Leaders urged to shape NATO for the future, strengthen Allied deterrence and defence and further support Ukraine

27 May 2024

SOFIA – NATO leaders must reiterate their iron-clad commitment to the Alliance’s collective security guarantee at the Washington Summit in July and send a clear signal that Ukraine is on track for membership, parliamentarians from Allied and partner nations said Monday. 

In a declaration adopted during the NATO Parliament Assembly’s Plenary Sitting in Sofia, the legislators also urged the 32 leaders to continue to take steps to implement their pledge to invest at least 2% of GDP on national military budgets, including 20% on major equipment. 

The declaration is aimed at “shaping NATO for the next generations.” 

“In just 43 days, NATO leaders will meet in Washington for a critical Summit,” NATO PA President Michal Szczerba said. “They must demonstrate absolute unity and determination. They must fulfil pledges and send a clear signal of how prepared NATO is to defend every inch of its territory.” 

With Russia’s illegal war of aggression on Ukraine now in its third year, the members agreed that the leaders must show their determination to protect all Allied territory at all times under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, signed 75 years ago. 

They called on the heads of state and government, gathering in Washington D.C. July 9-11, to “urgently step up” deliveries of military assistance that Ukraine needs to win the war, and to make a long-term vow to continue to do so even after victory is achieved. 

At their Summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius a year ago, the leaders had affirmed that they “will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.” 

Szczerba underlined that NATO must be “committed to standing with Ukraine until victory and beyond.” 

The legislators also agreed that a long-term strategy must be drawn up by NATO, using measures of modern containment, “to counter the Russian threat in all its dimensions.” 

Addressing the Assembly, Bulgarian Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev said that his country “anticipates important outcomes” at the Washington Summit, notably on military spending and investment in NATO’s deterrence and defence capabilities. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he now expects at least two-thirds of Allies to be spending 2% or more in 2024 , compared to only three countries in 2014 when Russia started its unlawful aggression in eastern Ukraine and illegally annexed Ukraine’s  province of Crimea. 

Beyond ensuring solid funding for research and development to keep NATO at the cutting edge of security tech, the Assembly appealed to the leaders “to take concrete steps to reduce and eliminate obstacles to defence trade and investment among Allies.” 

The declaration also urged the leaders to fully recognise the threat that autocracies pose to democratic systems and to put into action the Alliance’s engagement to defend shared values by establishing a Centre for Democratic Resilience at NATO headquarters. 

Leaders were equally encouraged to properly resource NATO’s new defence plans so they can be executed, and to take the Alliance’s “unique and essential partnership” with the European Union to a new level and reinforce the two organisations’ complementarity. 

On global partnerships, the leaders were exhorted to boost ties with strategic partners in NATO’s southern neighbourhood, including by helping partners at risk of security threats and cementing relations with the Indo-Pacific region. 

The legislators also called on Washington Summit participants to recognise the Assembly’s own indispensable role and contribution as a link between the national parliaments and the people whose countries make up the world’s biggest security Alliance.