Excellencies, members of parliament,
Ladies and gentlemen, friends and guests of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung,
I would like to thank the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung for organising this event and for giving me and us the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas on the future of the Alliance after the Warsaw Summit. Sometimes I think that we could and should have more of these debates on security policy issues here in Brussels. But don’t be afraid: I’m not going to go through all 139 paragraphs of the summit communiqué.
So, let me start by saying that Warsaw was by no means a routine event. On the contrary – like the previous Wales Summit in September 2014, it was a turning point in the recent history of this organisation, where the North Atlantic Alliance took far‑reaching decisions in order to respond to the urgent security challenges it is facing in its immediate neighbourhood.
Indeed, the context in which the Alliance has to act these days looks rather gloomy – with an assertive, unpredictable Russia that has broken fundamental principles of the European security order, with turmoil in our southern neighbourhood that will impact on Europe’s security for the foreseeable future, and with a European Union facing major crisis, not at least in connection with Brexit, but also with regard to managing the refugee issue.
To put it in a nutshell, we are being confronted with a historically new dimension of challenges to our security. Against this backdrop, the Alliance performed pretty well at Warsaw. First, the summit sent out a message of transatlantic solidarity and unity. Indeed, NATO is an organisation nobody wants to leave. Second, it demonstrated that NATO is consistently implementing its decisions – and remains fully capable of making them at the level of all 28 nations. And third, it proved the Alliance is ready and able to continually adapt – without giving up its defensive military posture.
But it also became clear that the very nature of the complex challenges we are facing requires a long-term adaptation process to be continued by NATO in the years to come, in pursuit of a “21st-century security policy” that is based on a networked approach and tailored to present-day requirements.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This much-needed process of adaptation was set in motion two years ago, at the summit meeting in Wales. In response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea, NATO refocused on its core task of collective defence – an important moment after almost 25 years of crisis management operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan, as well as strong engagement in cooperative security and partnership policy.
Part of this reorientation was the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) – a kind of immediate action programme for particularly exposed Allies that aims to increase the Alliance’s readiness. The RAP sent a clear message: the security of the North Atlantic Alliance is indivisible. We are bound by our commitment to protect one another. Two years later, at Warsaw, the leaders could note that the RAP had been implemented. Considering the number of associated measures – such as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) or the creation of the Multinational Corps HQ Northeast in Szczecin – their successful implementation within just two years is impressive. And Germany is a key contributor to these efforts, acting very much in line with one of the key statements in the new White Paper on German Security Policy: Germany is ready to assume international responsibility and to exercise leadership.
At Warsaw, the Alliance went an important step further – partly in response to the concerns voiced by our eastern Allies, not only in view of the conflict in Ukraine, but also because of Russia’s large-scale, unannounced snap exercises, like the recent “Kavkaz 2016” exercise which also took place in Crimea, Russia’s problematic nuclear rhetoric, and its increasing ability to dominate the aerial and maritime domains by developing Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities.
That is why NATO decided to further enhance its deterrence and defence posture – albeit not by returning to the methods and instruments of the Cold War, but rather in a proportionate and balanced way and in accordance with its defensive character. That also means fully respecting the provisions of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act – and offering to engage in meaningful dialogue with Russia.
What does strengthening deterrence and defence, on top of the measures already decided at Wales, mean in concrete teams? In the first place, it means enhancing NATO’s forward presence in the geographically more exposed Baltic states and Poland. Enhanced forward presence is important – because, in times of crisis, rapidly deployable forces alone may not be sufficient; NATO must already have assets present in particularly exposed regions before a crisis occurs. That is why, next year, four multinational battalion-sized units will be deployed in the region on a rotational basis, with four Allies assuming the role of framework nation: Canada for Latvia, the United Kingdom for Estonia, the United States for Poland and Germany for Lithuania.
Enhanced forward presence is a visible sign of Alliance solidarity. The multinational character of these units aims to underscore a clear message: should a crisis occur, the whole Alliance would be engaged.
