PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on European and North American lawmakers to increase defense funding once the economic situation improves.
Speaking at the annual NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague Monday, Rasmussen said increased defense funding will ensure NATO is able to deal with security challenges, NATO said in a release.
"We need to stop the decline and then we need to reverse it," the secretary-general said. "I believe that is possible but it is going to require commitment and active support."
As a former prime minister of Denmark, Rasmussen said he understands defense is often the first area targeted for cuts. However, he said, it is the job of elected politicians to explain that security and defense concerns should not be sidelined.
"Freedom does not come for free and any decisions taken to improve our economy must not lead us into a different sort of crisis -- a security crisis," he said. "We need to have the right forces and capabilities to deter and defend against any threat to keep our nations safe."
"In today's security and economic climate, multinational solutions are essential if we are to maintain our edge," Rasmussen said. "I count on you to make the right choices for our future."