Jens Stoltenberg: ‘Strong support for NATO from all our members’

NATO’s Secretary General has made a robust defence of the alliance after polls showed its popularity had markedly declined in France and Germany.
credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

14 Feb 2020

A recent study published by the Pew Research Institute said 57 percent of Germans hold a favourable view of NATO, down almost 20 percentage points from the late 2000s. Over the same period, approval went down from 71 percent to 49 percent in France

Among NATO members, Germany showed particularly low approval for “military force to maintain order in the world” in general.

Some 47 percent said it is sometimes necessary, much less than in France (64 percent), the UK (71 percent) and the US (78 percent).


When quizzed if they believe “parts of neighbouring countries belong to them”, the highest result was in Hungary, where 67 percent confirmed their belief in such territorial claims.

Sixty percent said the same in Greece, whereas generally lower values were found in Western European countries such as Spain (37 percent), France (33 percent), Germany (30 percent) and the UK (23 percent).

Emmanuel Macron also spoke recently about the “brain death of NATO.”

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday, Stoltenberg was asked by reporters why he thought support for NATO appeared to be on the wane and whether it was connected to Donald Trump’s well-known criticisms of the alliance.

“We are 29 democracies with different views and opinions. The overall message from the poll and others is that there is continued strong commitment and support for NATO” Jens Stoltenberg

He replied, “Overall, the message from the poll indicates there is strong support for NATO from all our members.”

“Yes, support does go up and down between different Allies. For example, in the UK it is up but down a bit in the US. But this illustrates that we are 29 democracies with different views and opinions. The overall message from the poll and others is that there is continued strong commitment and support for NATO.”

“The poll is important nonetheless and shows that the only way we can remain the strongest alliance in the world is to have strong support from the public among Alliance members and I believe that we have that.”

He said, “Treaty commitments are in place whether the polls go up or down and we are committed to defending each other.”

He was speaking ahead of a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels on Wednesday.

The official said key issues for the meeting include what more NATO can do to deal with Russian missile systems being deployed in Europe.

He said the development and deployment of these systems had led to the demise of IMF treaty.

“We have seen the demise of the treaty and that is bad it is but good to see NATO respond in a coordinated way.”

He said, “We have no intention of mirroring what Russia is doing and have no plans to deploy land missiles in Europe. But at the same time need a credible European defence.”

“President Trump from the day he became President has been clear on 2 things about NATO: on burden sharing and the need for NATO to do more to fight terrorism.”

“I can tell you that NATO Allies are committed more financially and are also stepping up the fight against terrorism.”

He added, “Yes, there are differences and sometimes we struggle but we still see a strong US commitment to European security and NATO.”

“President Trump has been outspoken about NATO many times, but he also realises the progress being made on burden sharing by members. He has recognised this.”

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