Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government (2022 NATO Summit)

  • 30 Jun. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 30 Jun. 2022 14:36

(As delivered)

Good afternoon.

We have just concluded a transformative Summit with NATO’s Heads of State and Government.
With far-reaching decisions to adapt our Alliance for the future.

We agreed on a fundamental shift in our deterrence and defence.
We agreed to invite Finland and Sweden to join our Alliance.
And we agreed on long-term support for Ukraine.

We agreed NATO’s new Strategic Concept.
We agreed to step up in the fight climate change.
And to establish a new one billion Innovation Fund.
We agreed to invest more in NATO and to increase NATO’s common funded budgets.
And we agreed to deepen our relationships with some of the Alliance’s closest partners, not least in the Indo-Pacific.

Our final session at the Madrid Summit focused on threats and challenges from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Sahel.
Insecurity in these regions has a direct impact on the security of all Allies.
And our new Strategic Concept identifies terrorism as one of the main threats to our security.

Today, we reviewed our progress in the fight against terrorism.
In all its forms and manifestations.
And we reconfirmed our commitment to continue the fight with determination and solidarity.
Including through intelligence sharing and support for our partners.

NATO’s training mission in Iraq is helping to prevent the return of ISIS.
For the first time, we have just agreed a defence capacity-building package for Mauritania.
Helping to address border security, irregular migration, and terrorism.

We have also agreed additional capacity building support for Tunisia.
And to continue supporting Jordan.

We also addressed the global food crisis, which is a direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The impact is severe.
Including on some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Food prices are hitting record highs.
And many countries depend on Ukraine for substantial wheat and other food imports.

So Allies discussed their efforts to mitigate the crisis.
And get grain out of Ukraine, by land and on sea.

We also addressed how Russia and China continue to seek political, economic, and military gain across our southern neighbourhood.
Both Moscow and Beijing are using economic leverage, coercion, and hybrid approaches to advance their interests in the region. 

So today, we discussed how to address this growing challenge.
Including with even more support for NATO’s partners in the region.

We face the most serious security situation in decades.
But we are rising to the challenge with unity and resolve.

The decisions we have taken in Madrid will ensure that our Alliance continues to preserve peace, prevent conflict, and protect our people and our values.
Europe and North America, standing together in NATO.

Let me close by thanking Prime Minister Sánchez, the Spanish government and the people of Madrid for hosting this historic Summit.
An excellent way to mark 40 years of Spain's membership in NATO.

We will meet again for a NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next year.

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

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: We’ll start with CNBC.

Hadley Gamble (CNBC): Secretary General, Hadley Gamble with CNBC News. Can I ask you to respond directly to the comments we heard overnight from Russian President Vladimir Putin? He essentially suggested that Sweden and Finland joining the Alliance would require some kind of response from the Russian government. He said that if there were NATO weapons systems placed in those two countries that that would precipitate a direct response from his government. And can I also ask you to respond directly to him, and when he says that, at this point, Ukraine should surrender completely and all he wants is the Donbass region?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: So we decided today to support Ukraine, to make sure that Ukraine prevails as an independent sovereign state in Europe. And President Putin's brutal war against Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable. It's causing a lot of death, damage for the Ukrainian people, but it also has ramifications over the whole world, not least because of the increase in food prices. So it's President Putin that should withdraw its forces and end this war immediately by stopping attacking a democratic sovereign nation and causing so much suffering in Ukraine.

When it comes to Finland and Sweden. Finland and Sweden are sovereign nations and they have the right to choose their own path and to join NATO. We have welcomed them into our Alliance. We are, of course, prepared for any eventuality. But at the same time, I think what we see now in Ukraine demonstrates that Russia is now fully focused on that war, and therefore, also… We are also taking note of messages from Moscow actually, that it doesn't change that much that Finland and Sweden are joining the Alliance. While they have communicated different messages from Moscow on that issue, the most important thing for us is that Finland and Sweden will become members of the Alliance. We are there to protect all Allies, and of course also Finland and Sweden. And we are prepared for all eventualities.

NATO Spokesperson: We’ll go to Swedish Radio.

