In November, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember the euphoria and optimism back then. The world was changing for the better. Today the optimism has begun to fade. New concerns have arisen. We see ruptures in the institutions of cooperation and increased great power competition. In particular we are concerned about Russia’s actions.
In the increasingly complex security environment, we Europeans need to do more to provide for our own security. It is important in order to protect our values, our democracy, and the welfare and security of our citizens. Fair burden-sharing is also essential for a healthy trans-Atlantic relationship.
At the same time we can only solve the problems we face together. Denmark does this through participating in multiple collaborative frameworks. We are a member of NATO, the European Union and the Nordic Defence Cooperation. We work closely together with the Baltic states and other allies in the Baltic Sea region. We are also participating in the U.K.-led Joint Expeditionary Force and the French-led European Intervention Initiative. And we participate in international coalitions, including the counter-ISIL coalition led by the U.S.
In our region — to the north — the situation in the Arctic is changing rapidly. This is due to climate changes. The opening of the Arctic Sea provides new opportunities. It has also led to increased military presence and interest from Arctic as well as non-Arctic states.
Russia is increasing its military presence. It is our understanding that Russia is still committed to keeping the Arctic a region of low tension. But the military buildup, in particular its offensive elements, is of concern. The increasing interest from China is directed toward access to trade routes and resources. But we should not be naive about China’s strategic interests and the potential security risks of Chinese presence in the region.
Denmark remains committed to the goal of low tension. With this in mind, Denmark will increase its situational awareness in the Arctic and strengthen its presence. We also welcome the increased focus by the U.S. on the security of the north Atlantic and the Arctic.
The cooperation within the Kingdom of Denmark is strong. We are strengthening it further through increased dialogue and cooperation between Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands on security and defense issues. It is important that we all have the same understanding of the security challenges we are facing. In particular, in relation to the important U.S. presence in Greenland, a collaborative approach is a priority within the kingdom.
In the Baltic region, a more assertive Russia poses a significant security challenge. NATO is adjusting its deterrence and defense in the region. Denmark has also enhanced its focus and presence. In addition to developing new capabilities, Denmark is establishing a new divisional headquarter together with Estonia and Latvia. In 2019, we have contributed to Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania. In 2020, we will again contribute to the Enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia. We also provide forces for the NATO Readiness Initiative and the NATO Response Force.
We are very conscious about the responsibility each ally has for NATO and for our common security. We will continue to work for the strengthening of our unity and cohesion in NATO. Disagreements may arise. That is not something new. But what unites us is far more than what we disagree on.
The EU complements NATO. It has a unique toolbox to deal with cyber and hybrid threats as well as protection of critical infrastructure. These issues affect more and more aspects of our everyday life and the security of our citizens. Denmark has an increased focus on these issues in the EU.
In 2020, Denmark will take over the chairmanship of the Nordic Defence Cooperation, or NORDEFCO. A strong Nordic Defence Cooperation is an important contribution to Nordic and broader regional security and stability in Europe. The NORDEFCO Vision 2025 is the foundation of the Danish chairmanship priorities in 2020. The commitment of Vision 2025 is to improve our ability to act together in times of peace, crisis and conflict. A key priority is to explore areas of cooperation on green defense targeting one of the greatest challenges of our time: climate change. We will explore new opportunities for collaboration on cybersecurity to keep up with the evolving threats. We will enhance Nordic/trans-Atlantic relations further and the cooperation and dialogue with our Baltic friends as well as promote NORDEFCO as a forum for dialogue on security and defense matters, especially regarding the Arctic.
In this changing security environment, Denmark will use the multiple cooperative frameworks in which we participate, including NATO, the EU and NORDEFCO, to lift our share of the burden of our defense and the security of our citizens.
Trine Bramsen is Denmark’s defense minister.