President outlines core principles of NATO agreement
Brussels, 12 July 2018
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Ladies and gentlemen,
A few words, then, following this Atlantic Alliance summit, with the latest discussions currently coming to an end. First of all, this meeting provided an opportunity for the Alliance’s heads of state and government to take note of changes in the strategic context – we can come back to this in the discussions and questions – and continue the work started in 2014 at the Wales summit and in Warsaw in 2016. The past five years have clearly seen a profound transformation in our environment, and a major one for the Alliance, in particular in the face of both the invasion of Crimea and the strong and official emergence of Daesh [so-called ISIL].
Building on those decisions, we agreed to continue today to improve the collective defence mechanism and cooperate more, and above all to do so in accordance with a few principles that seem to me extremely important.
Those principles are, first of all, to have a credible NATO for our collective defence. Credibility itself is, precisely, central to our intervention methods: we adopted and strengthened NATO’s command structure, we took measures to increase our forces’ flexibility and mobility, particularly the Readiness Initiative, and we’re continuing our investment in cyber defence. We’re maintaining reassurance measures in the east of the Alliance, and in this regard France is part of NATO’s forward, reinforced presence in Lithuania and will return to Estonia next year; I was able to confirm this. And all these measures allow us to have an agile and defensive military posture. It’s in line with our international commitments and is accompanied by ongoing dialogue with Russia on reducing the risks of escalation and on transparency. Finally, for France, a credible NATO is also an organization that plans its enlargement without haste and in full awareness of its security interests.
The second key element of this strategy is a NATO that is effective in external theatres of operations. In the face of terrorism, NATO has a complementary role to play with national, European and international actions, and we endorsed the launch of a NATO training mission in Iraq, which will be deployed according to a timetable linked to the establishment of the new government in Baghdad.
Thirdly, a NATO that is modern, particularly in its use of resources. We encouraged the organization to ensure effective management of the resources provided to it by the allied nations, and I’ll pay special attention to that, and it’s central to the discussions I’ve been having with the Secretary-General in recent months.
Finally, a united and mutually-supportive NATO; I think it’s an important point; all the heads of state and government present reaffirmed – and it’s also central to the declaration, as the American President has just repeated – the commitment we all have to NATO and to the Alliance’s unity. It clearly guarantees its effectiveness and our collective security – that of both North America and Europe. This security isn’t measured only in accounting terms, even though we must recognize that NATO’s cohesion is possible only if responsibility for it is shared, and on this issue the summit also enabled us to make progress, on the one hand, and note the commitments made by the various parties, the increase in the European share in recent years, in keeping with the 2014 road map, and the reaffirmation that we’ll keep to the commitments made, which consist in moving towards 2% of GDP by 2024. This actually allows – as we’ve also noted in recent years – a rebalancing of NATO’s funding. France itself has committed itself strongly to this path, by voting a military estimates bill which I’ll be promulgating tomorrow and which enables us to provide visibility, and above all budgetary credibility, to the commitments France has made to its partners and for ourselves, because each of the countries present decides on its expenditure for its own security, first and foremost for national reasons.
These efforts must continue, and as I had the opportunity to emphasize at the European Council, for me they’re supported and strengthened by the growing credibility of a European strategy and determination. The defence ministers of France and Germany are present here, and I want to thank them for the work done in recent months. We clearly promoted a very strong Franco-German commitment with a road map on 13 July 2017, which enabled concrete steps forward in Meseberg on two industrial projects that were considered unfeasible by many Franco-German observers, and since June 2017 some very concrete steps forward: structured defence cooperation, a European defence fund and the European Intervention Initiative, which we’re promoting together with seven other member states. There are a total of nine of us in that initiative today. These factors are essential for European credibility; it’s compatible with NATO, it’s even, for me, a factor reinforcing NATO’s strategy, but it also shows a realization by the European Union: the need to protect ourselves and shoulder all our responsibilities in this context. And I say this especially in relation to the European Union member states, which have a special need for security – I’m thinking of the eastern border states and Baltic states. Europe is organizing itself, anyway, to always stand alongside them, France is taking every measure to do so, Germany too, and this factor of responsibility and contemporary realism also motivates us. (…)
On these matters, we must never forget that we’re talking not only of our collective security but also of women and men on the ground who are risking their lives for us. (…)./.