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Defense & Security
The national flags of NATO members fly outside the organization's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2023.

NATO anniversary 2024 - 75 years of the defense alliance

by Christina Bellmann

한국어로 읽기 Читать на русском Leer en español Gap In Deutsch lesen اقرأ بالعربية Lire en français What is required of member states between now and the Alliance's anniversary summit in Washington D.C. from July 9 to 11 75 years after its founding, NATO is facing an unprecedented set of challenges. The global security landscape is changing rapidly - from the ongoing war in Ukraine to crucial elections on both sides of the Atlantic. The summit in Washington D.C. will not only be a celebration of the past, but also a crucial marker for the future direction of the Alliance.  NATO is in troubled waters ahead of its 75th birthday - on the one hand, it is not 'brain dead' but offers protection to new members - on the other hand, the challenges are enormous in view of the war in Ukraine.  In the third year of the war, the military situation in Ukraine is serious. The military is coming under increasing pressure and European partners are delivering too little and too slowly.  Western support must be stepped up in order to influence the outcome of the war - Russia's future behavior towards its neighbors also depends on this.  Elections will be held on both sides of the Atlantic in 2024 - the US presidential election in November will be particularly decisive for NATO.  Two thirds of NATO member states are well on the way to meeting the two percent national defense spending target - Germany in particular must ensure that this target is met in the long term.  Now it is up to the leadership of larger countries such as Germany, France and Poland to develop traction in European defense in order to present a future US president with a resilient burden-sharing balance sheet and not leave Ukraine - and the European security order - in the lurch. Return to the core mission In the 75th year of its existence, the North Atlantic Defense Alliance has returned to its core mission: deterrence and defense against a territorial aggressor. NATO defense planning will be reviewed for its resilience before the NATO summit in Washington D.C. from 9 to 11 July 2024. What challenges does the Alliance face in its anniversary year and what needs to happen between now and the NATO summit to make the summit a success? The state of the Alliance ahead of the summit NATO is in difficult waters ahead of its 75th anniversary. On the one hand, it has proven since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression that it is capable of acting and not brain-dead. The two new members, Finland and Sweden, have given up their decades of neutrality because their populations are convinced that they are better protected against Russian aggression within the 30 allies, despite the excellent condition of their military. On the other hand, the admission process has taken much longer than was to be expected given the high level of interoperability of both countries with NATO standards. It took a good twenty months since the application was submitted for both flags to fly on the flagpoles in front of NATO headquarters in Brussels - the internal blockade by Turkey and Hungary is an expression of the Alliance's challenge to maintain a united front against the Russian threat. The Vilnius decision of 2023 to adhere to the previous two percent target for annual defense spending as a percentage of national gross domestic product (GDP) as a minimum figure in future and even to strive for additional spending beyond this is an enormous effort for the members of the alliance - and the biggest point of criticism from its sceptics. The implementation of this goal goes hand in hand with the further development of the defense posture, which was also decided in Vilnius. This includes new regional defense plans that provide for more combat-capable troops that can be deployed more quickly. The Washington summit will show how far the Alliance has come in this respect in a year - gaps between targets and actual capabilities would consequently have to be covered by investments that go beyond the two percent GDP contributions. There are also a number of other important events and factors that will influence the summit. Ukraine's military situation In the third year of the war, the military situation in Ukraine is serious. The fighting has largely turned into a war of position, with high casualties on both sides. The sluggish supply of support from the West means that the Ukrainians have to make do with significantly less than their defense needs. The European Union has failed to meet its promise to deliver one million 155-millimetre shells within a year (by March 2024), while the Russian war economy is producing supplies in multiple shifts. This imbalance is making itself painfully felt in the Ukrainian defense - due to the material deficit, nowhere near enough Russian positions can be eliminated and Russian attacks repelled, and Ukrainian personnel on the front line are depleted. President Volodymyr Zelensky is coming under increasing pressure to mobilize fresh forces for the front. As a result, the Ukrainian military is having to give up some of its terrain in order to conserve material and personnel and take up the most sustainable defensive position possible for the coming weeks and months until relief hopefully comes. comes.1 The Czech initiative to procure half a million rounds in 155 millimeter caliber and 300,000 rounds in 122 millimeter caliber on the world market for Ukraine by June 2024 is urgently needed - but it does not change the fact that Europe and the West are delivering too little and too late, despite the efforts that have been made so far and must continue to be made.2 Even if the US and Europe were to produce at full speed, it would only be half of what Russia produces and receives in support from its allies. Western support therefore urgently needs to be ramped up, as it is of crucial importance for the outcome of the war - and for Russia's future behavior in its neighborhood. Upcoming elections A series of landmark elections will take place on both sides of the Atlantic in the run-up to the summit. The US presidential elections in November 2024 will be of the greatest importance for the future direction of NATO. To date, the USA has been the largest single supporter of Ukraine in the military field; in addition, the USA has decisive weight in the coordination of concrete support from NATO countries - the German Chancellor has repeatedly oriented himself towards US arms deliveries when it comes to the question of German support or even made this a condition for his own commitments.3 While the Democrats in the US Congress continue to support aid packages to Ukraine, the Republican Party is dominated by voices around presidential candidate Donald Trump calling for this "European war" to be left to the Europeans and for domestic challenges to be addressed instead.4 This has led to a months-long blockade of further aid amounting to 60 billion US dollars in the US House of Representatives, which is led by a wafer-thin majority of Republicans. Ukraine urgently needs these supplies to avert shortages in ammunition and air defense. At the time of publication of this Monitor, a release of the funds is not in sight. In terms of foreign policy, there is a bipartisan consensus that the real danger for the USA lies in a systemic conflict with China. Among Republican supporters, impatience with the continuation of the war is increasing, while approval for further support for Ukraine is decreasing. The mood among the general population is similar: between April 2022 and September 2023, the view that the US is doing "too much" for Ukraine increased (from 14% to 41%).5 On the European side, the most important milestone for further support for Ukraine is the election of the new European Parliament from 6 to 9 June 2024. Since the outbreak of the war, approval ratings in the EU for support for Ukraine have been remarkably stable.6 Even in the face of a sometimes difficult economic environment in the 20 eurozone states, approval ratings for the continuation of aid to Ukraine have only fallen slightly in a few EU states - starting from a high level. While the broad center of the EP groups (EPP, S&D and Renew) are united in their support for Ukraine and the transatlantic alliance, the foreign and security policy positioning of the far-right parties of the ECR and ID groups and the non-attached groups is not always clear. According to Nicolai von Ondarza and Max Becker from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), while the ECR parliamentary group "largely plays a constructive and compatible role" in foreign and security policy, including with regard to NATO and Ukraine, parts of the ID parliamentary group such as the French Rassemblement National (RN) or the German AfD either voted against resolutions critical of Russia in parliament or abstained.7 According to Olaf Wientzek from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, both the ECR and ID can expect significant seat gains in the upcoming EP elections.8 In terms of numbers, the ID and ECR groups are competing with Renew to be the third strongest force behind the EPP and S&D - according to current estimates, they all have between 80 and 90 seats. It would be conceivable for the currently non-attached Hungarian Fidesz (currently 13 MEPs) to join both the ECR and ID. In view of the increasing co-decision role of parliament - including for further Ukraine support packages - it is important for the EU how these parties and party alliances position themselves in terms of foreign and security policy.9 In fact, parties in the ID faction represent Russian propaganda within Europe in order to exert influence through disinformation, subversion and mobilization and thus undermine the social consensus with regard to Ukraine and NATO.10 This may also become apparent in individual elections, such as in the eastern German states in September 2024. Economic pressure - prioritizing defence? Global inflation averaged 6.2% in 2023. Current forecasts assume falling inflation rates in the Euro-Atlantic region over the course of 2024 to 2026.11 At the same time, however, global economic growth of 3.1% (2024) and an expected 3.2% (2025) compared to the previous year is well below the projections for the post-pandemic recovery.12 The combination of higher consumer prices and slower economic recovery continues to pose the risk of declining approval for strong support within the populations of the European Ukraine-supporting states. Protests in the face of announcements of cuts in various policy areas have demonstrated this in Germany and Europe over the past year. This does not make it easy to prioritize defence spending from a national perspective for the coming years. In the case of Germany, the defense budget is competing with all other departments in the budget negotiations for 2025, which are calling for an increase in social spending and investments in view of the current burdens on the population.13 At the same time, inflation does not stop at military procurement. As early as 2022, Germany therefore had to cancel a number of planned procurement projects due to increased costs.14 The cost increase also affects the maintenance of existing equipment and personnel. Even if Germany nominally reaches the two percent target in 2024, the increases in national defense spending within the Alliance will actually be lower when adjusted for inflation. Systemic threat from China The increasing systemic confrontation with China is not only identified in the US national security strategy; for the first time, China was classified as a concrete threat by NATO in its Strategic Concept of 2022. China is threatening to annex the democratically governed island of Taiwan to its territory, possibly by military means.15 This would have enormous global escalation potential and far-reaching effects on important international sea routes. Concerns about free trade routes are leading to a convergence of threat perceptions on both sides of the Atlantic. As a result, many European partners are rethinking their relations with China - as is Germany in its China strategy. China's global ambition to restructure the existing multilateral order according to its own ideas does not only affect Taiwan's independence. China's supremacy in key technical and industrial sectors as well as critical infrastructure, rare raw materials and supply chains would lead to a deepening of existing dependencies. Because the USA sees China as a systemic threat to international order, freedom and prosperity, it has been refocusing its efforts since President Obama took office. European NATO partners are therefore expected to invest in Europe's security themselves. Only greater burden-sharing by the Europeans would enable the USA to focus its attention more strongly on the Indo-Pacific. Challenges in new dimensions In addition to the geopolitical challenges outlined above, NATO designated space in 2019 as an additional battlefield to the existing fields - land, air, sea and cyberspace - due to its increased importance.16 In recent decades, China has rapidly expanded its presence in space in both the civilian and military sectors.17 The war in Ukraine has once again underlined the importance of satellite-based intelligence and the significance of connected weapons for combat. In addition, the effects of man-made climate change, which also have an impact on security in the Euro-Atlantic alliance area, have recently become increasingly apparent. At the 2021 NATO summit in Brussels, the Alliance set itself the goal of becoming a leading international organization in understanding and adapting to the effects of climate change on security.18 To this end, it adopted the "Climate Change and Security Action Plan". The NATO countries' homework A successful NATO summit in the anniversary year 2024 would send an important signal of the unity and defense capability of the Euro-Atlantic alliance in the face of Russia's breach of international law in a time of systemic competition. NATO member states are confronted with a complex threat situation ahead of the next summit in Washington D.C.. These give rise to various requirements: More NATO members must reach the two percent target In financial terms, the Washington summit will probably be considered a success if a substantial number of member states reach the two percent target. In 2023, this was the case for eleven countries (Poland, USA, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Latvia, UK, Slovakia).19 