Jens Stoltenberg at a Nato meeting in Stavanger last year. Photo: Carina Johansen / NTB scanpix
“We face the greatest challenges to our security in a generation. This is no time to question the value of the partnership between Europe and the United States,” Stoltenberg wrote in a column for the British newspaper The Observer in the wake of Donald Trump's election victory.
Trump created concern in Norway and amongst other Nato nations when he suggested during the election that the United States might not assist a Nato ally that had not paid its share into the military alliance. Trump’s comments cast doubt on the collective defence agreement at the core of Nato.
In response to this, Stoltenberg reminded Trump that the only time Nato’s Article 5 – which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all – was used was after the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11th, 2001.
“This was more than just a symbol. Nato went on to take charge of the operation in Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of European soldiers have served in Afghanistan since. And more than 1,000 have paid the ultimate price in an operation that is a direct response to an attack against the United States,” the Nato Secretary General wrote.
Stoltenberg conceded that European leaders must increase their financial contributions to the alliance, a demand Trump expressed during his election campaign. As it currently stands, the US accounts for 70 percent of Nato’s expenses.
“It is all too easy to take the freedoms, security and prosperity we enjoy for granted. In these uncertain times we need strong American leadership, and we need Europeans to shoulder their fair share of the burden,” Stoltenberg wrote.
“But above all we need to recognise the value of the partnership between Europe and America. It remains indispensable,” the former Norwegian prime minister concluded.
Stoltenberg’s column in The Observer can be read in full here.