I would like to thank the Secretary General and General Breedlove for welcoming me here today.
Today, people around the world have come together to commemorate all those who gave their lives one hundred years ago in the hope of freedom and peace. And today it is important to also remember that it is NATO which has provided the bedrock for security and peace across Europe for the last 65 years.
We must ensure that NATO continues to foster global peace and stability in the coming years - and that will be at the heart of our agenda at the NATO summit in Wales next month.
There are 2 important issues that I want to focus on.
First, NATO’s response to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Since Russia destabilised Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea, NATO’s response has focused on reassuring our Eastern allies and deterring Russian aggression elsewhere.
Every ally has contributed to this response – whether with ships, aircraft or troops.
At the NATO summit, we must agree how we can sustain such a robust presence in Eastern Europe in the months ahead. I support General Breedlove’s plans:
- to reinforce NATO’s headquarters in Poland
- to pre-position equipment and supplies
- to schedule a series of exercises that will make clear we will not be intimidated by Russia’s aggressive behaviour
We must also use the summit to ensure that NATO is prepared to respond swiftly to any threat against any ally, including with little warning.
That means a multi-national, high readiness force that can deploy quickly on exercises in the territory of an ally that feels threatened.
This would provide clear reassurance for any vulnerable ally - and make clear to any aggressor that an attack on one would be an attack on all.
Second, as we remember all those who made sacrifices in the First World War, I think it is important that we use the Wales summit to make clear our commitment to all those who serve to keep us safe today – and to their families.
In the UK, we have taken significant steps to back Armed Forces personnel, families and charities. Above all we have enshrined an Armed Forces Covenant in the law of our land.
Now I want to build on this by establishing a new Alliance Charter that sets out our shared commitment to supporting our Armed Forces and their families - and to ensuring they get the respect they deserve.
This would be reinforced by a new approach to share more systematically across NATO best practice on the treatment of our Armed Forces. Medical care. Support for injured personnel. The way we look after bereaved families. These would be priorities for this work.
So this has been a useful visit.
The Wales Summit must prove that NATO is a rock solid alliance with strong partnerships around the world. We must continue to protect our 900 million citizens from the changing and multiplying threats of an unpredictable world.
And I look forward to achieving these ambitious goals and more when I welcome the Secretary General and fellow leaders to Newport next month.