May 30, 2022

Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the ceremony marking the 40th Anniversary of Spain’s accession to NATO

Your Majesty, Prime Minister, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is really an honour and pleasure to be here today with you to celebrate 40 years of Spain within the NATO Alliance. And I would like to thank His Majesty King Felipe for his strong personal commitment to our transatlantic Alliance, to our armed forces and to our security….

[I]n 1982, Spain became our 16th member….Let me thank my predecessors who join us today. Willy Claes, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Lord Robertson, Javier Solana, and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer who could not be with us today. You steered our Alliance through four decades of incredible change from the height of the Cold War, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, from the Balkans Wars to 9/11. And from Afghanistan, to the illegal annexation of Crimea. Throughout these four decades, Spain has stood united with its NATO Allies….

With both Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, Spain holds a vital strategic position, resting at the crossroads between Europe, Africa, and North America. It is both a border between continents and a bridge between cultures. [That is, the eighteen Spanish-speaking nations in the Western Hemisphere.] Your membership in NATO has made our military more modern, more capable, and more deployable. Over the past four decades, Spain has contributed greatly to our Alliance. You play a key role in NATO’s missions and operations. Spanish forces have helped maintain the stability of the Western Balkans to NATO missions in Bosnia Herzegovina and in Kosovo, they contributed over many years to our mission in Afghanistan….Today Spanish soldiers are a crucial part of NATO’s training mission in Iraq….Spanish pilots take part in Baltic air policing. Spanish sailors serve in our maritime missions, and Spain hosts the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence ships in Rota. This shows that together we are ready to defend every inch of allied territory from any threat from any direction….

I met some of them recently with Prime Minister Sánchez when he visited NATO’s battlegroup in Latvia, serving alongside Allied forces from both sides of the Atlantic. NATO solidarity in action….Spain is playing an important part in strengthening our deterrence and defence. Deploying additional troops, ships and jets to strengthen NATO’s defence of Europe.

You are also providing critical support for Ukraine with security assistance….Back in 1997, Madrid hosted an historic summit. Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic, were invited to open talks to join our Alliance….Authoritarian regimes seek to undermine the rules based international order. China’s coercive policies challenge our interests, security, and values. And China has joined Russia in openly contesting the right of each and every country to choose his own path.

….We will reset our deterrence and defence for a more dangerous world will deepen our cooperation with likeminded countries and organisations, including the European Union and countries in the Indo-Pacific. We will also be joined by Finland and Sweden, who have just made historic applications to join our Alliance…..