The ongoing implementation of enhanced forward presence and other decisions taken at Warsaw – such as Tailored Presence for South East Europe, the declaration of IOC for BMD – implies the biggest effort in collective defence the Alliance has undertaken since the end of the Cold War. However, NATO purposefully chose not to permanently station substantial combat forces in the east, thus respecting the NATO-Russia Founding Act.
And there is a consensus in NATO that a military response alone will not suffice. Nobody wants a new arms race or a return to the Cold War. More security in Europe will only be created if we combine military readiness with dialogue. Ever since the Harmel Report was published in 1967, the dual-track strategy of deterrence and defence on the one hand, and détente and dialogue on the other, has been ingrained in the North Atlantic Alliance. This approach remains relevant to this day.
This means we must use channels of communication with Moscow, as well as strengthening mutual transparency and building trust. The best forum for this dialogue remains the NATO-Russia Council. For roughly two years after the illegal annexation of the Crimea we did not use this forum; it only reconvened in April 2016, thanks in no small part to a German initiative.
In Warsaw it was decided that the NATO-Russia Council would meet more regularly again in future. It did so right after the summit, and it will hopefully meet again in the near future. This is by no means a return to business as usual. The decision taken by NATO after the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent destabilisation of eastern Ukraine, to suspend all practical and military cooperation with Russia, remains in place. However, particularly in these volatile and dangerous times, meaningful dialogue remains important. Principled dialogue has nothing to do with weakness. The NATO-Russia Council is not a fair-weather forum. On the contrary, it should be used to discuss difficult issues with Russia – for instance, the situation in Ukraine. It is also a good place to promote military transparency and risk reduction, with the aim of preventing dangerous incidents that may escalate tensions.
NATO’s long-term goal remains a relationship with Russia that is based on cooperation and partnership. Unfortunately, today’s reality is very different from this vision. It seems clear that we will only get closer to that goal on the basis of the principles formulated in the framework of the OSCE, to which Russia, like the rest of us, has committed itself. The deep crisis of European security can only be solved by implementing the rules-based European order, not by inventing a new one.
In that sense, dialogue with Russia is not an end in itself. Foreign Minister Steinmeier recently proposed a “dual dialogue”. Wherever we can identify possible areas of cooperation, we have to advocate dialogue with Moscow – be it in the EU, in the OSCE – which Germany is chairing this year – or in NATO. At the same time, we have to talk openly about the fault lines and the differences in our views and values. Only on this basis will we be able, in the long run, to overcome those fault lines.
Such a dialogue could also include a re-launch of conventional arms control in Europe as recently proposed by Foreign Minister Steinmeier. Today, the existing regimes of conventional arms control and disarmament are crumbling.
The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), which led to the decommissioning of tens of thousands of tanks and heavy weapons in Europe in the years after 1990, is no longer being implemented by Russia. The Vienna Document’s transparency and confidence-building mechanisms have grown increasingly ineffective, and Russia opposes the necessary steps for its modernisation. The Open Skies Treaty is being limited in its application. The Budapest Memorandum – as a security guarantee for Ukraine – has been made obsolete by the illegal annexation of Crimea. The trust that was carefully accumulated through decades of hard work has been squandered.
Against this alarming backdrop, it is high time to re-launch conventional arms control. Such an initiative would have to take the new realities into account which have emerged since the early 90s, such as new weapons systems. It would have to be grounded in a principle that – despite all our differences with Russia – continues to hold true: we must not frame security in Europe on a permanently adversarial basis. Security is not a zero-sum game. Increased security for one must not be perceived as reduced security for the other.
