Allied Heads of State and Government met in Brussels on Wednesday (11 July 2018) and agreed to further strengthen NATO’s defense and deterrence, step up its role in the fight against terrorism and share the burden of security more fairly. Speaking on the first day of the Summit at NATO Headquarters, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “The decisions we have made today show that Europe and North America are working together. NATO is delivering and we are determined to keep our almost one billion citizens safe and secure.”
The twenty nine Allied leaders took a series of measures to continue NATO’s adaptation to a more demanding security environment, including a new readiness initiative which will see thirty mechanized battalions, thirty air squadrons and thirty combat vessels ready for use within thirty days. Allies also enhanced NATO’s command structure with new commands for the Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia, and for support and logistics in Ulm, Germany. A new Cyber Operations Centre will also be created at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium.
Allied leaders decided to launch a new NATO training mission in Iraq, with several hundred trainers, and to increase support for Jordan and Tunisia. These initiatives will help them counter terrorism and maintain stability. The Secretary General announced that NATO’s Hub for the South is now fully operational. The facility in Naples, Italy, will help the Alliance monitor and respond more effectively to challenges in the Southern region.
The Secretary General reiterated the importance of fairer burden-sharing in the Alliance and he confirmed that all Allies are increasing defense spending. This year, eight nations have committed to devote at least 2% of GDP on defense and a majority of Allies have plans to do so by 2024. Mr. Stoltenberg also said that, based on the national plans of European Allies and Canada, it is expected $266 billion extra will be spent on defense between now and 2024. “So we have turned the tide but we need to do more. This is about fairness, this is about our credibility and, above all, this is about our security in a more unpredictable world,” said the Secretary General.
Allied leaders also agreed to invite the government in Skopje to start accession talks. Once all national procedures have been completed to finalize the agreement on the name issue, the country will join NATO as its thirtieth member.
NATO Heads of State and Government will meet with Finland, Sweden, and the European Union on Wednesday evening to discuss shared security challenges. On Thursday, Allied leaders will meet with the Presidents of Georgia and Ukraine, and the Summit will conclude with a meeting of all nations contributing to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.