NATO Expects Slovenia to Increase Defence Spending (Interview)

By , 08 Oct 2018, 14:20 PM News
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg nato.int

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STA, 5 October 2018 - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has welcomed Slovenia's increase in defence spending in real terms in a correspondence interview with the STA ahead of his visit on Tuesday. "But we expect Slovenia to do more to meet the target that we all agreed." 

Despite the fact that the country's defence spending is only at 1% of GDP and far from the 2% target of NATO, Stoltenberg praised Slovenia's contributions to the KFOR mission in Kosovo, the NATO Liaison Office in Skopje and training mission in Afghanistan.

"Slovenian troops are also part of the multinational NATO battlegroup in Latvia. And they will be providing a significant contribution to exercise Trident Juncture in northern Europe later this month."

When asked about the failed preparedness test of Slovenia's only battalion sized battle group in February, Stoltenberg said that NATO expected "all allies to play their part".

"At a time when the world is more unpredictable and unstable, we need to make sure NATO has the full range of capabilities we need," said the secretary general.

"Allies will provide their national plans for defence, setting out how they intend to address the guidelines we have for cash, contributions and capabilities. These will be examined and discussed by all Allied Ministers in February."

When asked how he feels about swapping territory and changing borders in the Western Balkans, Stoltenberg, who used to live in Belgrade as a child, said that "nothing must be done that destabilises the region".

"I truly believe that the normalisation process between Pristhina and Belgrade is key for regional peace and security and all Allies agree that it is important that this continues."

"The political leaders in the region have a very important role to play and this includes more efforts towards reconciliation. The future of the entire Western Balkans region lies in the Euro-Atlantic family."

As regards Macedonia, Stoltenberg underlined that negotiations will continue, however, "the only way for Skopje to join NATO is by agreeing and implementing the name deal with Greece in full."

"There is no other way and there is no alternative. So it is for the Government and the parliament in Skopje to decide and to take the necessary steps to implement the deal."

When asked about the future of NATO, Stoltenberg was optimistic, saying that the alliance saw "the biggest increase in a generation in defence spending, an increase of more than 5% in real terms" last year.

"Looking only at the last two years, we have seen a total increase of US$41bn across Europe and Canada. Therefore we have a good story to tell."

Moreover, European members have started to invest more in defence not only to please the US. "They are doing it because it is for the benefit of their own security and in their own interest. At the same time, the US is increasing their military presence in Europe."

"These are actions that speak louder than words. So despite some disagreements between both sides of the Atlantic on different issues, the reality is that NATO is delivering and that we are strengthening the transatlantic partnership."

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