In order to return to more predictability, restraint and trust, we need a rules-based arms control regime that includes Russia. This will be anything but easy. But one thing is certain: if we don’t try, peace in Europe and beyond will be fragile. So we should heed the lesson of détente: however deep the rifts, we must at least try to build bridges.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The crises and conflicts in NATO’s southern neighbourhood were the second major summit topic at Warsaw. Today, the situation there is even more dramatic than it was two years ago during the Wales Summit, given the crises in Libya, Syria and Iraq, the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State, and the ongoing difficult security environment in Afghanistan, not to mention the refugee crisis.
As the key transatlantic security organisation, NATO must be part of a broader international effort to address these challenges in the southern periphery. There was a broad consensus in Warsaw that in most cases NATO is not the first responder. It performs more of a supporting role – for example, for the EU in the Mediterranean, or for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL in Iraq and in Syria. That is why the Alliance agreed in Warsaw, under the heading “Projecting Stability”, to play a more active role in the southern periphery in selected areas wherever it can provide an added value.
NATO can do more to project stability by helping its partners in the region strengthen their own defence capabilities, both through the Defence Capacity Building (DCB) Initiative, and by providing training and advice to local forces and defence institutions so that these countries can better help themselves. For instance, for some time now, the Alliance has been training Iraqi security forces in Jordan, above all in counter-IED techniques. At Warsaw, we agreed to move parts of NATO’s training programme to Iraq, to support the Iraqi forces in their own country as they set out to stabilise areas that have been reclaimed from ISIL.
NATO also wants to do more to assist Jordan and Tunisia. These countries urgently require assistance with border security, and NATO has informed Libya it is in principle willing to help that country build security institutions, should it expressly request such assistance.
Security in the south also has a key maritime dimension – as is continuously highlighted by the refugee crisis. That is why Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean has now been transitioned into a broader maritime security operation that is no longer tied to Article 5. The new Operation Sea Guardian will focus on delivering maritime situational awareness, aiding countries with their capacity-building efforts and thereby also helping to fight terrorism through surveillance and reconnaissance.
In addition, NATO is prepared to support the EU’s Operation SOPHIA in the Central Mediterranean. Furthermore, NATO continues to pursue its activities in the Aegean to assist with fighting smuggler networks, in close cooperation with the Greek and Turkish coast guards, as well as the EU’s border management agency FRONTEX.
Finally, NATO will provide AWACS support, operating from Turkish and international airspace, to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. These aircraft will help increase the coalition’s situational awareness. However, it is also clear that this will not make NATO a formal member of the Global Coalition.
These measures demonstrate that the renewed emphasis on collective defence does not mean crisis management has become obsolete. No, it will remain one of NATO’s core tasks. This is true in Kosovo, and it is also true in Afghanistan, where the Alliance will need to remain engaged in the future. At Warsaw, Allies and their partners in the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) made a commitment to continue financial contributions to sustain Afghanistan’s security forces until the end of 2020. NATO also reaffirmed its intention to continue the Resolute Support Mission beyond 2016. A key aspect here was the United States’ announcement just prior to the summit that the US contingent in Afghanistan would be maintained at the current level of 8,400 service members.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The NATO Summit at Warsaw addressed not only Russia and the South, but also new security challenges such as threats coming from cyber space and hybrid warfare. In a Cyber Defence Pledge, Allies committed themselves to increase their efforts to protect their national cyber infrastructure. Strengthening our resilience is the best way to protect us against both cyber attacks and hybrid threats. We must not forget: resilience is an important ingredient of credible deterrence. The responsibility to build resilience lies first and foremost with nations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Looking at the turmoil surrounding us, it becomes obvious that neither NATO nor the EU can tackle these challenges alone. The joint declaration on NATO-EU cooperation signed by Secretary General Stoltenberg, Council President Tusk and Commission President Juncker at Warsaw offers the chance to open up a new chapter in the partnership between NATO and the EU.
It contains a joint commitment to focus particularly on coordinating our efforts to counter hybrid threats, bolster our resilience, exchange information, improve our analysis and early-warning capabilities, expand coordination on cyber security, and enhance strategic communication and maritime security. Joint or coordinated exercises must be part of these efforts as well.
