When the heads of state and government convene at the Vilnius Summit on Tuesday, they will adopt new regional defense plans and reaffirm support for Ukraine. With the agreement to move forward on Sweden’s accession to NATO, this is the first Summit meeting where the Nordic region is represented as a unified region in the Alliance.
‘This will be the most important NATO Summit of our time. Among other things, we will take a major step in strengthening NATO’s collective defense capability by adopting regional defense plans that have been updated for the first time since the Cold War,’ said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
Yes to Sweden’s accession to NATO
On Monday evening, following a meeting between NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, Turkish President Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Kristersson, Turkey agreed to give its formal support to Sweden’s bid to join NATO.
‘It is an important and positive development for Sweden, Norway, the Nordic region and for NATO that we will now be able to welcome Sweden as a new ally. This is also the first Summit where Finland is participating as a full-fledged member. A united Nordic region in NATO will make the Alliance stronger and the Nordic countries more secure,’ said Prime Minister Støre.
Historic strengthening of NATO’s collective defense capability
The Vilnius Summit is taking place against a backdrop of war in Europe. The heads of state and government meeting on 11-12 July will be discussing and taking decisions in two main areas:
• A historic strengthening of NATO’s collective defense capability. This involves introducing new regional defense plans, increased investments and commitments across the Alliance as a whole.
• Clear confirmation of support for Ukraine’s legitimate fight to defend itself against Russia.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre is participating in the Summit together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt and Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram.
Crucial for Norway
The decisions taken at the Vilnius Summit will be of fundamental importance both for the Alliance in general and for Norwegian security.
‘There are at least four reasons why this Summit is so crucial to Norway. First, it will enhance NATO’s ability to carry out its primary task, which is to protect the member countries in the event of a crisis or war. Second, increased defense spending entails a clear bolstering of our own preparedness, security and defense capability.
Third, the Summit will approve the establishment of a surveillance center to improve the protection of subsea infrastructure, which is of key importance to Norway. And fourth, the accession to NATO of Finland, and now Sweden, will add the strength of a united Nordic region to the Alliance,’ said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
NATO’s collective defense capability
During the Summit meeting, NATO will take new, major steps to strengthen the collective defense capability of the Alliance. Actions to achieve this include:
• adoption of new regional defense plans that cover the entire geographic scope of the Alliance;
• a new force model encompassing dedicated forces under each regional plan that can be deployed in situations of crisis and war;
• a new regional Command Structure which will be responsible for each of the regional defense plans and the respective forces.
‘Norway has been working on these issues in NATO since we put forward the core area initiative in 2008. I remember that we argued then for NATO to “return home”. That is what we are achieving now in light of the decisions we will be taking at the Vilnius Summit,’ said Støre.
More support to Ukraine
The heads of state and government will also further consolidate their support to Ukraine. Norway has previously decided to provide NOK 15 billion per year to Ukraine under the comprehensive, multi-year Nansen Support Program for Ukraine.
“Ukraine has an urgent need for more military support and equipment. Norway is therefore increasing its military support to Ukraine by NOK 2.5 billion to a total of NOK 10 billion for 2023,” said the Prime Minister.
This funding will be allocated under the Nansen Support Program, which will provide a total of NOK 75 billion over a period of five years. Norway has already pledged to provide NOK 15 billion in civilian and military support under the program in 2023. The Government has now decided to use an additional NOK 2.5 billion in 2023 because Ukraine is in need of more support now.
In addition to this, Norway will increase its contribution to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine.
‘Norway is increasing its contribution to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package. Norway will provide NOK 300 million in funding in 2023, and a total of NOK 1.5 billion over a five-year period. This is a clear indication of our long-term support for Ukraine’s reform efforts, and will help to bring Ukraine closer to the Alliance,’ said Støre.
Norway to increase defense spending to 2 % of GDP
An increase in defense investments is also on the Summit agenda.
‘Norway is committed to doing its part. We are the first Norwegian Government to agree to increase defense spending to a minimum of 2 % of GDP from 2026. We will maintain this level from that point on,’ said Støre.
The Summit will approve the establishment of a NATO surveillance center to improve the protection of subsea infrastructure.
“The war in Ukraine has once again shown that the protection of critical infrastructure is a vital component of security policy. As Europe’s largest gas supplier, Norway has a special responsibility to protect relevant subsea infrastructure. With this in mind, German Chancellor Scholz and I put forth a proposal last year to give NATO a bigger role in this critical effort. I am pleased that NATO is now establishing a surveillance centre to improve the protection of critical subsea infrastructure,” said Støre.