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Ambassador Lindsay's speech at the Pre-NATO Summit Working Breakfast

On 29 June 2016, Ambassador Iain Lindsay welcomed representatives of NATO members states and Montenegro to a working breakfast at the British Embassy in Budapest.

HMA Iain Lindsay at Pre-NATO Summit Working Breakfast

The event’s aim was to emphasize collaboration and unity between NATO member states, discuss results achieved so far and the upcoming Warsaw NATO Summit on 8 July 2016.

“Your Excellencies, Colleagues and Friends,

Thank you for accepting my invitation to meet this morning as NATO Ambassadors. I would particularly like to thank Hungary’s Defence Policy Director, Mr Péter Siklósi, for joining us.

Firstly, I am sure you will all want to join me in expressing outrage at the awful terrorist attack in Istanbul last night and in expressing solidarity with our ally Turkey and the Turkish people at this difficult time. Let us take a moment to reflect in silence.

As we look ahead to the NATO Summit in Warsaw, it is important for all of us to reflect on the journey that has brought us here, on what has been achieved, but also on what new ambitions the Alliance has for the future.

First, we should acknowledge the results achieved together in the period since the Wales Summit: our efforts to increase defence investment, implement the Readiness Action Plan, focus on adaptation and delivering modern deterrence. But we must also recognise that we are facing new threats and challenges; clearly, the global security situation continues to change and thus requires a response that is adaptable and dynamic enough to keep pace and a posture that prevents as much as reacts to crises.

The UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Review reaffirmed NATO’s position at the heart of the UK’s defence. The Review committed the UK to working with our NATO allies to ensure that the Warsaw Summit delivers on the commitments made in Wales two years ago. But Warsaw also needs to build on Wales, and further strengthen NATO against current and future threats from the East and the South, working closely with other international partners. The UK seeks an Alliance ‘adaptable by design’ to the ever changing threats to Euro-Atlantic Security. A successful, Warsaw Summit will lay the foundations for enhanced European Security over the next decade.

Let me say a few words about the Defence Investment Pledge.

It is vital for NATO’s credibility and our messaging on deterrence for NATO Allies to demonstrate in Warsaw progress against the Wales Summit’s Defence Investment targets (namely 2% of GDP, of which 20% spent on modernisation). The UK will continue to meet NATO’s defence investment targets for the rest of this decade and is pleased to note the concrete steps taken by so many allies in the last two years to arrest declining budgets where necessary and to set the conditions for growth towards 2%.

We welcome the steps being taken by Hungary to increase its defence budget by 0,1 % of GDP until 2026 (by which time it will be roughly 1,7- 1,8% of GDP), which will mean reaching the 20% target on modernization by 2019.

If I may now turn to Russia…

My government believes that, on the basis of its current behaviour, Russia is likely to remain more a competitor than a partner, and that we need to continue to recalibrate our relationship accordingly.

Our long term approach should be strong but balanced, including modern deterrence.

In the East, NATO is responding to the security concerns of Allies by increasing its presence on a persistent, rotational basis.

It is important to identify appropriate national contributions to form an enhanced forward presence, in which the UK will be a major contributor. We will provide the framework for a multinational force in a Baltic State, drawing from Joint Expeditionary Force partners and other Allies. We see this as a contribution to wider Baltic security.

On enlargement, Montenegro should take its place as an observer at the Summit and NATO should continue to develop substantial and practical co-operation with those countries which aspire to be members. Enlargement is key to the security of the Eastern flank but it is not about Western encirclement of Russia. NATO is not a threat to Russia. It is a defensive Alliance that is transparent and consistent.

On Modern Deterrence, we need to build NATO’s deterrent effect (including, but not limited to, nuclear). This means a persistent, but not permanent, forward presence, as agreed across the Alliance. NATO Defence Ministers agreed on the key elements in February. Now it is vital that Allies agree upon practical deliverables ahead of Warsaw.

In the South we face more challenges than before. Though not the first responder to these current challenges, NATO has a crucial added value role to play in projecting stability. NATO’s role in countering human trafficking in the Aegean underlines this. We would welcome a greater role for NATO in the South, eg in countering migrant smuggling in the central Mediterranean, in coordination with the EU’s Operation Sophia.

The UK will continue to support NATO’s Resolute Support Mission. We will keep up our financial contribution until 2020, and we would expect other Allies to follow. Thus, Warsaw will be a critical political moment to reaffirm the international community’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan and plan the future shape of RSM and how best to support ANDSF reform and reconstitution

We believe in a more enhanced defence capacity building to project stability. Progress must be made to ensure existing packages in Iraq, Jordan, Moldova and Georgia are delivering on what was promised at Wales. The UK has contributed £1.5m to DCB Trust Funds, and we would encourage Allies to consider making further contributions.

In light of recent successful Foreign and Defence Ministerial meetings we have done the preparation to conclude at the upcoming NATO Summit.

In Warsaw, the focus must be Alliance unity. In Warsaw, NATO needs to show that:

  • it has delivered on the Wales commitments

  • it is modernising its deterrence, including collective defence, enhanced resilience and effective dialogue, for 21st century challenges

  • it continues to modernise, through institutional adaptation and deeper partnerships, particularly with the EU, not least to build capacity on our flanks

A unified NATO, with a common approach and common will, a modern NATO all serves the same goal – a secure, strong and capable Alliance.

Your Excellencies, colleagues and friends, thank you.

I would now like to invite Defence Policy Director, Mr Péter Siklósi to share his thoughts.”

Published 30 June 2016