In February 2024, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on the sidelines of a meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group in Brussels that 18 countries would reach the target by the summit.20 Germany, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Denmark, Albania and North Macedonia are the countries that have recently reached the target.21 The newest NATO member, Sweden, increases the number to.19 Achieving the two percent target for defense spending is not an end in itself. The discussion within NATO as to whether one should deviate from the numerical contribution target and instead assess the actual capabilities contributed by the individual member states is not a new one. Amounts of money to measure collective defense remain the simplest way to approximate burden-sharing within NATO - and until all countries have achieved this, it will remain the relevant metric in the political discussion. From NATO's perspective, the gap between the desired capabilities listed in the defense plans and the troop contingents registered by the member states has widened steadily of late. In reality, there is no way around increased defense spending in order to adequately equip the required personnel, who would have to be subordinate to the NATO Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) in an emergency - from a military perspective, the demand is therefore increasingly being made that two percent should be the minimum target. In order to achieve all the required capabilities, larger contributions are needed from all nations. Due to the threat situation and political pressure, it seems possible that 21 countries, i.e. two thirds of the member states, will meet the two percent target by the NATO summit in Washington. In addition to the 19 countries mentioned above, these are France22 and Montenegro.23 Turkey wants to achieve the target by 2025,24 although this commitment is uncertain in view of the poor economic situation. Italy wants to spend two percent within the next two years25, while Norway should reach the target by 2026 according to Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere26. Slovenia has set 2027 as the target date for meeting the commitments27, while Portugal, Spain and Belgium have set 2030 as the target date. Canada (1.38%), Croatia (1.79%) and Luxembourg (0.72%) have not provided any information. Reduce bureaucracy, speed up procurement In material terms, the main aim is to convert the increased defense spending into "material on the farm" in a timely manner. To achieve this, the planning and procurement processes in many European countries need to be accelerated, made less bureaucratic and at the same time better coordinated. The common European defense will require massive improvements in the coming years. Some announcements have already been made during the pre-election campaign for the European Parliament; here, too, what counts is how the announcements are implemented after the election. Progress must also be made in the area of research and development in order to invest scarce resources in state-of-the-art systems. The question of joint development versus off-the-shelf procurement of available equipment will also have to be decided in many cases. A rethink in European procurement is essential for this. This is primarily the responsibility of the European nation states: long-term contracts with the arms industry must be concluded urgently, cooperation initiated and loans granted for production. Strengthening EU-NATO cooperation and NATO partnership policy NATO's Strategic Concept and the EU's Strategic Compass show a strong convergence in threat analysis. The EU has effective starting points and tools, particularly for cross-cutting challenges such as combating climate change, the threat of hybrid attacks and the protection of critical infrastructure. With the European Peace Facility and other instruments, a concrete institutional framework has been created to strengthen the European pillar in NATO and contribute to fairer burden-sharing on both sides of the Atlantic. The EU and NATO should further intensify the exchange on common challenges and utilize the strengths of the respective forum. In addition to the partnership with the EU, the member states should continue to promote NATO's partnership policy. 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of NATO's eastward enlargement and the 30th anniversary of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. In view of a global confrontation with Russia and an increasingly aggressive China, it is worth taking a look at the instruments that were devised during the Cold War with a view to 'like-minded' partners outside the Alliance. NATO's partnership policy - adapted to the new circumstances - is an ideal instrument for forging close ties with democratic nations in the Indo-Pacific that share NATO's interests and values.28 Investing in interoperability NATO must continue to act as a "guardian of standards" in favor of military interoperability. This year's major exercises as part of "Steadfast Defender 2024" and "Quadriga 2024" will show, among other things, which weaknesses still exist in the various dimensions of interoperability in practical tests. In addition, care must be taken to ensure that military innovations from pioneers within NATO do not leave the Alliance's other allies behind in technical terms. This does not mean that technological progress is slowed down in a race to the bottom; instead, member states with lower expenditure on research and development must be enabled to catch up more quickly - especially in areas such as space technology and the use of artificial intelligence in warfare, it is becoming increasingly important to avoid the technological gap between the members of the alliance. What does this mean for Germany? The Federal Chancellor's announcement on February 27, 2022 that the establishment of the 100 billion euro special fund heralded a turning point in Germany's security policy was seen everywhere in Germany and within the Alliance as the right decision in view of Russia's aggression. In his speech, Olaf Scholz emphasized that Germany was not seeking this expenditure to please allies. The special fund serves national security. However, the acute threat to European security remains and although the NATO target will be reached in 2024, the future of Germany's defense budget is anything but certain. However, investment in the Bundeswehr's defense capabilities is essential to contribute to credible deterrence. The foundation for securing sustainable defense spending in Germany's medium-term financial planning must be laid now, otherwise two percent - depending on the spending status of the special fund - may already be unattainable in 2026, when the regular federal budget is once again used as the basis for calculating the NATO target. As the budget for 2025 will not yet have been decided at the NATO summit in July 2024, the Chancellor will need to make a credible commitment to the allies that Germany will not fall behind. The Bundeswehr will also have to stretch itself enormously in order to achieve the troop levels announced for the new defense plans. The number of servicewomen and men is currently stagnating at just under 182,000. 29 In order to be able to provide the brigade in Lithuania in addition to the nationally required forces and to meet the division commitment for 2026, the Bundeswehr must come significantly closer to the target figure of 203,300 active servicewomen and men by 2027.30 The questions of how many of the 182,000 soldiers available on paper are also willing to become part of the brigade in Lithuania and how many of the total number are actually deployable in an emergency have not even been asked at this point. What counts now - political leadership The security situation in Europe is serious and NATO has no shortage of challenges in its 75th year of existence. It is in good shape to meet these challenges and has welcomed two strong nations into its ranks, Finland and Sweden. However, it is now important not to let up in the efforts that have been agreed. A united external stance is key here, as the current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg never tires of emphasizing. His successor will have to continue this. Even more important, however, are actual, concrete and substantial actions - the English expression "put one's money where one's mouth is" must be the leitmotif of all European NATO nations in view of the US elections at the end of the year, regardless of the outcome. Ultimately, political leadership is what counts within the alliance in virtually all the areas mentioned - and it matters now. Many smaller countries in Europe look to the larger member states such as Germany, France and Poland for leadership. This applies both in terms of sustainable compliance with the two percent target and when it comes to political agreement and cooperation in the field of armaments. Here, the larger states have a role model and leadership function that can develop traction and pressure on the Alliance as a whole. This political leadership will be more important than ever for the European representatives in NATO in 2024. At the moment, however, it seems questionable whether the current leadership vacuum can be filled before the NATO summit. Germany, France and Poland have not yet been able to develop a jointly coordinated stance that could have a positive effect. It is therefore also questionable whether the NATO summit will be able to send important signals beyond the minimum objectives. The US presidential election hangs over everything like a sword of Damocles - the erratic leadership style of another US President Donald Trump could be difficult to reconcile with the strategic goals of the alliance. Imprint This publication of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V. is for information purposes only. It may not be used by political parties or election campaigners or helpers for the purpose of election advertising. This applies to federal, state and local elections as well as elections to the European Parliament. Publisher: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V., 2024, Berlin Design: yellow too, Pasiek Horntrich GbR Produced with the financial support of the Federal Republic of Germany. References 1 Reisner, Markus: So ernst ist die Lage an der Front. In: Streitkräfte und Strategien Podcast, NDR Info, 12.03.2024, online unter: https://ogy.de/0ne7 2 Zachová, Aneta: Tschechische Initiative: Munition für Ukraine könnte im Juni eintreffen. Euractiv, 13.03.2024, online unter https://ogy.de/gofh 3 Besonders eindrücklich bleibt das Beispiel der Lieferung schwerer Waffen in Erinnerung: so rang sich Bundeskanzler Scholz zur Freigabe der Lieferung Leopard-Panzer deutscher Fertigung erst nach amerikanischer Zusage von Abrams-Panzern von militärisch zweifelhaftem Mehrwert durch. 4 Dress, Brad: Ramaswamy isolates himself on Ukraine with proposed Putin pact. In: The Hill, 01.09.2023, online unter: https://ogy.de/c9ow 5 Hutzler, Alexandra: How initial US support for aiding Ukraine has come to a standstill 2 years later. ABC News, 24.02.2024, online unter https://ogy.de/h0z6 6 Grand, Camille u.a.: European public opinion remains supportive of Ukraine. Bruegel, 05.06.2023, online unter https://ogy.de/ipbu 7 von Ondarza, Nicolai und Becker, Max: Geostrategie von rechts außen: Wie sich EU-Gegner und Rechtsaußenparteien außen- und sicherheitspolitisch positionieren. SWP-aktuell, 01.03.2024, online unter: https://ogy.de/a62v 8 Wientzek, Dr. Olaf: EVP-Parteienbarometer Februar 2024 - Die Lage der Europäischen Volkspartei in der EU. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 06.03.2024, online unter https://ogy.de/fv9b 9 s. Footnote 7 10 Klein, Margarete: Putins „Wiederwahl“: Wie der Kriegsverlauf die innenpolitische Stabilität Russlands bestimmt. In: SWP-Podcast, 06.03.2024, online unter: https://ogy.de/7i5s 11 Potrafke, Prof. Dr. Niklas: Economic Experts Survey: Wirtschaftsexperten erwarten Rückgang der Inflation weltweit (3. Quartal 2023). ifo-Institut, 19. Oktober 2023, online unter: https://ogy.de/wunq 12 Umersbach, Bruno: Wachstum des weltweiten realen Bruttoinlandsprodukts (BIP) von 1980 bis 2024. Statista, 07.02.2024, online unter: https://ogy.de/5ohz 13 Petersen, Volker: Ampel droht Zerreißprobe: Vier Gründe, warum der Haushalt 2025 so gefährlich ist. N-tv, 07.03.2024, online unter: https://ogy.de/9fcl 14 Specht, Frank u.a.: Regierung kürzt mehrere Rüstungsprojekte. Handelsblatt, 24.10.2022, online unter: https://ogy.de/71z3 15 Vgl. Wurzel, Steffen u.a.: Worum es im Konflikt um Taiwan geht. Deutschlandfunk, 12.04.2023, online unter https://ogy.de/ddc1 16 Vogel, Dominic: Bundeswehr und Weltraum - Das Weltraumoperationszentrum als Einstieg in multidimensionale Operationen. Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, 01.10.2020, online unter: https://ogy.de/c7m1 17 Rose, Frank A.: Managing China‘s rise in outer space. Brookings, letzter Zugriff am 18.09.2023, online unter https://ogy.de/374g 18 Vgl. Kertysova, Katarina: Implementing NATO’s Climate Security Agenda: Challenges Ahead. In: NATO Review, 10.08.2023, online unter: https://ogy.de/ho94 19 Vgl. Statista: Defense expenditures of NATO countries as a percentage of gross domestic product in 2023. Abgerufen am 18.09.2023 online unter https://ogy.de/wtsb 20 Neuhann, Florian: Ukraine-Kontaktgruppe in Brüssel: Eine Krisensitzung - und ein Tabubruch? ZDF heute, 14.02.2024, online unter https://ogy.de/rezf 21 Mendelson, Ben: Diese Nato-Länder halten 2024 das Zwei-Prozent-Ziel ein. Handelsblatt, 15.02.2024, online unter https://ogy.de/quiu 22 Kayali, Laura: France will reach NATO defense spending target in 2024. Politico, 15.02.2024, online unter https://ogy.de/7vdd 23 https://icds.ee/en/defence-spending-who-is-doing-what/ 24 Vgl. Daily Sabah: Türkiye’s defense spending expected to constitute 2% of GDP by 2025. 21.10.2022, online unter https://ogy.de/xtbr 25 Vgl. Decode39: Defence spending: Rome’s path towards the 2% target. 20.07.2023, online unter https://ogy.de/c0g3 26 Waldwyn, Karl: Norwegian defence chief sounds alarm and raises sights. In: Military Balance Blog, International Institute for Strategic Studies, 23.06.2023, online unter https://ogy.de/8b4a 27 Vgl. Army Technology: Russian threat driving Slovenia’s defence budget increase. 02.08.2022, online unter https://ogy.de/c5y7 28 Vgl. Kamp, Dr. Karl-Heinz: Allianz der Interessen. In: IP, Ausgabe September/Oktober 29 Vgl. Bundeswehr. Stand: 31.07.2023, abgerufen am 19.09.2023, online unter: https://ogy.de/m69j 30 Bundeswehr: Ambitioniertes Ziel: 203.000 Soldatinnen und Soldaten bis 2027. Online unter https://ogy.de/3pzs

