Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a joint meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence followed by an exchange of views with Members of the European Parliament

  • 13 Jul. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 18 Jul. 2022 13:22

(As delivered)

Thank you so much, and many thanks for the warm words as an introduction and thank you for once again inviting me to address this audience. It is always a pleasure for me as Secretary General of NATO to meet NATO parliamentarians, and for me these engagements are a way to actually make sure that we are constantly developing and strengthening the cooperation between the EU and NATO. So David, thank you so much, and also to the Vice-Chairs for inviting me. 

I understand that there are many questions so I will be very brief. But let me just say that, for me, it is particularly relevant to be here so shortly after the NATO Summit, we had a Summit in Madrid just a few days ago. At that Summit we reiterated the strong support in NATO to cooperation between the European Union and NATO. Both President von der Leyen and President Charles Michel participated in the meeting. And we all understand that EU and NATO, we are two different organisations but we share many of the same challenges, we share the same neighbourhood and we work more and more closely together. 

We also see that in light of the war, the crisis, in Ukraine, the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union, all the support to Ukraine provided by the European Union, works very well hand in hand with the efforts of NATO Allies also to impose sanctions, but also to provide significant military and economic support to Ukraine. And it really demonstrates the unity of the European Union and NATO.

Then, it will also actually raise the issue of a new joint declaration. I had the privilege of signing a joint declaration on NATO-EU cooperation with… two times actually, with President Donald Tusk and President Jean-Claude Juncker. And now von der Leyen and Michel and I have agreed that we should look into the third declaration. I'm not able to tell you exactly when we will be able to have a third declaration but it is something which is now supported by both the two EU presidents and me, so we will start to work on that as soon as possible. I think it's useful to have a declaration to outline the main priorities and also to ensure that the 74 projects we have already identified, that we are following up and implementing those. 

Then briefly on the Summit. It was a historic and transformative Summit. We made many important decisions but again, taking into account that we need time for the discussions and your comments and questions afterwards, I will just mention four of the main decisions and all are relevant also for Europe and the European Union. 

First, we agreed to step up the support for Ukraine. As you know, NATO Allies provide unprecedented levels of military support to Ukraine. Actually NATO Allies and NATO have been there since 2014 – trained, equipped and supported the Ukrainian Armed Forces. But of course since the invasion in February, Allies have stepped up significantly and we also agreed a Comprehensive Assistance Package also on how to help Ukraine to move from Soviet era equipment to more modern NATO standard equipment, and also how to provide more support also for the longer term, building defence and security institutions in Ukraine. The message was that we will provide support for as long as it takes. No one can predict exactly when this war will end. But what we do know is that the more we are able to provide support to Ukraine, of course the more we increase the possibility, the likelihood, of an end to this war which happens on acceptable terms for Ukraine. And that's our responsibility. to help them uphold the right for self defence and that's exactly what NATO Allies do. That was also the clear message from Madrid, at the same time stating that NATO is not part of the war: we support Ukraine, a highly valued partner, but NATO would not be directly involved in the fighting on the ground in Ukraine. 

Second, we agreed the biggest overall fundamental shift in our deterrence and defence since the Cold War across all domains – air, sea, land, cyberspace – because we live in a more dangerous world, and therefore NATO needs to do more for our core task: protection of all Allies. When it comes to the land domain, which has been perhaps the area where there has been most focus, what we do is based on, I will say, three main elements. One is more forward defence, meaning more troops, especially in the eastern part of the Alliance. We have already increased our presence after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We have doubled the number of battlegroups from four to eight. So now we have battlegroups not only in the Baltic countries and Poland, but those in Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria. And we have actually doubled the size of the battlegroups with more troops in each of the battlegroups. We have then agreed to further increase, more troops to conduct forward defence, forward presence, and also stated that we can scale this up to brigade level size, which is significantly more than the battalions that formed the original battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance. Then we will… And this is building of course what we have already done. As you know, now we have 42,000 troops mainly in the eastern part of the Alliance, under direct NATO command as a direct response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Then, this will be supported by more high readiness forces. And in the new defence plans and the work which is now going on and agreed by the Heads of State and Government, this is something we have to implement in the following year. The plan is to have around, or actually above, 300,000 troops on high readiness across the Alliance. These troops are not… Most of them will be in their home countries, but many of them will have pre-assigned territories they should defend. They will train, exercise there on a regular basis. And Germany has already announced that they will have a brigade in Germany, but that will rotate in and out of Lithuania. So they will know the terrain and know how to work with the home defence forces and be prepared to deploy there in times of crisis. So these are not permanently deployed, but they are pre-assigned earmarked forces, high readiness, that can be deployed to different parts of the Alliance – especially the eastern part of the Alliance – on short notice. So the second element is high readiness forces.

The third element is much more pre-positioned equipment. It's actually quite easy to move people, personnel. What takes time is to move heavy equipment, ammunition, fuel. So the idea is to have partly more forces in place, partly more high readiness forces, regular exercising and then pre-positioned equipment in place. And by having that we can reinforce quickly if needed. And that's the main elements of the defence concept agreed at the Madrid Summit. 

Then the third decision that I will mention for you is of course the decision to invite Finland and Sweden to join. That's an historic decision. And it was important that all thirty Allies agreed to invite Finland and Sweden. And now what remains… We have signed the Accession Protocols and now we need the ratification in thirty parliaments and as soon as that happens Finland and Sweden will be members of NATO. This is good for Finland and Sweden, it is good for NATO and it's good for stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic area. And it also demonstrates that NATO’s door is open. You have to remember that as late as in December, President Putin proposed to NATO a so-called ‘security treaty’ that we should sign, saying many things but among the things he wanted us to sign was first of all to guarantee no more new members of NATO – ‘sign!’. Second, that we should remove all troops and infrastructure from members of NATO that joined after 1997, meaning that all the members in the eastern part of the Alliance should not have NATO troops, no NATO infrastructure, introducing second-class NATO membership. Of course, we didn't accept this. He invaded Ukraine because he wanted less NATO on his borders. What President Putin is getting is more NATO, he’s getting exactly the opposite. More NATO military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance and two new NATO members. And NATO’s door remains open, demonstrated by Finland and Sweden.

