A stronger NATO gathers at Washington Summit

The heads of state and government of NATO member states are convening at the 2024 NATO Summit in Washington to set the Alliance’s security policy course moving forward, and to mark the 75th anniversary of its founding.

The summit is taking place 9–11 July. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre is participating together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide and Minister of Defence Bjørn Arild Gram.

Heightened security situation

‘NATO stands strong and united in the face of a turbulent security situation. NATO’s  primary purpose is not to wage war, but to prevent it. The member countries have carried out the greatest strengthening of our collective defence in a generation, and the Alliance has added two new member states. The accession of Sweden and Finland to the Alliance is crucial to security of our part of the world,’ said Prime Minister Støre.  

Mr Støre highlighted three important points for the Washington Summit:

  • Marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Alliance
  • NATO’s updated collective defence plans
  • Ukraine’s fight to defend itself against Russia.

75th anniversary

Norway was one of NATO’s founding members 75 years ago.

‘In light of what we experienced during the Second World War, we chose alliance, not neutrality. We chose a westward focus, emphasising the importance of our ties to the US and the UK. That approach has served us well,’ said the Prime Minister.

‘We are gathering together in the city where the North Atlantic Treaty was signed 75 years ago secure in the knowledge that the ties between Europe and the United States remain strong. It is constructive that European countries are contributing more in the Alliance. Norway has drawn up a Long-term Defence Plan that represents a historic boost for the Armed Forces, and many of our Allies are also strengthening their defence capabilities. Norway and 23 other countries have now achieved the NATO target of spending at least 2 % of GDP on defence. This highlights the increasing strength and continued relevance of the Alliance,’ said Mr Støre.

War in Ukraine

Russia’s war against Ukraine is one of the key topics of discussion at the summit.

‘It is important that we communicate loud and clear to Russia that we stand together in our support for Ukraine,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Eide.

‘Ukraine’s fight to defend itself has implications for our security as well. Therefore, it is vital that we and our allies continue to provide political, practical and financial support, both now and in the long term,’ said Mr Eide.

The war has reached a critical juncture. For Ukraine, it will be crucial to have continued access to military support from the West and to prevent further weakening of the national economy. It will also be essential to rebuild damaged infrastructure, especially energy supply infrastructure, and to enable emergency aid to reach the people.

Larger role for NATO

NATO’s outgoing Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, has previously announced that the Alliance will play a larger role in coordinating security assistance and training for Ukraine.

‘This is a key element in our support for Ukraine to be discussed at the Washington Summit along with a significant, long-term financial pledge,’ said Minister of Defence Gram.

New joint plans

Since 2014 NATO has implemented the greatest strengthening of its collective defence capability in a generation. This was necessary due to the increasing deterioration and instability of the security policy landscape.

‘We have introduced the most comprehensive defence plans since the Cold War. Now we are adapting NATO’s command structure, improving our integrated air and missile defence systems and tailoring our defence plans to accommodate the necessary capacities,’ said Mr Gram.

North Atlantic Council

During the Washington Summit, there will be three meetings of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal political decision-making body. These will be attended by heads of state and government and their foreign ministers and defence ministers.

First there will be a meeting involving Alliance members only. Then there will be a meeting with various partners, such as the European Union and Pacific states such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Later in the summit there will be a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council.

‘At all of these meetings, NATO member states will be taking strategic decisions on the Alliance’s path forward. Key topics of discussion include contributions to strengthen Allied security, cooperative initiatives with the defence industry, new defence plans, the Alliance command structure and support for Ukraine,’ said Mr Støre.

The Norwegian prime minister, foreign minister and defence minister will also take part in a variety of side events and meetings with political colleagues from the host country and other Allied countries. These will be held in the margins of the three-day summit in the US capital.

Among these will be a meeting of the Nordic and Baltic countries. Cooperation between the Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8) countries has grown closer and more comprehensive since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

‘It is appropriate for us to be talking more often and to expand the scope of our cooperation and the initiatives we are implementing,’ said Mr Eide.

Stoltenberg’s final summit

The Washington Summit will be the last one for NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. 

‘This will also be a good opportunity to acknowledge all the work that Jens Stoltenberg had done during his 10 years as the Secretary General of NATO. In October, Mark Rutte will take over the reins. Mr Rutte’s extensive political experience will be important in the time to come. I have worked together with him closely and am confident he will continue Mr Stoltenberg’s efforts to safeguard Alliance unity and strengthen the Alliance’s ability to defend its members,’ said Mr Støre.