NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Germany for its vital contributions to the Alliance in talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday (15 June 2018). Speaking at a press conference at the Chancellery, Mr. Stoltenberg praised Germany’s leadership of a multinational battlegroup in Lithuania and its major contributions to NATO operations from Afghanistan to Kosovo and the Aegean Sea.
The two leaders discussed preparations for the NATO Summit in July, including higher readiness for NATO forces, the Alliance’s growing contribution to the fight against terrorism and fairer burden-sharing within the Alliance. On Russia, the Secretary General said he and Chancellor Merkel agreed that that NATO’s dual-track approach to Russia, combing strong deterrence and meaningful dialogue, was the right way forward. “Our dialogue with Russia is not easy. But the more difficult our relations are, the more we need dialogue,” he said.
Mr. Stoltenberg also welcomed that Germany has stopped cuts in defence spending and has started to increase, with a 6% real increase last year. Calling German leadership on defence investment “crucial”, he encouraged Germany to do more, saying: “we must do this for our own security in an unpredictable world.”
While in Berlin, Mr. Stoltenberg also met separately with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Andrea Nahles. At the Bundestag, the Secretary General also addressed a joint meeting of lawmakers from the defence and foreign affairs committees. On Friday morning, Mr. Stoltenberg addressed policy experts at the Koerber Stiftung in a speech focused on Germany’s contributions to NATO and the importance of the trans-Atlantic bond.