Joint press conference

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

  • 30 May. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 30 May. 2023 20:38

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Gahr Støre,
Dear Jonas,

It is great to see you again,
it’s good to be back in Oslo,
and a pleasure to be the guest of the Norwegian government.

Last time Norway held a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, you were the host.

And thank you for inviting us again.
And also for your leadership and personal commitment to our Alliance.

Norway makes valuable contributions to our shared security. 

Norwegian forces serve in our multinational battlegroup in Lithuania.

You contribute to our air-policing missions.
And you play a key role in the High North.

And you host important exercises as demonstrated with the visit of the USS Gerald Ford just now.

Today in our meeting, we addressed Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine.
Norway provides significant aid. 
I welcome that you have committed to a five-year assistance program.
This is something that really makes a difference.

With military support.
As well as financial and humanitarian assistance.
And this is something which we all very much appreciate.

I am confident that with the support of NATO Allies, Ukraine can continue to liberate occupied land.
And prevail as a sovereign, independent nation. 

At our NATO Summit in Vilnius we will demonstrate our long-term commitment to Ukraine. 

The war has made clear Norway’s essential role as a major energy provider for Europe.

And you, Jonas, have played a key role in driving NATO’s work on protecting our critical undersea infrastructure. 

Including energy pipelines.

We also discussed the need to invest more in defence.

I welcome the commitment by Norway to reach the 2% target by 2026.
I expect that when we meet in Vilnius, we will agree a new Defence Investment Pledge.

Where 2% of GDP for defence is a floor, not a ceiling.

Because we need to recognize that 2% is a minimum to meet the obligations as a NATO Ally.

We also discussed Sweden’s accession to NATO.

Sweden will become a member.
All Allies have invited them to join.
And their security is already stronger as a result.

I am in close and constant contact with Turkish authorities, to ensure that Sweden becomes a full member as soon as possible.

This is important for Norway’s security.
It is important for the whole Nordic and Baltic region.
And it is important for NATO.

Let me also address Kosovo.

We strongly condemn the unprovoked attacks against KFOR troops in northern Kosovo, which led to 30 peace-keepers being wounded. 

Such attacks are unacceptable and must stop. 

KFOR, the NATO forces, will take all necessary actions to maintain a safe and secure environment for all citizens in Kosovo. 
And we will continue to act impartially, in line with our United Nations mandate.

We have decided to deploy 700 more troops from the operational reserve force for Western Balkans.
And to put an additional battalion of reserve forces on higher readiness, so they can also be deployed if needed.

These are prudent steps to ensure that KFOR has the forces and capabilities it needs to fulfill its mandate.
Violence sets back Kosovo and the entire region, and puts Euro-Atlantic aspirations at risk. 
Both Pristina and Belgrade must take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation. Refrain from further irresponsible behavior. 

And engage in the EU-facilitated dialogue, which is the only way to lasting peace.

So once again, thank you so much, Jonas, for hosting us, and for a very substantive and fruitful meeting. Thank you.

- - - - - - - - - 

Moderator: Thank you [inaudible] we have time for one question per media. We will start with NRK after that Financial Times and please use the microphone in the back. Go ahead.

Journalist (NRK): Question in Norwegian

Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre: Answer in Norwegian

Moderator: Thank you. After that, Financial Times and after that, Norway TV2.

Journalist (Financial Times): To Mr. Stoltenberg, do you and other allies need to put more pressure on Turkey over, to ensure the admission of Sweden into NATO?

NATO Secretary General: I'm in constant contact with the Turkish authorities and of course spoken several times with President Erdoğan on this issue and we have to understand that all Allies, also Türkiye actually made a very important decision at the NATO summit in Madrid last year to invite both Finland and Sweden to become members. Finland has already become a full member, I'm confident that also Sweden will become a full member. And in the meantime, we have to recognize also that Sweden is in a much stronger and safer place now because as soon as they were invited, they got a close relationship with NATO through the invitee status meaning that Sweden is now integrating into NATO's civilian and military structures. And it's absolutely inconceivable that there will be any threat or attack against Sweden without NATO reacting and on top of that, of course with Finland in then it makes also Sweden –also ensured that Sweden is coming even closer to NATO. So we are working on this also with the aim to have a decision by the Vilnius summit. There are no guarantees but it's absolutely possible to reach a solution and to enable the decision on full membership for Sweden by the Vilnius Summit.

Moderator: TV2 Norway then AP

Journalist (TV2 Norway): Question in Norwegian

NATO Secretary General: Answer in Norwegian

Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre: Answer in Norwegian

Moderator: AP then VG

Journalist (Associated Press): David Hughes, Associated Press for several weeks in the build up to the elections in Turkey. The Sweden's accession stalled and hasn't seen progress on the Turkey side. We've seen elections now but Turkey is not coming to this meeting. Are you concerned that this nonattendance will delay the protests –and the process and with only six weeks left, what is needed to actually get Sweden to this finish line in Vilnius what could the United States maybe do to help this process along?

NATO Secretary General: So first of all, I know that many Allies, of course also the United States are engaged and they agreed to invite Finland and Sweden. And they also expressed that the time has come to ratify and to [inaudible] our certification process, United States as almost all the Allies have ratified, also the Accession Protocol for Sweden, then it happens quite often that not all the ministers are able to attend all ministerial meetings. And as far as I understand, the reason why the Turkish Foreign Minister is not in Oslo is that he's actually has to be in Ankara in connection with the Parliament, which is going to be constituted this week. So I don't think that's any political message. I think it's absolutely normal reasons for not being able to attend.