Defense & Security
Prime Minister of Finland Petteri Orpo

European Union to continue to support Ukraine over the long term

by Petteri Orpo

The European Union will continue to provide strong military, financial, economic, and diplomatic support and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. The EU leaders decided on the matter on the closing day of the European Council held in Brussels on 26–27 October. Prime Minister Petteri Orpo represented Finland at the meeting. Prime Minister Orpo highlighted the importance of the EU’s pledge to provide security commitments to Ukraine in the future. “It is important that we reach an agreement quickly on the EU’s security commitments to Ukraine. We should be ready to make political decisions on the matter at the December European Council,” Orpo said. The EU leaders had already exchanged views on Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine in a video discussion with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the first day of the Council. The EU will speed up the delivery of military support, such as missiles, ammunition, and air defence systems, to Ukraine. “We must strengthen the EU’s defence sector and reinforce the capacity of the European defence industry as quickly as possible. A strong EU also strengthens NATO and transatlantic cooperation,” said Prime Minister Orpo. Prime Minister Orpo also called for progress on the use of frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine. The Euro Summit held in connection with the European Council focused on the overall economic and financial situation and economic policy coordination. In Prime Minister Orpo’s view, the EU must be more competitive both internally and globally given the current geopolitical situation. “A well-functioning and competitive single market, for example in the service sector, plays a key role. Fair competition is an important factor in ensuring growth capacity. We must return to the normal State aid rules as soon as possible,” said Prime Minister Orpo. In its conclusions, the European Council emphasises the need to speed up work on developing digital services, clean technology, and clean energy production, transitioning towards a more circular economy and reducing the regulatory burden. “The EU must continue to be a global leader in the energy transition and clean technology solutions. I highlighted the potential of the bioeconomy and circular economy in renewing European industry. At the same time, we must reduce the regulatory burden on businesses,” Orpo emphasised. On the last day of the meeting, the EU leaders also held a strategic discussion on migration. Prime Minister Orpo stressed that migration is a common European challenge and called for long-term solutions. “We need to build well-functioning partnerships with countries of origin and transit. We must also be able to return people who do not have a legal right to reside in the European Union,” said Prime Minister Orpo. In their discussion on other items, the EU leaders condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Belgium and France, which killed and injured Swedish and French nationals. The discussion on external relations focused on the tensions between Kosovo and Serbia and between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and on the situation in the Sahel. The European Council also received an update on the preparations for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.

Defense & Security
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Russia's President Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko answered media questions

by Vladimir Putin

Following the Russian-Belarusian talks, the two leaders answered questions from the media. Question: Mr Putin, a couple of questions? President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Please, go ahead. Question: Your comment and the one by the Vice-President of Laos [Pany Yathotou], which you made at the EEF plenary session, on the use of cluster munitions, is being widely discussed. The United States is now supplying such munitions to Ukraine. What is the latest information on the use of these weapons in the special military operation zone? Vladimir Putin: They are being used in the broadest possible way. But I have already commented on this, I have nothing to add. The only thing worth mentioning, perhaps, is that this situation, like a drop of water, reflects what is happening in the world as a whole. What I mean by that is that there is one country that thinks it is exceptional, and that country is the United States. That country even thinks it is allowed to do what it considers a crime – it is the United States that uses cluster munitions, using the Ukrainian army in this case. I mean the country considers this a crime, but does it nonetheless, and this is the main problem of today's international relations. This is the reason why the overwhelming majority of participants in international communication have joined us in fighting to create a multipolar world, since no one sees this situation as acceptable. I said almost because even those countries that appear to be allies of the United States, I can assure you, they do not like this situation either, where they are reduced to the role of extras. So yes, unfortunately, they are using them, they call it a crime and are still doing it. Question: If I may, one more question. A broad discussion arose – again at the Eastern Economic Forum – over the possibility of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and [US Secretary of State Antony] Blinken’s statement that “it takes two to tango” about Russia and Ukraine. How do you assess the prospects for talks? Vladimir Putin: As for the Americans, they do not even know how to tango, they have a tendency to – for all the wonderful, amazing music, and beautiful movements – the United States is trying to approach everything from a position of force: through economic sanctions, or financial restrictions, or threats to use military force, and actually using it. They are lecturing others even though they have no idea how to do it and do not want to. Most likely, they just do not want to. This is the first point. Second, I already said that we have never refused to hold talks. So, please, if the other party wants them, they should say so directly. I am speaking about it but the other side keeps silent. Finally, tango is good, of course… I think Ukraine should not forget about its gopak dance. It is important, otherwise they will keep dancing to someone else’s tune. And by the way, everyone will have to perform the barynya dance or, in the best-case scenario, the kazachok. Alexander Lukashenko: They sort of started dancing and held three rounds of talks in Belarus, then in Istanbul, and then [US Secretary of State Antony] Blinken and [US Secretary of Defence Lloyd] Austin told Zelensky… Vladimir Putin: Gave a command, and that was it. Alexander Lukashenko: Gave a command and he prohibited them to hold talks. The facts are on the table, they are obvious. So, they should not blame anyone. Vladimir Putin: He signed a decree prohibiting talks. Alexander Lukashenko: Exactly, they forbade themselves. Question: The last question relates to Kim Jong-un’s visit. Many in the West believe that the visit will aggravate tensions in the region. They say that Russia all but asked North Korea to send volunteers to take part in the special military operation. What can you say on this matter? Vladimir Putin: I can say that this is complete nonsense. A couple of days ago, I said that 270,000 of our men, our warriors signed contracts with the Russian Armed Forces. But it was old information. This morning it was reported to me that there were 300,000 contracts signed by people who – I want to emphasise this – are ready to sacrifice their lives for the interests of our Motherland, to protect Russia’s interests. Yes, we pay them some money, which is much, much more than the average monthly salary in the country. But can money compensate for a death or a severe injury? Of course not. So first of all, our men who sign these contracts are guided by the most noble patriotic sentiments. It commands respect. This is the first thing. Second, about some kind of provocations, escalations, and creating a threat to anyone. We do not threaten anyone. The largest threats in the world today are created by today’s ruling elites. They themselves say this. Several years ago, a former [US] Defence Secretary Mr [Robert] Gates, I think, said the greatest threat to the United States came from the territory where the Capitol or the White House is located. They talk about it themselves, while looking for a threat outside. Therefore, I want to stress once again that this is complete nonsense: Korea is our neighbour, and we must build good neighbourly relations with our neighbours one way or another. Yes, there are certain specifics associated with the Korean Peninsula. We discuss this openly; we never violate anything; and in this case we are not going to violate anything. But, of course, we will look for opportunities to develop Russian-North Korean relations. Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Putin, the Westerners have to count first how many of their mercenaries they have sent there, and how many are fighting there. There are dark-skinned, Asian, and white Americans, all of whom are fighting on the side of the Ukrainians. Why blame Russia for inviting someone there? So maybe that is why they need to do it. Secondly, this is a dangerous statement on their part, because they dream about seeing their regular military units there, already lined up near the border in Poland. You have also talked about this. Military units have been formed and are ready to enter Ukraine. You need to look at yourself first and not reproach others. Vladimir Putin: I absolutely agree. By the way, we have detected foreign mercenaries and instructors both on the battlefield and in the units where training is carried out. I think yesterday or the day before yesterday someone was captured again. We do not need to invite people from outside for combat operations. Moreover, I want to emphasise this again, 300,000 people signed contracts and came as volunteers. And moreover: the units that are now being formed are equipped with advanced types of weapons and equipment, and some of them are already 85–90 percent equipped. <…>

