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Brexit Will Not Change UK Role In NATO, Says Secretary General

REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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The head of NATO assured the public Friday the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union will not change its position in the alliance.

“As it defines the next chapter in its relationship with the E.U., I know that the United Kingdom’s position in NATO will remain unchanged,” said Jens Stoltenberg in a press statement. “The U.K. will remain a strong and committed NATO Ally, and will continue to play its leading role in our Alliance.”

Stoltenberg reiterated the importance of maintaining a strong NATO alliance as it faces “more instability and uncertainty.” He said a strong and determined NATO is key to ensuring world peace and security.

While NATO and the EU are distinctive entities, the two organizations have grown closer over the years. Stoltenberg said he looked forward to the upcoming Warsaw Summit in early July as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations. According to a previous statement, the summit will focus on NATO’s long-term strategy in Afghanistan and how to continue to develop partnerships to keep the European “neighborhood” safe.

Stoltenberg’s reassurance of the U.K.-NATO relationship follows comments from U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who was against Brexit. Cameron warned that U.K. leaving the union could destabilize the relationship between European powers, possibly even leading to war.

“Can we be so sure that peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt?” said Cameron in a speech in May. “Is that a risk worth taking? I would never be so rash as to make that assumption.”

Cameron also warned against leaving the EU while having to deal with a “newly belligerent Russia.” While Russian military adventurism has been problematic since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, it has prompted only minimal response from European powers. Most NATO members are below the minimum military spending requirement of 2 percent of GDP.

The U.K. has maintained spending just above the minimum threshold, but has cut spending since the 2008 financial crisis. Cameron pledged in November that he would increase spending over the next 10 years by about $18 billion.

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