by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the joint press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Thank you so much Minister Çavuşoğlu, dear Mevlüt.
It is great to be back in Ankara with you. And thank you for your warm welcome. And thank you for hosting the North Atlantic Council and our Mediterranean partner countries.
And let me also thank you for your leadership and strong commitment to our NATO Alliance.
Turkey is one of the countries I have visited most times as Secretary General. And it is always a great pleasure to come back here.
Turkey is an important and highly valued NATO Ally.
You make essential contributions to security of the whole Alliance. To our collective defence and are shared security. Together we have made great progress in the fight against terrorism.
The liberation of all territory held by Daesh is a historic achievement.
But there is still work to be done.
NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft fly from Konya in support of the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh. And NATO’s training mission in Iraq is strengthening the Iraqi security forces, to ensure that Daesh can never return.
I welcome that Turkey is playing a key role in our training mission in Iraq.
Turkey is also one of the biggest contributors to our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, helping to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists.
Turkey is also helping to build stability in the Western Balkans as part of NATO’s peacekeeping operation in Kosovo.
I want to express my condolences for the losses that Turkey has suffered in the recent days.
NATO Allies stand with Turkey as it faces serious security challenges.
We help protect Turkey with air and missile defence systems.
We have enhanced patrols by AWACS planes over Turkish territory.
Over the years, NATO has invested more than 5 billion US dollars in military facilities in Turkey.
This includes important infrastructure such as airfields, naval bases, and radar sites.
And last month’s meeting of Foreign Ministers of NATO in Washington, we agreed a new package of measures to enhance the security of the Black Sea region.
These activities make us all more safe and secure. So we are grateful for the strong contributions Turkey is making to our shared security to NATO. But at the same time NATO is also providing strong support for our NATO ally Turkey.
I want to thank Turkey and you personally for hosting this twenty-fifth anniversary meeting of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue.
With instability in the Middle East and North Africa, this dialogue is more valuable than ever.
Today we discussed the security challenges in the region, and how we can provide greater security for our people.
Bordering Syria and Iraq, Turkey has been the NATO Ally most exposed to violence and turmoil from the Middle East.
You continue to host more refugees than any other NATO Ally, including more than 3.6 million refugees from Syria.
And with your support, NATO continues to play a part in countering people smuggling and cutting the lines of illegal migration.
So Minister, dear Mevlüt, as an Alliance, we are further strengthening our collective deterrence and defence. And we are projecting stability beyond our borders.
Turkey continues to play a key role in both. And Allies stand with you in strong solidarity.
Thank you once again for hosting us and for your strong commitment to our Alliance. Thank you.
QUESTION: What do you think about Turkey’s suggestion of forming a joint committee to probe America’s concern that S-400 is a potential F-35? And also, Mr NATO Chief, you have indicated yesterday that buying S-400 is Turkey’s decision, but Allies should cooperate together. Can you please explain what did you mean by saying that. Also do you think it can create a problem in practical sense? Thank you.
JENS STOLTENBERG [NATO Secretary General]: It is the decision by every NATO Ally what kind of military equipment they buy. But at the same time I am concerned about the potential consequences of the decision to buy S-400. The US, because the US has made it clear that they will impose sanctions. So this is an issue which has been addressed several times, both in my meetings in Washington and in Ankara. And I hope that it is possible to find a solution, because we have to avoid coming in a situation when . . . where one NATO Ally is imposing sanctions against another. What matters for, and what is important for NATO is, of course, the importance of interoperability, that the systems can work together, and I also welcome the fact that Turkey is now in dialogue both with Italy and France, looking into the possibility of buying a Eurosam system, SAMP/T. We also know that Italy has deployed SAMP/T air missile defence systems in Turkey already, as part of the NATO support for Turkey. And I also welcome the fact that there are contacts, dialogue between Turkey and United States on potential delivery of Patriot batteries. So I welcome the contact the . . . the dialogue between two highly-valued NATO Allies, the United States and Turkey on different ways to try to solve this issue.
QUESTION: The cooperation . . . how do you evaluate the current situation of the cooperation between NATO and EU and Turkey, that is not a member state of the European Union? Do you have any efforts to include Turkey as a non-EU member state into these cooperation activities? What kind of expectations do we have from the European Union?
JENS STOLTENBERG: The fact that we have strengthened the cooperation between the European Union and NATO, this is good for the whole of NATO and it’s good for the European Union. And we work together in many different areas, such as cybersecurity, hybrid threats, maritime activities and we have parallel exercises and we also work together with partners. So we do more together than we have done for . . . actually, ever done before. But I think also we have to realise that when we also welcome that EU do more, for instance on defence, new defence initiatives such as PESCO and also the structured cooperation between EU members on defence and also the European Defence Fund. It has been clearly stated from me and from NATO many times, and also from EU leaders, that this should be done in a way which doesn’t duplicate the efforts of NATO. The EU can never be an alternative to NATO, cannot substitute NATO.
And we have to make sure that the EU efforts on defence are done in ways which are transparent and also, of course, to . . . to the, to, to aim at include non-EU Allies in the largest possible way, because the security of Europe is dependent on NATO and that will especially be the case after Brexit because then 80 percent of NATO’s defence expenditure will come from non-EU Allies: the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in the west. You have countries like Norway and Iceland in the north and you have, of course, Turkey in the south. These nations, these countries, are important for the security of Europe. So EU efforts cannot replace, cannot substitute for NATO and it is important that EU efforts on defence doesn’t create new barriers against, for instance, non-EU Allies, as Turkey or Norway – a country I know well. So we are supportive of the EU efforts, but it has to be done in a way which don’t compete, but actually complement the efforts of NATO and therefore also focus on the need to include non-EU Allies in the best possible way.