The fourth decision we made was the new Strategic Concept. You can read it, it's a beautiful document. And you have your Strategic Compass, and of course they are again, different documents, but they reflect the same reality. And that's a good thing, reflecting of course that we very much share the same members. The important thing with the Strategic Concept is that we agree, as the Alliance, on the strategic direction of this Alliance in a more dangerous, more competitive and more unpredictable world. And I was present in Lisbon when we agreed the previous Concept that actually expired at the Madrid Summit a few days ago. At that Summit at that time President Medvedev was present from Russia, attended the NATO meeting and in the Concept we agreed that Russia was a strategic partner. That's not the case in the current Strategic Concept. There we actually address clearly that Russia poses the most direct threat to our security. And you also mentioned China – in the previous Strategic Concept China was not mentioned with a single word. Now we address the challenges that China poses to our interests, to our values, to our security, and also that China and Russia are working more and more closely together. We address cyber, climate change, technology and many other issues. 

Then I would like to say that… It is also important to say that the Strategic Concept, also, of course, takes a very clear stand on the importance of democratic values, of human rights and the rule of law, which are core values for NATO and I attach great importance to them myself. And as the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly stated, Congressman Connolly, he attended the meeting. He stated very clearly the importance of this, and also democratic resilience, and this was addressed and also then reflected in the Strategic Concept. 

Then again, I promise to be short. Many other issues that I can address, I’m sure you have many answers and comments. So I stop there just by highlighting that it's good to see that two different organisations, NATO and the EU, we have more and more in common and we work more and more closely together. And that's good for EU, it's good for NATO and it's good for all of us. So thank you so much.


David McAllister [EPP, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs]: Thank you, Secretary General, dear Jens, for this excellent presentation. And we have many, many colleagues now who want to take the floor; let's see how far we can get. If you limit yourselves to two minutes each, I can give the floor to more colleagues. We begin with the round of coordinators and the first is Michael Gahler for the EPP.

Michael Gahler [EPP]: Thank you very much. Secretary General, thanks for your leadership and for your clear words that we just heard. On the third joint declaration that is planned, you referred to the 74 projects planned in the second joint declaration, I wonder where we stand and should we not focus more on the real things and, if you have 74 projects, you have no priorities, I would wish that we come to real issues and priorities there. You pledged to step up... and I understand [inaudible] of Ukraine, so I focus on that. You pledged to step up support for Ukraine now and for the longer term, as long as it takes for Ukraine to have an acceptable bargaining position. I support that wholeheartedly. But how do we want to sustain the constant flow of weapons? I'm from Germany; I'm upset. I'm upset about the reluctance of our government to deliver the real heavy, heavy weapons. It's not nothing of about them not Fuchs [Aromord Personnel Carrier], not Marder [Infantry Fighting Vehicle], not Leopard [Main Battle Tank], nothing is delivered. I think if the largest European NATO country refuses to deliver what needs to be delivered, although it is available to be delivered, I think that is passive support for this utterly fascist Russian regime. By refusing deliveries to Ukraine, you passively support Russia. So I urge you, behind the scenes, to do the utmost to pressure the German government to do what they should do according to their size and to their responsibility within NATO and the EU. Thank you very much.

David McAllister: Thank you. For the S&D, Tonino Picula.

Tonino Picula [S&D]: Thank you Chair. Mr Secretary General, thank you for your time and remarks. Yes, the recent NATO Summit, first one since Russian brutal invasion of Ukraine, sent us a message that Allied we are much stronger, then soon we will have additional EU states in the NATO. This stronger EU-NATO cooperation contributes to effective global governance and multilateralism. The current situation is offering us an opportunity to work together in new ways and I believe our citizens welcome such an effort. I would say that NATO has definitely regained its sometimes disputed value. With warmongering Lavrov talking about the new Iron Curtain, it's of utmost importance to invest in capabilities to protect our citizens and ensure security. Therefore I would like to ask you three questions, questions on security challenges in Western Balkan region; how do you see EU-NATO cooperation in that region? The NATO Strategic Concept definitely upgraded current approach and addressed more bluntly our challenges, strategic competitors and potential adversaries. How do you see the role of China and Russia in the Western Balkans? Furthermore, along with the Strategic Concept, the Madrid Summit, declaration decided on new measures to step up, tailored political and practical support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, can you be more specific on this? And finally in B&H, we have general elections coming up in autumn and security situation, and tensions are worrying. Is NATO monitoring the situation closely? Thank you for your answers.

David McAllister: Thank you, Tonino. For the Renew Group, I understand Petrus Auštrevičius or... well, we're doing one speaker per group now and then we'll do another round. But please, I don't want to interfere in Renew. OK, Petrus?

Petrus Auštrevičius [Renew]: Thank you. And Secretary General, most welcome to our committee and thank you for your presentation, and indeed clear and very committing words, and your activities we just saw happening in Madrid. I appreciate and I welcome two new members of NATO, as Finland and Sweden to come. How about the others who might be, you know, expressing their wish and readiness to join and asking for our political, as well as technical support, in this regard? I mean, would you a bit expand on the, as you said, the door of NATO remains open? What does it mean in practice? I mean, will be some MAPS, so called Membership Action Plans, extended to those who, you know, knocking on the door of NATO? Or are there any plans in this regard, how to strengthen their commitment and their wish to join NATO? Thank you.

