• NATO to increase defense spending


    NEWPORT: Leaders from 28 NATO nations agreed Friday to reverse the trend of declining defense budgets, and raise them over the coming decade.

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on the second day of the NATO summit in Newport, Wales, that member states of NATO would review the defense spending progress every year.

    “It comes to security, you get what you pay for, and it doesn’t come on the cheap,” said the general secretary.

    Rasmussen said that in this dangerous world, “we need to invest additional effort and money so today the Alliance made a pledge on defense investment.”

    He stressed that NATO would direct its defense budgets as efficiently and effectively as possible. Citing the defense budget guideline of NATO, he said the spending on defense would account for two percent of each NATO member’s gross domestic product.

    He said the decision would further enhance the transatlantic bond. “Without security, we can have no prosperity,” he added.

    He reiterated NATO continuing and unwavering commitment to defend the populations, territory, sovereignty and sharing values of all Allies in North America and Europe.

    “With the decisions we have taken here in Wales, NATO will remain the bedrock of our collective defense,” he claimed.

    Sixty-one-year-old Rasmussen has worked for NATO more than five years since he took office in Aug. 1, 2009 as the 12th NATO secretary general. He was the Prime Minister of Denmark before he became NATO chief.

    His mandate as NATO chief will end on Sept. 30 this year, and Jens Stoltenberg, former Prime Minister of Norway, will take office as the bloc’s new chief on Oct. 1, 2014.

    “This is my final summit as Secretary General… These have been some of the busiest and most challenging years in the history of our Alliance,” said Rasmussen.

    Although the NATO mission in Afghanistan which started in 2003 has not yet completed, NATO has already announced “a new chapter” with Afghanistan during the two-day summit in Newport, which includes the launch of a non-combat mission in Afghanistan after 2014 to help train, advise and assist Afghan security forces, support the sustainment of the Afghan National Army and strengthen the long-term political and practical cooperation with Afghanistan.

    “We have launched new missions. With new partners. And developed new capabilities. We have cut fat, and built muscle,” the chief said.

    “We have shaped the NATO of tomorrow — a renewed Alliance, for a new era. An Alliance that is ready, robust and resolute,” he said, adding that he was proud to have led NATO through this pivotal time.

    Addressing a joint press conference with Rasmussen on Friday here, Stoltenberg said, “This Summit has provided an important platform and an important direction for the future. We need to invest politically and financially into the Alliance.”

    Stoltenberg added that he expected to work with the 28 Allies to make NATO strong in the future. PNA


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