Jan Andersson (Swedish Radio): Jan Andersson, Swedish Radio. Now you will apparently have another two Member States, Sweden and Finland. What kind of challenges will you have in terms of unity? You have a lot of differences in [a] way, these groups of Member States, we're talking about economics, politics, military power. And the second question, if I may, when will you sign the Accession Protocol? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: The political decision, the real decision to invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO was taken at this Summit yesterday. So that decision has been taken. And then we will do the formal signing of the Accession Protocol on Tuesday, with the presence of Swedish and Finnish Foreign Ministers. But the reality, the decision, has been decided already with the political decision by all the leaders yesterday, at this Madrid Summit.

Then I think on the question of unity, I think sometimes it's easy to in a way confuse two very different things. NATO has never been and will never become a monolithic organisation where 30 and soon 32 Allies agree on every issue. We are 32 different countries with different political parties in government and different culture, different history, different geography, from both sides of the Atlantic. So you will always find differences. And for me, that's not a weakness. That's just an expression of the strength of NATO that we are democratic nations with a variety of different opinions on many issues. So if you define unity as a monolithic organisation, we will never be that. But if you define unity as something completely different – that, well, we are different, but we are able to unite and stand together on the core issues to protect and defend each other – then we are actually demonstrating unity as we saw at this Summit, as we have done for more than 70 years. Providing the security, preserving peace, preventing war, and sending a clear message to any potential adversary that we are there to protect and defend all Allies. And as long as that is credible, which it is in NATO, then no Ally will be attacked. NATO's main purpose is to prevent war by having credible deterrence.

NATO Spokesperson: OK, DPA.

Ansgar Haase (DPA): Secretary General, you said that leaders agreed to invest more in NATO and to increase common funding. Can you please tell us by what percentage NATO will increase its common funding budget? And the second question, if I may, do you support the idea of bringing Western-made battle tanks to Ukraine? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: We support the idea of bringing a lot of advanced equipment, including also Western modern equipment and many different types of equipment, you have seen announcements. And there was a new announcement at this Summit, so… And actually, NATO now has tasked to help Ukraine transition from old Soviet-era equipment to modern NATO standard equipment. And of course, we have not a list of equipments we will rule out or exclude from that. Ukraine needs a wide range of modern, heavy NATO-standard equipment, and that’s the message also from this Summit.

Then, on common funding. We are following up on the decision we made in principle last year that we need to invest more together because in a more dangerous world we need to strengthen what we do together in NATO. And we have decided a trajectory for common funding up to 2030. The specific figures will be decided in the yearly or annual budgets. What I can say is that the agreement we have reached today represents a considerable significant increase in NATO's common funded budgets, and that will enable us to invest more together in prepositioned equipment, in hardened shelters, in infrastructure, and to ensure that we can plug and play capabilities together in NATO. Also with more command and control and also to provide more support to our partners and also to have more exercises. So there’s a significant, considerable increase in NATO’s common funded budget, and an agreed trajectory towards 2030.

NATO Spokesperson: ABC.

Esteban Villarejo (ABC): Thank you, Secretary General. Esteban Villarejo from the Spanish newspaper ABC. First of all, could you give us some more impressions about the Spanish organisation of the Summit as a hosting nation? And secondly, could you clarify if NATO's position regarding Ceuta and Melilla, the two autonomous cities of Spain, has changed anything after the newest Strategic Concept, above all regarding to the Article Five? Thank you very much.

NATO Secretary General: The hosting by the Spanish government of this Summit has been perfect, impeccable, excellent. And all Allies expressed their gratitude to Spain for hosting us in Madrid, a beautiful city, at the Royal Palace, and at the Prado Museum, and then at this conference here, where all the facilities have been in place and actually provided the best possible framework for a historic NATO Summit. A Summit that has taken transformative decisions for our Alliance. We have the new Madrid NATO Strategic Concept and we have all the other decisions. So, we are extremely grateful to the Spanish government, to Pedro Sánchez, the Prime Minister, and the people of Madrid in the way you have hosted us. And also, I think it demonstrates that Spain is really a highly valued and important NATO Ally, and it's a very good way for Spain to celebrate, to mark, the 40th anniversary of your membership.