David McAllister: Thank you. For the Greens, Reinhard Bütikofer.

Reinhard Bütikofer [Group of Greens]: Thank you, Chair. Thank you Sec Gen. I have three remarks. First, I agree completely with what Mr Gahler said, that we should provide all the arms necessary to help defending Ukraine. But while he is upset that my German government is not delivering more arms, I'm upset that his previous government did not procure the arms that he would like to deliver. My second remark is on China. I commend the language that you have included in the strategic document but I would like to ask about implementation. And I give you an example; presently we have a discussion in Germany about the exportation of diesel engines, powerful diesel engines, to the PLA Navy. This has been known for the last five years, at least, and nothing is being done about it. Are you going to organise common efforts to have stringent export controls in the transatlantic theatre? And lastly, my third question, how many names, Sec Gen, are on the Turkish list of extradition requests from Sweden and Finland?

David McAllister: Thank you. For the ID Group, Miss Bonfrisco.

Anna Bonfrisco [ID]: Thank you, Chair. Welcome Secretary General Stoltenberg. February 24 is Europe’s 9/11. Russia's war by choice represented a shift in European security perspective. Since then, every country in Europe has recalculated its own assessment of its own security. Sweden and Finland will guarantee additional security and stability, giving a positive impact on Alliance military defence posture. Having said that, my question is, how can we assure that European defence spending will reinforce the transatlantic community? What is the EU role in crisis management? The war in Ukraine has shown the need for unity; how can this be assured in the future if cooperation between the two organisations is hampered by respective internal vetoes? Thank you.

David McAllister: Thank you. For the ECR, Anna Fotyga.

Anna Fotyga [ECR]: Thank you, Chair. Secretary General, thank you very much indeed for your briefing and your willingness to address us every year; it's extremely important. I really welcome results of the Madrid Summit. As you rightly say, in response to Putin's blackmail presented in December of previous year, yet we know that ultimate response to this blackmail depends on Ukraine's ability to deter, to actually win this war of aggression, and our unity and will to assist Ukraine, possibly jointly. And that is, in my opinion, the main task in cooperation, future cooperation between NATO and EU, to find ways and areas to effectively assist Ukraine. In a political declaration, actually, this cooperation between EU and NATO is, as far as I know, a teenth number, a teenth of priorities and not very comprehensive, although military mobilities of utmost importance. Also to this effect, Ukraine has not only the right to defend itself, the result of this war is to affect many nations, not only neighbourhood but in Western Balkans, for example, and also in other places. Thank you.

David McAllister: Thank you, Anna. For the Left, Mick Wallace.

Mick Wallace [The Left]: Thank you very much, David. And thank you, Mr Stoltenberg. In Madrid, you said that China's Stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values. Well, when it comes to our interests, would you accept that it wouldn't be in Europe's interest to be falling out with China, given that there are our biggest trading partner? We buy a lot from them; they buy a lot from us. I mean, the thoughts of them putting an end to buying manufactured goods from Germany, even cars, would be pretty scary for employment figures in Germany, not to talk about business interests. In relation to security, you say that they are a security risk to the people of Europe. I don't really see the evidence of that myself and do you accept the fact that the Americans last year spent 800 billion on defence? It was more than the next nine countries put together, including Russia and China. Now you say that China is substantially building up its military forces. Well, most independent observers would see it as being more defensive than offensive. What would be your comment on that? And the last one, values. Now I raised this with the Sec Gen of the EEAS yesterday and he replied... when I challenged him on this notion that there's a battle to be fought over values, he said, "So...", when speaking of China, "So, it is a model, then we can decide whether we want to live in that model or in our model. That if we want to continue living in our model then we have to stand up to the challenge that China is posing for us at this stage". Do you not think that we can actually have our values, our model, and they can have theirs? China is a very established culture and they mightn't do things like we do them and we don't do things like they do them. I mean, do you not see a prospect where we actually can live in peace? Or do you actually foresee a possible war in the next few years between the US and China? Thank you very much.

David McAllister: Thank you. For the non-inscrit, Kostas Papadakis is on my list.

Kostas Papdakis [NI]: Thank you, Chair. [Translated] The decisions made by NATO in Madrid mean a new aggressive and warfare dogma, escalating from the previous one. You want to have ten times more troops in Europe; troops that already surrounded Russia, and you want further escalation of military equipment and military bases. NATO, along with the US and the EU, never... were never a defensive mechanism, not before the war and not after it. They were always an offensive coalition and they wanted to... this is why the Ukraine was a sacrifice for the interest of the transatlantic coalition. The Greek government claims that NATO decisions will offer more safety against Turkish aggression, which Turkey that is challenging its territorial rights and wants to demilitarise the Greek islands, while they are continuously violating territorial rights of Greece. But NATO never denounce this because they do not recognise borders between Greece and Turkey; they just say figure it out between you two. And basically the bourgeois classes between Greece and Turkey are fighting it out. Thank you.

David McAllister: Thank you. I now give the floor to a rapporteur for the 2021 NATO Report, Antonio Istúriz-López White.