Defense & Security
Pedro Sánchez Prime Minister of Spain

The president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, has delivered this speech in the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament

by Pedro Sánchez

Thank you very much.  Dear Mr. Speaker Stephanchuk, Distinguished Members of the Verjovna Rada,Excellencies, dear friends. I am very grateful to be here today, on this very special day for my country. Today, 1st July,  Spain assumes the great responsibility of becoming the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next six months. And I wanted that the very first thing I did in my new capacity was to address the people of Ukraine through their Verjovna Rada. I wanted to tell you that we are and will be with you as long as it takes. I wanted to tell you that we will support Ukraine no matter the price to pay. That we will be with you in the achievement of your aspirations to be a free and sovereign  country that decides its own destiny as a member of the European family. In short, I am here to express the firm determination of Europeans and Europe to fight against the illegal, unjustifiable and unjustified Russian aggression to Ukraine. Once again, I have the honour to address all of you in this temple of Ukrainian democracy. My first address took place in February, on the first anniversary of Russia’s aggression against your sovereignty and territorial integrity. Things have changed since then. Today Ukraine is in the midst of the counter-offensive against an enemy that is showing signs of weakness. We have all seen the events of last week. They speak for themselves. And, if one side shows weakness, it is because in front of him there is someone who shows the opposite: determination. It's what I can see, right here, and right now: determination, strength and courage. What I can see is a whole country that refuses to be subjected and fights for its independence with immense dignity. I know the price to pay is enormous. Especially in human lives lost. Nothing I can say here today can comfort a family that has lost a daughter, a son, a mother, a father or a husband. Men and women who gave their lives defending a free and democratic Ukraine.  Still, I want to do it from the bottom of my heart on behalf of my country, Spain. A country that mourns with you. A country that condemns every Russian attack against Ukrainian civilians, like the one at Kramatorsk. Victoria Amelina, a Ukrainian writer was there. Severely injured, now fights for her life. Victoria was close to the front line, because she wanted to document the tragedy. She wanted to collect the memory of infamy. The lost heritage. The broken lives. The crimes committed. We need women Victoria Amelina, to write history. To tell the facts as they happened and preserve the memory of those who suffer this tragedy. Excellencies, dear friends, we do not forget that the European aspiration of the Ukrainian people was one of the excuses that triggered the Russian reaction and, in turn, the invasion. It was only fair to honour this aspiration by granting you the status of candidate to the European Union. No one deserves it more than you, than Ukraine. However, I know that this is not an easy process, especially with an ongoing war. To become a member state requires changes, reforms and sacrifices. Not long ago, Spain faced this challenge as a candidate country. But, let me tell you, that the process to become an European Union member taught us important lessons. One of them is that undertaking reforms has a value in itself. Reforms make your governance and your economy better, more modern and transparent. They bolster international confidence and proximity. They attract investment. And, in time, they will grant you access to our European Union. A Union, which is more than just the largest internal market in the world. Which is, above all, a community of values: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Last week, the European Commission made a positive assessment of Ukrainians, of Ukraine’s progress concerning the required reforms. I congratulate you for the progress made, especially thanks to the legislative work of this Rada, and I encourage you to keep up with it. It is worth the effort. Congratulations. And of course we will be eagerly awaiting the report of the European Commission in the fall, which will set the basis for the future. Excellencies, We want a just and lasting peace in Ukraine. Only Ukraine can set terms and times for peace negotiations. Other countries and regions are proposing peace plans. The involvement is much appreciated, but, at the same time, we cannot accept them entirely. This is a war of aggression, with an aggressor and a victim. They cannot be treated equally. And ignoring the rules should in no way be rewarded. That is why we support President Zelenski’s peace formula, which is respectful with International Law and the UN Charter. Ukraine is paying a heavy prize in terms of destruction of cities and infrastructure. So, we need to make sure that the country is rebuilt, thus creating the conditions for its growth and prosperity. And we have already started. Today, Spain has decided to dedicate another 55 million euros, including offering 51 M€ through the World Bank Group to help finance Small and Medium Enterprises in Ukraine, as well as 4 M€ to the UN Development Program to provide schools in Ukraine with green-friendly and resilient energy systems. Reconstruction will take time and investment in many sectors. Spain is committed to accompanying Ukraine in this process. There are some areas, such as the railway infrastructure, in which our companies have the know-how that can make the difference. The Spanish government will support finance the necessary investments to adapt and upgrade infrastructures and productive sectors in your country. Yet, we understand that reconstruction and prosperity will only arrive if real, long-term security is achieved. My friends, in my view, it is clear that we cannot rely on the promises made after the Cold War anymore. We have to adapt to a different security environment, one in which concepts like peace, sovereignty or territorial integrity can no longer be taken for granted. The aggression on Ukraine has shown us that they need to be effectively defended. Not just with words, but with facts. Therefore, we will need to rethink the security framework to ensure that your country, Ukraine, will be able to live free from aggression or intimidation. As the President said, we are approaching the NATO Summit in Vilnius, which will follow on the commitments we made last year, in Madrid, the capital of Spain. Spain supports enhancing the political participation of Ukraine through the creation of a NATO-Ukraine Council, where you will no longer be an invitee, but a member, a full member. We are also in favour of enhancing the practical cooperation, to continue to adapt your defence sector to NATO Standards. These are, my friends, big steps forward that will be further discussed during the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius. Spain will continue to do its part as well: we are delivering more Leopard tanks, armoured personnel carriers and a field hospital with surgical capacity. We also continue to reach out to other countries and continents, to explain what is really happening here in Ukraine, but also to listen to their concerns, especially those related to food and energy security or insecurity, in this case. Excellencies, Last February, before my trip to Kyiv, someone in Madrid, in my city, was  wondering about the Ukrainian’s state of mind and asked me: “Do you think they are afraid?”. When I came back, after the visit, I had a clear answer to this question and I told them: Look, they are not afraid. They are going to win. It will take them weeks, or months. It will take tears, blood and sweat, but Ukraine is going to win this war. And they asked me “Pedro, Pedro, why?, why?”. And I said, “Because there are two battles. One happens in the battlefield. The other happens in the mind, because it’s a battle of ideas. And that one, the Ukrainian people have already won it”. Ukraine has chosen democracy in the face of those who despise it. Ukraine has chosen openness and freedom, in the face of those who fear it. Ukraine has chosen to sit, and discuss, and vote, and change, and evolve, in the face of those who only believe in force and obedience. Ukraine has chosen to be independent, to move freely, to trade, to invest, to prosper, to have hope, in the face of those who still have delusional dreams about old empires. The Ukrainian people have chosen the European way. The Ukrainian people ARE, you are Europeans. And you are Europeans not only because of a geographical imperative. You are Europeans by moral and spiritual commitment. So, dear friends. During this years, I have learned many things about Ukraine. Even some Ukrainian words. For instance, I have learned that "Mriya" (emriya) means “dream” in English, we say in Spanish Sueño. That was the name of the largest plane in the world, located at the Hostomel airfield when it was destroyed by Russian troops in February 2022. That plane brought medical supplies during the pandemic or carried humanitarian aid in natural disasters. It was a symbol, a pride for Ukraine. They destroyed the symbol, but they couldn’t destroy the idea. Now, I have learnt that Ukrainian engineers are already working on the reconstruction of that giant of the skies. Let me tell you that you are not just rebuilding an airplane: you are rebuilding a dream. One day, that dream will cross the skies again. And from there, here on the ground, we will see a new Ukraine reborn from the ashes of destruction. That’s what you fight for. You fight for peace, for security and prosperity for your children. And every Ukrainian soldier knows it. Russian soldiers fight because they are scared they will be punished if they don’t. They ask themselves everyday “what are we doing here?”. You are united, you stand on the moral high ground. They even rebel, as we saw a few days ago. That’s why they cannot win and you cannot lose. I came here today to tell you that Europe is open to those who make the choice. The European Union was built to prevent new wars. We chose to get together, to be “united in diversity”, and that made us stronger. Europe is with you, and you are one with Europe. Mui Yevropa! [¡Somos Europa!] Slava Ukraini [¡Viva Ucrania!]

Defense & Security
Charles Michel, President of the European Council

Video message of President Charles Michel for the Third Summit of the Crimea Platform

by Charles Michel

Dear President Zelenskyy, dear Ukrainian friends, Two years ago I represented the EU at the first international summit of the Crimea Platform. And I stated clearly that Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be fully restored. And this applied to Crimea and this applied to the region of Donetsk and Luhansk. And I stand by that today. Since Russia invaded your country, you have suffered nearly 550 days of death and destruction, and Crimea is being used as a strategic springboard to launch its brutal attacks. And last September, just like they did in Crimea, Russia tried to illegally annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, and this is again a cynical attempt to grab more land, to steal the identity of Ukrainian citizens, to abduct your children and to drive people from their homeland, like they are doing to the Tatars. I pay tribute to Mustafa Dzhemilev, the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, who travelled to Saudi Arabia with you, President Zelenskyy, in search of peace. Russia is perfecting the toolbox of terror and persecution that they applied in Crimea over nine long years, and they are now committing atrocities in cities and villages in the whole of Ukraine, many amounting to war crimes. The EU will continue to call for full accountability for these crimes, including for the crime of aggression, and will not recognise any illegal attempt to change the status of Ukraine’s territories, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, because respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries is a basic principle of the UN Charter and that’s why we support you, President Zelenskyy, and your peace formula based on these very principles. In Ukraine you are fighting for your freedom, you are fighting for your future and for your homeland, and in the EU we know you are also fighting for our common values. And that’s why we have imposed massive sanctions against Russia and that’s why we are supporting you with weapons and ammunition, and we will strengthen this support. We are also helping to meet your humanitarian needs, and we are determined to back your country with strong financial support. We stand with you in your fight for freedom, and we will stand with you as you rebuild your country. Our total support for Ukraine amounts to more than €76 billion. And we are preparing a multiannual financing plan of roughly €50 billion. Russia also continues to weaponise food, including by blockading and attacking your seaports. And this cruel Russian tactic hits the most vulnerable around the globe hardest. In the EU we continue to support the efforts of the United Nations and Turkey to get the Black Sea Grain Initiative back up running. And we are also strengthening our Solidarity Lanes through the EU to help get Ukrainian agricultural products to global markets. Ladies and gentlemen, this war is also a fight for your future, for your dream of a bright, democratic and more prosperous future within the EU. Last year Ukraine received EU candidate status. So your European Union future is no longer a question of if, it is a question of when. And later this year, the European Council will discuss the possibility of opening accession negotiations. And I am confident that the Ukrainian people and the leaders will rise to this historic moment. You can count on my personal support, you can count on the EU. We will stand by your side for as long as it takes. Slava Ukraini!

