4th September 2014 Yerevan, Armenia

Building Stability in an Unpredictable World – the NATO Summit in Wales 4-5 September

Following the terrible events of the last few months – in Ukraine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and ebola in West Africa – describing our world as ‘unpredictable’ no longer seems adequate.  It feels like some of our most basic assumptions –  about civilized nations’ best interests, a Europe finally at peace, and the nature of 21st century warfare – are being shaken to their core.  As our Prime Minister wrote to NATO Allies recently, Russia has ‘ripped up the rulebook’ with its lightning-fast illegal annexation of Crimea and its aggressive destabilisation of Ukraine.  And an arc of instability is spreading from North Africa through to the wider Middle East, with the barbaric violence of Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq raising the prospect of the Middle East’s historic mosaic of religions and peoples – including important Armenian communities – being brutally destroyed.

Facebook4These unprecedented security challenges are the backdrop for the NATO Summit on 4-5 September in Wales.  Over two days, we are hosting the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain, with over 180 VIPs, 4,000 delegates and 1500 journalists.  These leaders must consider how NATO, working with partners, can tackle the new and complex threats facing our transatlantic alliance.  NATO has played a key role in securing a period of collective peace and security unique in Europe. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this to UK, European and global security.  But NATO’s strength over its 65-year history has also been its ability to adapt and meet new challenges.  There are three key themes for leaders to discuss at the Summit.

Firstly, Russia’s actions in Ukraine require us to focus again on our traditional core NATO task of collective defence.  But the ‘hybrid’ conflict we have witnessed in Ukraine (including use of irregulars, propaganda and deniable soldiers/equipment without insignia) also demonstrates the need to adapt and innovate.  Amongst other investments to modernize our forces, we want to develop a brigade-size high readiness response force able to react quickly to sudden or ambiguous attacks or crises.

Secondly, we need to look at how to transform the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan to continue to support the Afghan government and train the 350,000 strong Afghan National Security Force. The first day of the NATO Summit is devoted to discussion with the 24 countries who have been part of the ISAF force, our most valued partners.  Armenia is one of these – a CSTO member who, uniquely, has also been committed to peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan over the past ten years.  Armenia’s current contribution to ISAF is greater than some NATO Allies, and is only marginally less than France’s.  We want to say thank you.

Thirdly, we want to strengthen the relationship with these most valued partners, including Armenia, and build on the ‘interoperability’ – the ability to work together – which we have developed over the past 10 years.  In an unstable world of failed states, regional conflicts, terrorism and cyber attacks, working together to build defence capacity and cooperation is more important than ever.  We want to work with those who share our values and value our partnership.

10560372_10152268616385811_6516129922341127900_oFinally – and here I declare a personal interest – we want to use this opportunity to shine the spotlight on Wales.  Wales is the place where I have spent many happy childhood holidays.  Like Armenia, it is a small, proud and beautiful mountainous country, renowned for its traditions, its music, its hospitality – but in addition, it has a famous red dragon, Y Ddraig Goch.   It has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world.   But it is also a thriving modern economy boasting companies from manufacturing to innovation, life sciences to cyber, including some of the best known names in defence and security (Airbus, BAE, General Dynamics, Raytheon).  We want to showcase the best of British and allied technology, and encourage investment in South Wales. It is a great place to live, work and relax.

It is a huge privilege to be able to host President Sargsyan and the Armenian delegation, our valued ISAF partners, at this year’s NATO Summit.  As they say in Welsh – Croeso i Gymru.  Welcome to Wales.


1 comment on “Building Stability in an Unpredictable World – the NATO Summit in Wales 4-5 September

  1. Thank you. I love the Welsh and Wales. While young I visited the village of Eistedffodd (I know my spelling is inaccurate), Shrewsbury area, Snowdonia, Cairnarvon. Seemed like dreamland to me. Always attached to your poets and songs. Always resented how the majority (England) has put upon the lovely people of Wales. Armenia and Wales should get together for a variety of reasons, including culture and politics.

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