by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg outside Number 10 Downing Street
I just finished a very good meeting with Prime Minister Johnson.
I thanked him for the UK’s strong commitment to NATO. The UK lead by example, investing 2% of their GDP on defence and they contribute to many NATO missions and operations.
We discussed a wide range of issues, including the preparations for the upcoming Leaders’ Meeting here in London in December, which will be an important meeting where we will also have the opportunity to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of our Alliance.
We also addressed arms control, how to adapt NATO to a changing security environment and of course also the situation in Northern Syria.
And with that I can take a few questions.
Question: How do you comment on the suspension of arms licenses for Turkey?
Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: It reflects that many NATO Allies are very critical and are condemning the military operation in Northern Syria. I have also expressed my serious concerns about this ongoing military operation, I did so in Istanbul on Friday, I am concerned about how this can further escalate the tensions in the region, how it can further destabilize the region and the human suffering. And not least, I’m concerned about the consequences for our, for the gains we have made in fighting our common enemy Da’esh. And it’s extremely important that we preserve those gains and therefore we will, we discussed the situation in Northern Syria last week at the NATO HQ, it will be an issue that will be addressed at NATO tomorrow, and it will also be an issue that the Defence Ministers will discuss when they meet next week. So this is a an issue which is of concern for all NATO Allies.
Question: Has the US destabilised the fight against ISIS?
Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: We have all made a lot of progress and we have made great achievements in the fight against ISIS or Da’esh. The Global Coalition to Defeat Da’esh has achieved a lot because not so long ago Da’esh controlled a territory as big as United Kingdom in Iraq and Syria and millions of people. Now all these people are liberated, all the territory is liberated and that’s exactly what we should not put in jeopardy and that’s also why I and many other leaders have expressed concerns, serious concerns, about the ongoing operation.
Question: Are you calling on Turkey to halt the operation?
Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Well, NATO is not on the ground and NATO does not support this operation of course, many NATO Allies have expressed strong criticism. What I can say is that I’m deeply concerned about the consequences, both when it comes to the fight against Da’esh, human suffering and stability in the wider region. And that’s exactly why I also think it’s right that we now continue to discuss this between NATO Allies and also to address it in NATO tomorrow.