«Between Reassurance and Reengagement? The future of NATO»

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Munich Security Conference in Germany 13 February 2016.

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Europe is facing a new security environment. Security policy is back at the top of the agenda. There are disturbing developments on Europe’s periphery: In the south, we are witnessing instability, state collapse, violent extremism and civil wars. In the east, Russia’s violations of international law are causing concern. They are challenging our core values and the fundamental rules for Europe’s security.

We must ensure that NATO remains strong and capable of collective defence.

A credible and capable NATO must be the first priority. To achieve this, we must ensure allied unity. In Warsaw we need to agree on the necessary long-term adaptations, and this will require a collective effort. 

Our second priority is the maritime domain. There is an increase in maritime activities across NATO's area of responsibility, from the North Atlantic to the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. We are facing military-strategic changes.

Norway has stepped up its maritime presence in the High North with submarines and maritime patrol aircraft. The Alliance must have a good situational awareness and regional understanding.

And we must ensure that we have the right capabilities and capacities. Defence investment is a key element in preparing for these tasks. Norway is already spending heavily on relevant capacities, and we will continue to do so. 

Third, NATO’s relationship with Russia must balance re-assurance and deterrence. Russia must demonstrate its willingness to operate responsibly and within international law. Russia needs to re-engage in a transparent and constructive manner. Predictability is crucial.

Norway has a long track record of practical cooperation with Russia in areas of mutual interest. It is in our shared interest to avoid dangerous incidents and unintended escalation. We will therefore do our part to promote security and confidence-building measures.

Our fourth priority is strengthening partnerships. Today non-state actors are gaining influence. Cyber security is a growing concern. The old concept of hybrid warfare is being revitalised - by state and non-state actors alike. A coherent response to complex challenges requires broader cooperation between different the actors. 

We should engage partners more actively. NATO’s security challenges do not stop at NATO’s borders and the risks our partners face have direct consequences for allied security.Improved NATO-EU relations are essential for increased security in Europe. 

We need to build a NATO that is cohesive, capable and credible. NATO must be ready to take care of its core task: ensuring the security of all allies.