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Welcome to the Secretary General of the [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] NATO [Jens Stoltenberg] at the premises of the European External Action Service. It is the first time that we meet in my capacity as High Representative, but we have met many times before. We are old friends.
I am happy to share the responsibility for defence with you, at NATO, and me, at the European Union.
“Working together”: these are the key words. NATO is the strongest military alliance in the world. It is and it will remain the common ground for European defence, the basis, the corner stone of the collective defence for most European Union Member States.
I am glad to know that in London you stood clearly behind this “working together”. The sentence “unprecedented progress in NATO and European Union cooperation” says a lot, much more than any other consideration about quarrels and disengagements that have been spoken about by many people.
The fact is - and you have been stressing it - that for the European Union’s defence, for European people’s defence, NATO cooperation is a fundamental element.
Nothing will change it, so we have to work together in order to reinforce cooperation between the Member States of the European Union and to build a genuine European Defence Union, which is not an alternative to NATO. It is nothing apart from NATO, it is a complement. We have to look at that in a complementary way.
Meaningful cooperation, a strong cooperation, sharing the responsibility of our security and our citizens. Acting with partners wherever possible and, if necessary, alone. But in most of the cases, we need to be together.
Secretary General, thank you for your visit, thank you for sharing with me all the information about this relevant meeting in London. I am at your disposal to continue building a strong relationship between the European defence projects and NATO projects. I think there are more than 70 projects that we have been developing together. Most of the activities conducted under PESCO are being put in practice with NATO.
Thank you very much.
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