Kerry at NATO Ministerial

Dec 21, 2016

NATO members must always reaffirm the importance of collective defense and democratic solidarity, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Speaking at the recent NATO ministerial meeting, he said, that "peace is best kept through strength and unity, through clarity of purpose and intent, and those qualities remain at the heart of NATO."

These principles have been at the core of the alliance since its inception. The reason is very simple: The founders of the alliance witnessed the horror that results when instability and political extremism grow unchecked. They knew that hate and territorial ambition and radicalism, when mixed with economic challenges as well as nationalism can often lead to a noxious mix that poisons entire nations, entire continents, and can quickly spread beyond control.

That's why NATO members recognize it's not enough to speak about values of tolerance, openness, democracy, rule of law, and good governance, said Secretary Kerry. "The members of this alliance bear a huge responsibility to push back against waves of authoritarianism, extreme nationalism, and gross violations of national sovereignty and against threats to security and fundamental human rights."

As for the United States, its commitment to NATO and to article 5, the collective defense clause, transcends politics. This alliance, said Secretary Kerry, has enjoyed political support beyond political parties and beyond one branch of government and across the United States. NATO has delivered an end to the Balkan Wars, delivered solidarity after September 11th, and delivered burden sharing in Afghanistan and against terrorism.

"As long as there are grave dangers in the world, NATO is going to serve an indispensable purpose," said Secretary Kerry. "But an even deeper source of NATO's strength is its commitment to freedom, to human rights, to rule of law, to a structure. . . .This is a defensive alliance, and it is here to defend the order of freedom and the order of liberty and the rule of law."