Stoltenberg Asks NATO Legislators to Increase Spending on Defense

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO Parliamentary Assembly, November 24, 2014Today, NATO needs your support more than ever.   We are working hard to turn the decisions we took at the Wales Summit into reality.

On my first day in office, I outlined my three priorities. To keep NATO strong as a political and a military Alliance. To work with our partners to bring more stability to our neighbourhood. And to keep the bond between Europe and North America rock-solid.

Each of these priorities requires financial resources, underpinned by political will. But without them, there can be no security. And without security there can be little else. No safety. No prosperity. No freedom. . . .

[O]ur world has changed.

To our East, Russia is trying to replace the rule of law with the rule of force.

To our South, we also see the terrible human cost of conflict. We see violence and extremism across North Africa and the Middle East. And we continue to face many other challenges – from missile proliferation to cyber attacks.

We must face up to these changes. We must have more and better equipped armed forces. We must have the right balance of forces and capabilities. . . .

[O]ur military needs long term investment and political support. For readiness comes at a cost.If we look around the world, while NATO has cut defence spending, others have rapidly increased it. Over the last 5 years, Russia increased its spending by fifty percent. And it plans further increases.

At the same time, total NATO defence spending fell by twenty percent. And some nations are cutting further.In more peaceful times, it was right to reduce defence spending. But we do not live in peaceful times. So it is right to stop the cuts and to increase investment in our defence. . . .

We cannot do more with less indefinitely. And defence cannot take an excessive share of the austerity burden.

We must be clear with our publics about why we need to increase defence investment. And we must continue our efforts towards greater transparency. . . .

The time has come to stop defence cuts. We must invest more in defence and spend our money better. And you, the parliamentarians, play a vital role in fulfilling the defence pledge we made at the Wales Summit. . . .

Defence investment in times of austerity calls for hard choices at home. In every government. And in every parliament.It is my responsibility to work with you to implement what was decided. And I am personally committed to this.

We all need to work hard. And we will all be judged on the progress we make.

So I need you to make the case at home. To speak up for defence. To increase the momentum for more defence spending. To reach out across the political spectrum. And to persuade your constituents of the value of defence investment.

If we fulfil the Defence Pledge that we made at Wales, we will keep ourselves safe. And, working with others, we will help to keep peace around the world.

Excerpts from keynote address by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the 60th Plenary Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in The Hague. November 24, 2014.

Image: Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO Parliamentary Assembly, November 24, 2014 (photo: NATO)