Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Bucharest, Romania

  • 30 Nov. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 30 Nov. 2022 14:05

(As delivered)

Good afternoon.
We have just concluded important meetings of NATO Foreign Ministers.

Last night, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, we addressed Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.
The country’s most urgent needs, and our longer-term support.

Ukraine has made significant gains.
But we must not underestimate Russia.

Russian missiles and drones continue to strike Ukrainian cities, civilians, and critical infrastructure.
This is causing enormous human suffering, as winter sets in. 

NATO Foreign Ministers made clear that our continued military support for Ukraine is essential.
In particular, additional air defences.
And I welcome the new commitments made by Allies.

Allies also announced additional contributions to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package.
Providing Ukraine with non-lethal aid, including fuel and generators.

This morning, Allies addressed the long-term challenges posed by China
to our interests, values and security.
And how we must continue to strengthen our resilience.

NATO is an Alliance of Europe and North America.
But the challenges we face are global.
And we must address them together in NATO.

We do not see China as an adversary.
We will continue to engage with China when it is in our interests.
Not least to convey our united position on Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.

So we remain clear-eyed.
Today, ministers considered China’s ambitious military developments, its technological advances, and its growing cyber and hybrid activities.

The war in Ukraine has demonstrated our dangerous dependency on Russian gas.
This should also lead us to assess our dependencies on other authoritarian regimes, not least China.
For our supply chains, technology or infrastructure.

We will continue, of course, to trade and engage economically with China.
But we have to be aware of our dependencies.
Reduce our vulnerabilities.
And manage the risks.

Foreign ministers stressed the importance of meeting NATO’s resilience guidelines, and maintaining our technological edge.
We must also continue to strengthen our cooperation with partners in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as with the European Union.

Ministers also discussed terrorism, the most direct asymmetric threat to our security.
We saw that most recently with the horrific attack in Istanbul.
Ministers agreed that we must continue our efforts to counter this threat.

For our final session, the Foreign Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova joined us.
Three valued NATO partners, which face Russian pressure.

We discussed our shared security concerns, and ways to strengthen our cooperation. And Allies agreed to step up our tailored support, including on capacity-building, reforms, and training to improve their security and defence institutions.

In all our discussions, yesterday and today, we were joined by Finland and Sweden.
The ratification process for their NATO membership is now nearly complete.

Their accession will make them safer, our Alliance stronger,
And the Euro-Atlantic area more secure.
It is time to welcome them as full-fledged members of the Alliance.

I want to close by thanking Romania for the excellent hosting of this meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers.
This shows once again Romania’s strong commitment to our Alliance.

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

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu
We’ll go to New York Times. On the left there.

Steven Erlanger, New York Times
Steve Erlanger, New York Times. Mr. Stoltenberg, you and other Western leaders keep saying that Ukraine is fighting for our values, it is defending our democracies, it is defending our borders. Hasn’t Ukraine earned NATO membership? Hasn’t it earned now more than vague promises of membership sometime over the horizon? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
The most immediate and urgent task, is to ensure that Ukraine prevail as a sovereign, independent democratic nation in Europe. And to do so, we need to mobilize as much as we can, when it comes to military, economic, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine. And this is exactly what we do. If Ukraine does not prevail as an independent sovereign state, then of course, then membership issue is not at the table at all. Because then we have no candidate member anymore in Ukraine. So, whatever you think about when Ukraine can become a member, a precondition for that issue to be at the table at all is that Ukraine prevails, and we are helping Ukraine to do so as we speak. Allies made it clear throughout the meeting, that they are ready to sustain the support with advanced military equipment, with ammunition, with fuel, with all the other stuff that Ukraine needs to defend themselves. That is the urgent, that’s the immediate and the most important task for Allies. Then, we also have to understand that there is a lot between nothing and full membership, meaning that we need to develop closer and closer partnership, both political partnership but also practical partnership with Ukraine. This will strengthen their institutions. It will help them to move from a Soviet era equipment standards to modern NATO standard equipment doctrines. This is good for Ukraine, this is good for us, it will increase interoperability, but it will also help Ukraine move closer to membership. So I think it is important now that we take it step by step. The most important and urgent step is to ensure that Ukraine prevails and that is exactly what we are doing.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu
We'll go to the Radio and Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mladen Dzino, Radio and Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Thank you. Thank you, Secretary General. Mladen Dzino, Television in Bosnia and Herzegovina. NATO support of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina is undisputable. However, as you said, the country is under Russian pressure. Can you tell me what did you mean by that term, Russian pressure, and it is known that there are in country political forces who are pro-Russian oriented and are against membership, membership of NATO of Bosnia and Herzegovina. How can you [inaudible] that Russian pressure?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Well, first of all, Bosnia and Herzegovina is important for stability in the whole of the Western Balkan regions. And it's also important for NATO. NATO has a history in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We helped to end a brutal ethnic war there in the 1990s. And NATO is still present in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have the headquarters in Sarajevo, and we work with Bosnia and Herzegovina. I just met with the foreign minister. And I think to be able to resist attempts of Russian interference and influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the most important things that should be done is to complete the formation of a government after the elections, and also to realize that everything that can strengthen the institutions, the government institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, will also make Bosnia and Herzegovina more resilient against any type of foreign influence or malign activities. NATO is committed to further support Bosnia and Herzegovina, including too our defence capacity building program and the NATO HQ, our headquarters in Sarajevo, and to help build strong defence and security institutions including by helping to implement democratic reforms.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu
Okay, we'll go to IMEDI TV Georgia. Lady at the back.

Ketevan Kardava, IMEDI TV Georgia
[Inaudible] Bosnia Herzegovina, Georgia, we are in the same group as parent countries. Mr. Secretary General, how is the commitment made? Again in Bucharest, and new decisions help Georgia on the road to future membership as this is the main goal of Georgian people and Georgian government. And also can you tell us more about the meeting with Georgian Foreign Affairs Minister and the challenges ahead of us, because of the war in Ukraine, and ongoing occupation of Georgia by Russia? Thank you so much.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
The Foreign Minister of Georgia was very much welcomed by NATO Allies together with the Foreign Ministers of Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina, in our last session, where we express our solidarity with all three partners. I think if there's one the lesson learned from Ukraine, is that we need to support them now. The more support you're able to provide to these countries, being different, but under Russian pressure, [inaudible] in different ways. It is much better to support them now than when we have seen developments going in the absolutely wrong direction as we saw with the invasion of Ukraine, earlier this year. So that's one of the reasons why, for instance in Georgia, we have the training and relation center with dozens of NATO trainers. Allies made new commitments, announcements, for further support. Because we need to build a long standing partnership with Georgia and we use the office, we use the training center to do exactly that. All Allies also expressed their strong support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the same time, Allies also underlined the importance of implementing democratic reforms in Georgia and working together with Georgia to implement the enhanced package of support that we have agreed.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu
Thank you very much, colleagues. This is all we have time for today. And we will see you at next ministerial. Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Thank you.