Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the trilateral meeting between Türkiye, Finland and Sweden

  • 28 Jun. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 29 Jun. 2022 08:59

(As delivered)

Good evening.

We have just finished a very constructive meeting with President Erdoğan, President Niinistö and Prime Minister Andersson.

And I am pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO. 
Türkiye, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Türkiye’s concerns.
Including around arms exports and the fight against terrorism. 

No Ally has suffered more brutal terrorist attacks than Türkiye, including from the terrorist group PKK. 

The governments of Türkiye, Finland and Sweden have agreed to enhance their cooperation on counter-terrorism. 

As NATO Allies, Finland and Sweden commit to fully support Türkiye against threats to its national security.

This includes further amending their domestic legislation.
Cracking down on PKK activities.
And entering into an agreement with Türkiye on extradition. 

In light of the progress we have made together, Türkiye has agreed to support Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

I want to thank President Erdoğan, President Niinistö and Prime Minister Andersson for the constructive spirit of today’s talks.

In NATO we have always shown that whatever our differences, we can always sit down, find common ground and resolve any issues. 

NATO’s Open Door Policy has been a historic success. 

Welcoming Finland and Sweden into the Alliance will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure.

This is vital as we face the biggest security crisis in decades.

And with that, I am ready to take your questions. 

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Okay, we'll start with the Radio Free Europe, first row.

Rikard Jozwiak (Radio Free Europe): I want to know, will Sweden and Finland be invitees as of tomorrow? Will you be able to sign the Accession Protocol tomorrow? And have you got assurances as well from Turkey that they will not only sign the Accession Protocol but also ratify it later in the Turkish parliament? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Tomorrow Allied leaders will make a decision to invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO, to become NATO members. And following this Summit, Finland and Sweden will become invitees. Then, of course, it will be the ratification process in all capitals.
But I'm absolutely confident that with a strong commitment in the trilateral memorandum of understanding that President Erdoğan, President Niinistö and Prime Minister Andersson agreed today, and actually, that we have witnessed the signing of just now. The door is open. The joining of Finland and Sweden to our Alliance is something that will take place.

NATO Spokesperson: We will go Swedish Radio, first row.

Jan Andersson (Swedish Radio): How would you comment these negotiations? The first question. And the second one, what really happened today, here in Madrid?

NATO Secretary General: What happened?

Jan Andersson: Yes, today in Madrid.

NATO Secretary General: Today we met, we discussed and we found a good solution. And that's the way we solve problems at NATO. Because we have to agree by consensus. And we had a very good process. Our officials, our officials have worked, there have been meetings in Brussels over the last two days. I have also spoken with President Erdoğan four times on the phone. And also, of course, met with and discussed this with Prime Minister Andersson and also President Niinistö over the last weeks.

But then, of course, sometimes there is a need to meet in the same room, to meet at the highest level, Heads of State and Government, to finalise an agreement. What happened today in Madrid, at the eve of the Summit, was that we finalised this agreement on how to pave the way for Finland and Sweden to join the Alliance and how to overcome the differences and the concerns that Türkiye has raised. And also then for Türkiye to clearly state that they invite Finland and Sweden to become NATO Allies. So this is important and I welcome, of course, that decision.

NATO Spokesperson: BBC.

Mark Lowen (BBC): Secretary General, you talk about how there has been an agreement about with Turkey on extradition that has been signed with Sweden and Finland. What does that mean for journalists, Kurdish journalists, Kurdish opposition figures in Sweden and Finland who will be very worried by that news? And second of all, we have a situation in which you have a NATO member, the second biggest military member, Turkey, which bought a missile defence system few years ago from Russia. And now Turkey has been able to dictate the future membership of Finland and Sweden to NATO. Is that the sign of a functional Alliance?

NATO Secretary General: So first of all, the joint memorandum will be published very soon. I think it will be on our home page very soon. So then you can read the whole text on extradition and all the other issues which are addressed there.

Second, I can say that Finland and Sweden, of course, are ready to work with Türkiye on the pending deportations or extradition requests of terror suspected individuals. But at the same time, that this extradition process will take place in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition. This is of course in respect of the rule of law, the legal systems in these countries, and also the European Convention on Extradition. But again, you can read the details. And I think it's important that extradition is a normal thing that NATO Allies and other countries do when there are proven issues related to for instance, terrorism or of criminal activity. But again, it's for Finland and Sweden to explain what they will do, will of course be within the legal frameworks and the rule of law which these countries are based on.

