NATO Secretary General Press Point with French President

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg joint press point with President of France Emmanuel Macron, November 28, 2019.

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[Interpreter] Good morning, or good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. First and foremost, I’d like to thank the Secretary General of NATO for coming to Paris in order to prepare for the London summit. It is his third visit in Paris, each time so that we can discuss and coordinate as necessary. And I would like as well to thank him for expressing his condolences vis-à-vis the French nation and for the 13 soldiers we lost in Mali a couple of days ago. The London summit is meant to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Alliance. But we also agree that it should be an opportunity to conduct genuine, strategic discussion between ourselves as to what today the Atlantic Alliance means and what its goals and means of actions are. I believe there are, for me, there are three priority topics which we just discussed and which I also had a chance to discuss with European leaders over the past few hours or days. The first very important topic is how can we guarantee peace and stability in Europe? This is the initial historical vital purpose of the Atlantic Alliance, which, let me remind you, was set up in 1949, to attach the United States to Western Europe and to protect it against the Soviet threat. The world has changed. The Iron Curtain has fallen, the Warsaw Pact is gone and the Alliance is still standing as the guarantor of our joint security. It requires that today we reconsider a number of important topics in this respect. First of all, a lucid, robust and demanding dialogue with Russia. And I very much endorse the fact that I wanted to give new momentum to this dialogue. And I also endorse that, the fact that I certainly did not show any sign of weakness or naivety in doing so. Our Alliance has a history and a geography. And we therefore shall very much consider what our relationship is with Russia, because Russia is definitely within Europe. That being said, I profoundly respect the concerns and the security interests of all of our European partners, which are entirely mine and which I shall always defend as a priority. I also have in mind what it represents in terms of their history. And they know that this is the meaning of our commitment, concrete commitment in NATO’s deterrence and defense posture in the Baltic countries and in the Black Sea. We are and will always be very strict when it comes to our sovereignty and that of our partners. But the absence of dialogue with Russia, did it make our European continent safer? Is it in our interest and the interest of our stability not to deal with issues of frozen conflicts and to let the situation in Ukraine worsen? I don’t think so. It is in the interest of peace and stability in Europe that we’re working on that. And this is the reason why, together with Chancellor Merkel, we will hold a Normandy Summit on 9th December to work further on implementing the Minsk agreement. And I believe we shall work on some extra European sovereignty, stronger sovereignty, and rebuild or build a new architecture of trust and security in Europe and clarify our relationship with Russia, while setting up our conditions. For the same reasons, in the interest of peace and stability in Europe, we shall also engage a discussion on arms control. There were, historically, some multilateral as well as bilateral treaties between the United States and Russia. We expressed our regrets regarding the decisions taken by the United States to put an end, or to step out of the INF. The treaties negotiated by the United States during the Cold War are no longer. The INF Treaty was indeed negotiated by the United States, but it is our security, that of the European Allies, which is at stake. And we cannot stay in a situation where, first of all, we did our best when Russia violated these treaties. And then we cannot simply acknowledge that we’re no longer covered by this treaty, this bilateral treaty. It is, therefore, in our interest, as early as next week, to very much face up to the situation and discuss, first of all, within the Alliance, and also with a dialogue with Russia, rebuild the conditions of our security in today’s world. And the new generation of agreements which I would like to replace the INF Treaty requires some very strong work and coordination within the Alliance, in particular within the European countries, but it requires a commitment and an involvement of the Europeans. We cannot leave our security into the hands of a bilateral treaty to which no European country would be part of. Next, a number of European countries, like Poland, were not protected by the INF Treaty as they should have been. So I would like us to take into consideration all of the security interests, in particular those of the countries which are the closest to Russia, to the border. On this topic, and we might discuss it further in the context of your questions, over the past few days, many reacted to the French answer to President Putin’s letter. Let me be clear on that. First of all, France had the courtesy of sharing its letter to President Putin with all of the Allies, which I think is a good method, and not all of them have done it. In addition, we did not accept the moratorium offered by Russia, but we considered that we should not just ignore it, because it was open for discussion. And what was the alternative? Acknowledge the end of a treaty with no alternative. That’s not serious. This is a matter of security for Europe. The next topic is an important topic, which we shall work upon, not just on the occasion of the meeting, the summit, but also over the next few months is: what are the threats for NATO and how does it organize itself? NATO is a collective defense organization, but against what or against who? Who is our common enemy? We need to clarify that. And it is a very strategic question. Sometimes I hear some saying that it is Russia or China our enemy. Is it the purpose of the Atlantic Alliance to identify one or the other as our enemies? I don’t think so. Our joint enemy, clearly within the Alliance, is terrorism that’s struck our countries. It is against terrorist groups that the French military, the French troops, are fighting in the Sahel, and it is in the Sahel that we lost 13 of our soldiers, like I was saying. Working for the security of our allies and our own security facing up to our operational and military responsibilities, this is what we’re doing. But to clarify that, we need a common definition of terrorism, of who the terrorist groups are and how to act in coordination against them. Let me be clear, expressing our attachment to joint security is not enough. We have to prove it. A genuine alliance requires action, deeds, decisions, not just words. I therefore very much want us to have genuine discussions within Allies to discuss our fight against terrorism in the Sahel, in the Levant, where the military intervention led by Turkey a few weeks ago in the northeast of Syria raised some genuine questions, which we shall very much deal with. And it brings me to the third topic, which is the duties and the rights of the Allies vis-à-vis one another. In an alliance, this is what it is about: solidarity between allies. Without, it means that you cannot take alone, without consultation, coordination, decisions which have a very direct impact on others. I very much have in mind the security interests of our Turkish ally. They’ve suffered some, numerous, terrorist attacks on their ground. At the same time, one cannot just say, express solidarity and require support and at the same time launch a military intervention which is threatening the action of the Coalition against Daesh. And let me remind you that NATO is a member of it. So I very much would like us to have a genuine discussion with Turkey, dialogue on this topic, as well as the compatibility of our armed systems, given that Turkey acquired some S-40, because the interoperability between our armies is very much the military added-value of the organization. Dear Secretary General, as you know, and as our Allies know, you can rely on France, on its commitment and on our army to defend our security. This is the reason why France is a reliable ally. This is also the reason why France shall be a demanding ally. At key moments, we want strategic issues to be very much discussed. Our military know very clearly what it means to be allies on the ground. So when the Heads of State and Government meet, we shall very much match what they’re doing to protect our security and risking their life by facing up to the reality when we deal with these issues. And this is very much because I trust, I have trust in the vitality of our Alliance, that I do not want to ignore any of these challenges in London and in the coming weeks and months, given the strategic work that we will be conducting. Thank you once again, dear Secretary General, dear Jens, for being here in presence and for the quality of the discussions we had together.

