leaders:
According to the World Health Organization, one third of cancers are preventable and half of the deaths could be prevented.
Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in Romania and in many cases the disease is detected when it is already in an advanced stage.
According to the private health network, Regina Maria, in Romania, 80% of breast cancers are diagnosed in the advanced phase, a stage in which the treatment can not bring healing, but only prolong the survival.
Romania had the lowest rates (0.2% of women aged 50-69 – 2015) in breast cancer screening.
Our multimedia platform – Calea Europeana – has joined the #EUCanBeatCancer campaign. During the campaign informative articles will be published and we will keep you updated with the measures taken at European level to beat cancer.
Citizens’ and Youth Agoras to be the cornerstone of the Conference on the Future of Europe, MEPs say
Citizen and Youth meetings should set the tone for EU reform, according to the resolution adopted on Wednesday by the European Parliament, were MEPs propose establishing several Citizens’ and Youth Agoras under the Future of Europe Conference that should be launched on Europe Day 2020.
Following a debate with Dubravka Šuica, Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography and Nikolina Brnjac, representing the Croatian Presidency of the Council, Parliament adopted a resolution setting out its vision for the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe with 494 votes for, 147 against and 49 abstentions.
MEPs want citizens to be at the core of broad discussions on how to tackle internal and external challenges that were not foreseen at the time of the Lisbon Treaty. People of all backgrounds, civil society representatives and stakeholders at European, national, regional and local level must be involved in setting the EU’s priorities in line with citizens’ concerns in a bottom-up, transparent, inclusive, participatory and well-balanced approach.
Parliament proposes establishing several Citizens’ Agoras (thematic fora of citizen representatives chosen randomly in line with proportionality and representativeness criteria), and at least two Youth Agoras, each comprising 200-300 citizens with a minimum of three per member state. Citizen representatives will discuss Agora conclusions at the Conference Plenary with MEPs and national parliament representatives, Council ministers, Commission Vice-Presidents and representatives of other EU institutions, bodies and social partners.
In addition to high-level support from the presidents of the three main EU institutions, Parliament urges Council and Commission to commit to the possibility of treaty change. The adopted text also underlines that a permanent mechanism to engage citizens should be considered.
Parliament is the first among the three main EU institutions to adopt a position on the set-up and scope of the upcoming Conference. Negotiations with the Commission and the European Council should be concluded in time for the Conference to be launched on Europe Day 2020 (May 9) and run until summer 2022.
EPP Secretary General Antonio López-Istúriz: The Orban-Iohannis couple will represent the European approach Romania needs so much
The Orban-Iohannis couple will represent the European approach Romania is so much in need of, is the statement made by the Secretary General of the European People’s Party, Antonio López-Istúriz White, for the caleaeuropeana.ro correspondent in Brussels.
This statement was made in the context of the interview given to caleaeuropeana.ro, following the meeting of the EPP Secretary General with the Prime Minister of Romania, Ludovic Orban, on the third and last day of his visit to the institutions of the European Union.
See also EPP Secretary General Antonio López-Istúriz: Romania can no longer stay outside Schengen. This is an unacceptable situation that the EPP will fight to change and we will support whatever measures prime minister Orban takes in this sense
”Things are changing and I think it is good for Romania to have a government that really is in line with the European institutions. Here in the EPP are very happy about it, we know Ludovic Orban as well as president Klaus Iohannis and I think the couple is going to represent this European approach that Romania so much needs”, said Antonio López-Istúriz, referring to the period of social-democratic governance during which Romania’s image at European level was compromised.
Moreover, the EPP Secretary General appreciated that the Prime Minister’s visit to the EU institutions was ”a good occasion for a politician like Ludovic Orban, who I have known for several years, to build a profile here in Brussels”. He added that the Prime Minister has been received ”not only as a friend, but also as a trusted representative of Romania by commissioners, the president of the Commission…”.
In this context, López-Istúriz cited the words of David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament, who said about the visit that ”Ludovic Orban and the new government bring new hope for the relations between Romania and the EU after, unfortunately, the bad episode of last year when the Romanian commissioner-designate did not pass the test which demonstrated that the government at that time was not in line with the EU reality”.
Prime Minister Ludovic Orban is on a work visit to the NATO and European Union institutions in Brussels from Tuesday to Thursday for meetings with the Presidents of the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as with NATO Secretary General.
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