Defense & Security
Karl Nehammer Chancellor of Austria

Nehammer sticks to his No to Schengen expansion

by Karl Nehammer

Work meeting with the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Salzburg "I am very pleased that for the first time in over 10 years a Chancellor of the Republic of Germany is back in Austria in an official capacity. We are not only neighbours, but also closely interwoven culturally or in matters of economic relations. If we look at our border regions, they are in fact no longer border regions, because people have long since overcome these borders in the realities of their lives - whether as business people or when starting a family. And so, we have grown together a bit," said Chancellor Karl Nehammer at a joint press conference with Olaf Scholz at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg. The German Chancellor made his first bilateral visit to Austria and was received with military honours. In addition to bilateral issues such as energy supply, the working meeting focused on the fight against irregular migration and border controls within the Schengen area. "The partnership with the Federal Republic of Germany is particularly important because we are very often allies in the question of how we want to shape European policy and further develop the EU, always bearing in mind that there may also be different interests. In addition to excellent economic relations, Germany is one of our most important partners in tourism. We therefore have many points of contact here," the chancellor noted. Strengthening security means gaining people's trust in the European project Politically and in terms of content, there are major challenges to be tackled together: on the one hand, the Russian Federation's war of aggression against Ukraine with all its consequences, and on the other hand, irregular migration. The two heads of government agreed that, in order to have efficient external border protection, we must be able to quickly return those who are not allowed to stay to their countries of origin. However, this also meant that stable and sustainable relations with the countries of origin had to be established and expanded and that prospects had to be created in these countries, the Chancellor said: "Germany and Austria are on the same side here. Because only if we have credible external border protection and fast and swift asylum procedures, and if we can ensure order and security within the European Union in an orderly manner, will we win people's trust in the European project." The topic of Schengen was also discussed. He said the chancellor presented the Austrian perspective and described how 112,000 asylum applications had been filed in Austria in 2022, 75 percent of which had been registered for the first time, even though the applicants had crossed an EU country. "In Austria, the numbers are decreasing, but at the same time they are increasing in Germany. We are a community of solidarity within the EU, so we care about the numbers. And as long as the current Schengen system does not work, as you can clearly see from the border controls from Germany to Austria, we need joint efforts in Europe to strengthen the external border protection. We will therefore stand by Germany when it comes to pushing forward the Commission's measures," Nehammer said. He said there were steps in the right direction, such as pilot projects at the Romanian and Bulgarian borders and an agreement with Tunisia, which the chancellor believes will be forward-looking. Securing energy supply for the future with green hydrogen from Africa But Germany is also an important partner in the question of energy security. This year, Austria had already managed to fill its own gas storage facilities to 90 percent in August, to secure its gas supply and thus to strengthen its independence from Russia, the Chancellor said happily. This had also been achieved with the help of Germany, which had helped to set up gas alternatives. Work is underway on connectivity between Austria and Germany in order to benefit from the liquefied natural gas terminals that have been built, which will subsequently play an important role in Austria's security of supply. Germany will continue to be an important partner for Austria in the future when it comes to bringing green hydrogen to Austria via a pipeline infrastructure. For example, he said, a southern corridor is specifically planned with Italy to bring green hydrogen from Africa via Italy to Austria and Germany. "These are the issues that move us for the future - with the aim of becoming more independent of fossil energy, establishing security of supply for the people and continuing to work to ensure that the good partnership and friendship between our two nations within the European Union is developed further," the chancellor concluded.

Defense & Security
Ursula von der Leyen President of the European Commission

Keynote speech by President von der Leyen at the Philippines Business Forum

by Ursula Von der Leyen

Ladies and Gentlemen, It is very special for me to be in Manila and once again to experience first-hand the famous Filipino hospitality. Each time I visit, I am struck by the warmth, intelligence, and honesty of the people I meet. You make everyone feel at home, even 10,000 kilometres from home. While visiting your beautiful country, I have also learnt a proverb of yours. It says: ‘Be like a rice stalk: the more grain it bears, the lower it bows'. I believe a country's proverbs can tell a lot about its people.  And this proverb certainly describes the people of the Philippines: always humble, especially in success. Right now, the Philippines is booming. Thanks to your resilience, dynamism, and work ethic, your economy grew by close to 8% last year. You are among the fastest growing emerging markets. Your Development Plan, as outlined by President Marcos, is prioritising good governance, cutting red tape, and speeding up permitting for strategic investments, for example in renewables and semiconductors. Not only does this make the Philippines an even more attractive trade and investment destination for European firms, but Filipino companies are also beginning to thrive in the European market. IMI, for example, has expanded its micro-electronics business to become the 14th largest manufacturing solutions provider in Europe. Or consider the Philippine port-handling giant, ICTSI. It operates a container terminal in the Adriatic Sea, and recently signed another 30-year lease to operate a port in the Baltic. It is worth mentioning, as well, that there are around 50,000 Filipino sailors manning ships with European flags. You make trade happen. And you never boast about any of this. So allow me to begin by thanking all the Filipinos who are contributing every day to the friendship and economic partnership between Europe and the Philippines. These examples show that the ties between our countries are already strong. But the time has come to lift our partnership to the next level. Because we have much more in common than our geographic distance would suggest. I see three main fields where we share interests and values, and we are just made to work together. First of all, international security. Both the Philippines and Europe believe in a global order that is based on the principles of the UN Charter, such as the respect for every nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity. And this order is now threatened, in both our regions. Second, economic transformation. We are both modernising our economies, with a focus on the green and digital transitions. And in parallel, we are de-risking our trade and investment. Europe and the Philippines are natural economic partners more than ever before. And third, on democratic values. Because economic progress can only be coupled with social progress, for all people in our societies. Let me begin with security. The Philippines have helped build the rules-based global order, as a founding member of the United Nations, ASEAN, and the World Trade Organisation. And last year, you stood up to uphold the global order, when Russia sent its tanks into Ukraine. Both the European Union and the Philippines – along with over 140 countries – have clearly condemned Russia's war of aggression against a sovereign, independent member of the United Nations. And we Europeans will continue to support Ukraine and to uphold the UN Charter for as long as it takes. But another permanent member of the UN Security Council – China – has yet to assume fully its responsibility under the UN Charter to uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This is happening against the backdrop of China's more assertive stance in your region. Europe has constantly called on China to respect the sovereign rights of states within their exclusive economic zones. China's show of military force in the South and East China Seas and in the Taiwan Strait directly affects the Philippines and our other partners in the region. But it could also have global repercussions. And any weakening of regional stability in Asia, the fastest-growing region in the world, affects global security, the free flow of trade, and our own interests in the region. So whether we talk about Ukraine or about the South China Sea, our security is connected. That is why the EU has been enhancing its engagement in the Indo-Pacific. We aim to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, to reinforce respect of international law and address global challenges. With the Philippines, we are deepening our security partnership, particularly on maritime security and on cyber cooperation. And we want to do more.  Ladies and Gentlemen, We cannot choose our neighbours, but we can choose who we do business with, and on what terms. This leads me to my second point. We, Europeans, are clear-eyed when it comes to diversifying and de-risking our trade and investment. We made the mistake with Russia, thinking that we could manage our geopolitical differences through business. Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Europe relied heavily on energy imports from Russia. When the Kremlin started the war, Russia tried to blackmail us with cutting its gas supplies. 80% in eight months. This triggered a severe energy crisis, but we withstood. We saved energy, we diversified to like-minded partners, and we invested massively in home-grown renewable energy. Today, we are stronger than before and more independent. And we have learnt our lesson. We will not make the same mistake again. When it comes to the key inputs needed for our competitiveness, such as critical raw materials, we should never rely on one single supplier. This is the core of our de-risking strategy. And I know that this is not only Europe's strategy. The Philippines, for instance, exports 90% of its nickel ore to China, instead of processing it inside the country to create more jobs and added value. But this can change. That is also why I am here in Manila today. The Philippines and the EU have a major opportunity to step up our partnership on both trade and investments. Let me focus on investments, first. Europe has just launched a plan for boosting infrastructure investments in strategic sectors in partner countries. It is called Global Gateway, and for ASEAN, we have put forward an investment package worth EUR 10 billion in public funds until 2027. But it is not only about the money. It is also about the method. European investments come with the highest environmental and labour standards, as well as with a strong focus on creating local value chains. Take the raw materials examples. Unlike other foreign investors, we do not want to invest only in the extraction of raw materials. We can also support you in building local capacity for processing, powered by new clean energy infrastructure. Global Gateway seeks to create good jobs right here because this also strengthens our supply lines. Global Gateway seeks to promote investments that move Filipino sectors up the value-chain. And we look forward to working with the Asia Development Bank, based right here in Manila.  You are experts in the region, and we share similar priorities.  So it is only natural that we work hand-in-hand. Moreover, the Philippines are a natural leader in digital innovation. The Philippine Venture Capital Report of 2023 observed an explosion of new activity in the country's start-up ecosystem. Your e-commerce market value increased by 33% in the last three years alone. The people of the Philippines are five years younger than the global average. So it is no surprise that your economy is so dynamic. The Philippines can become a new digital hub in the region. But as entrepreneurs everywhere, Filipino entrepreneurs need infrastructure investment. This is where Global Gateway can truly make a difference. And we are already working on the ground, or rather, in space. Together with the Philippines Space Agency, we are building the first earth observation system in Southeast Asia. In parallel, Nokia is investing in 5G infrastructure. Why does this matter to Filipino innovators? Because the European Copernicus satellites will be made available for space-based services here in the Philippines, like disaster risk management against typhoons, or satellite navigation, which is fundamental for aviation, drones, and autonomous driving. This is part of a larger digital economy package that we are finalising with the government. We are even exploring a possible extension of the new fibre submarine cable that will connect Europe to Japan via the Arctic. We would create a direct data connection between our regions to de-risk and open up new opportunities for both our economies. New investments could also lead the way for more trade between Europe and the Philippines. The EU is your fourth largest trading partner, accounting for nearly 8% of your trade. This is thanks to our current trade preferences scheme. But there is much untapped potential in our trade relationship. Let me give you an example: A few months ago, I was in South Korea. There I saw the impressive positive impact of the trade deal we have concluded. In a little over a decade, EU trade with Korea has more than doubled. This is what happens when you give people and business the opportunity to work across borders. New doors open for innovation. And the most important: People benefit. So let us make progress. Our trade agreements with Singapore and Vietnam are already delivering. And Europe wants to conclude free trade agreements with other ASEAN countries. I believe, like President Marcos, that the timing and conditions are right for us to solidify our bilateral trade relations. That is why we have taken the decision to relaunch our negotiations for a free trade agreement between the Philippines and the EU. Our teams will begin right away a scoping process to identify what we need to do to overcome any remaining gaps before we can get back to negotiating. This should take no more than a few months. Let us seize this window of opportunity, and make it work. Trade agreements today are about much more than eliminating tariffs and quotas. They are about shared commitments, values, and principles, including on human and labour rights. And this leads me to my last point. Our democracies – all of them – are work in progress. None of them is perfect. But they are all perfectible. Your new government has taken some important steps for human rights here in the Philippines. Each one of our democracies is different. But we all share the same universal values, and the same direction of travel. The path towards better democracies is one that we can and should walk together. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Philippines and the European Union may stand at the opposite sides of the world, but our destinies are linked more than ever before. We see it with geopolitics and climate change. We see it in the connection of our value chains. We have a similar outlook on the Indo-Pacific. And we have strong economic ties. Europe wants to be a trusted partner to the Philippines as it grows into its economic potential. We want to be partners who stand eye to eye. Partners who put people and their values first. Having met so many wonderful people here in the Philippines, who are proud of their country, hardworking, and humble, I am excited for what we can achieve together. I know you are proud of your Bayanihan spirit. And I really hope that we can build the same spirit of community between us, in Europe and the Philippines. Salamat, thank you very much and have a wonderful evening.

