NATO “will chart the way ahead for the next decade” at its June summit in the Spanish capital Madrid, the alliance’s chief said on Monday.
“We will reset our deterrence and defense for a more dangerous world,” Jens Stoltenberg said at a ceremony in Spain marking the 40th anniversary of the country’s accession to NATO.
He recalled that a 1997 summit in Madrid opened talks on the eventual NATO membership of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.
“That summit marked a new age of hope and aspiration. NATO’s open door and the European Union's enlargement helped spread freedom, democracy and prosperity across Europe. It was, and remains, a historic success,” said Stoltenberg.
He said next month’s meeting in Madrid will be “another historic summit.”
“Russia is waging a war of aggression against Ukraine. Authoritarian regimes seek to undermine the rules-based international order. China’s coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values," he said, adding China has joined Russia in openly contesting the right of each and every country to choose its own path.
According to Stoltenberg, NATO is aiming to “deepen our cooperation with like-minded countries and organizations, including the European Union and countries in the Indo Pacific.”
“The Madrid summit is an important opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to NATO’s values and the vital importance of Europe and North America working together in NATO,” he said.
Stoltenberg, who was joined at the event by Spain’s King Felipe and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, confirmed that Finland and Sweden – the latest European countries seeking NATO membership – will also attend the summit scheduled for June 29-30.
For his part, Sanchez reaffirmed Spain’s commitment to increase its defense spending in the coming years.
“The war in Ukraine has opened the eyes of our societies. Many people have understood our safety and security are not guaranteed indefinitely,” he said.
Protecting democracy and freedom “requires modern, capable and available military capabilities that can only be acquired by increasing our investment in defense,” he added.
Earlier this March, Sanchez announced Spain will gradually hike its defense budget, which currently accounts for 1.3% of its economic output, to 2% in a multiyear period.