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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Europe needs to step up for security

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Anders_Fogh_RasmussenSpeech 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.

Thank you.

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Vasile Blaga, MEP: I am convinced that the firm measures adopted by the EP against Covid-19 will not stop here. The EPP Group is already working on a strategy for the rapid recovery of the post-crisis economy

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Vasile Blaga, MEP (PNL, PPE) told caleaeuropeana.ro that the EPP group in the European Parliament is already working on a “very clear strategy” for managing the current crisis generated by the new coronavirus, but also for the rapid recovery of the post-crisis European economy,

The unanimous vote of the European Parliament last week on proposals from the European Commission for the management of the European health crisis shows that the hesitant response at the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic was an accident, explains MEP Vasile Blaga, adding that “the answer came to correct the rather timid initial reaction of the European executive in the beginning of this challenging crisis for Europe and all the other states around the world ”.

The 37 billion euros  (part of the Corona Initiative) allocated to the Member States through the vote in the European Parliament will be directed towards health systems, local communities, small and medium-sized enterprises and economy sectors seriously affected by this crisis.

“The European Union means, first and foremost, solidarity – for better and for worse, and those who support the opposite are either not aware of what is being done at EU level, or have an interest in destabilising the Union,” says Blaga.

The vote in the European Parliament was also aimed at reallocating 800 million euros from the Cohesion Fund in 2020 to cover emergencies in the medical systems of the EU member state

“I am convinced that the measures will not stop here. The EPP group is already working on a very clear strategy for managing the current crisis, but also for the rapid recovery of the economy once the public health crisis is over. There are countless proposals and projects in progress that will help us all overcome this unprecedented crisis in recent history,” adds Vasile Blaga.

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Diana Zaim, photojournalist of CaleaEuropeană.ro, won the #EYE2020 Public Prize Photo Contest

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© Diana Zaim/Calea Europeană

Diana Zaim, the photojournalist of CaleaEuropeană.ro, is the winner of the Public Prize in the photo competition European Youth Event 2020, the largest event for young people in Europe, organized by the European Parliament.

Diana Zaim’s picture, with the theme “The future is now for the young generation”,  has a greater number of views (over 120,000), as well as appreciations (over 4,000).

For Diana “The future is now for the YOUNG GENERATION because we represent a point of reference in the future of our Union. We want to grow up and live through European values, that unite us and never gonna divide us again”. .

The picture was taken during the manifesto “Everyone for Europe”, an event organized on May 19, 2019 in Bucharest, which aimed to motivate the citizens to go to vote in the European elections on May 26.

 

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#EYE2020: “The future is now for ________!” 📷 @dianazaaim has been shortlisted for the “public prize winner” award. During the contest, we will regram some of the best shots. Then we will award the public prize winner from the photos which receive the most likes ❤ on our pages before 02 March 2020, at noon CET! Thanks for participating in our contest and good luck! . For Diana “The future is now for the YOUNG GENERATION because we represent a point of reference in the future of our Union. We want to grow up and live through European values, that unite us and never gonna divide us again”. . Show us what matters to YOU and what Europe should tackle NOW. You could WIN a trip to the European Parliament to take part in the European Youth Event and influence Europe’s decision makers! . 🏆 We will award 4️ jury prize winners and 1️ public prize winner. All five winners will be invited to EYE2020 in Strasbourg! . 📸 Take part by using the hashtag #eye2020 on a photo about one of these topics “The future is now for 📚 Education 🌱 Environment 😷 Health 🚀 Innovation 🙋‍♂️ 🙋‍♀️ Participation ‍‍or 👩‍👨‍👩 Young People”. Or you can go out of the 📦 box by creating your own! . 📣 All you need to do is complete the following sentence in the caption or comments of your post: “The future is now for ________!” ⏩ We are looking forward to receiving your ideas! . 📌 RULES: ✔ Use the hashtag #EYE2020. ✔ Tag @europeanparliament & @ep_eye. ✔ Live in an EU country. ✔ Be at least 18 years old. ✔ Have full copyrights of the photo you shared. ✔ Post your photo(s) before 2 March at noon CET . ✔ Be ready to travel to Strasbourg on 29-30 May, 2020 . ✔ Your account needs to be public in order for your entry to be visible. . 🔍 The @europeanparliament and @ep_eye photo #contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, @instagram .

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Every two years, the European Youth Event (EYE) brings together at the European Parliament in Strasbourg thousands of young people from all over the European Union and beyond to shape and share their ideas on the future of Europe. It is a unique opportunity for 16 to 30 years olds to meet and inspire each other and exchange their views with experts, activists, influencers and decision-makers right in the heart of European democracy.

The fourth edition will take place at the European Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg on 29-30 May 2020.

The entire list of the winners:

 

 

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📷 Our #EYE2020 contest is over and it’s time to announce the winners and to congratulate all of you for the beautiful photos we have received! . Thanks for showing what matters to YOU and what Europe should tackle NOW! . 🏆 The public prize winner is: @dianazaaim 🔎 “The future is now for the young generation!” . And our four jury prize winners are: 🥇 @olv_r (@dreamingmoria) 🔎 “The future is now for humanity!” . 🥇 @martinellisphoto 🔎 “The future is now to prevent nuclear war!” . 🥇 @mqmaj 🔎 “The future is now for education!” . 🥇 @sophiasophiasophia3 🔎 “The future is now for opportunities!” . A special thanks to @rares_gheorghiu who was part of the jury for the contest!

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Following the event, the ideas, concerns, and hopes from young people are presented in a report distributed to all Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Some participants will also be able to further develop the most impactful ideas and present these directly to the MEPs in the parliamentary committees during “Youth Hearings”.

The EYE strives to promote equality, inclusiveness and sustainability with a strong commitment to accessibility for everyone. Our aim is to accommodate the needs of all participants, including persons with disabilities, and to implement actions that make the event more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

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EPP MEP Vasile Blaga about Green Deal: ”At the European Parliament level the ecological radicalism is quite strong”

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The Green Deal is the main topic discussed in the EU, especially in the Member States where a transitional period is needed, in order to have a green economy.

MEP Vasile Blaga stated to CaleaEuropeana.ro that “Romania’s high-stake is that nuclear energy and gas to be accepted in the transition to a green economy”.

We all know that the Green Deal requires some changes. For example, the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, believes that nuclear energy will no longer be economically feasible. But this is not the case for all Member States.

Vasile Blaga mentioned that “for rational political groups, such as the PPE, gas and nuclear energy are mandatory in the energy mix of the future. We need to be realistic and we have to understand that the Member States will have to produce several times more energy than they do today to cover the future needs of the economy”.

According to the MEP, there must be a “rational” approach to implement the Green Deal

“A rational approach is mandatory, but at the European Parliament level the ecological radicalism is quite strong.”

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