Defense & Security
Prime Minister of Norway Jonas Gahr Støre

Norway Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre's Speech on board the USS Gerald R. Ford

by Jonas Gahr Støre

Ambassador, Admiral, Excellencies, friends, It is a great honour to welcome the USS Gerald R. Ford and its crew to Norway and to Oslo. This is a historical event, nothing less. – A show of force. But just as important: A show of friendship – and a show of trust. And it is great to be back on the Ford! – Because I have been here before. Actually, I landed on the Ford outside Norfolk, Virginia last September. I experienced how it was to land – but even more memorable was to take off, being catapulted off the ship – I am still recovering. Today, we came by boat. – It is more relaxed, if I may say so. It is very good to be back. I would like to thank you for this extraordinary U.S. hospitality, we can all feel it, thank you, Captain for the superb Friday evening entertainment. Stepping onto the ship once again, on the Norwegian side of the Atlantic Ocean, reminds me of the obvious fact: The ocean does not divide us. It unites us. And the ocean, as we can see, is a gateway, a waterway, that makes us to what we are – we are neighbours and close friends across the Atlantic.  The Ford flies a battle flag which shows the compass rose. – This is an important tool, for centuries, and a powerful symbol – for staying on the right course. Navigating the Oslo fjord is no easy thing, and on your very first overseas visit I believe it proves that you master the tool – the compass, although – probably, the pilots also helped. Your skilled sailors have anchored the ship on a spot which is significant in many ways in my country. Because the Oslo Fjord tells an important part of the history of Norway: Merchants and rulers came this way, landed near Akershus Castle, which defended the city for centuries from invasions from outside. The famous explorer Roald Amundsen – whose name is, as you know, on the frigate – started his South Pole expedition from exactly where we are now, just ashore here. The Nazi German occupants came this way in 1940 – however, they struggled a lot more to get through the narrow parts of the fjord. The Norwegian king returned from his exile in Great Britain in 1945 on HMS Norfolk by this waterway. – War and peace. Shortly after, NATO was founded. Our two nations – founding fathers of NATO – are close allies, and – as you reminded, Admiral – the U.S. Navy is particularly important to Norwegian security. The U.S. Marine Corps equipment, stored in Mid-Norway, is proof of that commitment. The Norwegian Armed Forces appreciates, in numerous contexts, the opportunity to train with U.S. women and men in uniform. – And that is what we will do in the coming days, and we look forward to it. Well planned, joint exercises are essential. This is not new. It is about continuity. We know. Our neighbours know. And our allies know.  The USS Gerald R. Ford is now anchored in the heart of the five Nordic countries – coastwise towards the Atlantic Ocean. This region will now form the new northern flank of NATO – with Finland, its newest member – and just pending the acceptance of Sweden. So – a new security policy map is in the making. For the first time in centuries the Nordic countries will belong to the same security alliance, being U.S. partners and partners of a strong alliance for stability and peace.  Admiral, You are not just navigating a large ship; you are navigating a significant political and diplomatic tool: the U.S. at sea. This ship has the ability to enhance stability and security wherever you sail, whatever waters you travel. You demonstrate the U.S. commitment to NATO and to transatlantic security. To our security. For that we are truly grateful. Against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine, this is – to put it short – more important than ever. So, dear friends, on this beautiful Friday afternoon, we should be reminded that there have been dire times, wars in Europe, and we should prepare to avoid dire times in the future. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, President Roosevelt wired Prime Minister Churchill the following words: “Today we are all in the same boat (…) and it is a ship which will not and cannot be sunk.”  A truly transatlantic message – and from this our transatlantic alliance emerged. Democracies decided on standing together. Like then, we are in the same boat – and in a big one this time, and it feels safe. So, friends, Welcome to Norway, welcome to Oslo. Welcome to come training with us. I wish you and your fantastic crew of this ship an excellent stay. You have been well received in Oslo. You are our friends. I wish you a good onward voyage. Thank you very much for your attention.

Defense & Security
French President Emmanuel Macron giving speech at Global Fund to Fight HIV conference

