Angela Merkel receives NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

"NATO is and will remain the cornerstone of our security"

At the start of December, the heads of state and government of NATO member states are to meet in London, where they will also be marking the 70th anniversary of the alliance. In the run-up to the summit, Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Berlin.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg give a press conference at the Federal Chancellery.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed the December NATO summit

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

At the start of their press conference, the Chancellor said how much she appreciated the "wonderful symbolic gesture" of the NATO Secretary General, who will be staying in Berlin until 9 November. The 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, said Angela Merkel, also points to the fact that "NATO today is a very different NATO from the one that existed 30 years ago, and that enemies have become allies". 

Angela Merkel and Jens Stoltenberg met to discuss preparations for the NATO summit that is to take place at the beginning of December in London. With a view to this event, the Chancellor underlined, "NATO is and will remain the cornerstone of our security." The transatlantic partnership must be maintained and developed, she added. "It is our security, and that will remain so."

Defence spending to rise

Angela Merkel re-asserted Germany’s commitment to the NATO resolution adopted in Wales in 2014. Under this resolution, member states agreed to raise defence spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) to move closer to the 2 per cent mark by 2024.

Germany will increase defence spending to 1.5 per cent by 2024, in the knowledge, said Angela Merkel, "that that does not put us among the top NATO spenders". Germany has, however, "significantly raised its spending" and intends to continue to do so in the coming year, said the Chancellor. It is "realistic" to think that Germany can achieve the two-percent mark by 2031.

Finding the answer to the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty

NATO needs "common answers", declared Angela Merkel, for instance with respect to the demise of the INF treaty. She is very grateful to Jens Stoltenberg, she said, for "coordinating the response of the alliance".

In 1987 the USA and the Soviet Union entered into the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, under which they agreed to eliminate and destroy intermediate-range missiles with a range of between 500km and 5,500 km. After Russia violated the provisions of the treaty, it expired on 2 August 2019.    

For many years, Germany has consistently been contributing to NATO’s Afghanistan mission. This mission too will be on the agenda at the NATO summit. Alongside its military engagement, Germany is also working for a political solution, "because we know that military capabilities alone will not help in the long term".  

Angela Merkel thanked Jens Stoltenberg for flying to Ankara after the launch of the Turkish operation in northern Syria "in spite of all difficulties", where he expressed the concerns of many NATO states. It is important, she said, to keep the channels of communication open, even when controversies arise.  

Federal Defence Minister praises Jens Stoltenberg

One day earlier, NATO’s Secretary General met with Federal Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karenbauer. She presented Jens Stoltenberg with the Manfred Wörner Medal. At an official ceremony, she awarded the medal in recognition of Jen Stoltenberg’s services towards ensuring the stability and reliability of NATO.

The minister stressed that he works in an exceptional manner to ensure NATO is able to act. Jens Stoltenberg sees the EU as a strong partner for NATO in securing peace and liberty.

In 1994, the Federal Defence Minister at the time Volker Rühe gifted the Manfred Wörner Medal in memory of Manfred Wörner, who served as NATO Secretary General and Federal Defence Minister. The medal is awarded on an annual basis to honour public figures who have rendered "special meritorious service to peace and freedom in Europe".