Remarks by NATO Secretary General Rasmussen at the ‘Strengthening the Transatlantic Bond’ conference on 10 June

Edited by Nigel Chamberlain, NATO Watch

I welcome the many ideas in your reports on the Transatlantic Bond project that we launched earlier this year. Recent events have shown that we must reinforce our economic ties.  The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is key to this.  We must make energy diversification a strategic transatlantic priority and reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian oil and gas. We must increase defence investment in Europe.  And we must strengthen our security cooperation in NATO. There are a wide range of other, global security risks and threats: terrorism and extremism, proliferation and piracy, cyber and energy security and the security implications of climate change. 
For this initiative, we created three working groups. First, a group of NATO-country politicians, members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.  Second, a group of security experts from ten different nations.  And third, a group of emerging leaders who represent the future of the Alliance. They submitted their conclusions and recommendations last week. There is a strong emphasis on protecting our principles, encouraging strong leadership and preserving the Alliance’s credibility.  There’s also an affirmation of the growing value of NATO’s partnerships and a helpful reminder of the big financial gains that we can make through deeper economic cooperation.
The politicians remind us of the need to engage our publics, on both sides of the Atlantic and they highlight that we should not let narrow national economic interests weaken our security or our principles. I particularly value their strong call for continued investment in credible defence.
The security experts examined shifts in NATO policy over the years.  They note that NATO offers a proven structure for the transatlantic community to build upon.  And that it is essential now to invest in the hard power to back up our soft power.
I also value the experts’ call for better working relations between NATO and the European Union. 
The young leaders focus on the energy and vitality of the transatlantic community.  Their strong stance on our shared identity is linked to a call for greater NATO outreach. I also welcome the young leaders’ practical ideas, such as the appointment of ‘Honorary Ambassadors’ who can engage with diverse audiences about the importance of the transatlantic bond and of NATO.  
The three reports (posted on the NATO website) will provide a valuable contribution to the Transatlantic Declaration that I hope we will adopt at our Summit in Wales in September. 
The three reports:

NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Group of Policy Experts report to the NATO Secretary General, June 2014
Atlantic Council Young Atlanticist Program
Also see NATO Watch Media Briefing, 10 June 2014