Генерального секретаря НАТО Єнса Столтенберга на Култарантських бесідах у Фінляндії
President Niinistö, dear Sauli,
it's really great to be back here and to meet with you. And thank you for inviting me to the Kultaranta talks. This is really a first for me, and it's great to see you again, and a pleasure to also meet you together with so many distinguished guests, including the Prime Minister of Norway, Prime Minister Støre, it's good to be here, together with all of you.
The last time I visited Finland, we - and that was actually last fall - you and I, we discussed how to strengthen the close partnership between NATO and Finland. But I did not imagine that the next time I was going to visit Finland you would have applied for a membership in our Alliance.
What caused this dramatic change was President Putin's war against Ukraine, which has shattered peace in Europe. It is really a game changer. Not just for European security, but also for the global order.
We may have been shocked by Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
But we should not be surprised.
NATO shared intelligence and warned about a potential invasion for months.
It is part of a pattern.
The destruction of Grozny.
The attack against Georgia.
The illegal annexation of Crimea.
The bombing of Aleppo.
And now, this cruel war against a peaceful neighbour.
NATO is not part of the war.
In response to the war, NATO has two fundamental tasks.
One is to provide support to our close partner Ukraine.
To uphold its right of self-defence, a right enshrined in the UN Charter.
We have done that actually for many years.
And since the invasion, we have significantly stepped up our support to Ukraine, and so has Finland, including with military, economic and humanitarian aid.
Our aim is to ensure that Ukraine prevails, as a sovereign and democratic state in Europe.
The other task for NATO is to prevent the war from escalating.
NATO’s main responsibility is to protect our people.
That is why we are strengthening our defence, especially in the east of the Alliance, on land, at sea, and in the air.
This is deterrence.
Not to provoke, but to prevent a conflict.
And to preserve peace.
Putin’s ambitions go beyond Ukraine.
The so-called ‘security treaties’ he presented to NATO and the United States last December made demands not only on Ukraine, but also on NATO to refrain from any further enlargement, and remove NATO troops and infrastructure from countries that joined the Alliance after 1997, introducing some sort of first class and second class members of NATO.
These demands amount to the complete re-write of the European security order, enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act.
One of the main principles in the Helsinki Final Act is the right of each nation to choose its own path.
This is exactly what President Putin is openly contesting.
He is trying to establish an alternative world order, where might is right, where big powers decide what smaller nations can or cannot do.
You, as Finns, know only too well the consequences of such a world order.
You defend your rights as a sovereign nation, and you have made your free choice
to apply for NATO membership.
I truly welcome this brave decision.
And if President Putin wanted less NATO on his borders, he is getting the opposite.
The applications by Finland and Sweden to join our Alliance send a clear message.
Aggression does not pay.
Intimidation does not work.
NATO’s door remains open.
Joining the Alliance would make Finland safer.
NATO is a big family of 30 democratic nations across Europe and North America.
We represent half of the world’s economic and military might.
And are committed to protect and defend each other against any threat.
All for one, and one for all.
This is at the heart of Article 5 of our founding treaty.
It is unique and extremely powerful.
In a dangerous and more competitive world, it is more important than ever that we stand together.
Finland’s membership would also make NATO stronger.
You are a strong democracy, with a resilient society, and with advanced military.
Earlier this year, I saw your forces in action
above the Arctic Circle, during our exercise Cold Response in Norway.
Your soldiers impressed me with their professionalism and determination.
Together with Sweden, you have considerable military capabilities.
Including substantial reserves, and advanced aircraft, and naval forces, all able to work together with NATO.
We are now considering the next steps on Finland and Sweden’s path to join our Alliance.
As we do this, we take into account the security interests of all Allies.
When an Ally raises concerns, we address them seriously and we find common ground.
So we are now working through Türkiye’s serious security concerns, including on terrorism.
Türkiye is an important Ally, with a strategic location, playing a key role in the Black Sea, bordering Syria and Iraq, vital for our fight against ISIS.
Türkiye is also the NATO Ally that has suffered more terrorist attacks, including at the hands of the PKK.
We are now working together, in a constructive spirit, to find a united way forward.
I therefore welcome the contacts you, Sauli, have with President Erdoğan.
I also remain in close dialogue you, Sweden, and with our Ally Türkiye.
All Allies agree that NATO's door is open, that enlargement has been an historic success, and that we must continue to stand together as we face the greatest security crisis in a generation.
The security of Finland matters to NATO.
Many Allies have already made clear security assurances to Finland and Sweden.
And NATO remains vigilant.
We have increased our military presence in the region.
And we are holding more exercises.
As we speak, our exercise BALTOPS is underway here in the Baltic region.
With over 45 ships, 75 aircraft, and over 7,000 personnel from 14 different NATO Allies, as well as Finland and Sweden, all training side by side.
In just a few weeks, NATO leaders will meet in Madrid.
We will make important decisions.
To continue to strengthen and adapt our Alliance to a new security reality,
and protect our people and our values.
I look forward to the day when we can welcome both Finland and Sweden into our Alliance.
This will make Finland and Sweden safer.
And the whole Euro-Atlantic area more secure.