Joint press point
by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Slovak Republic, Andrej Kiska
President Kiska, it is a great pleasure to welcome you here at NATO Headquarters and thank you so much for the excellent talks and meeting we have just finished.
Slovakia plays an important role in our Alliance and I thank you for your contributions.
You support the measures we are taking to keep Allies safe.
You are helping to build security in Afghanistan. And Slovakia are strengthening our military capabilities through projects such as the Allied Ground Surveillance reconnaissance drones.
So I very much welcome our cooperation and I welcome your contributions. You just visited Kiev and we discussed the situation in Ukraine and we have all agreed that the Minsk agreement and the ceasefire is the basis for negotiated peaceful solution in Ukraine and it is therefore extremely important that the Minsk agreement and the ceasefire is respected and implemented in full.
We still see some incidents and that underlines that the ceasefire is fragile. But at the same time it seems like the overall picture is that the ceasefire is holding.
It is important that all sides respect their commitments and that the separatists backed by Russia do not use this pause in the fighting to prepare for a new offensive.
All heavy weapons have to be moved from the frontline in accordance with the Minsk agreement and the OCE monitors have to have full access to the area to be able to monitor the ceasefire.
The crisis in Ukraine but also the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa shows that we cannot take our security for granted. And that is the reason why we are making our forces more ready to deal with the security challenges we face.
This includes the creation of a new ‘Spearhead Force’ and the establishment of command and control centres in Eastern European Allied countries.
These measures will ensure that we will be able to defend all Allies. And we are glad to be able to state that we are implementing what we call the Readiness Action Plan according to our plans and our commitments and it’s on track.
We know that increase investments in our collective defence is not something that comes for free.
That’s also the reason why NATO leaders at the Summit last fall in Wales decided on the defence investment pledge stating that we are going to stop the cuts in defence spending, gradually increase defence spending as our economies grow and then reach 2% of GDP for defence spending over a decade.
And I welcome what you stated so clearly in our meeting that Slovakia is going to increase defence spending to invest more in defence but also to invest more in new equipment new technologies.
Because that is something which is really needed in the whole Alliance making sure we are able to deliver as we promised to do.
I know this is not easy. But I count on you and I look forward to continue our cooperation and I am very glad to have had this opportunity to meet with you Mr. President, welcome.
ANDREJ KISKA (President of the Slovak Republic): Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary General, once again, thank you very much. Yes, the most important topic which we talked today is the situation of course in Ukraine. And Slovakia has the border of Ukraine and it’s very crucial for us, for our country, what’s going on there.
And last week I personally was in Kiev and I had a long discussion with President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. But this discussion which I had in Kiev last week was mostly about the reference in Ukraine.
Today, which we had a discussion, a conversation today was more about the security and we all agree that the ceasefire exists but it’s very fragile. And we have to do our best what can we do to keep the ceasefire.
Russia has its own responsibility for keeping the ceasefire in place and generally we have to say that the security in Europe has worsened and now we face challenges which we could even not have imagined a few years ago.
For Slovakia, of course NATO is crucial for our security, and I am glad that all Slovak top officials are fully aware of our responsibilities in this context.
At the NATO meeting, the Summit in Wales, in full agreement with the cabinet I announced our commitments. And we have our responsibility to our citizens to fulfil them.
And we have pledged that our defence budget will rise, and today I was glad also to confirm that the process of modernization of Slovak armed forces has begun. And our ambition is really absolutely to reduce our dependence on Russian military equipment.
The very crucial topic which I also opened with, in today’s discussions with Secretary General is information war. It is not enough to have the best weapons. We have to focus also a campaign to manipulate public opinion in our countries. And we have to be able to defend ourselves against an organized spread of disinformation. And this is not, we are not talking about to deny any discussion about to have a different opinion. We are talking about really manipulating effects and about clear lies.
And in the context of what’s going on in Ukraine, we in our country, we can see a lot of increasing of this information war and we face problems, we have to face this problem which is now much bigger than before.
So I asked Mr. Secretary General to deal with this issue and that we have to pay close attention to this problem.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: We have time for one question over there. Please introduce yourself and your outlet.
QUESTION: Good morning. Peter Mayer(ph), from RTVS Slovak National Broadcaster. I have a question for the Secretary General. What do you think is the role or could be the role of Slovakia in the near future, especially when we see the development in Eastern Ukraine compared to today’s role? Is there any space for increasing of some things? Thanks.
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): So Ukraine, Slovakia can be a part of our efforts in the Alliance to support Ukraine. And Slovakia is already doing that. But I think we all can step up and do even more. And that is about political support for Ukraine and it’s about practical support for Ukraine.
And Slovakia is part of that already.
Just the visit of the President to Kiev was a sign of political support for Ukraine, for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And Slovakia, NATO, we all are also strongly supporting the peace process, the Minsk Agreement and of course the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement and the ceasefire.
This is a political support provided by Slovakia and provided by NATO.
In addition, Slovakia is part of our practical support because Slovakia is supporting one of the trust funds we have established to help and to assist Ukraine. And Slovakia is supporting the trust fund for medical rehabilitation, which is key, and which is very much needed.
So I thank Slovakia for its contribution. And of course we always welcome more because there’s a great need in Ukraine for both strong political support, for strong practical support, and also support through the different trust funds, including medical rehabilitation, which Slovakia is already supporting.
QUESTION: Hello. I'm (inaudible…) Agency. Mr. Kiska has just mentioned disinformation war. Does NATO have any instruments, any possibility how to fight against, how to deal with these issues?
JENS STOLTENBERG: Yes, we have. And especially we have the strength because we too counter this kind of propaganda because we are such a strong Alliance of 28 democracies. So I think that both as an Alliance but also as the nation states, the different Allied countries are answering and are facing, encountering the propaganda and the information war which we see that is going on and which is a way to try to undermine the coherence and the unity of the Alliance.
But it’s not successful because actually the Alliance, NATO is stronger and more united than we have been for a very long time. And we stay united both when it comes to our message in defending the right of Ukraine to decide its own future; but also we are standing united in the decision and the implementation of enforcing, increasing our own collective defence, being able to defend all Allies against any threat.
We don’t believe that we should meet propaganda with propaganda. And it might be that lies and propaganda get some traction in the short term. But in the long run, we are certain that the truth will prevail.
And therefore facts, taking part in the open debate and open democracies, both from nation states but also as an Alliance is the best way of countering the propaganda we see.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much indeed. This concludes this press point. Thank you. Have a good day.