Antonio López-Istúriz White [PPE]: Thank you, Chairman. [Translated] Secretary General, congratulations. On a personal level, I think you've done an excellent job of work. You've steered this with a firm hand. It was a complicated situation regarding the strategy, the ten years, the future, it was complicated. You steered it very well. And we would like to also thank you, on behalf of Spain, of course we hosted the event. Thank you to NATO and the city of Madrid; I come from that particular autonomous community myself. So, it was important for Spain and, I'm sure you know this Secretary General, there is of course the proposal for an alternative Summit, it's you know, part of the exotic life of politics in Spain. I shan't go into that, but there are different positions in Spain, put it that way. Now, one issue that I would like to pick up on, if I may, bit of a question, because the outcome was in a way better than expected. First of all, the southern flank, in other words, the Mediterranean Flank of NATO, I mean you have countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, etc., etc., you know, we care a lot about the Mediterranean and that flank is very important to us. I was wondering, in these conversations that you had at the Summit, did you make any kind of progress on that issue? I mean, we have so many concerns, energy, food supply, and so on and so forth. [inaudible] etc., I think you're perfectly familiar with these issues, so was any progress made on that issue on the southern flank? Secondly, I understand that there were conversations also about Ceuta and Melilla, which are autonomous enclaves, or communities. I think that there was a bit of confusion maybe regarding Ceuta and Melilla. Are they covered by Article 5? You know, if there were to be an attack for instance, that is an attack on a member of the Alliance, are Ceuta and Melilla included under Article 5, in the event of such an attack? I'm sure that this is an issue of great concern for Spain and I would be very pleased to hear a comment from you. Has there been any kind of debate on that issue in the context of your meeting, of the Summit? So, thank you very much and, once again, thank you for everything you've done.

David McAllister: Thank you, Tono. Colleagues, I would propose that we now give the floor to Secretary General for a first round of answers. Perhaps you can limit yourself to 10/12 minutes. Then we have a second round of colleagues who would like to take the floor.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Thank you so much. There are many questions I will try to answer, but in 10/12 minutes, it's not... obviously I won't be able to go into details for all of them. But first, Gahler, Mr Gahler asked me about the EU, NATO, and maybe we should focus more on concrete issues. So first of all, the 74 are concrete, the 74 Project, but that's big and small, I agree with that. But I think that if you just look at what we do together, we actually do more together now, NATO and the EU, than we have ever done before. We see how, for instance, how we work together when it comes to cyber; we share real time information on cyber attacks. We work together in Kosovo, where we have NATO military presence; thousands of NATO troops supporting the efforts of the EU mediator, the EU facilitated dialogue, Pristina, Belgrade. The Ukraine crisis has demonstrated how we work together. I went... actually, the first time ever a NATO Secretary General had travelled together with the EU President, was Ursula von der Leyen, President von der Leyen and me travelling to Lithuania and Latvia. That was last fall when we had the crisis building up and we sent a very clear message of solidarity, standing together with NATO-EU members in the Baltic region. And then I also mentioned the Aegean Sea; it's very easy to forget but actually, after a request from Germany, it was back in 2015, to ensure the implementation of the agreement between Turkey and EU, NATO decided to have a maritime presence of naval ships in the Aegean Sea, to help to implement the agreement between the European Union and Türkiye. And that brings together Frontex, Türkiye; I'm not saying everything is easy, but I'm saying at least one important contribution to solving a difficult problem for NATO and for Europe. And then I think on resilience, there was a question here about export. I come back to that, but I think it's obvious now that I have been for my political life, a strong supporter of free trade, and I still believe in trade as a way to promote prosperity, economic growth; it's good for us to trade, that's a good thing. But at the same time, we'll have to be not naive. And free trade does not always promote freedom. So that's obvious when you now see the dependence, for instance, on a specific commodity, Russian gas. We see it also when China tried to take control of the 5G networks. I think it's obvious now that was a controversial issue not so long time ago. But NATO-EU, we activated ourselves and ensured that actually there was also security assessment related to foreign control, or Chinese control, over our 5G networks. So, both when it comes to imports, to heavy dependence on specific commodities, gas or rare earth minerals from China, or gas from Russia, when it comes to exports of key technologies, or it comes to control over critical infrastructure in our own countries, we need to make sure that security is more important than free trade. And this is about resilience, this is about trade policies, for the EU, of course, and you have some unique competence there, but it also matters for all those Allies that are not member of the EU. And you have to remember that there are 150 million Europeans who live in a NATO country that is not member of the European Union. And then you have 400 million people living in the United States and Canada, one billion in total. So yes, the EU plays an important role, but it has to be coordinated with NATO; it covers a much bigger part of the world economy. So, in this area, it's obviously that we need to work more closely together, and we have started that conversation. Then many asked about the importance of flow of weapons. I will not go into the specific national debates but just rest assured I am pushing, NATO is pushing strongly for more support, the constant flow of support, and more heavy weapons, advanced weapons. And you also see how now, especially United States, but also United Kingdom and some other Allies, have provided very modern military equipment; the HIMARS and other long range precision artillery, which now is making a difference on the battlefield. So yes, we will follow up on that. Then Picula, you asked me about the Western Balkans; yes, of course, we are working together with the European Union on Western Balkans. It is extremely important, NATO has a history there. We helped to end two brutal