Stoltenberg Concerned Brexit Created A ‘More Unpredictable Situation’ for NATO

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Feb. 5, 2015From Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal: The head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said the British vote to leave the European Union leaves the continent more fragmented.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that the vote makes the military alliance’s role as a unifying entity more important.

I am concerned about a more fragmented Europe,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “But it is important now to look forward and work with leaders in NATO and the European Union to make sure we both strengthen NATO as a platform for European cooperation….”

Mr. Stoltenberg acknowledged the U.K. vote could create the kind of unpredictable situation that is bad for security.

“Stability, predictability is good for security, and uncertainty, unpredictability creates challenges to our security,” he said. “We are faced with so much so much uncertainty, unpredictability and instability surrounding us. And anything that adds to that is a concern….”

Britain is the biggest provider of security in Europe,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.

From Robin Emmott, Reuters: “It is a more unpredictable situation than before the UK decided to leave. I think that’s quite obvious,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at alliance headquarters in Brussels….

Stoltenberg said British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon reassured him by telephone on Friday that Britain would not jeopardise joint EU-NATO efforts to counter potential Russian cyber attacks or naval operations in the Mediterranean, which are helping to stem an influx of migrants into Europe.

Britain will also stick to its promise to help lead the new multinational NATO force in Europe to deter Russia, Stoltenberg said. He added that even though Britons voted on Thursday to leave the EU, NATO and the European Union will still sign a cooperation pact at the alliance’s Warsaw summit in July….

“Over the past 13 months, we have been able to reach more arrangements with the European Union than over the past 13 years,” Stoltenberg said. “We have now a momentum in NATO-EU cooperation and I expect that to continue.”

From Robin Emmott, Reuters: “Things are going to be a lot harder,” said a senior Western defense official involved in EU-NATO cooperation. “NATO planned on linking itself up to a stronger European Union, not being the default option for a weakened, divided bloc….”

NATO becomes even more important to keep Britain engaged internationally,” the senior Western official said. “We don’t want Britain to become a Little England.”

Image: Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Feb. 5, 2015 (photo: NATO)