Then, the other question was about the S-400. Again, this is an issue we have addressed many times. There is no way to hide and no reason to hide that that’s a difference between Allies. But I think today also demonstrates that despite differences, and there will always be differences when we are 30 Allies in the Alliance and now soon 32, that we are able to unite around our core task that is to protect and defend each other. At this Summit, that will be a transformative Summit, we will not only make a decision to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of the Alliance, which is in itself an historic decision, but also make historic decisions on the biggest overhaul of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War. On high readiness of  forces, on more pre-positioned equipment, on more forward combat formations. And then, we will also decide to step up support for Ukraine. And we'll agree a new Strategic Concept, the Madrid Strategic Concept. 

So yes, it's obvious that there are differences when you have 30 Allies, but it's also the strength and the success of this Alliance that despite those differences, we are able to agree on the big and important things. And at this Summit we will actually agree many important, historic decisions at the same time. Deterrence and defence, inviting Finland and Sweden, a new Strategic Concert, support for Ukraine and many other decisions.

NATO Spokesperson: NTV

Journalist: Secretary General, two short questions. First, how binding is this memorandum for Finland and Sweden, bearing in mind that Turkey was very worried that the day these two countries join NATO, they will resume their behaviour towards Ankara. And the second question: you were very much involved and you were a… broker between Ankara, Stockholm and Helsinki and President Erdoğan trusts you very well because you know each other for 25 years. There was such a tension. How come these three countries.. do you think that these three countries after membership could be hugs and kisses? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: Well, I strongly believe that when we have a common interest in fighting terrorism then we can agree. And the reality is that of course Türkiye is very concerned about terrorism. No other Ally has suffered more attacks from terrorism organisations than Türkiye. And Finland, Sweden, the European Union, NATO Allies regard PKK as a terrorist organisation. And therefore, to fight that organization and also individuals that are responsible for terrorist attacks against Türkiye, that's actually an obvious responsibility for all NATO Allies. Because terrorism is something we have to fight in all its forms and manifestations. And the joint memorandum that is agreed now reflects that reality. I'm glad that we were able to convene the leaders, and then based on the excellent work by our officials over many weeks, the leaders were able then to crack a solution, to find the final agreement today here in Madrid. And I'm confident, absolutely, that both Türkiye but also of course Finland and Sweden will stand by their ...

NATO Spokesperson: Inaudible

Journalist: When do you expect that Finland and Sweden will become full members of the Alliance and what will the role of these new members be when NATO will enhance its defense of the eastern flank?

NATO Secretary General: Sorry, the last question…?

Journalist: What will the role of the these new members, Sweden and Finland, be when NATO will enhance its defense of the eastern flank?

NATO Secretary General: Finland and Sweden joining NATO is important for Finland and Sweden, but it's also important for NATO and particularly the Baltic countries. Because if you just look at the map, you understand that it will change the whole security situation in the Baltic region. With Finland and Sweden, Baltic countries, close to the Baltic, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia - it will really strengthen our presence in that part of the world, or in Europe. And Finland and Sweden also bring to NATO advanced well-developed, well equipped forces, fifth-generation aircrafts, advanced weapon systems, technology, and stable, strong political institutions. So this will reinforce, strengthen NATO, and also strengthen Finland and Sweden. So for the Nordic Region, for the Baltic region, this is of particular importance, but this is important for the whole Alliance.

So this is what Finland and Sweden will bring to us and they will be part of that adaptation, the reinforcement of our collective defence that will be agreed at tomorrow by NATO leaders.

The first question? First of all, what has happened now is perhaps the quickest ever process so far. The fact that we just weeks after they applied for membership can invite them. So it's hard to imagine any quicker process so far. And that's a good thing, because we face a very critical security situation in Europe. And it also sends a very clear message to President Putin, that NATO’s door is open. You have to remember that in December last year, President Putin put forward so-called security treaties to be signed with NATO. And one of the most important messages from President Putin there was that he was against any further NATO enlargement. He wanted less NATO. Now President Putin is getting more NATO on his borders. So what he gets is the opposite of what he actually demanded. And that was for NATO to close its doors. We are demonstrating that NATO’s doors are open. NATO’s door is open. Then when… while that is for 30 parliaments to decide. I know that many parliaments have already started the process. So I think there's a strong will among Allies to ratify as soon as possible, but I cannot promise anything on behalf of 30 parliaments.

NATO Spokesperson: Okay. Sky.

Deborah Haynes (Sky News): Can you just say clearly, what message do you want this decision to send to Vladimir Putin? What message is NATO sending not just from Finland and Sweden’s decision but from the Summit? And just secondly, how worried are you that this decision to invite Sweden and Finland to join the Alliance could actually expose the two countries to greater risk, to greater threats from Russia?

NATO Secretary General: The most important message this decision sends is that every nation has the right to choose its own path. And that NATO respects the sovereignty of every nation to choose its own future. Of course, we respected for many, many years the decision by Finland and Sweden not to join NATO, to be neutral countries, and we work together with them as highly valued partners.

