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NATO: Building Stability in an Unpredictable World

On 4 and 5 September, Wales will host the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Building Stability in an Unpredictable World

Building Stability in an Unpredictable World

On 4 and 5 September, Wales will host the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain. This is the first NATO Summit in the United Kingdom since the London Summit of 1990. The Wales Summit comes at a historic moment for NATO. The Summit must demonstrate that NATO is strong and united, able to meet, deter and, if necessary, defeat any threat. The military transition in Afghanistan and the deterioration of the NATO-Russia relationship both make the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales a critical moment to address NATO’s future military posture. Current events in Iraq and Syria, among others, also add to the context. We are all clear that NATO must continue to adapt and reform in order to be able to address today’s and tomorrow’s security threats and challenges from wherever they may arise.

The strategic context, particularly in terms of our relationship with Russia and the situation in Ukraine has clearly changed considerably over the last few months. NATO allies will need to agree on the long-term implications of the Russia-Ukraine crisis and how the Alliance will continue to provide for the collective security of all Allies. We must take the necessary decisions to strengthen NATO’s ability to respond quickly to threats, including new ones, to reassure those who fear for their security, and to deter further aggression from Russia or elsewhere. We must be able to adapt to the variety of threats, and strengthen our ability to stop potential challenges to the Alliance – whether from Russia or non-state actors - from spiralling downward in to full crises.

Allies will discuss the situation in Afghanistan as the ISAF mission draws to an end, and confirm our continuing support to the Afghan government. We must implement our commitments made at the Chicago Summit in May 2012 to provide financial support to sustain the Afghan National Security Forces. We should recognise the progress made by the Afghan forces as they have assumed responsibility for the provision of security across the whole of Afghanistan. We should also take the opportunity to recognise the sacrifices made by our NATO armed forces, those of our Afghan and other international partners, and the people of Afghanistan. NATO will also come together with other international organisations for some of the high level discussions, demonstrating the strength and complementary nature of our cooperation. NATO is at the centre of a broad, global network of co-operative security actors and closer cooperation with those Partners must be a core Summit theme. So we seek to emphasise partnership, building on the friendship, trust and practical habits of co-operation developed through working together in Afghanistan and the Balkans over the past two decades. The discussions and decisions on enlargement at the June meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers give us a good way forward on that issue. We have made clear our commitment to each aspirant’s path to future membership, provided a robust package of support to Georgia, initiated intensified talks in pursuit of membership for Montenegro and agreed the next steps for the other two aspirants.

Defence spending will be a key theme at the summit. We are seeking collective commitment to increase the quantity and quality of expenditure on defence capability across the Alliance. We need to ensure that, post-Afghanistan, NATO has the capabilities it needs for its next phase. We need to send a clear signal to those who would harm NATO, that we are serious about our defence. And we need to ensure that Allies shoulder the burden equally, as a bulwark to unity and solidarity. Despite the continuing impact of the financial crisis and the limited resources available to some partners, we would like Allies each to make the strongest possible commitments to increasing defence spending, and allocating funds to new equipment. The spending pledge is about long-term commitment to NATO and it will enable us to demonstrate togetherness and strength at the Summit without setting unrealistic targets.

Another theme will be that of “Full Spectrum Deterrence”. We face potential adversaries willing to operate in the space between peace and war. We need to show ourselves able and willing to respond – and thereby to deter – threats of all types. We need a better understanding of ‘new’ threats that we face and how we can sufficiently and credibly deter them.

We need to strengthen our partners outside NATO. We want to help NATO’s partners develop or enhance the capacity they need to counter the full range of threats to their security – that also challenge ours. NATO is uniquely positioned to build the capacity of defence institutions and can therefore complement work on security sector reform carried out by other institutions. This is an area where NATO help by supporting nations in unstable parts of the world to strengthen their defence structures and armed forces so they can deal with local and regional security challenges. We will also strengthen our ties with our closest allies outside the NATO area, building on our experience of joint operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

NATO’s fundamental and enduring purpose is to safeguard all of its members by political and military means. This is achieved through the right mix of capabilities and forces, from nuclear assets through to the individual soldier, operations, exercises, political will, funding and astute decision making. NATO has done this successfully for 65 years. With recent Russian aggression and conflict on NATO’s south-eastern borders, the Summit is an opportunity to reflect and enhance the Alliance’s comprehensive deterrence posture and its role and ability to deter threats to its interests. We want the Summit to give NATO the longer-term tools to meet new forms of challenge and threat on all its borders.

The fundamental guiding principle of the Alliance is that of mutual security and cooperation: if any one member is threatened, all are affected. In signing the North Atlantic Treaty, every member state makes a commitment to respect this principle, sharing the risks and responsibilities as well as the advantages of collective defence. So all member states can and indeed must play their role in NATO’s political and military activities: from our great ally, the United States of America, to the smallest and poorest member states; from the original member states of 1949 to the newest members; from those in the front line of current threats, to those furthest away. The United Kingdom, which has the honour of hosting this summit, is determined to play its full role in analysing the challenges we face and devising effective responses. So, I am sure, is Albania, our new but highly-valued NATO ally.

Published 11 September 2014