ethnic wars, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. We have a military presence there. We work actually together with the European Union, ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we are closely monitoring the situation in the Western Balkans in general. I met actually today with the Albanian Prime Minister, a NATO Ally, and of course we follow the situation extremely closely. And we also are concerned about the presence of China and Russia. Then Petras, you asked me about the other countries. Well, the reality is that there are now three other countries which are aspiring for NATO membership; that's Ukraine, Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina, I mean there are serious challenges in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We try to help them to strengthen their democratic institutions but you know the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as I do. On Georgia and Ukraine, two different countries, the main focus now is on Ukraine to provide support, to help Ukraine prevail as an independent sovereign nation. And that's the main focus; the focus is not on membership now. But of course, everything we do to help and support and also modernise Ukrainian defence and security institutions will also move them closer to membership at some stage. Georgia, again, main focus is reforms, to help them move towards NATO membership. But as you also know, any decision on membership requires unanimity, all Allies need to agree and we don't have... or should I say, agreement within NATO to now take the next step and to have membership action plan. Focus on reforms and then hopefully one day we can also go one step further. Then Bütikofer, China, I think I already mentioned that. You are an expert on these, so yeah, you actually mentioned all those and I feel I answered that question. Trade has to be part of the security assessment. Trade is not separate from security; trade is part of the security considerations we have to make, in a more competitive world, also related to China. Then you asked me about the issue of extradition of people from Finland and Sweden. The agreement between Finland and Sweden, the joint memorandum is public; you can read it. And what they have agreed is what's stated there, nothing more, nothing less. I'm not able to quote it directly now, but the main message there is that they are going to work more closely together in fighting terrorism. And you have to remember that PKK is a terrorist organisation, according to the European Union. It's regarded as a terrorist organisation by Finland, Sweden and the European Union, and all EU members. And to exchange intelligence, to work together, to also address requests for extradition, that's fair enough. It's important. But of course, any extradition or any expulsion of individuals will be... and that's directly also addressed in the agreement, will be done in accordance with the European Convention on extradition and of course based on Swedish and Finnish law, and the legal system. So yes, they will work more closely on working to fight terrorism. But decisions will be made based on the rule of law and the European Convention on extradition, stated in the agreement. Then Miss Bonfrisco, European defence spending, I think, well... for me, it's a paradox. Because I've been a politician, I think I told you before, for many years, and it's always nicer to ask for more money for health, for education, for infrastructure, than for defence. But since I arrived in NATO in 2014, my main message is spend more on defence. And the reality, we have to be honest, if you spend more on defence, there is less for something else. That's the brutal reality. But the brutal reality is that we live in a more dangerous world. So actually, I'm very glad that over the last years, since 2014, NATO Allies have spent more on defence. So we have more high readiness forces, we can deploy more to the eastern part of the Alliance. And that is needed because we are faced with more challenges. And we have a good story to tell, because all Allies have increased defence spending and really added a lot. Then Anna Fotyga, while you have very clear messages on Russia and I also very much agree on your concerns about Russia, Russia has proven that President Putin is a leader that is willing to use military force to reach his political aims. I have worked for dialogue with Russia for many years because I've actually believed that we should try to strive for a better relationship. But especially after the second invasion of Ukraine, also in February this year, I think that the way we try to approach Russia, we cannot continue, because Russia has totally walked away from any kind of meaningful dialogue with them, as long as they behave in the way they now behave. Then Mike Wallace, China, well, and then... as China's defensive, well so, why do they then invest so heavily in new, long range nuclear weapons? And more and more? And why do they actually deploy all these new submarines? And why do they behave the way they behave, for instance, in the South China Sea? And then... well, of course, I respect that China is a different country than Europe or Norway, or the other countries in this room. But for me, some human right values are universal. The freedom of speech is not something we just have in the western part of the world; it's something we believe that every human being has the right to do. So, when they crack down on free press, arrest journalists/writers, those who disagree, that's fundamentally violating values we all believe in. Also, I respect people being communist, people being against what I'm in favour of, whatever they are, but that's their right to disagree. That right doesn't exist in China, because you're arrested. And that's, I think, values which are important for all of us, regardless of whether we are left or right in the political landscape, in the European Union or in NATO. Then Papadakis, well NATO is not an offensive organisation. NATO's main task, main responsibility is to preserve peace, prevent conflict. And deterrence and defence is something we invest in to prevent conflict. We have done so successfully for more than 70 years and we are going to continue to do so, to prevent an attack on our countries. Then López-Istúriz White. Yeah, first of all, thank you so much to Madrid, to Spain, for hosting an excellent Summit. It was really, really an historic summit in a beautiful place. We went to the Prado Museum, we went to the Royal Castle, and we made also important political decisions. We also addressed the southern flank. We agreed the package for capacity building with Mauritania. We will also work with Tunisia. And of course, NATO has to have a 360 degree approach, including also the South. Then I think I've covered most of them. At least I've spent my time, so that's everything for so far.

