Doorstep statement

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs

  • 04 Apr. 2023 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 04 Apr. 2023 14:39

(As delivered)

Good morning. 
Today is an historic day. 

Because in a few hours, we will welcome Finland as the thirty-first member of our Alliance. 
This will make Finland safer and NATO stronger.

And on this very day, in 1949, the Washington Treaty, NATO’s founding Treaty was signed in Washington.

And it is hard to imagine a better way of celebrating our anniversary than to have Finland becoming a full member of the Alliance.

NATO’s Foreign Ministers meet at a pivotal time for our security.  

We see that President Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine grinds on. 

We will meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission with the Foreign Minister Kuleba, where we will address how to sustain and ramp up support from NATO and NATO Allies to Ukraine. 

Both the urgent needs but also, I expect that Allies will start to develop a more long-term and multi-year programme to assist and support Ukraine. 

To help them develop interoperability with NATO Allies. 
Move from Soviet era standards, doctrines to NATO standards and then move closer to the Euro-Atlantic family. 

We will, tomorrow in our session, address a wide range of different security challenges, including those emanating from the Middle East and North Africa, including the fight against terrorism. 

We will discuss how to invest more in defence.
And I expect that when Allies meet at the Summit in Vilnius later on, Allies will agree to have a more ambitious defence investment pledge where we regard 2% of GDP for defence not as ceiling but as a floor, a minimum that we need to spend more in a more dangerous world on our security. 
And then, we will also meet with our Asia-Pacific partners –New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

Security is not regional, security is global. What happens in Europe matters for the Indo-Pacific, for Asia. 
And what happens in Asia matters for Europe. 

And the war in Ukraine really demonstrates that with all its global ramifications. 
And also when you see that China and Russia are coming more and more closely, that they stand together, work together, it makes it even more obvious that we need to stand together with our partners in the Indo-Pacific. 

With that I am ready to take your questions. 

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu:
Associated Press.

Lorne Cook, Associated Press:
Secretary General, Lorne Cook from the Associated Press. Russia said yesterday that it is ready to bolster its presence around Finland. If NATO decides it is going to do something, sending more troops? Is it something that NATO is considering? What can we expect in coming weeks and perhaps months in terms of exercises and other things that might be seen as potentially a provocation?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
So first of all, what we have seen over many years is Russian military build-up also in the north close to Finland, to Norway. And this has taken place over many years in the Kola Peninsula and in the Arctic. And we have not only seen the Russian military build-up but also seen that Russia is willing, and President Putin is willing to use military force against neighbours. Georgia in 2008, then Crimea in 2014, and then the full-fledged invasion of Ukraine last year.
So this is part of a pattern and that is exactly why we have strengthened NATO readiness, our presence in eastern part of the Alliance, and why NATO Allies are investing more also in new, modern capabilities. It was actually the invasion of Ukraine - last year - that led to the decision by Finland and Sweden to apply for a NATO membership. And it just demonstrates that when President Putin had us in the declared goal of the invasion of Ukraine, to get less NATO, he wanted less NATO along his borders, he wanted to close NATO store, no more NATO membership for any more countries in Europe. He is getting exactly the opposite. He is getting  more troop, more readiness, more forces, land, sea and air in the eastern part of the Alliance. And he is getting more members, Finland today and also Sweden will become a full-fledged member of the Alliance. Then we are constantly assessing our posture, our presence. We have more exercises, we are more presence also in the Nordic area. But again, this is something which is part of a pattern of NATO has already responded to.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu:

Mr. Stoltenberg, what does this mean personally to you? Is this sort of an emotional highlight for your term? And secondly, can you really celebrate when Sweden is not ready to join yet?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
So, I am glad and I am proud to be the Secretary General that can welcome Finland as a full- fledge member of the Alliance. This is important for NATO. It is important for Finland. It is important not least for the Nordic Region and the Baltic region. You can just look at the map and understand how important Finland is for the security in the Nordic and the Baltic region. And then also of course, Finland brings high end capabilities, substantial forces, also advanced defence industry into the Alliance. But personally I am also glad because I am from Norway. I have worked with Finland and Finnish politicians and leaders for many, many years. And of course, not so many years ago, we thought it was unthinkable that Finland would become a member. Now they are a full-fledge member of our Alliance. And that is truly historic an something that demonstrates that Finland is a sovereign, independent country. They make their own decisions. And NATO is an Alliance of democracies, with an open door to democratic sovereign nations, as Finland.

