by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at an event co-organised by the Norwegian Atlantic Committee (DNAK) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway
(As prepared - translated from Norwegian)
Thank you, Anniken, for the introduction,
And a big thank you also to you, Kate, and the Norwegian Atlantic Committee.
Thank you very much for the invitation.
There is no better place to be than here, in Oslo, in Norway.
A NATO country I know quite well.
And I look forward to Anniken showing me and all NATO Foreign Ministers everything this capital city has to offer.
We meet in a beautiful city.
In a beautiful season.
But in a far more dangerous world than in many decades.
Great power competition is on the rise.
Our values and democracies are under pressure.
And there is war in Europe.
President Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine marks the end of the world as we knew it.
What we choose to do and choose not to do now will determine what the world will look like for decades to come.
This new reality has sunk in for most people.
NATO countries and our partners have taken important decisions.
We are now approaching the NATO Summit in Vilnius.
It will be an important meeting, with many important issues on the agenda.
When NATO leaders meet, I expect them to confirm and step up our support for Ukraine.
In words and in deeds.
NATO allies have made significant and decisive military contributions.
Armoured vehicles, air defence, ammunition.
And just in recent weeks, the United Kingdom has provided long-range cruise missiles, and several NATO allies have announced that they will begin training Ukrainian pilots.
We have stepped up our support.
I expect that there will be more announcements and new decisions in the run-up to and at the Summit.
We are now working on a multi-year assistance program for Ukraine.
It will help them transition from the old Soviet-era to the modern NATO standards and equipment.
And it will help get them closer to NATO.
Wars are unpredictable.
We do not know when and how this war will end.
But what we do know is that when it ends, we must ensure that history does not repeat itself.
We must not allow President Putin to continue to chip away at European security.
For this, we need a framework that ensures Ukraine's long-term security.
There will be some challenging discussions among allies in the run-up to Vilnius.
Including on security guarantees or assurances for Ukraine.
And their desire for NATO membership.
I cannot anticipate the outcome of the discussions.
But what is clear is that all NATO allies agree that NATO's door is open.
Everyone agrees that Ukraine will become a member.
And everyone agrees that it is Ukraine and NATO member states that decide, not Russia.
But the most important thing right now is that we make sure Ukraine prevails.
That is our most important task.
Otherwise, there will be no future to discuss.
That is why I am absolutely sure that when NATO's leaders gather in Vilnius, the message will be that we will stand by Ukraine, for as long as it takes.
Another important issue at the Summit will be the continued strengthening of our collective defence.
Since Russia annexed Crimea and attacked eastern Ukraine in 2014, we have carried out the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the Cold War.
From major operations beyond our borders, to collective defence at home.
From lighter, mobile forces, to large and heavier battle formations.
From low readiness, to high readiness.
And not least, from declining defence budgets, to rising defence budgets.
So we were prepared when the war came.
Both to support Ukraine, but also to strengthen our own deterrence.
In Vilnius, NATO leaders will agree on detailed plans for the defence of Europe.
These are defence plans of all allied countries.
They set precise requirements for what capabilities individual allies must provide.
And what forces are required.
This is necessary.
It is a new reality.
There is war in Europe.
All this is part of the transformation and strengthening of NATO that has been underway since 2014.
Restructuring NATO over the past decade, to prepare NATO for the next decade.
It costs money.
In Vilnius, we must put in place a stronger commitment to NATO's two percent target.
Two percent should no longer be a ceiling we aim for.
But a floor we build on.
The third important issue is China's rise, and the importance it has for our security.
China is a regime that does not share our values.
It threatens its neighbours.
Boycotts countries that do not do as it says.
And not least, we see that China is cooperating more closely with Russia.
China's growing military, economic and political importance affects most of what NATO does.
Our collective defence.
The security of our infrastructure.
Our investments in technology.
And also the cooperation with our partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
NATO will continue to be an Alliance for North America and Europe.
This reflects a reality where it is becoming clearer that our security is not regional, it is global.
Let me conclude by saying that it is very gratifying that Finland has become a member of NATO.
And that I am completely confident that Sweden will soon follow.
It has only been a year since they applied for membership.
The process has gone historically fast.
Sweden is much safer now than before they applied.
With security guarantees from many NATO countries.
And with neighbouring Finland now a NATO ally.
So it is completely unthinkable that NATO would not react if someone were to threaten or attack Sweden.
We live in a more dangerous world.
We must be prepared for new crises.
And unexpected things can happen.
We must have a strategy to handle uncertainty.
And the best strategy we can have is for North America and Europe to continue to stand together in NATO.
Then we will be safe.