Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting with President of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson

  • 10 Jul. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 11 Jul. 2023 08:31

(As delivered)

Good evening.

I have just had a constructive meeting with President Erdogan and Prime Minister Kristersson. 

I am glad to announce that, as a result, President Erdogan has agreed to forward the accession protocol for Sweden to the Grand National Assembly as soon as possible. And work closely with the Assembly to ensure ratification. 

This is reflected in the joint press statement just agreed by President Erdogan, Prime Minister Kristersson, and myself.  

The memorandum concluded a year ago at the Madrid summit has delivered.

It has delivered more in our fight against terrorism.  
More security for Türkiye.
And a stronger NATO. 

Since our agreement in Madrid, 
Sweden and Türkiye have worked closely together.
To address Türkiye's legitimate security concerns.

As part of that process, Sweden has amended its constitution,
changed its laws,
significantly expanded its counter-terrorism cooperation against the PKK,
and resumed arms exports to Türkiye.

Sweden's cooperation with Türkiye in the fight against terrorism will continue beyond accession.    

Türkiye and Sweden agreed today to establish a new bilateral Security Compact.

NATO will also significantly step up its work in this area.
And I will establish, for the first time at NATO, the post of Special Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism.

Completing Sweden's accession to NATO is an historic step that benefits the security of all NATO Allies at this critical time.
It makes us all stronger and safer.

And now I am ready for a few questions.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Okay, we'll go to TV4 for Sweden.

Ritva Ronnberg, TV4:
What exactly made President Erdogan change his mind about Sweden? Was it the proposal that you had about the counter-terrorism special mechanism or person?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
I think the agreement we achieved today builds on what we agreed a year ago in Madrid. Because in Madrid, all Allies and also to Türkiye agreed to invite Finland and Sweden to become members. Then the ratification process has been finalized for Finland. Finland is already a full member. And now President Erdogan has made it clear that they're also ready to ratify Sweden. And that is reflected in the joint statement, where we state both what Sweden is going to do - this is not a new negotiation, but it is about implementing and reassuring the implementation of the different things we agreed a year ago in Madrid. It's also stated what NATO will do. And then, based on that in the final paragraph, Türkiye makes it clear that they are ready to transmit the Accession Protocol for Sweden to the Grand National Assembly and work closely with the Assembly to ensure ratification. So it is the totality, the reconfirmation of the importance of fully implementing the different elements we agreed, on working closer on fighting terrorism, and also lifting restrictions on arms exports and examples that are provided in the joint statement agree today.
NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:

Gül Sonumut, NTV:
Gül Sonumut, NTV. Secretary General, what makes Swedish Prime Minister  Kristersson' mind changed about Turkey, bearing in mind that all the debate would last six months was implementation. Yes, Sweden did everything in legal terms, but implementation was a problem. So what makes him change his mind that there is a gap in implementation? Thank you very much.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
I think the whole concept that that either President Erdogan or Prime Minister  Kristersson  have changed your mind is wrong. What we have seen is that we have been able to reconcile the concerns that Türkiye has expressed with the concerns that Sweden has expressed. And then we have been able to find joint ground, common ground, move forward based on that. And this is fully in the spirit of what we agreed back in Madrid a year ago. But we have in the text now developed further how to implement, how to step up the fight against terrorism, how to work more closely as Allies and, also, how to ensure that restrictions on arms exports are lifted. And this is good for all of us. This is good for Sweden, Sweden will become a full member of the Alliance. It's good for Türkiye, because Türkiye is a NATO Ally that will benefit from a stronger NATO. And then, of course, it's good for the whole Alliance. So this is in the security interest of all of us. And it's good that we now are able to move forward and that we have this clear commitment from Türkiye here to submit their ratification documents to the Grand National Assembly.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Okay. We'll go to AFP.

Max Delany, AFP:
Secretary General, Max Delany, AFP. You said President Erdogan had agreed to do this as soon as possible. How soon is "as soon as possible"? Has he given any date or timeframe for this? And when do you expect Sweden to finally be a member of NATO?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
This is an historic day because we have a clear commitment by Türkiye to submit the ratification documents to the Grand National Assembly, and to work closely with the Assembly to ensure ratification. And then it's historical also because we have Sweden committing so clearly, to step up further the fight against terrorism, working closely with Türkiye, and NATO also announcing what more we will do in our fight against terrorism and strengthening what we do together as Allies, also when it comes to investments and trade in military equipment. So that package makes it an historic day. Then it's not for me to go into the details about the timelines of the different political institutions in Türkiye. This is  first about the President submitting the documents to the Parliament. The President has made it clear that that will happen as soon as possible. And then, of course, it is for the Parliament then to have the process and then do the final ratification. I will not give you exact dates for that, but this is a clear commitment. And the President has made it clear that it will happen as soon as possible. Then it has to be also for the sovereign national parliament to decide exactly how much time they need to finalise the ratification. I've been a member of parliament myself, and I think that we have to respect that every parliament has their own integrity, their own timelines. So I welcome that the President has made this clear that he will work with the parliament to ensure ratification but exactly when has to be announced by the Turkish parliament.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Okay, we'll go over there. Dagens Nyheter

