Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Romania, Nicolae Ciucă

  • 26 Oct. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 26 Oct. 2022 15:31

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Ciucă,
Dear Nicolae,

It is great to see you again. Welcome to NATO headquarters. You know these headquarters, you know NATO very well. But it is always a pleasure to meet you and to discuss and to address the security challenges we face together in our Alliance.

Romania is a highly valued Ally.

And I greatly appreciate the important contributions you make to our shared security at this pivotal time. 

You host one of NATO’s new battlegroups in the Black Sea region.

You lead by example on defence spending.  

And Romania hosts a key site for NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence. 

I also welcome your diplomatic leadership to strengthen NATO.
Including by hosting a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Bucharest next month.

Today, we addressed Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.

President Putin is failing on the battlefield. 
He is responding with more indiscriminate attacks on Ukrainian cities. 
Against civilians and against critical infrastructure. 
And with dangerous nuclear rhetoric.
We have also seen Russia accuse Ukraine of preparing to use a radiological “dirty bomb”. 
This is absurd. 
Allies reject this blatantly false accusation.
And Russia must not use false pretexts to escalate the war further.

NATO will not be intimidated or deterred from supporting Ukraine’s right to self-defence.
For as long as it takes.

Every week, Ukraine’s forces are getting stronger and better equipped.

At the same time, we continue to strengthen our own defences. 

We are reinforcing NATO’s presence from the Black to the Baltic Sea. 

Fighter jets from Canada help to keep your skies safe. 

And thousands of French, Dutch, Belgian and US troops are in Romania to deter aggression. 

These deployments send a clear message: 

NATO is ready to defend Romania. 
And all other Allies. 

Today we addressed the situation in the Black Sea region, which is of vital strategic importance to NATO.

Three Allies are littoral states, as are our close partners Ukraine and Georgia.

Russia’s war has turned parts of the Black Sea into a warzone. 

Missiles fired by Russian warships in the Black Sea have hit Ukrainian towns. 

And for months, Russian forces blocked Ukrainian ports, causing the worst global food crisis in years.

We urge Russia to renew the UN grain deal brokered by Türkiye.
And ensure the continued supply of food to those who need it most. 

So Prime Minister, 
Thank you again for Romania’s many contributions to NATO.
I look forward to being in Bucharest in just a few weeks’ time.

So once again, welcome. It is a great honour to have you here.
Please, you have the floor.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: We have time for a couple of questions. We'll start with Romanian Television, TVR.

Vlad Ungar (Romanian Public Television): Hello, my name is Vlad Ungar, news reporter, Romanian Public Television. My first question is for Secretary General. How will the war in Ukraine evolve in the near future? Will it have ended by the end of the next year or will the war freeze in this stage?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Wars are by nature unpredictable. But what we have seen over the last weeks and months is actually that the Ukrainians have made significant gains. They have been able to first of all push back the Russian invading forces from the north, from the territory around Kyiv and then stop or halt the Russian offensive in Donbass, and actually then push back the forces, liberate territory in Kharkiv and in Donbass, and also now in the south. And this is of course, a great example of the bravery, the courage of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and we pay great respect to them, the people of Ukraine, the political leadership on Ukraine and their armed forces. But of course, the support from NATO Allies and partners have been also vital for the progress, the successes we have seen the Ukrainians have been able to make over the last weeks or months.

Let me add that the war didn't start in February this year. The war started in 2014. That was when President Putin illegally annexed Crimea and started to control the eastern part of Donbass. What happened in February was a full scale escalation, a full scale war, a war of aggression by Russia against Ukraine. I will not speculate about how long the war will last. I will only say two things, and one is that we are ready to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. We cannot allow President Putin to win. That would be a disaster, a tragedy for Ukrainians, but it would also make us, NATO Allies, more vulnerable. Because then the lesson learned from Ukraine for President Putin is that he can achieve his goals by using military force. And that will be a lesson learned not only for him, but also for other authoritarian leaders around the world.

The second message is that most wars end at the negotiating table. And at the same time, we know that what Ukraine can achieve at the negotiating table is totally dependent on the strength on the battlefield. So we need to strengthen their hand on the negotiating table by providing military support. And that's exactly what NATO Allies are doing, to maximise the likelihood for an outcome which is acceptable for Ukraine and to minimise the time before we get there. Because the stronger Ukraine is on the battlefield, the more likely it is that we'll have a political solution that ensures that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation in Europe.

