by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg upon arrival at European Union Foreign Affairs Council
I’m going to meet the Ministers of defense of the European Union. I’m looking forward to the meeting, because it’s my first meeting as the Secretary General of NATO with the Ministers of the European Union.
The EU is an essential and a strong partner of NATO. We share the same values, we share many common members, and we also share common challenges. To the East, and to the South.
We see that Russia is still destabilising Ukraine. We see the movement of troops, of equipment, of tanks, of artillery, of advance air defense system, and this is in violation of the cease fire agreements. We call on Russia to pull back its forces from Eastern Ukraine and to respect the Minsk Agreements. Both the EU and NATO strongly want a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
We also fully support Ukraine – NATO and the EU are in full support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We also very much commend the important work done by the OSCE. We are staying in close contact. In special times like these, it is important to be coordinated, to work together and to stand together. I’m therefore looking forward to my meeting with the defence ministers. It gives me an opportunity to discuss directly with them the challenges we are facing, especially with regard to Ukraine.
Q: Reuters, inaudible, mission in Afghanistan
I welcome all commitments and I very much welcome commitments and contributions of troops from Germany, because Germany has been such a strong and staunch supporter of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan for so many years. I‘ve met them [the German contingent] in the North just a few days ago. They are doing a very important job there. They are contributing to security, training, advising, making a difference. I welcome new contributions from Germany.
I feel very confident that we are able to launch the resolute support mission in Afghanistan as planned on 1 January. We are now finalising the final contributions of troops. And I feel confident that we’ll be able to launch the mission on 1 January as planned.
Q: in Norwegian, on whether SG has info on submarine in Swedish waters
Then in English:
This is an issue which is handled by the Swedish government and Swedish defence, it’s not an issue which has been handled by NATO. It’s not something which is the responsibility of NATO. So I trust the Government of Sweden and the armed forces of Sweden to manage that kind of issues.
Q: inaudible on Syria
Foreign fighters are a great security problem. That’s also the reason why NATO has decided to work even closer among Allies to exchange information and to do what we can to prevent and reduce the risk connected to returning foreign fighters to our countries.
In addition to what we do as a military alliance – exchanging information and intelligence – there’s also cooperation going on between different Allies, within NATO and the EU, in the form of cooperation between police authorities. That’s not something organised by NATO, but it takes place between different Allies and between EU member states. And I welcome that.
In terms of security of borders, the main responsibility of NATO is to protect and defend all Allies against any threat. That’s the reason why we are so clear when it comes to collective security – one for all and all for one. That’s also the reason why NATO has deployed patriots missile defense systems in Turkey, to enhance their capacity to defend themselves against any attack or threat.
Q: ZDF inaudible, solution with Russia
The EU and NATO very much want a peaceful, negotiated solution to the crisis in Ukraine. The crisis is caused by actions taken by Russia. Russia has a choice. It can either be part of a peaceful, negotiated solution, or Russia can continue on the path of isolation. The international community calls on Russia to be part of a negotiated solution to the crisis in Ukraine. We call on Russia to pull back its forces, to respect the Minsk agreement and stop fuelling the conflict in Ukraine by supporting the separatists.
We’ll do what we can, and I welcome the efforts of the EU and of Chancellor Angela Merkel, to try to make a peaceful, negotiated solution possible in Ukraine. It is important for Ukraine, but also for all of us.
Q: What is NATO’s role in the fight against Ebola?
We’ve been asked by the UN to urge our Allies, member states, to contribute to the fight against Ebola. We have done so. Many Allies are already doing a lot in fighting Ebola, with different kinds of resources. Many are also contributing to fighting Ebola with military resources, and I welcome that several allies are giving substantial contribution to the fight against Ebola also with military resources. We’re also in close contact with the UN. We have staff to staff talks, considering when and if, what kind of additional support we might provide if so requested.
It is a military build-up. The picture we have confirms the picture which is also provided by other sources. By open sources, by independent reporters and by the OSCE. They are also information about the military build-up both inside Ukraine but we also see a military build-up on the Russian side of the border. We are speaking about troops, equipment, artillery, and modern air defense systems. This is a serious military build-up and we call on Russia to pull back its forces and contribute to a peaceful agreement.