by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the joint press point with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): Thank you so much Frank-Walter. It's really a great pleasure to be back in Berlin; to meet with you, a close friend. And I really commend you for your efforts and the leadership you have shown in working for more international cooperation and for increased international understanding between nations, both in Europe but also on the global international scene.
And it's very good to be back here in Berlin; because the occasion for me being here is the 60th anniversary of Germans' accession to NATO. And Germany has always been a staunch Ally. And therefore it me great pleasure to take part in these celebrations.
You stood by us. We were part of the same Alliance during the Cold War. And Germany has provided for decades to our collective defence. And we appreciate very much the great contributions of Germany. And we've also seen it in Afghanistan, in Kosovo where Germany has taken on the responsibility of contributing to our international operations and missions to contribute to stability and peace, also outside the NATO area.
And we also appreciate your contributions to collective defence today. You contribute with the Patriot batteries in Turkey. And you're a lead nation when it comes to the increased readiness and preparedness of NATO forces. You are the lead nation or the framework nation for the new High Readiness Force NATO has established. And I saw German troops exercising together with Dutch, Norwegian, Polish and other troops just two weeks ago in West Poland. And I think this is a great expression of the leadership and the commitment of Germany to the collective defence in Europe in a new security environment.
I very much also welcome Germans' efforts to find a political solution to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. And again I would like to commend you, Frank-Walter, for your personal involvement and tireless efforts to try to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
And the path to peace in Ukraine is the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements and to respect the sovereignty, the territorial integrity and the rule of law in Europe, in Ukraine is of paramount importance. These are NATO values. And Germany is a champion of those values.
For decades, we have worked hard to build a real partnership with Russia; creating the NATO-Russia Council. But Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, and continued efforts to destabilize Eastern Ukraine, has undermined these efforts.
And I agree with you that we need both strong defence and dialogue. And there is no contradiction between strong defence and dialogue. Actually, strong defence creates the basis, the foundation for a continued political dialogue with Russia.
These are dangerous times. We need NATO and a strong leadership more than ever. And I really trust Germany to display that leadership and to set an example to fiscal discipline, but also to increase defence spending.
And I commend efforts you have already made, displaying Germany's leadership at the heart of the Alliance for the security of all of us. So once again it's a great pleasure to be here. And it's a great honour to take part in the celebrations of the 60th of Germany joining the Alliance.