NATO Secretary-General: Freedom More Important Than Free Trade

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at World Economic Forum in Davos.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at World Economic Forum in Davos.(AFP)

Mr. Stoltenberg said free trade had brought a lot of prosperity and wealth, but at a price.

Western countries must not trade security for economic profit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Tuesday, referring to debates over the use of Chinese technology in 5G networks and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for Russian gas.

We must recognize that our economic choices have consequences for our security. Freedom is more important than free trade, the protection of our values is more important than profit,” Stoltenberg told business leaders at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

I am not arguing against trade with China, but I am saying that for instance the control over 5G networks is of vital security importance, he said.

We cannot say that in the interest of profits and free trade we just open up those networks also for suppliers that actually are not reliable when it comes to our security, Stoltenberg added.

On the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, designed to double the flow of Russian gas through the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, he spoke of a lesson learned.

Russian War Against Ukraine "A Game Changer"

Mr Stoltenberg described Russia’s war against Ukraine as a “game-changer” for the global order, stressing that NATO’s role is to avoid the conflict from spreading while continuing to help Ukraine defend itself.

He made clear NATO would defend “every inch of NATO territory”, as demonstrated by major reinforcements to the Alliance’s collective deterrence and defence, including 100,000 troops now on high alert.  

Finland and Sweden’s decision to seek NATO membership demonstrates that “European security will not be dictated by violence and intimidation”, Mr Stoltenberg added. He stressed that NATO enlargement has been a historic success and has spread freedom and democracy across Europe.

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