with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the Republic of Estonia, Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid
President Kaljulaid, please be welcome to NATO headquarters, it’s a great honor to have you here and it was a great pleasure to meet with you.
And we have just finished a very constructive and good meeting where we addressed many different issues. But I would like to start by thanking Estonia for being such a steadfast Ally for many years and we are very grateful for the many different contributions you give to the Alliance. We have Estonian troops deployed in Afghanistan, you contribute also with all the expertise and excellence you have in the cyber area where we have the NATO Cyber centre of excellence in Estonia and this is really an important tool in enhancing the capabilities and the knowledge for the whole Alliance when it comes to cyber defence.
We also very much appreciate and commend you for being one of the Allies that is spending 2% of GDP on defence. This is really important, especially in times where we see new threats and new challenges and you lead by example by spending 2% of GDP on defence so we are grateful for that, and your investments in defence also contribute to a fair burden sharing and thereby also strengthening the transatlantic bond.
NATO can count on Estonia and Estonia can count on NATO. Allied jets keep your skies safe. And Allied ships patrol the Baltic Sea and we are stepping up our presence on land as well. At the Warsaw Summit, we decided to enhance our forward presence in the three Baltic countries and Poland. And we are on track when it comes to the deployment of the battalion, a multinational battalion to Estonia, and the battalion is going to be led by the UK but also forces from other NATO Allied countries will be part of this multinational battalion. So we think that the fact that we are delivering on the promises to strengthen our collective defence is very important for the whole Alliance but of course especially important for Estonia and other Baltic countries and Poland because you see that we are following up on what we said we should do. Then I would also like to thank you for your strong personal commitment to the Alliance and I’m looking forward to working with you and I hope that this is just the beginning of many meetings here in the NATO headquarters, in Estonia, but also in other places so that we can further develop our excellent cooperation, so once again, welcome to NATO.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much we’ll start with Eastern Kavalich (sic) please.
Q: Hi, Johann Estralla (sic) from Estonian Public Broadcasting. Two questions to Mr. Stoltenberg, this week a lot about EU and NATO cooperation has been said in this house; I would like you to point out a few practical things what NATO and the EU can do together in the Baltic region that would really make sense and be useful for both NATO and the EU, and the Baltic States. And second, tackling Russian propaganda is, I believe, one of the things that has been talked about a lot. Right now, there are about 20 people who are dealing with it under the framework of the EU; should we put more emphasis on this and more resources? Thank you.
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): First you’re right that NATO-EU cooperation has been top of the agenda this week because it was the main issue at our Foreign Ministerial meeting which ended yesterday and there, we endorsed a package of more than 40 concrete measures on how to strengthen NATO-EU cooperation, addressing many different areas. I think all of these measures will be, in different ways, relevant for the Baltic region but let me just mention some, few examples. We are, we have agreed to strengthen our cooperation when it comes to cyber defenses because we see an increased cyber threat against all NATO allies and we have agreed to exchange best practices, we have agreed to do more when it comes to research, and then of course, the Centre of Excellence in Estonia is a key tool to achieve exactly that, to strengthen cooperation with NATO-EU on, on cyber. We have decided to increase our cooperation when it comes to hybrid threats. This combination of military and non-military threats and means of aggression and, we have agreed then to have playbooks describing who’s going to do what, so we can coordinate efforts if needed, between the European Union and NATO. If a nation is under any kind of hybrid attack or hybrid threat, then we can work together on infrastructure, on resilience, on continuation of government, on many other areas where we need coordinated efforts by the European Union and NATO in a hybrid or during a hybrid threat or attack. We have also agreed to do more exercises and that’s also (inaudible) for the Baltic Sea region and we have agreed on many many other issues, maritime cooperation. So, I think that all the whole list is actually in different ways relevant for the Baltic States. Then countering propaganda is also actually one part of the NATO-EU cooperation. We will exchange information, we will work together, but both for the European Union and for NATO, we have to understand that the first responder is the member state because they are closest to the challenge, they know the language, they know the social context where this propaganda or this information is taking place. What NATO can do, and EU can do, is to, can, is to coordinate efforts; it’s to provide facts and figures. We will do that but I think that the first responder is the nations and we very much believe that when we see, for instance propaganda, our response is not propaganda. But, we believe in open free societies so, facts, the truth will prevail over propaganda, so open debate where we all participate with the facts and the truth, is the best way also to fight this information and the propaganda.
MODERATOR: Thank you, gentleman here please.
Q: Karl (inaudible) from (inaudible). Mr. Secretary General it is currently very easy for Russia to cut off, in the worst case scenario, the re-enforcements for the Baltic region. What can NATO do about it? And on a related topic you have mentioned many times that NATO’s answer to Russia’s military buildup must be proportionate. Russia has huge numbers of troops and very serious military equipment on our borders. How exactly is four battalions proportionate answer?
JENS STOLTENBERG: First of all in our military planning we are taking into account the Russian military buildup also in the Baltic Sea region and that’s also one of the reasons why we have decided to increase our presence, four presence in the three Baltic countries and in Poland. And you have to remember that both the presence of multi-national brigades, sorry multi-national battalions in the three Baltic countries and Poland but also the establishment of the NATO four situation units to small headquarters in the three Baltic States and Poland. They are, they’re also to establish better cooperation, coordination with the home defense forces the Estonian forces, the Lithuanian forces, the Latvian forces and the Polish forces and they are there also to help, prepare, plan for re-enforcements if needed. So the idea is not that that four battalions alone shall be the only tool, the only component, in delivering deterrence on behalf of NATO, but they are key because they are forward, they are in the Baltic region, they are linked up to the home defense forces and, they are linked up to the NATO Force Integration Unit and thereby also enabling and making it easier to have re-enforcements, if needed. And re-enforcements can of course come, before we see a conflict. The whole idea with re-enforcements is to prevent the conflict; it’s to send a clear message of deterrence. So if needed we will deploy, based on early warnings, based on intelligence, based on information, to send a clear signal that NATO is there to protect all allies against any threat and we have to also understand that the fact is that, that these battalions are multi-national, sends the message we want to send, that an attack on one ally will trigger the response from the whole Alliance. So, for instance, when you are going to have a UK-led battalion in Estonia, with also participation from other nations, that will send a very clear signal about our willingness to to re-enforce if, if needed. This is backed by, for instance, the new Spearhead Force, it’s a high joint readiness, also they’re a Spearhead Force, they’re a new brigade we have which can be deployed very rapidly if needed. And behind that again we have the NATO Response Force and behind that we have the following forces. So, so we have forces that can be deployed, that can provide the necessary deterrence if, if needed. The last thing was that when I say proportionate, it is proportionate to the scale of the challenge we face. We don’t see any imminent threat against any NATO ally, we will not anyway, match soldier by soldier or plane by plane; that’s not a way we respond in a proportionate way, but we respond in a proportionate way making sure that we respond to the scale of the challenge. We see, in a way that makes sure, that NATO continues to deliver credible defense and tripling size of the NATO Response Force, the new High Readiness Joint Task Force and the battalions and the NATO Force Integration Units. All that provides the necessary deterrence and defense and the protection of all the Baltic countries.
MODERATOR: That’s all we have time for. Thank you very much.