Will the security guarantees of NATO now apply 100% to Finland and what will the difference between Finland and Sweden be in this regard?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Well, what happens today is that Finland becomes a full-fledged member of the Alliance and that means of course that they will now participate fully as a member in all NATO meetings, activities, military structures, command structure at all parts of NATO, civilian and military structures. But of course, most importantly, is that by becoming a member, Finland will get an ironclad security guarantee. Article Five, our collective defence goals, one for all, all for one will now from today apply for Finland. Then of course, this is something that builds on what has happened over the last year, because when NATO Allies, when the heads of state and government at the Summit in Madrid in June last year, decided to invite Finland, Sweden, then both Finland and Sweden came in much stronger and much better position towards NATO than before. So also Sweden, which has not yet a full-fledged member, it’s very close –in a much better position. As an invitee they participate in NATO meetings, they are integrating into NATO structures. We are developing capability targets taking in account for also Sweden when you do defence planning, so Sweden is also very close to NATO, but of course they haven't that final ratification by all Allies and therefore, not a full-fledged member. [inaudible] Sweden, actually, the question about Sweden is that of course. It is a great day to have Finland as a member. But we will ensure that also Sweden will become a full member. And we have to remember that all Allies agreed to invite them and all Allies have signed the Accession Protocol. What remains when it comes to Sweden is the ratification into parliaments, I'm confident that will happen. I met with President Erdoğan a few weeks ago, I also spoke with him on phone recently, and we agreed, of course, first of all to ensure that Finland becomes a full member at that accession process is now finalized for Finland, but we also agreed to restart the process, the meetings or the permanent record mechanism, the meetings of Finland, Sweden, and Türkiye to ensure also that we can make progress on the ratification of Sweden. So Sweden is in a much better place now than before they applied and we will continue to work hard to ensure that we can finalise the ratification process.

Two questions, to follow up on the question before, most of the countries on the eastern flank there are also troops from other countries, will there be troops from other countries also in Finland and the second question, how can NATO be more safe by having a much longer border with Russia? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
It is Finnish decision whether they will like to have any – there will be no NATO troops in Finland without the consent of Finland. And of course, what we have in many countries is that we have exercises, we have a naval and an air presence and so on but we don't have permanent bases. And this has not been an issue so far in our discussions with Finland. Then they're –well the reality is that this is a result of President Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine. And of course Finland also has a history that tells them about the brutality that a war can inflict on the country, like we now see in Ukraine and like Finland during the Winter War in 1930 –in 1940. And therefore, when they saw that President Putin didn't –not only threaten Ukraine, but actually threatened every nation in Europe that wanted to make their own decisions on joining NATO or not. Then Finland decided to join the Alliance and NATO becomes stronger, Finland become safer by belonging to an Alliance where we guarantee the security of all Allies, the purpose of NATO's deterrence and defence is not to provoke a conflict it is to prevent the conflict and any misunderstanding, any miscalculation, is dangerous. And by becoming a full-fledged member, we are removing the room for miscalculation in Moscow about NATO's readiness to protect Finland and that makes Finland safer and NATO stronger and all of us safer.

Siarhei Pelesa, Belsat TV:
I have a feeling that the NATO's reaction on Putin's declarations about potential nuclear weapon in Belarus, is quite moderate. Don't you think this is a serious threat, or just aggressive rhetoric?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
President Putin's nuclear rhetoric over the last year, and also before the invasion actually, is dangerous and reckless. And we have made that clear again and again. We also made it clear that nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought. We of course, and NATO remains a nuclear Alliance. And that's part of our, an essential part of our deterrence and defence. And of course, we closely monitor what Russia does. And so far, we haven't seen any changes in Russia's nuclear posture that requires any changes in our posture, but we will remain vigilant. We monitor closely what they do and we will take the necessary steps to always ensure that we have a credible deterrence for all Allies. And again, this is not about provoking conflict. This is about preserving peace, preventing misunderstanding, miscalculations in Moscow about our readiness to protect all Allies. Because together NATO Allies represent 50% of the world’s military might. So as long as we stand together and protect each other and do that in a credible way, then there will be no military attack against a NATO Ally.