Mikael Holmstrom, Dagens Nyheter:
Thank you. Mikael Holmstrom, Dagens Nyheter, Sweden. You mentioned some kind of a security pact between Sweden and Turkey. Could you please elaborate? And also I have a second question, because there is another country, Hungary, which has not ratified the application. And I wonder, do you have any information or have you had any communication with Hungary on this matter? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Well, Hungary has made it clear that they will not be the last to ratify and now Türkiye has made it clear that they will ratify and there are only two countries that have not ratified it. So I think that the problem will be solved. Then, on the security compact, well, that just reflects the importance of this day because it reflects that the cooperation between Türkiye and Sweden on fighting terrorism and working more closely together as Allies will be brought to a new level. This is about high-level cooperation. It's about annual meetings, and it is about developing a roadmap as the basis for its continued fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. So this just further strengthens and also creates a stronger institutionalized cooperation between Türkiye and Sweden, to address common security concerns, and in particular the fight against terrorism. This is also something that was offered by the Swedish side, and welcomed to very much by the Turkish side. It's in line with and in the spirit of the agreement we made in Madrid, but the example how we take the Madrid agreement further and develop more concrete implementation by agreeing the security contract.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
OK, Anadolu.

Ömer Çam, Anadolu:
Thank you. Secretary General, can you please elaborate more about the function of the Special Coordinator for terrorism? This is the first in NATO history you said. And what kind of work he or she will perform regarding the terrorist organization PKK or also on FETO for example.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
As NATO has for many years played an important role in the fight against terrorism, and especially after 9/11. But we were also part of, for instance, the global coalition to defeat Daesh and we have different efforts and different work strands addressing the threat of terrorism. Partly this is now part of our new defence plans, where we address the two main threats that NATO is facing: terrorism and Russia. So this is a core responsibility of NATO. But there's also of course, in our collective defence a new force structure and the new force structure requirements. And then it's also about what we do in different NATO missions and operations. We, for instance, have a training mission in Iraq, where we help the Iraqi security forces to be trained to be able to ensure that ISIS does not return and that they're ready to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. And then of course, our counter-terrorism work is all about our different partnerships. And we have partnerships, for instance, with Jordan, with Mauritania, with Tunisia and other countries, which has also been part of our efforts to fight terrorism. So, terrorism is addressed in many different ways across the NATO organization. And, therefore, to have one coordinator that can coordinate the different efforts, all the different divisions and the different tools you have at our disposal in NATO is something that I absolutely confirmed can help to further strengthen and to improve the way that NATO as an Alliance is working together to fight terrorism. So yes, this will strengthen our efforts. It's also something which has been asked for by Türkiye, and I'm glad that also as part of this agreement today, I have agreed to appoint the new coordinator on counter-terrorism.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:

Markus Preiss, ARD:
Thank you very much. Markus Preiss with ARD German TV. Mr. Secretary General, it was only today that Turkish President Erdogan linked the Swedish future in NATO to his own perspective in the EU. How much of a role did this play today? Were there any agreements and what role did representatives of the EU played today? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
So first, I think that on EU, that's not an issue for NATO. Of course, it is an issue for the European Union. But what we agreed today – sorry, what Sweden agreed today as an EU member, was to support actively the efforts to reinvigorate Türkiye's EU accession process, and also to help to modernize the EU- Türkiye customs unions and visa liberalization. So this is something that Sweden  does, as an EU member, to support Türkiye's efforts to move closer to the European Union. And of course, Sweden can do that as an EU member. It's not for NATO to be part of that process. But again, I welcome the fact that Sweden as EU member, can support efforts over over NATO Ally, Türkiye, and I agree to these efforts today and that Sweden will support to the efforts of over Türkiye on these issues.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
For the final question, we got to Associated Press. Over there. Thanks.

Lorne Cook, Associated Press:
Secretary General, I asked you on Friday already whether you understood President Erdogan's thinking when it came to this. And we were very surprised by the EU element today. We know there was the timeline. President Erdogan met with you and the Swedish Prime Minister, then you met with the President of the European Council, who then tweeted that everything was okay and that he was going to reinvigorate, that they between them - not involving Sweden – but Charles Michel and President Erdogan had agreed to reinvigorate the process. It's very difficult to sit here and to think that NATO has just taken this decision on its own without the EU ministers - the right place - NATO - to bring EU in for its decision making processes.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
But first of all, I think we now have to clarify what this is. This is not a NATO decision. This is a joint statement where Sweden, Türkiye and NATO have expressed the views we agreed in the meeting. And some of them are positions that NATO is expressing - I'm expressing them on behalf of NATO. Then there are also some paragraphs here, which are not NATO policy, but actually expressed what two of the participants in the meeting – Türkiye and Sweden - agree. And if you look at paragraph six, that's about how Sweden and Türkiye have agreed to step up economic cooperation to the Türkiye-Sweden Joint Economic and Trade committee. Both Türkiye and Sweden will look to maximize opportunities to increase bilateral trade and investments. Sweden will actively support efforts to rein Türkiye's EU accession process, including modernisation of the EU-Türkiye customs union and visa liberalisation. This is not a NATO issue. This is reflecting a bilateral agreement between an EU member Sweden and  Türkiye. But it is part of what we discussed, and part of the joint statement which has been issued today. So again, some part of that is for EU to decide on EU enlargement. We focus on NATO enlargement at NATO.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Thank you very much.