NATO Chief’s Message: Transatlantic Bond ‘More Important’ in Light of China’s Rise

Written by | Friday, June 19th, 2020

„It’s extremely important that North America and Europe stand together because together we are half of the world’s military might and economic might,“ NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in his latest interview for Euronews. „So if anything, the rise of China makes it even more important to maintain the bond between North America and Europe, the transatlantic bond,” stressed Stoltenberg when addressing the ‚rise of China‘ challenge, while he also touched upon a host of other issues, including the on-going coronavirus crisis and whether Europe needs an army. Asked if he did not think that China now poses a greater military threat to the Western world order than Russia does, Stoltenberg warned that “the rise of China is fundamentally changing the global balance of power. China will soon have the biggest economy in the world, and … China is investing heavily in new long-range military capabilities, missiles, that can reach all NATO allies in Europe…“ Therefore, according to the NATO chief, since „China is coming closer to us with weapons systems that can reach us all with the increased Chinese presence in cyberspace, in the Arctic, in Africa, but also investing heavily in infrastructure in Europe, … NATO has to respond to that.“
On the recently announced withdrawal of nine thousand US troops from Germany, NATO Secretary-General said he told President Trump during a recent phone call “very clearly that the presence of North America, both the US troops, but also Canadian troops in Europe, is of importance for all of us, for Europe, but also for North America. And therefore, what I welcome is that we have seen over the last years an increased US presence in Europe with more troops in Poland, leading a battlegroup there with more presence in the Baltic countries, the Black Sea region and also elsewhere.” Stoltenberg then continued: „My message is also that US presence in Europe is not only about protecting Europe, but it is also about projecting US power beyond Europe. We know that many of the US operations in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Africa, they come out from bases, US bases in Europe. The US Africa Command is not in Africa. It’s in Stuttgart, in Germany. So again, now we have to have a conversation about this in NATO and what matters for me is that we maintain a significant presence of North America in Europe because that’s important both for Europe and North America.”
Asked about the Covid-19 pandemic, the NATO chief commented that “the pandemic itself is a reminder of the potential danger related to biological warfare and as we now invest more in modernising our military capabilities, we have also invested more in capabilities that can deal with chemical, biological attacks. We are doing more exercises and we are stepping up the efforts to deal with these kinds of crises or warfare.” On the issue of an EU army, Stoltenberg said that he welcomed EU efforts on defence but argued that „they cannot replace NATO. We have to remember that 80% of NATO’s defence expenditure comes from non-EU allies. So, yes, we welcome more EU efforts on defence, but also knowing that close to 60% of the population in NATO don’t live in an EU country. Of course, the EU you cannot replace NATO, but NATO and the EU can complement each other.”

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