NATO Spokesperson: Okay, we'll go to Euronews. Here, just behind you.

Silviu Bălașu (Euronews): Mr. Secretary. You said recently NATO will help Finland and Sweden if they are threatened. What are the Alliance’s worries?

NATO Secretary General: Sorry?

Silviu Bălașu (Euronews): What are the Alliance’s worries about Finland and Sweden? Considering the delay of Finland and Sweden joining in the context of Hungary's oppositions.

NATO Secretary General: First of all, all NATO Allies, all 30 NATO Allies made an historic decision in June this year at the Madrid Summit to invite Finland and Sweden to become NATO Allies. And then we signed the accession protocols, all 30 NATO Allies. And so now 28 Allies have already ratified the Accession Protocol. So so far, this has been the fastest, the quickest, accession process in NATO’s modern history. There were only weeks from Finland and Sweden applied in May, to we invited them and signed the Accession Protocol and already 28 have ratified in the national parliaments. Recently also Hungary made it clear that they will… that the ratification is on the agenda of the parliament this fall.

And of course I welcome that Finland, Sweden and Türkiye are working together to implement the joint memorandum they agreed on the margins of the Madrid Summit, to step up efforts to fight international terrorism. Sweden has made it clear that there are only… there are no restrictions on arms exports to Türkiye. And they have established what we call a permanent mechanism, a way to work even more closely together on the exchange of information, on intelligence to support efforts on fighting international terrorism. So I'm confident that all Allies will ratify the Accession Protocol. I also welcome the fact that Finland and Sweden are in close contact with Türkiye. The Swedish Prime Minister was recently here. We of course discussed the accession process and he will go to Türkiye to meet with President Erdoğan. I will go to Ankara… Or to Türkiye, to Istanbul, to meet with President Erdoğan in the near future myself. So we are in close contact with Finland and Sweden and also of course in close contact at all levels with our close Ally, Türkiye.

Then, what I said and is still my message is that Finland and Sweden are in a very different place now than before they applied. Because what we have seen since then, is that Allies have issued security assurances to Finland and Sweden as part of the whole accession process. We have more NATO presence in the Baltic region, in the region around Finland and Sweden. Finland and Sweden participate in NATO activities; civilian, military. And, of course, if there were any kind of pressure against Finland and Sweden, it is inconceivable that the NATO Allies should just stand idly by and not react. So we will react if there is any kind of pressure against Finland and Sweden.

NATO Spokesperson: Associated Press.

Mark Carlson (Associated Press): Thank you, Mr. Secretary General, Mr. Prime Minister, Mark from Associated Press. Mr. Secretary General, how has the Turkish government reacted to the new government in Sweden concerning their approach on reaching understanding with Türkiye concerning the accession to NATO? And, Mr. Prime Minister, have you had any negotiations with Hungary, your neighbour, concerning the delay in the process of them approving Finland and Sweden? Have you taken part in any negotiations with your neighbour? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: There is broad political support in Sweden for becoming a NATO Ally. The decision by the Swedish parliament was… there was an overwhelming majority in support of the accession application and both the previous and the current government is, of course, very committed to implementing the trilateral agreement that was made between Türkiye, Finland and Sweden at the NATO Summit. I welcome the very clear message from Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and the new government to work hard on implementing the agreement and to ensure that there is ratification by all Allies as soon as possible. I welcome the close contact between Stockholm and Ankara, President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Kristersson. And I also know that Sweden is at different diplomatic and political levels in close contact with Türkiye. So this is, of course only supported by me. I will go to Türkiye myself in the near future. And we do this to ensure that as soon as possible 30 Allies will have ratified the Accession Protocol, enabling Finland and Sweden to become full members of the Alliance.

Prime Minister of Romania, Mr. Nicolae Ciucă: Romania has understood from the very beginning the relevance of Sweden and Finland to become a member of the Alliance and we value from the very beginning how more capabilities they bring within the Alliance. So we ratify the agreement from the very beginning of the process. And of course, right now, specifically, we are not discussing with our neighbouring country Hungary in regard to clarifying how we can support on this decision. But we are always discussing with the Secretary General, with the NATO Headquarters, and if necessary, we are open to be part of this process. So answering your question, till now we did not talk specifically on this issue.

NATO Spokesperson: Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference.