Speech/statement | Date: 20/05/2012
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Thank you, Secretary-General,
President Obama, thank you for hosting us here in this great city of Chicago and for your generous hospitality.
When we left Lisbon two years ago, having adopted a new strategic concept, we rightly agreed that NATO is the most successful alliance in history.
It still is.
However, these are challenging times for NATO.
We are faced with serious financial turmoil,
uncertain geopolitical developments,
and the challenge of finalizing a complex stability operation in Afghanistan.
The financial crisis is a sustained challenge for all in the years ahead.
We must not allow today’s economic crisis to become tomorrow’s security crisis.
We must avoid the trap of renationalizing our defense and security policies.
Scarce resources should be a driver for cooperation.
This is a time of uncertainty.
We are witnessing substantial geo-strategic developments pointing to a new global security environment.
The rise of China and the future of Russia are only two uncertainties that will influence our security in the coming decades.
As we look ahead, we are faced with a double challenge:
On the one hand, we must develop relevant responses to new security threats.
On the other hand, we need to recall the basics of our Alliance – the security and defense of our territories.
It is indeed a time of great challenge, but also of great opportunity.
We need new thinking and innovative approaches.
We now have an opportunity to renew the transatlantic bond.
To find new ways of working together as allies.
To reach out to our partners.
And to forge stronger relations.
I therefore welcome the comprehensive package of decisions taken at this summit.
In implementing these decisions, let me highlight the following:
First, as operations in Afghanistan draw to a close, we need to shift our focus to the fundamentals of this alliance.
We need to be prepared to conduct even the most demanding military operations also in the future.
This fact is reflected in my government’s decisions to make serious investments in high-end, modern military capabilities.
Second, we need to find smarter ways of spending our money on defense.
Spending together is smart.
It will enable us to acquire and use capabilities we could not afford individually.
The obvious but difficult solution is more cooperation.
This requires leadership and political commitment.
Third, we need to develop our ability to operate together, and with our partners.
We welcome the new US commitment to the NATO Response Force and allied training and exercises in Europe.
We welcome the decision to strengthen the link between NATO and national command structures.
This opens an important potential for greater cooperation and effective use of resources.
Our partners will have a key role in meeting future challenges.
They already contribute.
We have seen it in Afghanistan and in Libya.
Through developing our partnerships, we can strengthen the Alliance and the ability to face new challenges.
NATO should maintain a high-level of cooperation with Russia.
We must build on the cooperation developed in the NATO-Russia Council over 15 years.
While maintaining a credible deterrence,
and moving forward step by step with missile defence,
we also believe in arms control and non-proliferation as a long-term source of security and stability.
Tactical nuclear arms must be part of upcoming negotiations, to reduce the role of nuclear weapons.
Now is not the time to go it alone.
More than anything – now is the time for commitment.
Now is the time for multinational solutions, common security, and collective defense.
The answer to the challenges we face is more NATO, not less.