On which territories NATO protects and Ceuta and Melilla, NATO is there to protect all Allies against any threats. At the end of the day, it will always be a political decision to invoke Article 5, but rest assured NATO is there to protect and defend all Allies.

NATO Spokesperson: POLITICO.

David Herszenhorn (POLITICO): Thanks very much. David Herszenhorn with Politico Europe. Secretary General, throughout the Summit and in the Strategic Concept we hear echoes of the Cold War, but of course the nuclear non-proliferation architecture has fallen away. We have unprecedented numbers of troops on the eastern flank; a hot war, not a Cold War, in Ukraine. Has the world entered into an era that is even more dangerous than the Cold War? And based on your discussions with leaders, do you have a sense that there's consensus and unity around what are the red lines that Russia must not cross to avoid a direct conflict?

NATO Secretary General: We live in a more dangerous world. And we live in a more unpredictable world. And we live in a world where we have actually a hot war going on in Europe, with large scale military operations we haven't seen in Europe since the Second World War. Of course, this is imposing suffering on the Ukrainian people. We see that every day and we pay tribute to the courage, to their bravery. We also conveyed that message to President Zelensky when he addressed the Summit. At the same time, we also know that this can get worse. Because if this becomes a full-scale war between Russia and NATO, then we'll see suffering, damage, death, destruction at a scale which is much, much worse than what we see in Ukraine today. Therefore, NATO fundamentally has two tasks. One is to provide support to Ukraine. NATO and NATO Allies provide unprecedented support to Ukraine. We are stepping up and we agreed a package at this Summit. But we also have a core responsibility, of course, to prevent escalation beyond Ukraine. That's the reason why NATO is not part of the conflict on the ground. We support our highly valued partner, Ukraine, but we're not part of the conflict. And also why we have so significantly increased our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance – with more than 40,000 troops under direct NATO command – to remove any room for miscalculation, misunderstanding in Moscow about our readiness to protect every inch of NATO territory. That's NATO’s core responsibility: to make sure that there is no misunderstanding in the minds of any adversary, that if they do anything like what Russia has done to Georgia in 2008 or Ukraine now, that will trigger the full response from the whole Alliance. That's the main message. And that is credible, and that's the reason why we are preventing an attack and preserving peace for NATO Allies, close to 1 billion people.

NATO Spokesperson: The last question, we'll go to Deutsche Welle/NPR.

Teri Schultz (Deutsche Welle): Thank you, Teri Schultz with Deutsche Welle. Mr. Secretary General, you said that Allies had spoken about how to help mitigate food insecurity and the spreading of hunger, but what did they decide? Is this NATO's role and what can you do? And could you also address these reports that the Russians have left – for whatever reasons – Snake Island? Will this help free up shipping routes? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: First of all, I think it's important that NATO Allies meet and coordinate and discuss and exchange views and compare notes on the different efforts that NATO Allies are involved in to try to get more grain out of Ukraine, to get food out of Ukraine. Second, it is also important just to convey the message that contrary to what President Putin and actually also China now are telling the world through different disinformation campaigns, that this food crisis is not caused by NATO sanctions. It is caused by President Putin's war. The best way to end the food crisis is to end the war. President Putin can end the war tomorrow by withdrawing his forces. Then, different Allies are involved in different ways. Türkiye basically are involved in trying to facilitate some kind of agreement. Also Greece announced that they are ready to make available ships to get grain out of Ukraine. Other Allies are involved in different diplomatic efforts to get some kind of agreement to allow ships to sail with food, wheat over the Black Sea. Then, Lithuania, Romania, other countries, also updated us on their efforts to expand their on land capacity by railway to transport more food on land. It's very hard to compensate fully what we can transport by ships, but on land is also a way and several NATO Allies are engaged in that. And of course, the most… NATO's role is to protect and defend Allies, to ensure and to create the space for them to operate and that's what we do.

NATO Spokesperson: Thank you very much. This concludes the last press conference of the Secretary General for this Summit. Thanks so much.

NATO Secretary General: Thank you so much. Great to have you all here at this Summit.