David McAllister: Thank you. Colleagues, we have 25 minutes left. If you try and keep it to one and a half minutes each, then we might give all the colleagues the floor who want to speak. For the EPP, the first one is our colleague, David Lega.

David Lega [EPP]: Thank you, Chair. And thank you, Mr Stoltenberg for being here today and being so clear in your remarks, both regarding Russia and China, and other countries. I mean, we are very well aware that the last couple of months have been, to say the least, very hectic, not only with the Russian war of aggression, but also with the accession process of Sweden and Finland. And as a Swede, I am particularly grateful for the hard work that you have put in to help embrace Sweden and Finland into our NATO family. So, with that said, I ask you a few questions on that. First, what do you think is the estimated timeline for Finland and Sweden to become full members? And what further obstacles do you foresee, if any? And the other one, could you elaborate a little bit on Sweden's future role within NATO? How can Sweden contribute the best? And finally, one question also on Iran, your thoughts on the latest news that Iran is planning to sell armoured drones to Russia and also help to actually use them? How does that affect the stability on that region? Thank you.

David McAllister: Thank you, David. Next is Sven Mikser, one and a half minutes.

Sven Mikser [S&D]: Thank you, Secretary General. One observation, one question. First, I very much welcome the focus on deterrence and defence, deterrence especially I think is tricky. Because the concept presumes that you're dealing with a Russian actor who makes a cost-benefit analysis before any adventure. And the Ukraine has shown us that if Russian leaders make such an analysis at all, they are definitely ready to take much more pain for the quest of restoring an empire than we previously thought possible. So, we must look at deterrence in a in a new light. But my question has to do with the weapons donations. You said that, and rightly so, that we need to keep donating as long as it takes. But I've seen that, especially in European capitals, there is now more talk about the need to, after this first round of rather generous donations, the need to replenish our own depleted stocks. And therefore my question is, how confident are you that the capitals are putting forward necessary financial resources to simultaneously be able to replenish their own depleted stocks and also keep on giving to Ukraine, because it's a war of attrition now, and the attrition of equipment especially is enormous in such a situation. And also are you confident that our defence industries are capable of coping with this challenge of delivering to our own nations and simultaneously to keeping on giving this more modern western type of equipment to Ukraine? Thank you.

David McAllister: Thank you. Mr Bauzá Díaz.

José Ramon Bauzá Díaz [Renew]: Thank you, Chair. [Translated] Thank you. Secretary General, well done for the success of the Madrid Summit. They'll be those who could and were there really lived it first hand. Now the only thing left is that the new Strategic Concept be at the... able to face the challenges. So, we have great news, we are going to increase the number of Allies and also the kilometres that the Alliance covers. I have a couple of fundamental questions within the Strategic Concept and the geographic coverage. I think we need to be more concrete on the Alliance. Is NATO monitoring the stabilisation projects in the Sahel in the north as a consequence of the Russian war, which is going to cause a lack in food supplies? And there's a sub question that has to do with Spain, Ceuta and Melilla, I know that you've been asked this other times, but the Spaniards still don't have an answer. Will Ceuta and Melilla be defended under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty? Will NATO intervene in the Sahel, especially in Mali? Because in Madrid, it was said that it wasn't discounted.

David McAllister: one and a half minutes. Be fair. Viola von Cramon.

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel [Group of Greens]: Thank you, General Secretary, for all the comprehensive information you have shared with us. I mean, the role of Turkey was shortly mentioned also by my colleague Reinhard Bütikofer, but I would like to come back of the possibility of opening the Black Sea and also mediating in terms of the grain deliveries from the port of Odessa. I know that, regarding the Treaty of Montreux, it is impossible for any weapon or maritime ships from NATO and others, but are you in contact with the Turkish maritime flot? And what would be the conditions for the Turkish to be more involved, to open the port of Odessa and get the grain storages or the grain deliveries out there? And then regarding the German delivery, I mean my colleague Michael Gahler has mentioned that, but it seems to be very asymmetric. When I look through the partners in the NATO Alliance, it seems to be very much biased on the partners in the east and the centre European countries. What is your expectation, especially towards the German government, in terms of what you said, we will deliver to Ukraine whatever it takes, and we see there's quite a bias towards certain member states.

David McAllister: Thank you. Miss Ceccardi.

Susanna Ceccardi [ID]: [Translated] Thank you, Chair. Thank you, Secretary General. The consequences, two new members will make that so that the border between NATO and Russia will be increased by over a thousand kilometres. And because the US are focused increasingly on the Indo Pacific, it'll be up to the Europeans to manage the new frontier and, talking about the southern borders, I would like to talk about Libya. The interests of Russia and Turkey in Libya are huge and we know how important Libya is in terms of terrorism in Europe because it's a centre of terrorism and a centre of immigration. So, will there be a NATO intervention to manage the critical situation in Libya? Exactly 20 years ago, in the military bases [inaudible] we had a signature of agreements between NATO and Russia, because we thought that Russia would be part of the common security architecture. So, things have changed since then. What happened? What went wrong? And from Moldova, are there plans in case there's an invasion also of Moldova? And for the new Strategic Compass in Madrid, what are we going to do about Taiwan?

David McAllister: Thank you. Next is our vice chair, Witold Waszcyckowski.

Witold Waszcyckowski [ECR]: Yes, thank you Chair. Secretary General, I had the pleasure to participate also in Madrid some years back, 25 years ago, in 1997, when we were invited. Now I speak as a concerned citizen of Poland, a neighbour of aggressor, a neighbour of victim of aggression. In 140 days of this aggression, we were expecting that VJTF is going to activated, that your initiative from 2018 about 30, 30, 30 is going to be activated. We are expecting this response forces in the eastern flank and we were expecting the deployment of patriot missiles next to the Suwalki Gap, where we are threatened by ISKANDER missile. Nothing of this happened. I don't even remember the Article 4 was activated. Now you are promising us the even bigger response for 300,000 troops and, in Strategic Concept, Russia is named as a threat. Where global warming is a threat, climate change is a threat. Russia for us is enemy. So, how you can reassure right now us that NATO is preparing not only to reconquer overtaken territory by Russia, but deter any aggression of Russia on the eastern flank. Thank you.

David McAllister: Thank you, Witold. Next is for the EPP, Mr Millán Mon. OK.

Francisco José Millán Mon [EPP]: [Translated] I too would like to take this opportunity to commend the Secretary General of NATO excellent organisation of the Summit in Madrid. Congratulations. In terms of the United States and the outcome of this summit, what do you think? In two years' time, new electoral context in the USA, do you think that this summit will really be a tool that will help us improve the organisation's image in the USA, including vis a vis Republicans and Republican leaders and the Republican electorate? Do you think that it will help improve their image, your image? I'm a bit concerned. I'm a bit concerned by the way Trump looked at this organisation a couple of years ago, so I'd like to know whether this will be a game changer.

David McAllister: Miss Incir.

