Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker

  • 16 Jun. 2015
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  • Mis à jour le: 17 Jun. 2015 11:12

Joint press point with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker
Thank you so much, thank you Mr. President, Jean-Claude, it is great to see you again and as you stated we have been working together for many, many years in different capacities, as Minister of Finance and Prime Minister and now in your capacity as president of the Commission and me as the Secretary General of NATO.

And I really appreciate that we have this opportunity to meet and to strengthen the cooperation between the European Union and NATO.

And I fully agree with you that we are different organizations with different responsibilities but we share the same values and we are sharing the same security environment and we also share even the same members, twenty-two of the European Union members are also members of NATO. And actually ninety-five per cent of the population in the European Union lives in a NATO country.

So we share a lot and we have to work together and we are already working together in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we are expanding our cooperation.

And I think especially in times like this it is important that we work together and we have also worked together in facing a new and more challenging security environment. For instance the European Union has imposed economic sanctions as response to the aggressive actions of Russia in Ukraine and NATO has delivered deterrence in the eastern part of the Alliance. And altogether this is a strong and very firm response from both the European Union and from NATO.

We discussed how we could continue to further develop our cooperation, for instance within hybrid warfare, but also in supporting our neighbours and partners to help them stabilize their own country and to defend themselves both in the south but also in the east of the European Union and NATO.

And I very much appreciate the invitation to attend the European Council next week when the European Council is going to address defence issues.

So I think all this just underlines that it is important that we continue and that we develop our close cooperation, especially in times which are as challenging as we are facing today.

So thank you once again.

QUESTION (Reuters): A question for SG – the Russian President Putin says he would add +40 nuclear missiles to their arsenal. Reaction? Would this breach any agreement? Also, the Russian Deputy Defence Minister says NATO pushing Russia into an arms race. Reaction?

SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: I think the statements we heard today from President Putin is just confirming the pattern and the behaviour of Russia over quite a period of time and we have seen that Russia is investing more in their defence in general but in nuclear capabilities in particular. They are exercising more, they are developing new nuclear capabilities and they are also using nuclear rhetoric, more in the way they are messaging their defence strategy and defence posture.

And this nuclear sabre rattling of Russia is unjustified. It’s destabilizing and its dangerous.

And this is something which we are addressing and it’s also one of the reasons why we now are increasing the readiness and the preparedness of our forces and we are responding by making sure that NATO also in the future is an alliance which provides deterrence and protection for all allies against any threat.

What NATO now does in the eastern part of the alliance and the implementation of the Readiness Action Plan is something which is proportionate, it’s defensive and it is fully in line with our international commitments. So we are responding, and we had to respond because we see a Russia which is more assertive and which is responsible for aggressive actions especially in Ukraine.

QUESTION (AP): Question for both you gentlemen, continuing with what Reuters had asked. The US is considering pre-positioning tanks in some eastern European countries. Would this make EU and NATO member countries safer or risk provoking Russia? Would this also violate the Founding Act?

SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: Everything we do is fully in line with our international commitments and obligations.

We will have a NATO defence ministerial in Brussels next week, and there we will also meet with the US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and he will update us on these issues.

And I welcome all efforts to defend and protect Allies. And part of the Readiness Action Plan we agreed last fall in Wales also includes the question of pre-positioning. And what we do is, as I said, fully in line with our international commitments.

But we are increasing our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance as a response to the new and changed security environment, and as a response to the more assertive action of Russia in Ukraine.

PRESIDENT JUNCKER: Nobody should ignore that we have Article 5, and when it comes to events I don’t think it will come to, Article 5 will be deployed with all the consequence the deployment of Article 5 is entailing.

QUESTION (Greek agency): The Greek PM said the IMF’s tough line on Greece has dominated among creditors, apart from need for debt relief. Comment? Question for SG – is NATO worried about the situation in Greece? Do you agree with voices that claim that Greece should reduce its defence spending?

PRESIDENT JUNCKER: There are two questions, the two concerning me, and one concerning Jens. He will be silent on that.

As far as Greece is concerned, I do care about the Greek government, I do care about the Greek people. Mainly the poorest part of the Greek people who are suffering more than others are in the European Union, given the adjustment plans which have had to be put into place.

I didn’t have contacts with the Greek government since Sunday night when I decided to stop the negotiations because the negotiations, given the Greek position, were going nowhere. I’m not in favour, and the PM knows that, I’m not in favour of increasing VAT on medicaments and electricity. This would be a major mistake if Greece was obliged to do that, and the PM knows that. I have proposed to the Greek PM a programme of 35 billion Euros from now to 2020 in order to support investments in the real economy in Greece. I think the debate inside and outside Greece would be easier if the Greek government would tell exactly what the Commission, being one of the two institutions in charge of all this, are really proposing. I’m blaming the Greeks to tell things to the republic which are not consistent with what I told the Greek PM.

It’s true I proposed to them to replace the VAT measures by other means, and by other instruments, one of these being a modest cut in the Greek defence budget. This could be easily done.

SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: Greece has been for many, many years a highly valued and staunch Ally within the NATO Alliance. Greece is today meeting the guideline of spending 2% of GDP on defence. I support all efforts to reach an agreement between the European Union and Greece, but of course it’s up to Greece and the European Union to find out how to do that. I support the efforts – and I hope that they will find an agreement. I think that’s important for the EU, for Greece, and all of us.

PRESIDENT JUNCKER: He’s a very wise man, that’s why I supported him as a Secretary General of NATO when I was a Prime Minister.