French President Emmanuel Macron’s Speech in Globsec Summit in Bratislava

by Emmanuel Macron

Since GLOBSEC opened its doors in 2008, many political leaders and officials have spoken at the Bratislava Forum, but unless I am mistaken, no French President. That was no doubt an anomaly. And it would be even more of an anomaly today, in the context of Russia’s war against neighbouring Ukraine when, quite simply, the future of our continent is at stake, and with much playing out in this region. This is particularly true at the cusp of a month that sums up the magnitude of our strategic challenges, with the European Political Community Summit in Chișinău tomorrow, then an important European Council meeting for the future of our Union in June, and last the NATO Summit in Vilnius. Before these milestones, I think it is worth explaining my thinking, with great freedom in the tone, when it comes to the moment which Europe is living on the geopolitical stage. Almost 20 years ago, our Union opened its gates to Slovakia and other countries freed from the Soviet grip. That was not merely an enlargement of our Union: it was the return to our family of those from whom we had been separated for too long. I do not believe there is a “Western” Europe and an “Eastern” Europe, an “old” Europe and a “new” Europe. That would mean perpetuating the artificial border imposed for decades by the Soviet Union. There is only one Europe. A single weave of intertwined histories and diversity, but with the will for geographical and geopolitical unity and to build, ultimately, a common narrative. I believe that is what unites us all behind this project, that does not erase our national identities and national projects, but rather enables us to conjugate them in an overarching narrative. Let us remember the last words of the director of the Hungarian press agency, just minutes before he was crushed by Russian artillery in November 1956: “We will die for Hungary and Europe”. The curtain was falling across our continent, and it was already our unity that was at stake. It announced decades of forced separation, decades of a “kidnapped West”, to borrow the excellent words of Milan Kundera that we can make our own today. And I would like to add, as I speak to those who are here today, that even after Slovakia and many other countries joined the Union, we did not always hear the voices you brought, calling for recognition of your painful memories and history. Some told you then that you were missing opportunities to keep quiet – but I believe we sometimes missed opportunities to listen. That time is over, and today, these voices must be all our voices. So my message is simple. In the times we are living in, we must not let the West be kidnapped a second time. We will not let Europe be kidnapped a second time. The challenges we face are considerable, with war at our borders. The war of aggression against Ukraine isultimately an extreme manifestation of a challenge to our European unity that has played out in the last fifteen years, and a show of fragility. Fifteen years of Russian attempts to overturn the whole European security architecture, to reshape it in its own terms. We all know the milestones: Vladimir Putin’s speech in Munich in 2007, the aggression against Georgia in 2008, that against Ukraine in 2014, and again against Ukraine in 2022, and the rampant transformation of Belarus into a vassal state. Ultimately, what Russia demands, and what it sought to codify in the draft treaties it brandished on the eve of its invasion just over a year ago, is the weakening and neutralization of Ukraine and, ultimately, for a whole part of Europe to be made vulnerable in return for minor and largely unverifiable commitments. In this context, it is true, we failed to provide a European response, or to organize an architecture to protect ourselves, via the OSCE or the other projects envisaged at the time, against these attacks. As for NATO’s response, it was too much or too little: perspectives offered to Ukraine and Georgia, exposing the two countries to Russia’s wrath, but which did not protect them, and which came with guarantees that were far too feeble. And we lacked coherence as Europeans. So we provided insufficient guarantees to certain countries at our borders. We did not engage with Russia in a security dialogue for ourselves. Ultimately, we delegated this dialogue to NATO, which was probably not the best means to succeed. And at the same time, we did not break free of dependencies on Russia, particularly for energy, and indeed we even continued to increase them. So we must be clear-sighted about ourselves. We were not coherent in our approach. In coming here, I am aware of the experience many of you had during the Soviet period, and I know why everyone is determined, for good reasons, to ensure that does not happen again. That is my commitment too. Every country has the right to choose its alliances, and opting for freedom, democracy and transparency is never a threat to one’s neighbours. And as I saw powerfully, with the major G7 partners in Japan a few days ago, the foundation of the Charter of the United Nations remains sovereign equality: it has never been limited sovereignty. And it is in this respect too that what is happening in Ukraine today is not merely a European issue, but an issue for the international order and global peace. What the war in Ukraine shows is not merely that these attempts to subjugate part of Europe are illegal and unacceptable, but also that, in the harsh light of power balances, they are now unrealistic. In Kyiv, in Kharkiv and in Kherson, whole Russian armies have retreated, before being squandered in Bakhmut and elsewhere for the slightest of gains. The war is far from over, but I believe I can say today that one thing is clear: Ukraine will not be conquered. And now what was, a little over a years ago, a “special operation”, has led to date to a geopolitical failure and to the accession of Finland and soon, I hope, Sweden, to NATO. And so a closure of Russia’s access to the Baltic, and also heightened distrust among all neighbours, as well as a loss of standing for Russia in the concert of nations due to failure to respect the Charter. The situation on the ground gives Russia no credibility to seek by threat what already no right could justify. There is no place in Europe for imperial fantasies. It is very important to recognize that, and that is a precondition, in my eyes, for any future organization of peace. How we got here says several things about us. We must remember them as we seek to build the future. The first is the strength of our alliance: from the very first days of the fighting, NATO ensured the security of its borders most effectively. Article V played its full role, and I am convinced it holds Russia at bay, and in this respect we owe gratitude to our American allies who have provided a major share of material and intelligence support to Ukraine. In December 2019, I made a severe comment about NATO, highlighting the divisions that, at the time, as you will recall, were present within it between Turkey and several other powers, describing it as “brain dead”. I dare say today that Vladimir Putin has jolted it back with the worst of electroshock. The second thing that strikes me is the exemplary role of the European Union, too. We have been united, swift and clear and I believe that very few, starting with Russia, expected the European Union to respond in such a way: €67 billion in total, including €14 billion in military aid, sanctions and emergency assistance, as well as taking in millions of refugees. We completely and profoundly reorganized our energy system, which was highly dependent on Russia, in just a few months. And that was a demonstration of unity and strategic clarification. It happened under constraint, and should have been done sooner, but we must be satisfied. I also welcome the adoption of a clear doctrine. Europe has chosen strategic autonomy and European sovereignty. And the Versailles Agenda that we defined in March 2022 is ultimately a long way from what people described five years ago as a French whim when I talked of European sovereignty at the Sorbonne. So I believe the second thing that we should take away from recent months, in addition to the strength of the alliance, is the unity and the ideological clarification of our European Union, and its clarity in terms of military, humanitarian and economic support to Ukraine. France has played its full role in this respect, and I can discuss this further during question time. I will also come back to the subject in the coming weeks and months. However, this collective effort will be for nothing if it is not sustained. Looking forward now, in light of what I just said, and of analysis of the past and the situation in recent months, I would like to imagine our future. Moscow must certainly be very tempted to hope that, where its armies have failed, time will come to the rescue, perhaps when elections are held or as public opinion fatigues. I think we need to be very clear about what we have to do in the short and medium terms. Today, we need to help Ukraine, by every means, to conduct an effective counteroffensive. That is essential. That is what we are doing, and we need to step up our efforts, as what is at stake in the coming months is the very possibility of chosen and therefore lasting peace. The second thing is that we need to be very clear about what we call peace. Peace in Ukraine and on our continent cannot mean a ceasefire that enshrines the current situation, re-creating a frozen conflict and, if you will, accepting the seizure of territory in violation of all the principles of international law. Because ultimately, such a frozen conflict would definitely be the war of tomorrow or the day after, and would weaken us all. Only one peace is possible: a peace that respects international law and is chosen by the victims of the aggression: the Ukrainian people. That is a peace that can last and that therefore respects these balances, bolstered by, and I will come back to this, credible guarantees. And so we need to prepare very clear-sightedly for this conflict and I will come back to this, credible guarantees. And so we need to prepare very clear-sightedly for this conflict to last, and for the consequences of the conflict to last. I hope the coming months will enable us, following a victorious counteroffensive, to bring everybody back to the negotiating table and build lasting peace, under the conditions I just set out, chosen by Ukraine and in accordance with international law. But we will have years and years of reconstruction and a humanitarian situation to manage, as we know already. We must also, to be credible in Russia’s eyes, put ourselves in a position, ourselves and our public opinions, to support Ukraine longer-term in a high- and medium-intensity conflict. That means working with all our partners to review and re-analyse this summer the very nature of our support and what is needed to achieve the result I have described. At the same time, we need to convince the global South, because there is, in the context I have discussed, a fragility that we must be clear about. It is that today, while thanks to the engagement of Japan and a few others, this is not simply a Western war, many emerging powers consider that it is not their war. Even if they recognize that it is an aggression and contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, they barely murmur it, because they consider that their main problems are fighting poverty within their borders, that they are subject to enough constraints already, that there are double standards, that their own security is not addressed, that they are facing the consequences of this war head-on, and that when their own security was threatened, we did not respond with the same vigour. We must heed that message. Otherwise, the risk is that all these countries will be seized upon by others to build an alternative international order and become, by choice, clear-sightedly or in fact, by composition, objective allies of a sort of Russian way. And so we must absolutely, as we make efforts to support the preparation of lasting peace, do this work to convince the countries of the South and several emerging countries, and thus re-engage in the assistance that we have a duty to provide them in the clarification of our agenda. Now that I have said all that, let us look at our future. The question we face is ultimately what future is possible for our Europe, in the long term, and how our Europe can rebuild lasting stability, peace and security for itself. We have responded very well in the short term, thanks to the commitment of States. NATO has shown its credibility on its Eastern Flank, and the European Union through its efforts. But is that enough in the long term? Today, we should be pleased to have an American Administration that has stood with us, that has made as many efforts as the Europeans, and that very clearly increases our collective credibility. We should be grateful and thankful to the United States of America. Will that Administration always be the same? Nobody can tell, and we cannot delegate our collective security and our stability to the choices of American voters in the coming years. At the same time, the Americans have been asking us for years, each successive Administration, to better share the burden and to make greater efforts for our security and our neighbourhood. And so yes, a Europe of Defence, a European pillar within NATO, is essential. That is the only way to be credible for ourselves, to be credible in the long term, to reduce our dependency and to shoulder our legitimate share of the burden. Because, whether we like it or not, our geography will not change. We will live in the same place, and Russia will remain Russia, with the same borders and the same geography. We need to build a space that, tomorrow, must be this space of lasting peace, because the rights of the Ukrainian people will have been respected and international law will have been restored. That space must allow us to cohabit as peacefully as possible with Russia – but with no naivety. I repeat, this project is not one of naivety with regard to Russia – I have never had such naivety – but it is aboutbnot denying geography and not considering that we should make our choices as if there was an ocean between Russia and us. And my goal is in no case to try to replace NATO with something else. I want to debunk all these ideas here because I know how they can be repeated and distorted. I do not want to replace NATO with a sort of Franco-German condominium. No. I believe that it is a broad, powerful Europe, with countries like yours, like Poland and many others, that need to play their role in this Europe of Defence, a Europe that increasingly ensures its own security and addresses its own neighbourhood issues. To do so, we now, urgently, need to speed up our strategic choices and the implementation of what we have started to decide. And that agenda is part of what we must build for this common destiny. Firstly, we need to forge a more sovereign European capacity when it comes to energy, technology and military capabilities. That is part of the Versailles Agenda we launched in March 2022. We now need to swiftly, and very tangibly, implement that agenda: meaning we should increasingly build European, buy European and innovate European. When it comes to military capabilities, that also requires a national effort that we have to make. France did not wait for this war. We stepped up our efforts with the military programming law in my first term and we are currently increasing it by €100 billion compared to the previous period, to reach a total of €413 billion under the current draft law. Alongside the prospect of reaching 2% of GDP, we also need to achieve tangible goals, with deployments and real capabilities to ensure the credibility of this collective effort, as France did a few days after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine by deploying forces to Romania. Less than eight days later, we had hundreds of soldiers in Romania. This is about the credibility of a European Defence within NATO. later, we had hundreds of soldiers in Romania. This is about the credibility of a European Defence within NATO. But a sovereign choice is needed, with capabilities, expenditure and deployment mechanisms. This strategic autonomy and military sovereignty also requires an industrial effort. We have clearly understood, in recent months, while emptying our arsenals, that we own with certainty only what we produce. We must learn lessons from this and act accordingly. And when I see certain countries increase their defence spending to massively buy non-European, I simply say: “you are creating yourselves your own problems for the future”. We need to use this opportunity to produce more in Europe. We have been inventive together, creating something new concerning ammunition, a great progress in support of Ukraine. We need to go much further. We need to harmonize our European standards, because there is too much competition between us. There are far more different standards between Europeans than there are within the United States of America. But in doing so, we must develop a genuinely European defence technological and industrial base in all interested countries, and deploy fully sovereign equipment at European level. We need to reduce our dependence and we need to continue building strategic proximity in this collective effort. I have in mind, of course, the European Intervention Initiative we launched five years ago, and that is still every bit as relevant today. Several of you accompanied us in fighting terrorism in Africa, showing that solidarity is two-way, and for that we are grateful. Even if the French presence in Africa is changing, the need to continue to be engaged together remains. And therefore we need to explore possibilities for cooperation in all these spaces and build capacity among Europeans by building on NATO’s interoperability, yet going beyond that, knowing how to engage together common action forces in new theatres of operation in our neighbourhoods, but also in cyber space, in space, in maritime areas, etc. More broadly, as you can see, this first pillar is, ultimately, to strengthen our military sovereignty. This means that we must take a look at the situation in which we live. It is up to us, as Europeans, in the future, to have our own capacity to defend ourselves and to deal with our neighbourhood. And in this regard, let’s not only focus on capabilities to manage past or current wars or to manage conflicts that are simply those that are emerging today. Dealing with our neighbourhood does not concern our Eastern Flank alone. It also concerns the Mediterranean, the Eastern Mediterranean and Southern Mediterranean regions, and new spaces of conflict including cyber space, space and maritime areas. They are at least as important as land wars on our continent that we have seen re-emerge because of Russian aggression and that we thought were disappearing, but that do not dispel the new forms of conflict that will grow in number. Therefore, let us have this strategic lucidity to prepare future conflicts that are bound to happen. In addition to this focus on sovereignty that is therefore European, technological and military, our second challenge is to see to it that Europe becomes a fully-fledged player, instead of being on the receiving end of strategic evolutions in its environment. In these last few years, I have been struck by the fact that we Europeans have not changed our status of geopolitical minority. It’s very hard for a French President to say this so bluntly. This generates irritation and annoyance. But I had the experience of going to a NATO Summit with another US Administration that liked us less, and which, with hardly any notice and in coordinating things with Europeans in a very bureaucratic way, informed us that it was withdrawing from the INF Treaty saying that “the Russians are no longer complying with it”. In 2019, we Europeans discovered a treaty that covered us against missiles that landed on our soil, and that Russian non-compliance and the US decision could leave us exposed and somehow naked, because we were not a party to it. The same thing happened when Russia methodically suspended implementation of the New Start Treaty last February, then clearly violated the NATO-Russia Founding Act in March, etc. I say this very clearly, we Europeans must be active players of these treaties that cover our security and build the future framework. If we delegate our role to others, Russia, the United States or I don’t know who, we will never be credible players. And therefore, yes, we must build these diplomatic solutions for the future.  To do so, we must first fully control arms, which refers back to what I was saying about our industrial lucidity. Europe was absent from treaties such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the New Start Treaty, despite the fact that its security was at stake. Therefore, it must now weigh in. And it will have much more credibility if it is a player, and not a spectator, in these balances. That is why I called on Europeans to acquire a deep-strike capability, which will bolster our security, and also give us a card to play in all future negotiations. I wish to launch discussions with the European partners that are interested in exploring cooperation in this area. The second, which is related, is air-defence. The war in Ukraine has shown its vital importance. It’s a strategic issue before being an industrial issue , but very clearly, it must build on a balance of offense and defense. It should clearly take nuclear deterrence into account. That is why, as I have pledged in Munich,  a conference will be held on this issue on 19 June in Paris. I invite all defence ministers of the European countries represented here today to attend. It will give us an opportunity to pursue our work. The third, more broadly, is the way in which Europe can secure its environment. We must build these new treaties as fully-fledged players around the table. And in doing so, let us be very clear, the issue of security with our neighbours will be raised. We will undoubtedly discuss this again during question time. But securing our environment is a key component of this credibility and of a Europe with a full role. We should provide Ukraine with solid security guarantees to put an end to repeated destabilizing actions. If Russia wants to continue destabilizing Europe, it must be ready to pay the geopolitical price. I have listened to all of our debates, but we would be strange geopolitical players if we were to say “we are massively arming Ukraine, but we do not want to include it in any strategic security debates.” I was reading something Henry Kissinger said recently, who we all know is not the least experienced diplomat. He was right when he said: In a year, all those who, with good reason, have helped Ukraine, have made it such a powerful player that it would be best to bring it back into these existing security architectures. I tend to share this vision. Therefore, if we want credible lasting peace, if we want to have influence with respect to Russia, and if we want to be credible vis-à-vis Ukrainians, we must give Ukraine the means to prevent any additional aggression and we must include Ukraine, in a structure, in a credible security architecture, including for ourselves. That is why I am in favour – and this will be the subject of collective discussions in the coming weeks ahead of the Vilnius Summit – of providing tangible security guarantees to Ukraine, for two reasons: Ukraine today is protecting Europe and provides security guarantees to Europe. The second reason is that Ukraine is now armed to such a point that it is in our interest for it to have credible security guarantees with us in a multilateral framework, with multilateral support or bilateral support. This is what we will discuss. We must today be much more ambitious than we sometimes are in discussions on this topic. Over the medium term, it is clearly our Europe’s stability and security that we will need to build on the basis of this solid peace in Ukraine, of these security guarantees in our neighbourhood – and tomorrow the question of Belarus and others will be raised – and of a transparent framework of trust making it possible to avoid the escalation of capabilities in the future to exit, at some point, this state of war when peace will be negotiated and stable. Yet we have armed our Eastern Flank so much and Russia has deployed so many arms that we will have to rebuild - I am talking here about the medium term - a framework for de-escalation. But it will be up to Europeans at that time to really build it in a transparent framework in which we must be players of these treaties, we must be around the table in order to negotiate, and around the table in order to determine their effective compliance and their evolution, as opposed to what has been done in the past. That is why, within this framework, we must also think of a wider Europe and I will end my remarks with these points. This Europe is one that I wanted to propose just over a year ago in Strasbourg, that of a European Political Community. Why? Because we need to consider our Europe, not only from a security standpoint, within the framework of NATO, and not simply within the framework of the European Union. That is why the European Political Community does not compete with NATO, nor does it replace enlargement. It is a framework for strategic discussion needed by all countries to build, I hope, an innovative and new institutional architecture, regarding energy and interconnection, mobility, security, strategy, and coming up with common solutions without waiting for enlargement to be completed and without merely taking a NATO-based approach. We will pursue this at Chișinău and we will express our willingness to go as far as possible in this format where cool-headed discussions can be held and topics of common interest can emerge. Among other topics, I will have an opportunity to propose the extension of the European Cyber Reserve to include all EPC countries because it is in our interest to be inclusive in order to safeguard our security. In this regard, the European Political Community is a geopolitical lab, if you will, and we need to continue down this path. But as I have said, it does not replace enlargement. For us, the question is not whether we should enlarge – we answered that question a year ago – nor when we should enlarge – for me, as swiftly as possible – but rather how we should do it. Several of you may remember that France advocated a change in the enlargement method in 2018. However, ultimately the war in Ukraine and today’s worsening situation in several areas of the Western Balkans have shown us one thing, which is that our current method is not working. Yet I believe there are two mistakes we should avoid making. The first is to tell ourselves that the situation is worsening, stay as we are, and give hope to Western Balkans, Ukraine and Moldova, and then procrastinate. We are very familiar with this tactic, we’ve been using it for a long time. If we do this, I think that we would actually give more space to those who want to destabilize Europe and I think that we would wake up in a few years to a situation that is considerably worse. A second mistake would be to say “let’s enlarge, it’s our duty and in our geopolitical interest, I think we need to anchor Moldova, Ukraine and the Western Balkans to our Europe. Let’s do it. We’ll reform later”. This would also be disastrous because it would create a powerless Europe, burdened at times by heavy bureaucratic procedures, slow, and with divergent trajectories. You can clearly see that in Europe there are ultimately two deep forces. They are both respectable. One that says: we need more geopolitical unity, to anchor the Western Balkans, Moldova and Ukraine to this Europe. It needs to be united. It needs to think of itself in this space in terms of security, geopolitics, energy and migration. On the other side, we have had a preview, but we need to coordinate economic policies to a greater extent, have more requirements regarding the rule of law and it creates a somewhat centrality that some States do not always accept. We need to think about this paradox, which is that our European Union was not designed to be enlarged at will. It was designed to always be deepened and to move towards a more integrated project. We need – due to the times in which we are living and the fact that everything is happening at the same time to a certain extent – but that’s how it goes – a very great moment of theoretical and geopolitical clarification of our European Union. Yes, it should be enlarged. Yes, it should be rethought very extensively with regard to its governance and its aims. Yes, it should innovate, undoubtedly to invent several formats and clarify each of their aims. It is the only way to meet the legitimate expectation of the Western Balkans, Moldova and Ukraine, which should become part of the European Union, and to maintain effectiveness in the geopolitical field, but also with regard to the climate, rule of law, and the economic integration the EU is now experiencing. And therefore, we need to re-articulate and rethink the balance of intergovernmental versus communitarian, and also understand what happens in Member States when they no longer understand Europe and the path that it is taking now and for the time being. And we will be working on this with several of our partners in thecoming weeks. I have already spoken too long. Please accept my apologies. These were the points I wanted to discuss. And therefore, as you have understood, our ability to build a just and lasting peace in Ukraine without any weakness is at stake, along with the future of our continent. I truly believe this will happen in the months and the two or three years ahead. Not much more. I believe Europe has experienced a conceptual and strategic awakening. But is must learn all the possible lessons from the past for itself and its neighbourhood. In this context, I think you’ve understood that is why I’m here. You can count on France. France is sometimes seen as being arrogant or faraway from or not interested in this part of Europe. As for me, I visited every EU Member State during my first term in office. Every one, because I considered that the European Union is not just Brussels, but all the capitals. It is this constantly plural dialogue and the absence of hegemony. But you can count on France over the long term. I also know that France can count on you so that we can together build a Europe that is stronger, more sovereign and more capable of ensuring its own security. And this cannot be done with just one, two or three countries. We will do it with all 27 and even more, by including in this strategic debate all those who will join us tomorrow in Chișinău, in this capacity to have frank, open, far-reaching, powerful, ambitious dialogue, by accepting our differences, respecting them and clearly setting out our aims. Ultimately, let us recognize together that our Europe must be a great democratic, diverse, but united power. Thank you very much