Merci, Monsieur Président. Dear Emmanuel, it’s great to be back in Paris and to meet with you again. And we just had good and open discussions, addressing a wide range of issues, addressing how we can further strengthen and modernize the NATO Alliance and how we can stand together as we face new and difficult security challenges. France has outstanding troops, high-end military capabilities, and you have the political will to deploy them when needed. You play a major role in the fight against terrorism, with thousands of troops deployed in the Sahel and in the Levant. I would like to express my deepest condolences for the loss of your soldiers in Mali this week. They were there to protect our shared security. My heartfelt sympathy to their loved ones and to the people of France. In uncertain times, we need strong multilateral institutions like NATO. NATO is the only platform where North America and Europe can address strategic issues together. We do that on a daily basis. Issues like the fight against terrorism; how to deal with a more assertive Russia; and the rise of China. And over the last years, NATO has implemented the largest reinforcement of our Alliance since the end of the Cold War. With higher readiness of our forces, with combat-ready troops deployed to the East of the Alliance for the first time in our history, with a new command structure. And we see that European allies are stepping up, and also that the United States are increasing their military presence in Europe. So the paradox is that while questions are being asked about the strength of the transatlantic bond, North America and Europe are doing more together than we have done for decades. And I can hardly think about any stronger demonstration of the commitment to our Alliance, to our collective defense, to Article five, than the fact that we are actually doing more together, increasing the readiness of our forces, investing more in our security, than we have done for many, many years. I also welcome that France is stepping up, investing more, and that you are increasing your defense budget. And I also welcome your support for European Union efforts on defense. Done in the right way, these efforts can strengthen NATO’s European pillar. But the European Union cannot defend Europe. European unity cannot replace transatlantic unity. A strong NATO and a strong European union are two sides of the same coin. Both are indispensable for the continued freedom and prosperity of Europe. It is no secret that NATO Allies have differences on different issues, including the situation in Northeast Syria. But we agree on the fundamentals: stand together defending each other. Article five, our collective defense clause, is an ironclad commitment by all Allies. So, Mr. President, the foundations of NATO are strong. We will continue to adapt, continue to modernize. And together we will look on how we can further strengthen NATO’s political role. And I look forward to meet you again next week at the Leaders’ meeting in London.

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