Evin Incir [S&D]: Thank you very much Chair and thanks to the Secretary General Stoltenberg. Always happy and glad to see Nordic fellow colleagues in such important position, especially in this time of serious situation globally. And thank you for frank and straightforward answers. Russia's unacceptable demands on NATO has indeed led to more NATO decisions, of each country's membership in any international organisations, be it NATO, be it EU, is of course up to each and every country. It is historical that Finland and Sweden was invited to join NATO and now our membership application is being signed by the member states in NATO. Thank you, Secretary General Stoltenberg, for the leadership that you have been taken, in order to ensure that both Sweden and Finland is invited and I also actually have a question, as my other Nordic colleague here in the parliament, David Lega, could you maybe please tell us a bit more about the development right now, both progresses and the challenges that exists? And then finally also I would like to conclude with posing a question on if you could share with us how you, but also NATO as an organisation, work on ensuring that no current members and NATO member states is violating international law, and do not attack important NATO and EU Allies that are fighting extremism and terrorism in different part of the world. Thank you.

David McAllister: Thank you, Mr Kubilios.

Andrius Kubilios [EPP]: Thanks Chair and Secretary General, really congratulations, was really very important decisions on the Summit. And you are showing, or NATO is showing good example also for EU, you know, how to come out from this crisis becoming stronger. This is your political crisis and we need to learn lessons and we need to change ourselves, so your decisions were very good. NATO really is a defensive organisation, but it's becoming stronger with soon Sweden and Finland joining NATO, even when Sweden, Finland has a long border with Russia. In your personal opinion, Mr General Secretary, when Ukraine will join NATO, after the war, will NATO become stronger?

David McAllister: Thank you. Mr Heinäluoma.

Eero Heinäluoma [S&D]: Thank you, Mr Chair. And may I also thank Secretary General for your leadership in these demanding times. The decisions in Madrid were really important ones for the security of the whole Europe. I'm of course especially happy that Finland and Sweden were accepted as member countries of NATO. At the same time, we have noticed that perhaps Turkey has not totally accepted this decision and I'm afraid to say that they are using the question of terrorism in a way to bargain something, both from Finland and Sweden, and also perhaps from other countries. However, Finland and Sweden are totally against terrorism, as all the European Union nations, but at the same time we must respect the basic rights of our citizens and we cannot deportate those people who are lawful citizens of our countries; and this must be understood. If Turkey [inaudible] here for a long time, it can mean that ratification process will be longer. And my question to you is that, is this something which you have thought that, if it will take time, is NATO ready to do something to make sure that the security is strengthened into Northern Europe, before Sweden and Finland will become member states of NATO?

David McAllister: Thank you. Hermann Tertsch.

Hermann Tertsch [ECR]: [Translated] Thank you, Chair. I also would like to congratulate Mr Stoltenberg for the Summit and for the quick welcome uptake of Sweden and Finland, who are going to be a precious addition. But we still have, in Spain, concern about how Cueta and Melilla are going to be protected because they are constantly under threat in a very complicated front. So, how do you think that France and Germany's behaviour can have the repercussions within NATO, given their weight? Can it not risk fracturing, because some countries, such as Germany and France, seem to be putting the brakes on and contrasting the Ukraine's defence? And so it cannot be at the level of defensive... the defensive strength of NATO, can it not create a fracture?

David McAllister: Mr Yordanov.

Alexander Alexandrov Yordanov [EPP]: [Translated] Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Stoltenberg. First, based on what my colleague Gahler's just said, I want to repeat the same. I'm ashamed of the decision of the Bulgarian government not to send the necessary weapons to the Ukrainian military. And my question is, have you discussed this with the Bulgarian government, given Bulgaria has the necessary Soviet era weapons? And my second question is how are NATO's relations developing with Serbia? Because, in south eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, Serbia is a country with very close ties with Russia, close military ties with Russia, and serves Russian political interests in the region. And in that sense, they are a threat to the European Union in the region.

David McAllister: Mr Mavridis..

Costas Mavridis [S&D]: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Right here, Mr Stoltenberg. Right here. With Putin's invasion in Ukraine, I think that many more European citizens realise that a firm and stronger nature, acting in the interest of democratic values and international law, are indeed in the interests of our EU values. With that in mind, I'd like to ask you a few questions. Perhaps I will give you a key from the very beginning. The answer to these might be the same. As the Secretary General of NATO, are you aware of any member of NATO who is more of autocratic than democratic? Are you aware of any member of NATO that’s head of state, is acting in [romance] sometimes of very... quite a few times with Putin? Are you aware of any member of NATO who is not adopting the sanctions against Russia? Are you aware of any member of NATO who is acting against international law, acting against our values and threatening other members of NATO? And a key, the answer to all these questions might be the same. Thank you.

David McAllister: Thank you. Fabio Castaldo.

Fabio Castaldo [NI]: Thank you very much. And I would like also to applaud Secretary General Stoltenberg and the whole NATO structure for the results obtained at the historical summit in Madrid. I would like to reiterate a bit on the concept, of importance to really commit on the stability of this neighbourhood, the most strategic direction east and south, reminding also that Russia is much more strengthened his presence also in south and, as well as interferences, we have full of examples in Mali, in Libya, in Sudan. Therefore dear Secretary General, I would like to hear your consideration on the future of EU-NATO cooperation for what concerns the MENA region and southern flank. Do you believe that the EU should become, in the future, the main security provider in the area? And do you think that you might be better equipped to face certain threats, for instance the condition conducive to the spread of terrorism, thanks to the instrument already in its toolbox? And which kind of specific support and expertise cannot make available in our strong cooperation. Second, I have noticed that in the NATO Strategic Concept it's written that the full involvement of non EU Allies in new defensive force is essential. I was wondering what does it means exactly in practical term? Could you maybe eventually elaborate a bit further on this sentence, including the NATO Strategic Concept? Does it imply deeper coordination and alignment of the NATO defence planning process and the EU capability development plan, or do you deem as necessary also to expand the participation of non EU NATO Allies in PESCO and EDF projects furthers? And which kind of synergies we can find in NATO initiatives, most notably, the recently Innovation Fund. Thank you very much.

