Doorstep statement

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the Informal meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Oslo, Norway

  • 01 Jun. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 01 Jun. 2023 12:00

(As delivered)

Good morning,
It’s great to be back in Oslo and to chair a meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers here at Oslo City Hall.

We have quite extensive agenda where we will address some issues as to prepare for the upcoming Vilnius Summit in July in Vilnius,
and not least we will discuss how to step up and sustain our support for Ukraine.

Over the last months, NATO Allies and partners have provided unprecedented level of support to Ukraine, helping them to retake and liberate Ukrainian territory.
We'll also discuss Ukraine's membership aspirations and all Allies agree that NATO’s door is open for new members.

All Allies also agree that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance and all Allies agree that it is for the NATO Allies and Ukraine to decide when Ukraine becomes a member.
It's not for Moscow to have a veto against NATO enlargement.
But most importantly, all Allies agree that the most urgent and important task now is to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation.

President Putin, Russia must not win this war.
We need to ensure that Ukraine prevails after this war.
And when the war ends, we need to ensure that history doesn't repeat itself, that this pattern of Russian aggression against Ukraine really stops and therefore, we need to have in place frameworks to provide guarantees for Ukrainian security after the end of the war, so history doesn't repeat itself.

We will also discuss other issues including deterrence and defence where we will make new important decisions at the Vilnius Summit.
And of course, this builds on the big adaptation that has taken place in NATO since 2014.
We have implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation and part of that will also be to address the need for increased defence spending.
Meaning that I expect that when the leaders meet and also on issues that will be discussed here today, we will make sure that 2% of GDP for defence is not a ceiling, something we strive towards, but it will be a floor, a minimum for what is needed to meet obligations as a NATO Ally.

We'll also address how to further strengthen our partnership with Indo Pacific partners, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, and then also expect many Allies or Allies to express strong support for Sweden, becoming a full member of the Alliance as soon as possible.
I spoke with President Erdoğan earlier this week.
And again, I always highlight the importance of making progress on the accession of Sweden.
And I will also travel to Ankara in the near future to continue to address how we can ensure the fastest possible accession of Sweden.

And with that I'm ready to take your questions.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu:

Eirik Røsvik, VG Norway:
VG Norway. How will you convince Erdogan and Türkiye to accept Sweden and when will you travel to Ankara?

NATO Secretary General:
So first of all, we have to remember that all Allies, also Türkiye, invited Sweden to become a full member. That happened at the NATO summit last year in Madrid, and so far this has been a very quick accession process because Finland and Sweden applied in May, already in June, both Finland and Sweden were invited. Finland is already a full-fledged member and I am confident, of course, that also Sweden will be a member and then we are working for that to happen as early as possible.
My message is that Swedish membership, full-fledged membership of NATO is good for Sweden, it is good for the Nordic countries, for Norway, for the Baltic region but it is also good for the whole of NATO. This will strengthen NATO, make NATO stronger, and that is of course, also good for Türkiye and all other Allies. And again, the important decision to invite [Sweden] happened last year, and that was also, it put Sweden in a much safer and stronger place. Sweden as an invitee to the Alliance, after the decision to invite them last summer, Sweden is now integrating more and more into NATO structures, our military structures, our civilian structures, and several Allies also provided bilateral security assurances for Sweden. So it is absolutely inconceivable that there will be any threat or any attack against Sweden without NATO reacting. I will travel to Ankara in the near future, exactly when, it is not yet decided.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu:

Florian Neuhann, ZDF:
On Ukrainian membership Mr. Stoltenberg, are you optimistic that Allies will agree on a stronger language meaning that you can give some concrete steps for Ukraine in order to achieve the membership?

NATO Secretary General:
So I am confident that we will find a consensus on the way forward and we have had good informal discussions already, and we agree on some core messages. So as late as last year, all Allies agreed that Ukraine will become a member of this Alliance and we are making concrete steps because Ukraine is moving towards NATO, meaning that they are coming closer and closer, meaning that they are moving from the Soviet standards to NATO standards, equipment, doctrines, and we are helping them doing that as we speak, and we have done it since 2014. So Ukraine, is much closer to NATO now, then just a few years ago, and of course, after the full-fledged invasion last year with a substantial military support, including training. We are helping Ukraine to move closer to NATO membership. So when Allies now start to, for instance, train them to use fourth generation NATO standard aircraft, that helps them to actually be able to operate modern aircraft, but it also helps them to come closer to NATO, to NATO doctrines and interoperability. So yes, we are moving and yes, all Allies agree that Ukraine will become a member.

Stål Talsnes, TV 2:
Mr. Stoltenberg, yesterday you drew a line from the terrorist attack in Norway in 2011 and compared it to Russia's attack on Ukraine. Is it your opinion that missile attacks on Kyiv, for instance, are acts of terror from Russia?

NATO Secretary General:
So deliberate attacks on civilians is a war crime. There is a line between what we saw here in Norway on the 22nd of July 2011, and a war of aggression against a sovereign independent nation, Ukraine,  because the tension is the same and that is to use force, illegal force, to obtain political goals. And therefore, I think it is also extremely important that those who are responsible are held accountable for war crimes, and that also the International Criminal Court has the capabilities and is able to conduct the necessary investigations to establish the fact, to collect proof, because those responsible for war crimes in Ukraine must be held accountable.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu:

Beyza Binnur Dönmez, Anadolu Agency:
Beyza Dönmez, Anadolu Agency. I would like to ask about your decision regarding [inaudible] additional troops to Kosovo as well as keeping a battalion ready. [Does it] mean that, not to think that, there will be no common ground reached by the sides of the conflict soon, and also, not to prepare us for an evolvement of the clashes to a bigger conflict like Russia's war in Ukraine?

