by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the start of the meetings of NATO Foreign Ministers
Welcome to this Ministerial meeting in NATO.
It is now three months since our Wales Summit. And since then we have been turning decisions into action.
Today we will review our progress. And we will drive our Alliance forward by making new decisions.
In a changing world, we need to keep NATO strong. Strong today and strong tomorrow.
To deal with any challenges, from the east or from the south.
In Wales, we agreed on the Readiness Action Plan. We are starting to deliver on that plan now.
We have already boosted our forces in the eastern part of the Alliance.
On land, at sea and in the air.
And all Allies are committed to doing their part next year to keep us safe.
We are also developing a Spearhead Force, able to react to any threat within days.
This new force should be ready in 2016.
In the meantime, I expect Allies to make available an interim force early next year.
To provide the capabilities we need.
We will also, at the meeting, discuss the priorities of the new Ukrainian government.
And show our firm and strong support for Ukraine at this difficult time.
Including through several trust funds.
And we will also hold the first meeting of NATO ministers with our partners in the Resolute Support mission.
This mission will train, advise and assist Afghan security forces from the first of January, after the end of our combat mission.
And I had excellent talks both with the President Ghani and with the Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah yesterday. They will join us at the meeting today.
Their presence at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting is a strong sign of the importance of the strong mutual commitment between NATO and Afghanistan and that we are still committed to work together also into the future
So to sum up I expect four concrete outcomes from this Ministerial meeting today:
First, an agreement on a continuous NATO presence in the eastern part of our Alliance.
Second, the announcement of an interim Spearhead Force to enhance our readiness.
And third, strong political and practical support for Ukraine.
And fourth, the launch of the new Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, from the first of January next year.
And with that, I’m ready to take some questions.
Questions and Answers:
Question: Unian Ukraine- Good morning, news agency Unian Ukrainian, Irene Somer, Secretary General, we all know what NATO would expect from NATO towards Ukraine and Russia and we also know what NATO expects from Russia, but NATO expect from Ukraine?
Secretary General: First, I would underline that just to have the meeting today in the NATO Ukraine commission is important. And that Foreign Minister Klimkin, he will join us by video conference, because he has to be in the Parliament, in the Rada, because actually now the vote is taking place on the new government. What we expect from Ukraine is that Ukraine is continuing on the path of reform that they are doing what they can to implement and to follow up the Minsk agreements and we have seen the government of Ukraine are doing what they can to implement the Minsk agreements. The challenge has of course been that the separatists and Russia is not respecting the Minsk agreeements and is violating the ceasefire and not respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
But I expect we can discuss with the Foreign Minister Klimkin today the priorities of the new government in Ukraine and that is important because Ukraine is an important partner of NATO and we look forward to continue to work together with Ukraine.
Question: Ukraine media: What should Ukraine do if separatists and the Russian army will attack to the other territories of Ukraine?
Secretary General: NATO fully supports the independence, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine and any violation of the internationally recognised borders of Ukraine is something we strongly condemn and we support Ukraine in defending itself. NATO is supporting Ukraine both politically but also through practical support by putting up the trust funds and we are announcing the trust funds today. They are becoming operational today. And also in addition, to the aid and support which NATO provides as an alliance, many allies are also providing bilateral support for Ukraine and we have also, all the allies have also implemented strong sanctions against Russia. So since Ukraine is an independent country, I respect the decisions which Ukraine is taking. But we are strongly supporting the independence of Ukraine and of course we are condemning all violations of the borders and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Question: Unknown media: What is your assessment of situation of the ground in Ukraine? Do you believe the Minsk ceasefire agreement is holding, is Russia upholding its side of the bargain?
Secretary General: We have to support all efforts to implement and to respect the Minsk agreements and the ceasefire, and the government in Ukraine has really made strong efforts to implement the different provisions within the Minsk agreements. The problem has been that the separatists and Russia is not respecting the Minsk agreements. The ceasefire is violated and for instance the Minsk agreements which states that we should have monitoring of the international recognised borders of Ukraine, has not been possible to implement because the work of those who are responsible for monitoring the borders has been severely undermined. So to respect international borders, to make it possible to have independent international monitoring of the border. To stop the provision of military equipment of tanks, of forces to the separatists in Ukraine is something which is very important and we call on Russia to do exactly that, to implement and to respect the ceasefire and to withdraw its forces from Ukraine and to stop supporting the separatist in Ukraine.