by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after the North Atlantic Council Meeting following Turkey’s request for Article 4 consultations
we have just held a special meeting of the North Atlantic Council at Turkey’s request within the framework of Article 4 of the Washington Treaty.
This article states that Allies "will consult whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any of them is threatened."
We discussed the serious situation following the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey. And we heard from the Turkey representative what measures it is taking.
All Allies stand in solidarity with Turkey.
We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks.
We express our condolences to the Turkish government and to the families of the victims in Suruç and other attacks against police and military officers.
Terrorism poses a direct threat to the security of NATO countries and to international stability and prosperity.
NATO is playing its part in addressing these challenges.
All Allies are part and contribute to the global coalition against ISIL.
The Alliance is helping countries threatened by terrorism to defend themselves.
We are doing that in Afghanistan through our Resolute Support mission to train, advise and assist Afghan Security Forces.
We have stepped up our defence capacity building to support Jordan, one of our closest partners on the front lines against ISIL.
We are working with the Iraqi Government on its request to enhance Iraq’s defence capacity.
And we are also working to enhance the defence capacity of other key partners, as for instance Tunisia.
Today’s meeting of the North Atlantic Council showed that we stand in strong solidarity with Turkey.
We will continue to follow the developments on the South-Eastern border of NATO very closely.
And with that I am ready to take a couple of questions.
Q (NTV Turkey): I have two short questions. First, can you tell us whether the decision and the statement has been adopted by the NAC has been a smooth decision or whether there were controversial issues in the meeting? And of course it’s just a first step. If tomorrow, the security concern raises in Turkey and if Turkey asks for military assistance, whether the Alliance is ready or not to give that military assistance? Thank you.
In the meeting there was full agreement on the statement. And all Allies expressed their strong support for Turkey and we stand all together united in solidarity with Turkey. And all Allies also condemned terrorism in all its forms.
Turkey didn’t ask for any additional military NATO presence in Turkey. What we all know is that Turkey is a staunch Ally. Turkey has very capable armed forces, the second largest army within the Alliance.
I visited Turkey last fall and I have met many Turkish soldiers, servicemen and women, and I am impressed by their commitment, by their quality. And I would like to underline once again that we all stand united in condemning the terrorist actions and also stand together in solidarity with Turkey.
Q (Reuters): Do you think that NATO should become more involved in the fight against Islamic State? Or do you think it should be left to the US-led coalition? Thank you.
So NATO is already very much involved in different ways in fighting ISIL and terrorism. All NATO Allies are part of the international coalition fighting ISIL. 28 NATO Allies but in addition many of our partner countries are also participating in the coalition fighting ISIL.
I think that we have to understand that the interoperability, the fact that we have been working, training together within the Alliance – both among Allies but also with partners – is a great asset for the present coalition. So it makes that threat fight more efficient, because they have trained and worked together in a NATO context, as Allies, and as partners of the Alliance.
So all NATO Allies, all 28 Allies, are participating in the international coalition fighting ISIL. In addition to that, NATO does a lot when it comes to helping countries in the wider region to defend themselves, to fight terrorism. And that’s actually the main reason why we are in Afghanistan. We have to remember that the reason why NATO went into Afghanistan, and why we have been there for so many years, with our biggest military operation ever, has always been this is a way to fight terrorism. To prevent that Afghanistan again becomes a safe haven for international terrorism.
We have stepped up, increased our support for Jordan: defence capacity building, train, assist and advise Jordan to increase their capability, capacity to stabilize their own country and to fight terrorism. And Jordan is really a front-line state in the fight against ISIL. We are now working with the Government of Iraq on how we can help, assist Iraq in building their defence capacity, train, assist them. And as I also said, we are also helping other countries in the region in different ways, for instance Tunisia.
So the whole idea is that we partly participate as Allies in the coalition fighting ISIL, but we are also projecting stability without always deploying large or high, big numbers of forces, combat forces. Because we believe that it’s extremely important to build capacity among the countries in the region themselves to increase their capacity to defend themselves and to fight terrorists.
Q (Al-Arabiya): Mr. Secretary General, what is the NATO position regarding the buffer zone that Turkey is announcing and it is apparently going to implement inside the Syrian territory?
NATO is not part of these efforts. This is something which is discussed on a bilateral basis between Turkey and the United States.
I welcome the increased efforts by Turkey to fight ISIL.
Turkey already contributes. Turkey is hosting some of the training facilities for training moderate forces in Syria, and Turkey is of course the country, the NATO Ally most affected by the high number of refugees. And I commend Turkey the way it has received and also helped hundreds of thousands of refugees coming into Turkey.
But on this specific issue, NATO is not part of that. It’s a bilateral question between Turkey and United States.