Opening remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government, December 4, 2019.
Good morning, and many thanks, Prime Minister Johnson for hosting all of us. It’s really a great pleasure to be here. The United Kingdom was NATO’s first home, so it is fitting that we meet here to mark the 70th anniversary of our alliance, to celebrate our success, and to ensure our alliance remains fit for the future. NATO is the most successful alliance in history because we have changed as the world has changed. And in the last few years, we have implemented the biggest increase of our collective defense in a generation, we have stepped up in the fight against terrorism, and we are investing more in our defense. Since 2016, European allies and Canada have added $130 billion to their defense budgets. This is unprecedented. It is making NATO stronger. NATO remains the only platform where North America and Europe discuss, decide, and take actions together every day to protect almost one billion people. So whatever our differences, we will continue to unite around our core task, to defend one another, all for one and one for all. And now I invite our host, Prime Minister Johnson to take the floor, so Boris, please have the floor.
Thank you very much, Jens, and I’m delighted to welcome everybody here to the United Kingdom to celebrate the 70th anniversary of NATO. And as you say, Jens, I do feel that our alliance is coming home, because Britain was a founding member of NATO and it was here that NATO opened its first headquarters, of course, in Belgrave Square, shortly actually before moving to Paris, as I’m sure colleagues will recall. 70 years on, we are rock solid in our commitment to NATO and to the giant shield of solidarity that now protects 29 countries and nearly a billion people. The fact that we live in peace today demonstrates the power of the simple proposition at the heart of this alliance, that for as long as we stand together, no one can hope to defeat us. And therefore, no one will start a war. This essential principle is enshrined in Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, that if any one of us is attacked, all of us will go to their defense. If NATO has a motto, it is, as Jens says, one for all and all for one. And this doctrine of coming to one another’s aid, incarnated by NATO, provides the single most important explanation for why the British people and hundreds of millions of our friends live in peace and freedom today. Everything our peoples hold dear, from liberty and democracy to their jobs, homes, schools and hospitals, would not be secure and could not flourish without the peace that NATO is designed to guarantee. But history shows that peace cannot be taken for granted. And even as we celebrate this anniversary, we must ensure that our deeds match our words, and the atrocity in London last Friday shows why we must work together to combat terrorism and the vital importance of NATO’s missions to counter this threat. For the UK’s part, we spend over 2% of our GDP on defense. We are proud to be making the biggest contribution of any European ally to NATO’s readiness initiative by offering an armored brigade, two fighter squadrons, and six warships, including the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers. As friends and allies, we must never shy away from discussing new realities, particularly NATO’s response to emerging threats like hybrid warfare and disruptive technologies including space and cyber. At this council, we have the opportunity to strengthen the unity of purpose that has made NATO the greatest and most successful alliance in history, and to take the new steps that are profoundly necessary to ensure another 70 years of peace and security. Thank you very much.
Thank you so much, Boris, and that concludes the public part of this meeting, so I thank the media for joining us at the beginning of the meeting and we will continue this meeting in just a moment.