NATO PA President Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam (France) addressed NATO’s Heads of State and Government on the first day of the Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. In her speech, she called on them to accelerate NATO’s ongoing adaptation – an adaptation anchored in the Alliance’s founding values, and to firmly reiterate Allies’ resolute support for Ukraine.
“You initiated an in-depth adaptation of the Euro-Atlantic Alliance”, she told the 31 Allied leaders and the Prime Minister of invitee Sweden. “This adaptation rises to the challenge of the electroshock of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. It is also rooted – as it should be – in the defence of the fundamental values enshrined in the Washington Treaty: democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. "
These values are an inspiration to the countries seeking to join the Alliance, the NATO PA President stressed. Welcoming the agreement reached the previous day on Sweden's accession, she called for swift ratification by the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments "to ensure that we can welcome Sweden as the 32nd member of NATO as soon as possible".
“Our Parliamentary Assembly applauds the reaffirmation of these values in the new Strategic Concept”, she went on to say. “We believe that these values should guide every decision you take at this Summit."
The Assembly advocates for the establishment of a Centre for Democratic Resilience at NATO Headquarters - a proposal that Mrs Garriaud-Maylam reiterated to the Allied leaders. This centre would serve as a resource and a clearinghouse of best practices and cross fertilisation on democratic benchmarks available to member, partner and aspirant states, upon request.
Stressing that “today it is in Ukraine that the defence of our values and the international law-based order is at stake,” the President thanked the Allies for the assistance provided since 24 February 2022 and underlined that "this Summit should strongly reaffirm that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Moreover, “we must go further and chart a clear path which will lead Ukraine towards NATO membership. Ukraine’s place is here, amongst us. Until then, we must provide firm security guarantees to Ukraine”, she said.
The President also reiterated the Assembly’s support for the strengthening of NATO’s capabilities and deterrence and defence posture, particularly on the eastern flank.
“This Summit must also demonstrate through robust commitments our unwavering determination to defend every inch of NATO territory”, she stressed.
Allied investments in defence must continue to rise, she underlined: “We are calling […] for a new, ambitious commitment on defence spending, with 2% of GDP as a minimum threshold, which should be exceeded.”
The Assembly’s President is traditionally invited to address NATO Summits to present the perspectives of Allied legislators on key issues affecting the Alliance. The NATO PA delegation also included three of its Vice-Presidents - Zaida Cantera (Spain), Kevan Jones (UK), and Nicu Falcoi (Romania) - as well as the Assembly’s Treasurer, Wolfgang Hellmich (Germany).
Ms Garriaud-Maylam has been a Senator of the French Republic since 2004, representing French citizens living outside France. She joined the NATO PA in 2008 and was elected President in November 2022.
For the full set of recommendations for the Vilnius Summit and Ukraine, please refer to both declarations adopted at the NATO PA’s recent Spring Session, held in Luxembourg from 19 to 22 May 2023:
Mme Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, speech at the NATO Summit, Vilnius, 11 July 2023.
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Mr Secretary General,
Last year, in Madrid, you initiated an in-depth adaptation of the Euro-Atlantic Alliance. This adaptation rises to the challenge of the electroshock of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. It is also rooted – as it should be – in the defence of the fundamental values enshrined in the Washington Treaty: democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.
Our Parliamentary Assembly applauds the reaffirmation of these values in the new Strategic Concept. This is something we strongly advocated for, and we believe that these values should guide every decision you take at this Summit.
These values are what make NATO a unique alliance. These values are our strength; they unite us and inspire all those who wish to join us. In this respect, we welcome yesterday’s agreement on Sweden’s accession. We will ask our Turkish and Hungarian parliamentary colleagues to proceed as quickly as possible to ensure that we can welcome Sweden as the 32nd member of NATO as soon as possible.
Today it is in Ukraine that the defence of our values and the international rules-based order is at stake.
Ukraine will prevail. Thanks to the resolve and the courage of its people. But also as a result of the assistance we have been able – and are continuing – to provide together. This Summit should strongly reaffirm that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
But we must go further and chart a clear path which will lead Ukraine towards NATO membership. Ukraine’s place is here, amongst us. Until then, we must provide firm security guarantees to Ukraine.
This Summit must also demonstrate through robust commitments our unwavering determination to defend every inch of NATO territory.
Our Assembly fully supports the reinforcement of our capabilities and of NATO’s deterrence and defence posture, especially on the eastern flank. Moreover, we are calling for a new, ambitious commitment on defence spending, with 2% of GDP as a minimum threshold, which should be exceeded.
But NATO’s adaptation will not be complete until we have effectively given substance to the Alliance’s commitment, as enshrined in its founding treaty and now in the Strategic Concept, to defend democratic values. This is precisely the purpose of our proposal to create a Centre for Democratic Resilience at NATO Headquarters, available to Allies and partners as a resource in the face of threats to the very essence of our democracies. Our Assembly unanimously supports this recommendation, and we would be very grateful for you to endorse it here in Vilnius, a country whose history is a model of democratic resilience.
The day before yesterday in Riga, during a festival honouring Latvian culture and unity, in the presence of Ruslan Stefanchuk, President of the Rada, the newly elected Latvian President told us that songs can work miracles, they can win wars. In Ukraine, like in Latvia, there are hymns expressing the resilience of an entire population, voicing its faith in a democratic ideal that can change the course of history. During my visits to Kyiv and the martyr town of Borodyanka, I found the same determination in the eyes of the inhabitants. Democracy and freedom are irrepressible values.
Ladies and gentlemen, we must do all we can to help Ukraine. Now. This is a matter of urgency, and I trust that the example of Ukrainian courage and faith in our democratic values will inspire your debates and that this Summit will strongly demonstrate our determination to defend our democracies in the face of imperialism and autocracies. You can be confident that, at this crucial time, our parliaments will continue to work with you to bolster our unity, our solidarity, and our common security. You can be assured that, at this decisive moment, our parliaments, united in support of Ukraine, will work alongside you to reinforce our solidarity, strengthen our common security and uphold our values. Long live Ukraine, long live our Euro-Atlantic Alliance.