NATO leaders will celebrate 70 years of the military alliance and discuss future strategies during a summit next month in London.
Plans for further improvement of NATO forces readiness, recognizing space as an operational domain, updating the group’s plan against terrorism and fairer burden sharing of defense investments will be on the agenda during the Dec. 3-4 meeting.
“NATO continues to be the bedrock of peace and stability,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference Friday. “We are 29 allies, each with its own history, culture and political practice. We shouldn’t be surprised if we disagree, but the strength of the NATO lies in the fact that we have always overcome these, and stayed united around our core task to protect each other.”
French President Emmanuel Macron referred earlier this month to NATO as “brain death” in an interview with British weekly, The Economist.
He defended his statements as a “wake-up call” for allies at a joint news conference with Stoltenberg in Paris. Macron also urged NATO leaders to shift focus from Russia and China to terrorism, NATO’s real enemy.
Stoltenberg responded to Macron’s statements by saying, “We don’t see any imminent military threat from Russia against any NATO country, but we do see a strategic challenge.”
He said Russia’s heavy investments in modernizing its army is violating a “cornerstone arms-control agreement in Europe,” referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and he accused Russia of being “responsible for aggressive actions for European neighbors.”
China’s significant military modernization should also be considered, according to Stoltenberg, as well as its “increased presence in the Arctic, the Balkans and in cyberspace.”
The Secretary-General said it is important to respond to challenges in a unified manner and expressed strong hope about the future.
“Europe and North America are doing more now than they have been doing for decades,” and he praised updates on the Defense Expenditure of NATO countries, published earlier Friday.
Countries of the alliance are predicted to spend 4.6% more on defense in 2019 than in previous year, which is the fifth consecutive year of growth.
European Allies and Canada would have added $130 billion more to their military budget by 2020, since 2016, according to forecasts.
NATO expects the additional defense budget to increase to $400 billion by the end of 2024.
By Agnes Szucs in Brussels