NATO Secretary General presents Annual Report for 2019, addresses NATO’s response to COVID-19 pandemic
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg presented his Annual Report for 2019 and outlined the Alliance’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday (19 March 2020). In light of measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Secretary General launched his report for the first time with a virtual press conference.
Mr. Stoltenberg expressed his condolences to all those affected by COVID-19 and explained the steps NATO is taking to limit the spread of the virus, reduce the risks to soldiers and civilians, and ensure the Alliance’s essential work continues. He noted that NATO’s ability to conduct operations has not been undermined. “Our forces remain ready and our work goes on, including in our multinational battlegroups in the east of the Alliance, NATO Air Policing, our maritime deployments, and our missions from Afghanistan to Kosovo” he said.
The Secretary General underlined that NATO has been working for many years to strengthen the resilience of Allies, including the health sector. “We will continue to consult, monitor the situation and take all necessary measures,” he said. Mr. Stoltenberg stressed that NATO remains committed to its mission of providing peace and security for nearly one billion citizens.
The Secretary General also presented the results of the most comprehensive polling about NATO ever conducted. The results, published in the Annual Report, show that 81% of people across the Alliance believe that collaboration between North America and Europe on safety and security is important. They also show that Allied citizens strongly agree with the core principle of collective defence. “While results naturally vary across different countries, overall support for NATO is strong,” he said.
In regards to North Macedonia’s accession to NATO, Stoltenberg said: “At the meeting of NATO leaders last December, we initiated a reflection process to further strengthen the political dimension of NATO and make a strong Alliance even stronger. And we signed the accession protocol with North Macedonia. Now that parliaments in all NATO countries have completed this ratification, we look forward to welcoming North Macedonia as NATO 30th ally very soon”.
More broadly, the Annual Report for 2019 covers NATO’s achievements and efforts to strengthen its deterrence and defence, to fight international terrorism, and to invest in the future.