PRAGUE–(ENEWSPF)–12 November 2012. Investment in defence and security remains essential despite the economic crisis, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told European and North American parliamentarians at the annual NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague today.
The Secretary General urged the lawmakers to halt the slide in defence spending and increase it once the economic situation improves to ensure that NATO is able to deal with security challenges. “We need to stop the decline and then we need to reverse it,” the Secretary General said. “I believe that is possible but it is going to require commitment and active support.”
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said that as a former prime minister himself, he fully understood the current political realities, acknowledging that defence is often the first area targeted for cuts. But he added that it was the job of elected politicians to explain that security and defence concerns should not be sidelined. “Freedom does not come for free and any decisions taken to improve our economy must not lead us into a different sort of crisis – a security crisis,” he said. “We need to have the right forces and capabilities to deter and defend against any threat to keep our nations safe.”
He also called on Allies, especially in Europe, to “take on greater responsibility” for security, pointing to statistics which show a growing spending gap between them and the United States. He said, however, that there was a way ahead, pointing to the decisions taken at the Chicago Summit in May, where NATO leaders agreed to make Allied forces more capable and compatible by joining together in multinational Smart Defence projects and by implementing the Connected Forces Initiative, which aims to keep up the Alliance’s operational effectiveness. “In today’s security and economic climate, multinational solutions are essential if we are to maintain our edge,” the Secretary General said. “I count on you to make the right choices for our future.”