by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the joint press conference with the Minister of Defence of Sweden, Peter Hultqvist and the Minister of Defence of Finland, Antti Kaikkonen
Thank you so much Minister Hultqvist, dear Peter,
It's great to be here today together with you
and also to be together with Minister Kaikkonen, dear Antti,
it's great to be here together with both Swedish and Finnish Defence Ministers.
And then, not least many thanks to you Supreme Commander Byden,
because it is really an honour to be here, and to see the strength and the capabilities of the Swedish Armed Forces.
And also thank you so much for organizing and hosting, organizing this event and hosting me and all the NATO Ambassadors during this very interesting day.
Sweden and Finland are very close partners for NATO,
Sharing the same values and facing the same challenges.
I have just come from HMS Carlskrona. A great ship, with a great crew.
I continue to be impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the Swedish armed forces, and of the Finnish military. And we have seen the exercise, we have seen the capabilities demonstrated out here at sea during this afternoon, and on the visit to this impressive naval base.
It is important that NATO Allies, Finland and Sweden continue to train and exercise together.
Learning together, exchanging best practises and sharing information mean our forces can work seamlessly together.
That makes us all better prepared to deal with any future crisis.
NATO, Finland and Sweden share the same security interests.
Six NATO Allies, along with Finland and Sweden, border the Baltic Sea.
Over the years, we have been working more and more closely together.
And we have seen the security situation in the region deteriorate.
With Russia’s aggressive posturing and its military build-up.
This makes our cooperation even more important.
I therefore very much welcome that over the last years we have been able to agree ways to strengthen how we train together,
and improve how we are working together,
and how our forces communicate with each other.
Together, our forces are having a positive impact on the security and stability in the Baltic region.
This includes NATO’s enhanced forward presence, Air Policing, and the work of the Swedish and Finnish armed forces.
While we cooperate closely, NATO fully respects the strength and independence of the Finnish and Swedish Armed Forces. And we of course also respect the independent security policies of both countries.
I welcome the insights that both of You gave me when you joined the NATO Defence Ministerial last week in Brussels.
The fact that the North Atlantic Council is here today shows the importance we attach to our partnership with Finland and Sweden.
So Minister Hultqvist, Minister Kaikkonen,
Thank you for your continued support
and for your commitment to the partnership between a NATO and Finland and Sweden.
We really value our partnership and our friendship
and it makes us all stronger and safer.
So thank you so much.
Q: Yes, thank you. I have a question for the Secretary General. You mentioned the close political cooperation with Sweden and Finland and so on, but [inaudible] visit like this where you see the naval forces and the soldiers working and so on, what added value does it give to you and NATO to be here and see the forces here in practice?
NATO Secretary General: That adds a lot of value to the work of NATO and especially for the North Atlantic Council. We have been here the whole day and we also had the meetings yesterday in Stockholm and the day before that in Helsinki. We also saw a demonstration of military Finnish capabilities.
You know, we speak about people including myself, who spend most of their time indoors in meetings, reading documents, negotiating texts, and spending almost all the time, just to say, having a kind of theoretical approach to this reality we see just outside here. And therefore it is extremely important that people like me, but also other political decision-makers, members of the North Atlantic Council that actually, at least sometimes, come out and see what this is really about.
Therefore, it has been a great day for all of us. We have seen the strength, we have seen the commitment, the dedication of the Swedish Armed Forces. We also saw some Finnish-enabled capabilities, we saw a submarine, we saw Air Force, Swedish and Finnish Air Force working together. So what we have seen out there in what I would call “normal Swedish weather”, but not the weather, it's good to see that that Swedish forces, of course can operate also when it is a bit windy and a bit cold, which is obvious. Then I think it's important that we actually see that Sweden and Finland have a very close cooperation, that they can operate together.
This matters for NATO, because Sweden and Finland, they are our closest partners, and we have a partnership with each of them as individual nations, but we also very much work together with them. That's on the… when it comes to military operability, interoperability, but also on the political level as Peter mentioned, almost at all the defense ministerial meetings in NATO, Sweden and Finland are represented with their Ministers and that is a strong demonstration of the close political cooperation between the two Nordic countries and NATO.