Then, when they decided that they wanted to join NATO, then we have demonstrated by the decision that leaders will take today and the agreement with Finland, Sweden and Türkiye today that leaders will take tomorrow and Finland Sweden agreed with Türkiye today, that NATO's door is open and that it's possible to join the Alliance. And that's exactly the opposite of what President Putin wanted to achieve with the security agreements he wanted to sign with NATO before he invaded Ukraine. Well, this is a Finnish and Swedish decision. I'm very confident that's the right decision. And that it will strengthen their security that they stand together covered by NATO's collective security guarantees.

NATO Spokesperson: POLITICO

Lili Bayer (POLITICO): Thank you very much. Beyond the memorandum of understanding with Finland and Sweden, did NATO Allies provide Türkiye with any further assurances, for example, on issues like the sale of fighter jets? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: No, what we have agreed today and that's an agreement between Türkiye – a NATO Ally and Finland and Sweden is this memorandum. And what is agreed there is what is stated there. There is no reference to any specific types of weapons. But there are clear references to the fact that now, Finland and Sweden will have no arms embargo against Türkiye. And I welcome that because I don't believe that Allies should have arms embargoes against each other. And I've said that and stated that for many years. And therefore, of course I also welcome the decision by Finland and Sweden.

NATO Spokesperson: Bloomberg

Natalia Drozdiak (Bloomberg): Thank you so much. I just wanted to clarify, was there any sort of message or warning from President Erdoğan or the Turkish delegation, that they might go back and potentially block down the line if Finland and Sweden didn't fulfil the pledges that were outlined in the memorandum of understanding? And secondly, is there any sort of timeline that these countries have to abide by to meet those pledges?

NATO Secretary General: We had very constructive and good talks today, in a constructive and good atmosphere. And of course, it is also an advantage that we have the officials, the high officials who have worked on this issue for some weeks and I would like to thank them for their efforts and all they have done. And then, we agreed, and then it is obvious that of course, Türkiye will reflect their decision to support the invitation of Finland and Sweden to join NATO -  that will be reflected in the NATO decisions that will be taken tomorrow by all Allies. And then Finland and Sweden have already started to take measures to step up in the fight against terrorism including fighting and their legislation on terrorism.

NATO Spokesperson: TRT

Journalist (TRT World): Secretary General, we understand that there is full cooperation with Türkiye in the fight against the PKK and its affiliates YPG and PYD terrorist organizations. Can you please give us more details on the scope of these cooperations? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: Well, again, I will refer to the trilateral memorandum because there you have all the text and all the details. And I think it's important to refer to that precisely. But it is clearly stated that Finland and Sweden will work together with Türkiye on fighting terrorism. And they will demonstrate their solidarity with Türkiye in the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, which constitutes a threat, a direct threat to the national security of Allies as well as to international peace and security.

And as prospective NATO Allies, Finland Sweden extend their full support to Türkiye against threats to its national security. To that effect, Finland and Sweden will not provide support to YPG/PYD and the organization described as FETÖ in Türkiye. Türkiye also extends its full support to Finland and Sweden against threats to their national security. And Finland and Sweden reject and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations in the strongest terms. I don't think there's a need for me to continue to read from the joint declaration, memorandum, you will see it very soon, if not already published. And then, that's what we have agreed.

NATO Spokesperson: We'll take one final question from Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Thomas Gutschker (FAZ): Secretary General, you just said that Allies should not have arms embargoes against each other. Obviously, there are Allies who still have an embargo against Turkey - Germany is one of them, and there's more. Are you calling on these Allies to also lift their embargo? Does the agreement today change a policy of NATO so does it have any ramifications for the other members, possibly also with regard to YPG? And just if you could just explain whether tomorrow, Sweden and Finland will be allowed to participate in all sessions, all two sessions and then the third one on Thursday? Or just in the session with partners? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: Finland and Sweden will participate in the session with partners. We have to sign the Accession Protocol before they are formally invitees. But that will happen immediately after this Summit. So the political decision has been taken. And that will be reflected in the decisions that leaders are going to take tomorrow as 30 Allies. Today, I'm glad that we reached an agreement with Türkiye and Finland and Sweden to invite them to become members and also to address the serious security concerns that Türkiye has raised. I say that knowing that we have not solved all differences within the Alliance. There will still be issues that we don't look eye to eye, and I'm aware of that also, some countries have restrictions on arms exports to the United States. So I'm not saying that we have solved all problems, all challenges, all differences. But we have demonstrated the strength of our Alliance because we have been able to take a very important historic decision to invite Finland and Sweden, our closest partners, to become NATO's newest members.

NATO Spokesperson: Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference. We’ll see you tomorrow.

NATO Secretary General: Thank you.