Implementing this declaration will not be easy – but it is in all our interests for both organisations to work together more effectively. Today’s security threats are complex: non-state actors, international terrorism, hybrid and cyber warfare, the boundary between civilian and military getting more blurred by the day – to name only a few striking and new characteristics. Crisis is not an exception to the rule within globalisation: it is a permanent epiphenomenon, sometimes even a product of globalisation. Clearly therefore, NATO-EU cooperation is not just something nice to have. It is essential if we are to successfully protect our nations.
A functioning NATO-EU partnership will require a European Union that is relevant in the field of security policy. The Bratislava Summit of 27 member states two weeks ago was a step in that direction, stressing that we are better off with a more united Europe than with a divided one, and making clear that Europeans must take on more responsibility in the field of security. Germany and France have put some ideas on the table to inspire the debate on a European Security and Defence Union. Others will come up with suggestions as well.
All these ideas have to be merged into one European security agenda – not to duplicate NATO’s efforts but rather to strengthen the European pillar of the Alliance. It seems to me that no-one is under the illusion that Europe can take care of its defence alone for the foreseeable future. The new Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy rightly stresses the overriding importance to European security of the transatlantic link and of NATO. But Europe has to deliver more than it did in the past. So we need substantial progress in European capability development as well as appropriate structures to efficiently plan and conduct CSDP missions – to name just two examples where we should move CSDP forward.
Ladies and gentlemen,
At NATO, once one summit is over, the next is on the horizon. We will hold the next summit here in Brussels in 2017 already, to mark the move to the new headquarters and to meet the new US president. We have given ourselves a heavy workload for the coming months, from building up our enhanced forward presence, re-engaging with Russia through substantial and meaningful dialogue, and strengthening the capacities of our partners in the south, to improving NATO-EU cooperation. So we will have to roll up our sleeves and start digging in.
This is also necessary for NATO’s long-term adaptation that will prepare the Alliance to meet future strategic challenges. Yet successful adaptation also requires resources: sufficient personnel, materiel and funding. At Warsaw, Allies reconfirmed the Defence Investment Pledge made at Wales: to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on defence and 20% of their defence budgets on major equipment, as well as to increase their output to NATO. Because it is clear to all of us that more security does not come for free.
Germany is still far removed from meeting the 2% Wales defence spending pledge. However, because Germany has assigned nearly the entire Bundeswehr to NATO, it does rank very well on “output”. Regarding investments, too, we’re on the right track. With its 2016 defence budget, Germany has achieved the significant reversal of a trend. The same is true for most Allies: after years of declining defence budgets, we are now for the first time witnessing greater European expenditure on defence – an average increase of more than 3%.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done in this area, because financial leeway will remain limited for most Allies. It will therefore be all the more important to employ our assets more wisely and efficiently – to get “more bang for our buck”. The Framework Nations Concept – developed and proposed by Germany – is one such innovative approach. Together with 16 fellow Allies, Germany is pursuing the development of European capability clusters. This will help to substantially strengthen European capabilities, and thus improve transatlantic burden sharing. Mutual subordination of military entities, as we see it in German-Dutch or German-Polish military cooperation, will be a crucial part of these efforts.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Warsaw Summit and its practical follow-up mark an important step in the recent history of the Alliance – but this is not the end of the line. NATO will have to pursue long-term adaptation in order to react to a security environment where strategic surprises can occur every day. We are in a continuous change-management process – and the Alliance has to learn and evolve.
All these efforts will only be successful if they are based on the tried and proven principles that underpin the North Atlantic Alliance: NATO’s defensive military posture, unity and solidarity among Allies, and a shared set of values. The Warsaw Summit stands as proof of that. If we remain true to these principles, NATO can and will – even in a highly volatile security environment – make substantial contributions to protect our citizens and our countries.
Thank you very much for your attention. And now I am looking forward to your comments and questions.