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February 1, 2023

Stoltenberg: Important that EU efforts in defense do not compete with NATO, but are complementary

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday evening in Bucharest that it is important that the European Union’s defense efforts do not compete with those of the North Atlantic Alliance but are complementary.

We are pleased with the European Union’s efforts on defense and we have said this many times. It is good for NATO that Europe and the European Union are making more efforts when it comes to defense. (…) At the same time, it is important that the efforts of the EU in defense do not compete with NATO, but are complementary, Stoltenberg said before the informal meeting of European Defense Ministers held at the Royal Palace in Bucharest asked how NATO views European defense developments.

He stressed that it is not possible for the European Union to replace NATO and said that after Brexit 80 percent of the Alliance’s military spending would come from non-EU countries and three of the four fighting groups in Poland and the Baltic countries would be led by non-EU countries.

We must understand that European unity is important, but it cannot replace the transatlantic unity. Two World Wars and a Cold War have taught us that North America and Europe need to be together, this is the main task of NATO, said Jens Stoltenberg.

He appreciated Romania’s efforts to strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance and the fact that it invests more in Defense.

On the other hand, Stoltenberg mentioned that NATO is demanding that Russia observe the Interim Nuclear Forces Treaty – INF.

Russia is responsible for endangering the treaty. Russia has developed and deployed new medium-range missiles, which is a serious violation of the INF Treaty, he said.

According to him, in December, the US announced that it would begin the process of withdrawing from the treaty within 60 days if Moscow does not respect its engagement.

All the Allies agree on the importance of Russia meeting its commitment in a transparent and verifiable manner, he insisted, stressing that it is urgent because the 60-day period ends this weekend.

He warned that if Russia does not fulfill its commitments, we must prepare for a world without the INF Treaty.

In his turn, Romanian Defense Minister Gabriel Les specified the subjects to be analyzed at the meeting in Bucharest.

In the preparations of the Presidency [of the Council of the EU, ed.n.], we have indicated on several occasions that the common security and defense policy should remain at the core of the European agenda during our mandate. This is imperative, given the new reality in the European neighborhood and the challenges we have faced in recent years.We will analyze what has been done over the past two and a half years since the launch of the EU Global Strategy and we will discuss what could be further done to enhance the EU’s role in the field of security. Tomorrow, we will also assess the current situation with regard to the EU defense initiatives: PESCO, CARD, EDF. We will look at options to strengthen these initiatives and increase their coherence (…) We will assess the impact of innovation and new defense technologies, and we will examine how we can take advantage of the opportunities created by these trends The main challenge will be to see how we can integrate technological advances that we see in the civilian field into our defense work to ensure that the EU remains technologically relevant in this area, Les said .

He said that the Presidency of the EU Council brings major responsibilities for the Defense Ministry.

“We will make every effort to ensure that these responsibilities are met successfully,” said Les.

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