David McAllister: Thank you, Fabio. And to conclude, Thijs Reuten. We have a spot landing and then we have eight minutes for the Secretary General to answer all the questions. Thijs.

Thijs Reuten [S&D]: Thank you, Chair. I will be very quick. One question on EUFOR ALTHEA. The mandate is going to expire, 2604 Security Council mandate, it'll lapse on 3rd November. While concerns over the stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina are raising, some fear a veto that might block ALTHEA's extension and it would likely end also the UN mandate for NATO presence in Bosnia, which could be regrettable. In what way will NATO continue to contribute to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina in case of such an eventuality? And thank you so much, Mr Secretary General, for all your commitment.

David McAllister: Thank you, Thijs. Back to you, Jens.

Jens Stoltenberg: Thank you so much. There is no way I can answer every question in the few minutes I have left, and I just have to leave, but let me then just address some of the main topics you have raised. First on Ukraine, yes, it is extremely important that we as politicians make sure that our countries provide support to Ukraine, and not only provide support to Ukraine but provide substantial support to Ukraine for a long time. And that will have a price. And partly, the price, the sanctions are important, but also of course the military support, but also the humanitarian support, economic support, that has a price. But the price of not supporting them is much higher. Partly because, for me, this is a moral issue. This is about a sovereign independent nation with more than 14,000 people... 40 million people living in Europe, which is brutally attacked by a big power; Russia. If we don't react to that, and after we have seen what happened in Bucha and other places, it violates my understanding of... what should I say... decent behaviour of neighbours and friends of Ukraine. So, of course, yes, it has a price; but not to act and just let that brutality continue, and let that brutality of Russia be awarded is, for me, a higher price. Second, it is in our interest to help Ukraine. Because you have to understand that, if Ukraine loses this, that's a danger of us. That will make Europe even more vulnerable for Russian aggression. Because then the lesson learned from Georgia in 2008, from annexing Crimea in 2014, from starting to undermine Donbass in 2014, and then the full fledged brutal invasion by President Putin in February, is that they can just use force to get their will. It's to re-establish an idea of spheres of influence, where big powers can decide what small neighbours can do. And that will make all of us more vulnerable. So, even if you don't care about the moral aspect of this, supporting the people of Ukraine, you should care about your own security interest. So therefore, you have to pay; pay for the support, pay for humanitarian aid, pay the consequences of the economic sanctions, because the alternative is to pay a much higher price later on. And then remember one thing, yes, we pay a price, but the price we pay, as the European Union, as NATO, is a price we can measure in currency, in money. The price they pay is measured in lives lost every day. So, we should just stop complaining and step up and provide support, full stop.


Jens Stoltenberg: Yeah, and I think also, to be honest, it's impossible to convey this message because it is a possibility that this will last. It's not over, necessarily by the summer. Wars are hard to predict; they may take time. Then we need also to address work with the defence industries, so as Mikser addressed that we need to be able to provide the equipment, produce more, so we can we can help them. Then on Finland and Sweden, many questions, and that was partly also related to the timelines. Well, what I can say is that, so far, this is the quickest ever accession process. Finland and Sweden applied in May, mid May, and we invited them as... when was that... two weeks ago, when was that? Also just after the summit, two days after the summit, the beginning of July. That's never happened before so quick. Then the next phase of the succession process is ratification in 30 parliaments, and as a former [inaudible] Minister and Prime Minister, I'm always very careful to give advice to parliaments. But so far, many parliaments have already ratified; it's also the fastest ever process so far. But of course, we need 30 parliaments to ratify. So if anything, you can help me by talking to your friends in the national parliaments and encourage them to do this as quickly as possible, to make sure that Finland and Sweden can join. Then NATO Allies have already provided security assurances to Finland and Sweden in this interim period, NATO has increased its presence in that part of the world. So yes, we will also take care of that interim period. Then the South, well NATO can do more, but I don't believe that big military operations are the answers to the instability we see in the South. I think the best thing we can do is to work with partners like Mauritania, like Tunisia and others, build capacity, train, and help them to stabilise their own countries, we can do more of that. And that was one of the decisions from Madrid. The last thing is the question I got from Millán, was about US and if they elect a new US President. Well, I would say that NATO's history is about the fact that we are different nations with different political parties in charge, from both sides of the Atlantic, sometimes also disagreeing fundamentally on many issues, but always been able to agree around the core task to protect and defend each other. As long as we stand together, North America and Europe, we are safe, because then are 50% of the world's military might and 50% of the world's economic might. So, we just need to stand together. And yes, of course they can... I don't know who will be the next president in United States, but what I do know is that, when President Trump was President, we had so much as a challenging discussions, but the United States did not reduce their presence in Europe. They stayed. And that's partly because there's a very strong bipartisan support to NATO in the United States, both Republicans and Democrats. They disagree on many things, on climate change, Iran and abortion, and many other things. But on NATO, they agree. So, the very strong bipartisan support makes me certain that United States is actually committed to European security, because it's in their interest and in European interest that we stand together. And, if anything, the war in Ukraine just highlights the importance of not doing anything that divides Europe or North America. I believe in Europe and North America together in strategic solidarity. As long as we stand together, we are safe. That's my main message. Thank you. [applause]

David McAllister: Dear Jens, also in the name of Rasa for SEDE and on behalf of all colleagues, let me just say one word. Thank you. Thank you for coming today. Thank you for answering all these questions. Thank you for your comments. And what I said to you personally, I want to repeat here. I want to thank you personally for the excellent job you are doing as NATO Secretary General in these times. Once again, on behalf of all our colleagues, thank you in these challenging times.

Jens Stoltenberg: Thank you so much.