The Need for Predictability and Stability
The Russian annexation of Crimea and the ongoing destabilization of Eastern Ukraine violate international law—the very foundation of the security structure that was built on the ruins of two devastating world wars. Russia is modernizing her military forces with highly capable platforms and weapons systems. Exercises are increasing in size, frequency and complexity. While we do not see a military threat against Norway at this point in time, the situation is uncertain and unpredictable.
I addition to this, the challenges the Alliance is facing from the south must be met with a broad range of instruments. This underlines the importance of close cooperation and coordination between NATO and other international actors, in particular with the EU. Further, this underlines that the need for at 360-degree approach to Allied security is greater than ever. Political and military cohesion is key.
We also need to ensure that the NATO Command Structure is fit for purpose. With this in mind, the Warsaw Summit should give a tasking to start an assessment of the NCS to ensure it is realigned to deal with the demanding challenges we are facing in the new security situation.
At the Wales Summit in 2014, allied Heads of State and Government agreed that the changed security environment called for a renewed emphasis on deterrence and collective defence. At the Warsaw Summit, Allies have to commit to further long-term adaptation. Together, Europe and North America have to demonstrate firm political will to act collectively to secure all Allies.
The Norwegian government presented last month a new Long-Term Plan for the defence sector. The short version is that we take the new security situation seriously. We will continue our investments in new high-end capabilities, such as the F–35, and we will start investing in new submarines, air-defence and maritime patrol aircrafts. We will adapt our force structure to increase readiness and endurance.
In order to strengthen the transatlantic bond, European Allies must demonstrate political will to increase our defence spending in the time to come. Norway’s defence budget has increased since 2008 and we plan to increase our budgets substantially in the coming years. The defence budget for 2016 represents an increase of 9.4 percent compared to 2015 in real terms. The share of GDP devoted to defence has increased from 1.47 percent in 2015 to a projected 1.53 percent in 2016. In 2016, we plan to spend more than 25,6 percent of the defence budget on investments.
It is difficult to predict when Norway will reach the 2 percent GDP target, but Norway remains committed to the target as a long-term goal. The Norwegian Government has just presented a Long Term Plan to the Parliament that will set the basis for the future development of the defence sector. Investing in defence and common security is necessary. For Norway, it is also about taking responsibility and being a predictable and credible Ally. Norway also emphasizes the need to develop and sustain robust capabilities that are relevant for Allied and national tasks.
The priorities in strengthening the military in Norway are:
- Key capabilities as surveillance and situational awareness, with a particular focus on the Maritime Flank in the Arctic and High North.
- Acquisition and implementation of the new fighter aircraft F–35
- More effective use of new and emerging technologies, including autonomous systems.
- A continued contribution to international security.
- Multinational cooperation on developing capabilities.
Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide
Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Norway