NATO stands for deterrence and dialogue, says Merkel
Lasting security in Europe was only possible with and not against Russia, though.
“Deterrence and dialogue, that is a firm commitment to solidarity with our Alliance partners under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty and extending a hand for dialogue. These are not opposites, no, they are inextricably linked,” said Angela Merkel in regard to the tasks of the NATO Alliance.
The Chancellor said that she expressly stood by the content of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. When it was signed, she said, the intention had been to “develop a strong and permanent partnership on the basis of common interests, reciprocity and transparency”.
Merkel stressed that she would continue to advocate keeping the Founding Act as the basis for NATO’s relations with Russia. “Because even though Russia has breached the terms of this agreement on account of its actions in Ukraine, our values and principles are still firmly established in this document, values and principles towards which we will continue to orient our actions,” she went on.
The NATO Summit will be taking place in Warsaw, Poland on 8/9 July. As well as their heads of state and government, the foreign and defence ministers of the NATO member states will also be meeting there. A total of 39 government representatives, around 80 foreign and defence ministers, and some 1,500 journalists are expected to attend the summit.
Visible and reliable solidarity
The heads of state and government will be meeting at the summit in Warsaw at a time when the security situation in and around Europe has changed significantly. “In the east, Russia’s actions in the Ukraine crisis have deeply disturbed our eastern allies,” Merkel said. “If the inviolability of borders is called into question by words and deeds, then of course trust will be lost. That is why they need the Alliance’s unequivocal reassurance.”
“Solidarity will continue to be visible and reliable. We will supplement the adjustments the Alliance made in Wales. Elements will be added with which the Alliance’s deterrence and defence capability will be consolidated and safeguarded on a permanent basis,” Merkel stated. Fundamentally, she said, the aim was to enable NATO to increase its presence in the Baltic States and in Poland. “That is important, because we in the Alliance have realised that it is not enough to be able to deploy troops quickly, but that we need to have a sufficient presence on the ground as well.”
That was why, Merkel said, NATO was now planning a multilateral presence and that these formations would each be led by one of the NATO states. “This approach explicitly includes a response to hybrid threats,” she went on, “that is scenarios similar to those Russia implemented in Ukraine, in which the classic boundaries between war and peace are consciously blurred.”
The Chancellor welcomed the fact that the NATO-Russia Council had met. She expressly thanked Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier for his hard work. It was at the Foreign Minister’s initiative that the NATO-Russia Council had met in April 2016. It would have been useful, the Chancellor said, if Russia had accepted NATO’s offer of talks ahead of the summit.
Such talks would have provided the opportunity to explain the decisions that the Alliance was expected to take. “But Russia did not want such a meeting ahead of the summit, so now the NATO-Russia Council will be meeting after the summit,” Merkel said.
The NATO-Russia Council was established in May 2002 as a forum for political dialogue. The cooperation was discontinued in April 2014, however, in light of Russia’s actions in the Ukraine crisis.
Continuing to support Afghan security forces
Chancellor Merkel stated that the Alliance’s ongoing assignments would also be assessed at the summit in Warsaw. She first mentioned Afghanistan. The heads of state and government would agree to continue to provide financial support to Afghan security forces until 2020, Merkel said. That was extremely important, she added, in order to continue building the Afghan forces’ capacities so that they could take responsibility for their own security.
At the summit in Poland the Alliance would also be reasserting its commitment to continue the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) beyond 2016, Merkel said. The Chancellor welcomed US President Barack Obama’s announcement that the United States would continue to deploy 8,400 soldiers in Afghanistan. That was very important for Germany, she said, so that Germany could continue its mission in Afghanistan.
NATO currently has some 13,000 soldiers from 39 countries (including around 950 Bundeswehr personnel) deployed in Afghanistan as part of the RSM.
At the forthcoming summit the Alliance would be reaffirming its target of partners making two per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) available for defence spending, Merkel said. Germany had backed this goal for many years. “That is why our new budget provides for a significant increase in defence spending from 37.1 billion euros in 2016 to around 39 billion euros in 2017,” the Chancellor added.
This budget plan provided for a further increase in defence spending in the period 2018 to 2020, Merkel went on. In total more than an additional 2.5 billion euros had been earmarked. “This very clearly marks the beginning of a trend reversal when it comes to defence spending, although a lot remains to be done before we reach the two per cent target,” the Chancellor said. The structure and organisation of the Bundeswehr as a whole reflected Germany’s international responsibility, Merkel stated.
The organisation and structure of the Bundeswehr now reflects Germany’s international responsibility, the Chancellor said. “Together with its allies Germany is facing this responsibility as well as new challenges, but we are always aware that military means alone cannot enable a sustainable solution. Both alliance policy steps and wise diplomacy are always needed,” said Merkel.
“That is precisely why, as well as its NATO and EU assignments, the German government is also involved in the OSCE chairmanship, in nuclear negotiations with Iran, in the Normandy format to resolve the situation in Ukraine and in the group led by the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura.”
Other challenges NATO faces include Syria, Iraq and Libya, Angela Merkel said. The Chancellor called on all those involved to “adopt both a firm and prudent stance in dealing with terrorism”. Military means could only ever be one instrument, she said.