Defense & Security
President of France Emmanuel Macron

French Defence and Foreign Policy and the War in Ukraine

by Dr. Ronald Hatto

After many years of struggle against Islamist terrorism, the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was an electric shock for France. The country now seems more committed to a reinforced Euro-Atlantic security partnership. Since 2012, France has been under a constant threat of Islamist terrorist attacks. These reached their peak in 2015 with the deadly assault on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in January and at the Bataclan theatre in November. These threats explain why the French government has decided to intervene where terrorists are most likely to proliferate – the goal being to neutralise them before they could reach France or other European countries. The two regions where the French military have operated against terrorists have been in the Middle East and the Sahel. Meanwhile, the relationship between Paris and select NATO allies have to led to some difficult diplomatic tensions. “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Emmanuel Macron told The Economist in October 2019. At the time, the United States (US) had failed to consult NATO before pulling forces out of northern Syria, while Turkey – another important NATO ally – pushed inside Syria, threatening US and French interests with no reaction from the alliance. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine modified Paris’ defence and foreign policy but perhaps not enough to face the challenges ahead. France and NATO: A difficult partnership Following the “brain death” episode, the tensions between France and Turkey escalated and reached a peak in June 2020 when, according to the French Navy, a Turkish ship flashed its radar at the French vessels during operation Sea Guardian. This mission was a NATO maritime security operation in the eastern Mediterranean, deployed after the United Nations imposed an embargo on arms supplies to Libya. Once again, NATO did nothing to reprimand Turkey for its anti-alliance behaviour. These episodes are just two in a long series of tensions between France and NATO. It is rather well known that France and some of its NATO allies have been barely civil since the end of the Cold War; the most complicated relationship being the one with the US. If Macron has been frustrated at the absence of a reaction from the alliance, France has also manoeuvred to upset its allies also. To understand France’s at times awkward relationship with the US, one must note that there are strong French political currents opposed to a supposed American hegemony. The far left and the far right are the most obvious, but even moderate conservatives may sometimes adopt a discourse reminiscent of Charles De Gaulle from the 1960’s that pushed France outside of NATO’s integrated command. Today, those against “Atlanticism” are either anti-capitalism (far left), pro-sovereignty (far right) or for national or European independence (conservatives). They all share a more-or-less anti-liberal ideology and they all tend to perceive Russia positively. The far left seems to think Russia is the successor of communist Soviet Union. The far right and the conservatives are fond of Putin’s anti-Islam discourse and his defence of traditional values. Meanwhile, many people serving in the French military are also sympathetic to Russia. This broad support for states that may “resist US hegemony” in France may explain the initial moderation of president Macron’s position vis-à-vis Russia. This anti-American sentiment is reinforced by the fact that France still seems to see itself as a major player in international relations. In April 2023, after a visit to China, Macron told journalists that Europe must resist becoming America’s “vassal.” This infuriated many allies in Europe, North America, and Japan, and it did nothing to strengthen European defence capabilities or strategic autonomy, paradoxically one of Macron’s goals before going to China. NATO: The inescapable actor According to President Macron himself, the war in Ukraine revived the “brain-dead” NATO. On the other hand, it seems to have had the opposite effect on French ambitions to be a central global player or a European security leader. Declarations regarding security guarantees to Russia, and the fact that France has contributed relatively less to the defence of Ukraine than some of its allies, have weakened its stature in Europe. That’s why Paris seems ready to work more closely with NATO, even if some incoherence still weakens the clarity of the message. Three things point in the direction of greater cooperation between France and its NATO allies. The first, following Macron’s speech in Bratislava in May 2023, is the new Loi de programmation militaire (military programming law) for military manoeuvres. The best example of recent joint military manoeuvres is ORION 2023 that started in 2021 and was terminated in May 2023. These were the largest exercises in thirty years for the French military and they involved, in their final phase during the Spring 2023, around 14 allies, including Indian air force Rafale jets. In ORION, France proved it was ready to act as a NATO framework-nation in a high-intensity-warfare scenario. This reassured France’s allies who were rattled by president Macron’s various statements since 2019. With its departure from the Sahel, France has at last been able to focus more seriously on European security. Another signal pointing at a switch in the French posture towards Transatlantic security was Macron’s speech in Bratislava. The French president wanted to reassure his allies about the role of NATO in European security. He did not emphasise “strategic autonomy,” preferring to highlight the importance of becoming better allies to the United States. He even mentioned that Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine had revived NATO. The last element regarding France’s decision to play a more constructive role in Transatlantic security is the military programming law for 2024-2030. At first sight, this law is impressive: with an estimated cost of €413 billion over the next seven years, this would bring the defence budget to €69 billion in 2030, up from €44 billion in 2023 and €32 billion in 2017. The problem is that, like Germany or the United Kingdom (UK), we don’t know if this new money will really boost European military capacity. In the case of France and UK, a large part of the military budget is dedicated to nuclear deterrence rather than for the needs of a high intensity conventional conflict like the one in Ukraine. What is more, inflation will chew through a relatively important part of this new budget. It is an important question then to ask if the new defence budget will boost France’s conventional military capacity to face a high intensity conflict in Europe or other technological capabilities to help project power far from France’s borders. Only time will tell. But allies must keep an eye on what the French government does rather than on what it says. With the importance of the populist and radical political movements, and also the constant threat of terrorism, a return to self-centred defence and foreign policy is always a possibility.