with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Minister Çavuşoğlu, dear Mevlüt,
It is good to see you again and thank you for your warm welcome.
And thank you for your strong great commitment to our Alliance and to NATO.
Today, I have come to show my solidarity following the devastating earthquake that struck Türkiye and Syria last week.
This is the deadliest natural disaster on Alliance territory since the foundation of NATO.
On behalf of NATO, I offer my deepest condolences to the Turkish people, and the families and loved ones of all those who lost their lives or were injured.
We salute the courage of the Turkish first responders.
And we mourn with you.
NATO Allies lowered their flags in solidarity after the earthquake.
And at this week’s Defence ministerial meeting we observed a moment of silence to honour the victims.
In your time of need, NATO stands with Türkiye.
The day after the earthquake, NATO’s
Disaster Response Centre issued an immediate request for assistance to all NATO Allies and partners.
Since then, thousands of emergency response personnel have been deployed to Türkiye to support the relief efforts.
Including with search and rescue teams, firefighters, medical personnel and seismic experts.
NATO Allies continue to provide support.
Military aircraft from the Netherlands, Norway, the UK and the United States are working day and night to transport international aid to Türkiye, and perform medical evacuations.
Other Allies like Albania, Canada and Germany are providing financial and other types of aid.
And across NATO, ordinary citizens are raising millions of euros in support to Türkiye.
This is true and deep solidarity.
I also welcome the contributions of our invitees Finland and Sweden, showing solidarity in action.
In particular, I thank Sweden for its initiative to hold an international donor conference in March.
The focus going forward will be on reconstruction and supporting the displaced.
That is why NATO is now setting up temporary housing for thousands
of displaced people.
In addition, NATO will also use our strategic airlift capabilities to transport tens of thousands of tents to Türkiye in the coming days and weeks.
All of this will help to save lives.
NATO has a team on the ground, working hand-in-hand with the Turkish authorities.
Later today, I will meet with some of the personnel supporting these efforts.
And thank them for their professionalism and their dedication.
So, Minister Çavuşoğlu,
Thank you again for hosting me today.
This is a time for NATO Allies and partners to come together.
Standing alongside the people of Türkiye, today and tomorrow, in strong solidarity.
Question 1 (Reuters): My question is to Mr Secretary General. Mr Stoltenberg, Turkish President Erdoğan signaled that Türkiye could ratify Finland's application to NATO alone. You already referred to this issue this week, you said the main question is not whether together the ratification, the main question is that they should be ratified as soon as possible. So my question is, is there a deadline for NATO? I mean, not an official deadline, but will it cause a problem for NATO if Türkiye does not complete the ratification process until Vilnius Summit? And in addition to that, Türkiye objects Sweden's application mainly on terrorism-related issues, and you also emphasize that Türkiye has legitimate concerns on this terrorism issue. So, how this fight against terrorism issue will be discussed in Vilnius Summit? [speaks in Turkish]
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: So my consistent position has been and remains that the time has come to ratify both Finland and Sweden and make them full members of our Alliance. They have both made big steps since we signed the joint memorandum between Finland and Sweden and Türkiye in July at the NATO Summit in Madrid last year. They have removed any restrictions on arms exports, strengthened their legislation on terrorism. And Sweden is also amending their constitution and stepped up the cooperation with Türkiye, also established a permanent mechanism to continue to work closely with Türkiye in the fight against terrorism. So I continue to believe that the time is now to ratify both Finland and Sweden. Then also to add that I fully recognize that Türkiye has legitimate security concerns. No other NATO Ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Türkiye. And that's the reason why terrorism was an important part of the trilateral memorandum agreed in July. That's why for NATO the fight against terrorism is one of the main tasks and why, of course, as we prepare for the Vilnius Summit, as we continue to adapt the Alliance, terrorism will be high on the NATO agenda. And I also believe that to have Finland and Sweden inside the Alliance will actually strengthen our capabilities to fight international terrorism.
Then on your question of whether Finland and Sweden should ratify together or whether it's possible to ratify Finland first and Sweden afterwards. Well, again my position is that both can be ratified now. But the main issue is not whether they are ratified together. The main issue is that Finland and Sweden are ratified as soon as possible.
Then let me also say that I know that the burning of the Quran in Stockholm has created strong reactions in Türkiye. And I understand and I share the pain because I personally regard the burning of the holy book as a disgraceful act. And I understand the feelings of Muslims in Türkiye and around the world. And therefore I also strongly condemn the burning, but also welcome the fact that Sweden has been able to prevent other manifestations with the burning of the Quran as part of the manifestation. And I welcome also that the Swedish government and the Swedish Prime Minister has clearly condemned this disgraceful act. Not all acts which are disgraceful or immoral or provocative are illegal. But it is important to have a strong position and that's what we have seen clearly from the Swedish government. So for me, this does demonstrate that Sweden and Finland understand and are implementing policies which recognize the concerns that Türkiye has expressed and also why I think that the time has come to ratify.
Let me add one more thing. And that is that this is a Turkish decision. It's the Turkish government, the Turkish parliament, that decides on the issue of ratification, and it's a Turkish decision alone. Because what has to be decided by Türkiye is whether to ratify the accession documents and that is a decision that Türkiye has to take.
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu: [answers in Turkish]
Question 2: [question in Turkish]
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs: [answers in Turkish]