NATO Secretary General:
So what we have seen in Kosovo is increased tensions and we have also seen the violence against NATO peacekeepers, the KFOR forces and this is totally unacceptable, unprovoked violence against peacekeepers from NATO with a clear UN mandate. And of course, NATO will remain vigilant we will be there to ensure a safe and secure environment and also to calm down and reduce the tensions. To ensure that we have the forces we need at any time, we have decided to deploy our operational reserve and I thank Allies for providing the troops to that reserve but also to make ready and additional reserve force so we can deploy even more. So the first deployment of extra troops will be around 700 and they are on their way. But of course, this does not mean that we are giving up on a political solution. Our message both to Belgrade and to Pristina is that they have to engage in good faith in the EU facilitated dialogue. That is the only path to peace but at the same time, NATO has responsibility to ensure stability in Kosovo, and that is reason why we have been there for many years and why we now are increasing our presence in the region.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu:

Øyvind Nyborg, NRK:
Yes. The other day, you said that Ukraine has the right to defend itself on the question of how you react to possible Ukraine attacks on Russian soil. Based on that statement, and also signals from other NATO countries concerning attacks on the Russian soil. Is there a shift in NATO now on how you regard possible Ukraine or Ukraine affiliated attacks on Moscow, for instance, within NATO?

NATO Secretary General:
We have exactly the same position now as we had at the beginning of the war, and that is that Ukraine has the right to defend itself. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law. The right to have a self-defense is enshrined in the UN Charter and there is no doubt that this is a war of aggression by President Putin and Moscow against Ukraine, and Ukraine has the right to defend itself. President Putin, Moscow started this war and they can end this war and that's the way to create peace and stability and to ensure no further escalation of the war. So we support Ukraine, and we will continue to support Ukraine. We will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes and that does not make NATO, NATO Allies party to the conflict. We have the right to support Ukraine without becoming a party to the conflict. And of course, fundamentally, NATO has two tasks in this conflict. One is to provide support to Ukraine, as we do. The other is to prevent this conflict in Ukraine, Russia war of aggression against Ukraine to escalate beyond Ukraine. And that is reason why we have increased our military presence in eastern part of the Alliance on NATO territory, with land forces, air forces, naval forces to remove any room from misunderstanding and miscalculation in Moscow, about NATO’s readiness to protect every inch of NATO territory. The reason why we do that is of course to prevent escalation beyond Ukraine.


NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu:

Norwegian Radio, P4:
My question is, in particular, when it comes to support Ukraine, of long-term support for Ukraine, what kind of specific long term commitments are you looking for from member states?

NATO Secretary General:
Well, I expect that at the meeting today, we will discuss the long-term support for Ukraine and then I expect that when we meet in the Vilnius, when we are going to make the decisions in July, I expect that Allies will agree a long-term plan, a multiyear commitment to support Ukraine, because what we need is to ensure that when the war ends, that Ukraine has the capabilities, the strength to defend itself, and NATO Allies will, of course, provide different types of military support, but NATO is also now looking into how we can help them to implement this important transition from old type soviet era doctrines, ammunition, standards, equipment to modern NATO equipment and standards. This transition has started but when you look at the battlefield in Ukraine, you see that there is still a long way to go to ensure that everything they do is totally interoperable with NATO. So to help them to do this transition to NATO standards, to modernize the defence and security institutions. This, I expect will be this multiyear commitment by NATO Allies and including a package of different types of support with more solid funding. This comes of course, on top of the bilateral military aid that Allies have committed for many years. Norway is an example of a country that has actually agreed to a five-year program for, to provide both economic but also military support to Ukraine and other Allies now follow the example of Norway and started to provide multiyear program support, commitment to Ukraine.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu:
Swedish Radio.

Jan Andersson, Swedish Radio:
Mr. Secretary [General], what will you say this time to President Erdogan in Ankara? And will you travel to Viktor Orbán as well, in Hungary?

NATO Secretary General:
Well, my message has been, since last fall, and I will reiterate out that, that it is in the interest of the whole of NATO to have Sweden as a full member. My message is also that Sweden is already very close to NATO and that Sweden is in a much stronger position after the decision to invite Sweden, and that was the decision, also Türkiye supported when we made the decision last June. I will also highlight the fact that as of today, 1st June, new counterterrorism laws have come into force in Sweden and these laws actually makes a difference, and they demonstrate that Sweden is now taking new steps to step up the fight against terrorism, including for instance, PKK which is a terrorist organization, not only based on the assessment of Ankara and Türkiye, but also by Sweden, the European Union and many others. Therefore I welcome both the stronger laws, which are now coming into force in Sweden on 1st June, but also I welcome the fact that the cooperation between Sweden and Türkiye has been strengthened and that will also be a part of my message: that actually Sweden has proven has demonstrated that Sweden is delivering on this trilateral memorandum that was signed in Madrid. The fact that Sweden has delivered on those commitments just highlights the importance of making sure that Sweden comes as soon as possible.
Let me also add that Türkiye has some legitimate security concerns, because no other Ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Türkiye, and therefore it is important that we work together with Türkiye to fight terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations. I welcome what NATO Allies do, but also what Sweden has done over the last month to step up the fight against terrorism and the cooperation with Türkiye.

Jan Andersson, Swedish Radio:

NATO Secretary General:
Well, I am confident that also Hungary will ratify the Accession Protocol.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu:
Thank you very much.