NATO is stronger after summit

"During the summit, NATO took steps that strengthen the alliance’s preparedness and response capability”, says Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende and Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide in conversation during the NATO Wales Summit. (Photo: Marita I. Wangberg)

"During the summit, NATO took steps that strengthen the alliance’s preparedness and response capability”, says Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Heads of state and government, foreign ministers and defence ministers from the 28 allied nations and a number of partner countries gathered at the NATO Wales Summit on 4-5 September 2014. NATO’s further development in light of the changed security situation was the main topic.

“At the summit, NATO showed that we’re taking the new security situation seriously after Russia’s aggression in the east and the turn of events in the Middle East,” the defence minister says. “The alliance has made important decisions on improving our preparedness and responsiveness. One example is a new reaction force within the NATO Response Force that can act on very short notice. Norway will now study how we can contribute to it in a substantive manner. In addition, the whole alliance has agreed to prioritise exercising and training of the military forces.”

The plan to improve the alliance’s response capability, the Readiness Action Plan, was adopted at the summit. It contains a variety of measures to strengthen the alliance’s collective defence, including the ability and meet new threats.

Better burden sharing
Economic issues and burden sharing were a key topic at the meeting. The NATO countries agreed to a goal of increasing defence budgets towards two per cent of GDP within 10 years. The trend of declining defence budgets in many countries is to be reversed, and the allies have a goal of steering 20 per cent of defence spending to investments.

“It’s especially important to improve the burden sharing between the United States and Europe. Europe must demonstrate a greater sense of purpose and take responsibility for its own security,” says Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Norway will contribute to the reassurance of allied countries by sending an army unit to Latvia in the fall. Read more at Forsvaret.

Norway will also contribute to the new multinational rapid reaction force led by the UK (read more about this at gov.uk).

Afghanistan and recognition of veterans
NATO will conclude the ISAF operation in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. The alliance reaffirmed its continued support to Afghanistan. Various options are now being developed for a possible operation to continue to provide training, instruction and capacity building in the country. First, however, the necessary legal clarifications must be secured in Afghanistan, which is still awaiting the final results of its presidential election.

During the meeting, the heads of state and government leaders paid tribute to all those who have served in operations abroad. In addition, the allies have agreed to share experiences to help identify the best ways of caring for veterans.

It was the final summit for Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. His successor, Jens Stoltenberg, is to assume office on 1 October and was introduced during the meeting.

A collection of documents and press releases from the summit may be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/nato-summit-wales-2014-announcements-and-documents