Journalist (Associated Press):
And what can the United States do to try and bring this process —

NATO Secretary General:
Well, the United States, as all other Allies can, of course, express their view and their assessment that Sweden actually has delivered on what they agreed, especially through this trilateral memorandum that was signed between Finland, Sweden and Türkiye, helped –facilitated by the negotiations that happened in Madrid at the NATO Summit. And therefore, I think it is important to understand that Sweden, as a full member of NATO is good for the whole Alliance, all Allies including Türkiye, and that's also has been my message. Let me add that, at the same time Türkiye has legitimate security concerns. No other NATO Ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Türkiye, and the fact that Finland, Sweden and also other NATO Allies are now working more closely on how to exchange intelligence, information and to work together in the fight against terrorism. That's something that is important. And where both Finland and Sweden has actually delivered what they promised at the Madrid Summit.

Moderator: Thank you. Then VG. And the kind of reminder one question per leader.

Journalist (VG): Question in Norwegian

NATO Secretary General: Answer in Norwegian

Moderator: TT then Dagbladet

Journalist (TT News Agency): Martin [inaudible] TT News Agency Stockholm. Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström has emphasized that he wants the question of Swedish accession to NATO to remain top of the agenda. How do you intend to make sure that the question remains at the top of the agenda and what is there to discuss at this point given the absence of the Turkish Minister?

Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre:
Well, I mean speaking for Norway, it is on top of our agenda. It has been since Sweden applied, since Sweden was accepted alongside Finland fulfilling all the criteria. This is a performance based accession. You have to fulfil criteria we agreed in Madrid that Sweden fulfilled the criteria and we are in close dialogue with Stockholm to support that application all the way. My ambition is still and Norway will make every effort to have that succeed in Vilnius, I believe six weeks is absolutely enough to make that happen, if the will is there, and all member states will be present in Oslo at representative level. So this will obviously be discussion this is an informal meeting, but at some, sometimes informal meetings are good opportunities because you can discuss the issues in a good setting. So as member state, as a neighbour, as a close friend of Sweden, we will work with Sweden and other allies to make that happen.

Moderator: Thank you, Dagbladet, then AFP.

Journalist (Dagbladet): Question in Norwegian

NATO Secretary General: Answer in Norwegian

Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre: Answer in Norwegian

Moderator: AFP, then Aftenposten

Journalist (AFP): [inaudible] from AFP. You just said that decision on NATO membership for Sweden was absolutely possible within the Vilnius summit in July. You also said that there were no guarantees about that. In Washington, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul has said that assurances have been given by both sides in Ankara, about a decision and a positive decision on membership. Don't you know anything about those assurances and how confident are you that this will happen by July the 11th?

NATO Secretary General: We don't have any certainty, of course we speak about sovereign decisions by national parliaments to make the decisions on ratification. My message is that it is within reach. It's possible to have Sweden as a full member by the Vilnius Summit, because there is a window now especially after the Turkish elections and now with the Turkish parliament being constituted of course it is possible and we are working hard for this to happen as soon as possible.

Moderator: Aftenposten then Sveriges Radio

Journalist (Aftenposten): Question in Norwegian

Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre: Answer in Norwegian

Journalist (Sveriges Radio): Mr. Secretary General, earlier today you said and I quote, it is completely unthinkable that NATO would not react if someone would threaten or attack Sweden, even said that a couple of minutes ago. What did you mean with that more exactly? And Prime Minister Gahr Støre, how involved are you in person in these discussions with Turkey, Hungary and Sweden according to the Swedish membership.

NATO Secretary General 
What I mean, it's exactly what I said that it is inconceivable that if there was any threat or attack against Sweden that NATO will not react. That's partly because Sweden already have a very strong status in NATO, because since all Allies agree to invite Sweden, Sweden has integrated more and more closely into our political and military structures. Second, several NATO Allies including the biggest ones, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and others, have issued bilateral security assurances to Sweden as part of the accession process. Then you have Finland as a member, you have Norway. You have the south, Germany, Poland, Denmark. So this idea that anyway, Sweden is left alone is absolutely wrong. Sweden is very close to NATO, integrating into our structures. There are bilateral security assurances, and NATO has increased its presence in the region. So therefore, we will react if there was any type of threat. [inaudible] then add that we don't see any imminent risk or any threat to attack against NATO Allies or in Sweden. There's a constant risk of course, for different cyber, hybrid attacks but not, not high risk for a full fledge military attack.

Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre: If I can add to the Secretary General of, some of the larger NATO states issuing security messages and guarantees to Sweden, I will also remind that the other Nordic countries did the same thing. Sweden to Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, upon Sweden’s application to both Sweden and Finland now Finland is a member and I think for Finland joining that, you know, Sweden has friendly neighbours on both sides saying that anything happening to Sweden will not go unnoticed by Nordic neighbours. On the work to have this membership secured. My policy has been to take close contact and advice from the Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, Ulf Kristersson, Sweden is in the lead of these discussions in the details. They have very able people managing that process in coordination with NATO. And it has been our line not to interfere or create any complications on that road, but to take advice on how we best can support in terms of atmosphere and input into that process.

Moderator: NTB then lastly TV2 Denmark.

Journalist (NTB): Question in Norwegian

NATO Secretary General: Answer in Norwegian

Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre: Answer in Norwegian

Moderator: TV2 Denmark.

Journalist (TV2 Denmark): Question in Danish

NATO Secretary General: Answer in Norwegian

Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre: Answer in Norwegian

Moderator: Thank you. This concludes this press conference. Thank you for coming