Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre

  • 24 Mar. 2023 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 24 Mar. 2023 15:45

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Gahr Støre,
Dear Jonas,

Welcome back to NATO Headquarters.
It’s great to see you again.

Last time we met was at the Troll platform in the North Sea.
And that demonstrates the importance Norway is playing to help us reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas.

It also demonstrates Norway’s central role in strengthening our shared security, including energy security.  

NATO is stepping up to better deter and respond to threats to critical infrastructure.
And we have increased our military presence in the North Sea in recent months.

Thank you, Prime Minister, for driving NATO’s work on securing our critical undersea infrastructure.

It is important that we understand our vulnerabilities, and increase protection working with NATO Allies, our partners and also with the private sector.

Norway also plays a key role in helping our Alliance to understand and address challenges in the High North.

Including by hosting exercises such as Joint Viking, the largest drills in Europe’s Arctic this year.

Norwegian forces also serve in our multinational battlegroup in Lithuania, helping to deter any aggression.

We just discussed Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.

I welcome Norway’s significant financial, humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.
This includes air defence systems, tanks, artillery ammunition and training for Ukrainian soldiers.

We must continue to provide Ukraine with what they need to prevail, for as long as it takes.

Today we also discussed Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO.

I welcome that Türkiye and Hungary are  ready to ratify Finland’s membership of our Alliance.
And I hope that both will do so swiftly. 

For me, it is a top priority to make sure that Sweden’s accession is also ratified as soon as possible. 

The accession of Finland and Sweden will make our Alliance stronger.
And demonstrate that NATO’s door remains open.

So Prime Minister,
Thank you again for Norway’s contributions to our shared security.
I look forward to continuing to work together with you.

Eline Sørsdahl, TV2 Norway
Mr. Secretary General, Prime Minister. I start with the you Mr. Stoltenberg: Norway is one of the Allies that do not reach the 2% target of defence spending. What's your take on that?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Well, I welcome the fact that Norway has, all of the NATO Allies, have increased defence spending since we agreed the defence investment pledge back in 2014. And this has enabled Norway to also invest in new and important capabilities that are contributing to our shared security, to our collective defence. Then, of course, I'll also expect that Norway as all other Allies, that are not meeting the 2% guideline, continue to increase the defence expenditure, because in a more dangerous world, we need to invest more in defence.

Eline Sørsdahl, TV2 Norway
And as Prime Minister, Norway's actually one of very few Allies that do not even have a plan to reach this target, why not?

Jonas Gahr Støre, Prime Minister of Norway
Well, let me first say that we fully support the defence investment pledge. As you know, figures have been varying over the last years. In 2020 Norway was at about the 2% level, strong increases in our GDP is then taking that figure down. But what I can tell you is that we will come to Vilnius with I think, a clear position on this and we are working on it.

We have increased our defence spending during our months in office, we made an increase in spending mid-year, last year, because of the war in Ukraine. And we followed up in the budget for 2023. So in nominal terms, we have increased our defence budget by some 17%. So that's an increase and also as the Secretary General said, it is also high level of investment into modern equipment. So we are committed to continuing to increase on investment and this will be done in an orderly and responsible way. As you know, we are now working on a new long term plan and we will have that ready next year and the ambition of increasing our investment will be part of that.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu

Simen Ekern, NRK
Question for the Prime Minister: Finland's NATO membership will now, it seems to be a fact soon, whereas we don't know when Sweden will become a member. Now that the Secretary General has several times stated now that the most important thing is not that the two countries become members at the same time, but that they do become members. Do you agree with this? Or do you see, concerning, security concerns due to Sweden's on clear situation right now?

Jonas Gahr Støre, Prime Minister of Norway
Well, let me just first reiterate, we agreed in Madrid that these two countries fulfill the requirements for membership. And that's why I believe all Allies should feel it has an obligation to follow up and do the proper ratifications. That being said, I agree with the Secretary General that Finland becoming member and with all the guarantees and political messages being sent to Sweden and Finland in this interim period, secures the security situation in the Nordic Region. And I believe that that is to be maintained, but I strongly hope that when we come to Vilnius, both countries will be properly members of NATO.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu
Okay, thank you very much. This concludes this press conference.