with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken
Thank you so much Secretary Austin.
And thank you for once again welcoming me and my delegation.
Let me let me start by joining you in expressing my sincere condolences to Türkiye and to all those who lost their loved ones in this devastating earthquake.
And also that the Command United States and also other Allies for stepping up very quickly to provide support to help Türkiye with the rescue work and to mitigate the consequences of the earthquake.
This demonstrates how NATO Allies stand together, how we support each other and therefore it is part of the NATO spirit to help when a country, a NATO Ally suffers a terrible earthquake, as Türkiye did a few days ago.
Then let me also commend the United States and you personally, Secretary Austin, for your leadership, your unwavering leadership in providing support for Ukraine, not least through the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which is coordinating and mobilising support for Ukraine.
And this support makes a difference on the ground every day and is critical for Ukraine in their self-defence.
Ukraine is invaded, and Ukraine has the right to defend its own territory. The right of self-defense is enshrined in the UN Charter.
And what NATO Allies and partners do is to help Ukraine fulfill that right.
We need to be prepared for long haul, to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
I welcome also the clear commitment from the United States, from President Biden, from the US administration, but also the bipartisan support, which I actually saw myself today in many different meetings in the Congress, in the United States, to continue to support Ukraine.
If President Putin wins in Ukraine, it will be a tragedy for Ukraine but it will also be dangerous for us.
It will send a message to authoritarian leaders, not only to President Putin but also in Asia, and other places, that when they use military force, they can achieve their goals. And that will make the world more dangerous and us more vulnerable.
So it is in our national security interest to ensure that Ukraine prevails and wins and prevails as a sovereign independent nation in Europe.
Then I welcome also the strong support for enlargement of the Alliance. All Allies made an historic decision when they decided at the NATO summit in July, last year, to invite Finland and Sweden.
And the time has now come to finalise this ratification process, and I hope that we can see, both Finland and Sweden, as full members, as soon as possible.
Let me also say that you and I, we were almost at the same time in Southeast Asia.
And I think that, that demonstrates that security is not regional. Security is global. What happens in Europe matters for Southeast Asia, for Asia. And what happens there matters for Europe and for North America, and for all of us.
And that is the reason why we need to address also the security consequences of China’s heavy investments in new military capabilities and how China poses a challenge to our interests, our security and to our values.
Many issues to be discussed. Looking forward to our meeting and thank you so much again for hosting me and my delegation.