Keeping NATO strong
2014 was a black year for European security. And as we enter 2015, the terrorist attacks in Paris were a stark reminder of the threats and challenges we face. But we also saw millions standing up for our values and our open societies.
Our security environment has changed fundamentally. To the South, violent extremism is at our borders, spreading turmoil across Iraq and Syria and bringing terror to our streets. To the East, Russia has used military force to annex Crimea, destabilise eastern Ukraine, and intimidate its neighbours.
These threats challenge the international order we have built since the fall of the Berlin Wall – an order that embodies our democratic values and is vital for our way of life.
So, from my first day in office, my priorities have been to keep NATO strong, to work with partners to help keep our neighbourhood stable, and to keep the bond between Europe and North America rock-solid.
At our Summit in Wales in September, NATO showed that the transatlantic community is rising to the challenge. We agreed the «Readiness Action Plan». This is the most significant strengthening of our collective defence in decades, to assure all Allies, improve the responsiveness and effectiveness of our forces, and deter threats from wherever they may come. We are working hard to implement the plan in full and on time.
To do this, it is vital that we invest in our defence. We must spend more and we must spend better. At Wales, NATO Heads of State and Government pledged to stop the cuts in defence spending, to aim to spend 2% of Gross Domestic Product on defence within a decade, and to spend that money more efficiently. I will continue to work with Allies to keep that pledge.
2014 was the final year of our combat operation in Afghanistan, the largest in Alliance history. We did what we set out to do: to deny safe haven to international terrorists, to make Afghanistan stronger, and to make our own nations safer.
Today, the security of Afghanistan is fully in Afghan hands. While many challenges remain, we are determined to support Afghanistan to build on the gains that we have made with great effort and sacrifice. That is why we have launched a new mission, Resolute Support, to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. We will also continue to provide financial assistance for those forces, and intensify our political dialogue and our practical cooperation with Afghanistan.
A key lesson from our missions and operations over the last 20 years, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, is the need to work with other nations and organisations. We are also reaching out to partners to enable them to better meet security challenges in their own regions. This includes countries like Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, which share our values and have chosen a European path, as well as Jordan, a key security player in the Middle East – because if our neighbours are more stable, we are more secure.
We are also stepping up our cooperation with the European Union. We share the same values and the same challenges, so we must continue to complement and reinforce each other.
Last year, the very foundations of the Euro-Atlantic order came under threat. But as this Annual Report makes clear, NATO’s response has been, and will remain, firm. NATO is adapting to the new security environment, as it has done throughout its history. We will always protect our values and keep our nations safe.
NATO-OTAN: 2014 and estimates for 2015