Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Ľudovít Ódor

  • 06 Jun. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 06 Jun. 2023 17:45

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Ódor,
Dear Ľudovít,
Thank you for that warm welcome.

It is a pleasure to be here.
And thank you for a very substantive meeting where we discussed all the main issues on the NATO agenda as we prepare for the upcoming NATO summit.

And it’s also a pleasure to be here in Bratislava, Slovakia, today as we also discussed the preparations for the Vilnius Summit with the B-9 leaders earlier today.

Slovakia is a committed and respected NATO Ally.
In a more dangerous and unpredictable world, Slovakia can rely on NATO.

Alliance planes patrol your skies to keep you safe.
And Slovakia hosts a NATO multinational battlegroup to deter any aggression.

In NATO, you are part of a family of 31 democracies from Europe and North America.
Where all decisions are taken by consensus.
And we all protect each other.
All for one, and one for all.

NATO is a defensive Alliance.
We are there not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent war.
Preserve peace.

And the peace NATO has ensured for over 70 years is the foundation for our prosperity and our way of life. 
NATO also relies on Slovakia. 
I welcome your commitment to invest 2% of GDP on defence this year.
Because better defence infrastructure and equipment are a deterrent to any adversary. 

Russia has shattered peace in Europe, with its unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.
The destruction of the Kakhovka dam today puts thousands of civilians at risk.
And causes severe environmental damage.
This is an outrageous act, which demonstrates once again the brutality of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

NATO is not party to that war.
But we help Ukraine uphold its right to self-defence, which is enshrined in the UN Charter.
And I thank Slovakia for providing significant humanitarian and military support to Ukraine.

We must continue to support Ukraine so it can prevail as an independent sovereign state in Europe.
Because if President Putin wins, the message to him and to other authoritarian leaders will be that they can use force to achieve their goals.
And challenge other neighbours’ borders.
That would make all of us more vulnerable.

At the B9 meeting today we prepared the NATO Summit, which will take place in Vilnius in July.
At that Summit I expect Allies to agree a multi-year package of assistance.
So that Ukraine transitions from Soviet-era doctrines, training and equipment to NATO standards.
And to help it move closer to the Alliance.

All Allies agree that NATO’s door remains open.
That Ukraine will become a member of NATO.
And that is a decision that only Allies and Ukraine can make.
Russia does not have a right to veto NATO enlargement.

Prime Minister,
we also discussed other issues on the Summit agenda.
Including further bolstering our deterrence and defence.
With new defence plans.
More troops at higher readiness
And stronger command and control.

This will help Slovakia and all Allies to strengthen their deterrence and defence and make us all more safe,
and our Alliance stronger.

So thank you again.

I look forward continuing to work with you.

Moderator: (interpreted from Slovak) We have room for a few questions. Bloomberg.

Daniel Horňák (Bloomberg): Bloomberg, Daniel Horňák. I would like to ask both gentlemen and especially Mr. Stoltenberg, if you have any information about the incident with Kakhovka dam could be indeed attributed to Russia and what impact it could have on the war development?

NATO Secretary General: [inaudible] of the Kakhovka dam demonstrates the brutality of this war and it's a direct consequence of the war of aggression that President Putin in Moscow has launched against Ukraine and we know that thousands of civilians are at risk because of the flooding which is taking place as we speak and then we know, we also know that the flooding causes severe environmental damage so this is an outrageous act and it just demonstrates that the war that President Putin decided to launch against Ukraine is totally unacceptable and a blatant violation of international law.

Journalist (Non-specified Outlet): (interpreted from Slovak) I would like to ask Mr. Stoltenberg. Whether you have heard that the leader of the Slovak opposition accused NATO from interfering with our election campaign. So have you heard about it and if so, what is your position on that?

NATO Secretary General: What I can say is that NATO conducts different information campaigns in different NATO Allies. That's a normal thing, we have done many, many times before also in Slovakia, and not so many years ago. So that’s part of –agree that it is by all Allies to inform about NATO activities, NATO positions, and it's a transparent activity. It's something we do in full coordination with the national authorities and of course, NATO is there to protect democracy, to protect freedom and openness. We will never go into domestic political issues, but we are there to protect the right of every nation to have their own democratic processes.

Ľudovít Ódor, Prime Minister of Slovakia: (answers in Slovak)

Journalist (Non-specified Outlet): (interpreted from Slovak) The last question if I may, a question for both gentleman, how do you see it? How do you see the protection of Slovak airspace in the future and what would replace Patriots?

NATO Secretary General: First of all, I think we need to remember that NATO is there to protect all Allies against any threat and if we see a danger, we see a threat then NATO will be there. As we have been protecting the airspace and NATO territory for decades. We have increased our presence also in Slovakia. Now within EU, NATO-led multinational battlegroup. We have NATO planes patrolling the skies, Slovakia to help you protect your airspace and of course, if there is a need and this can also then be turned into support of air defence activities and then we have Italian SAMP-T air defence battery deployed in Slovakia and Germany is also handing over two MANTIS anti-aircraft systems to Slovakia, but the most important message is that the fact that we are increasing the readiness of forces that we have the ability to quickly reinforce if needed. If there is a need of course, we will quickly then add to the capabilities which are already in Slovakia, the battlegroup, the air defence systems, the air policing, we will add to that more capabilities if needed, because the whole idea of NATO is that we are one for all, all for one, and we do what is needed to protect all Allies, also the airspace of all Allies. If I just can add one brief thing on the previous question, we had a similar campaign in Slovakia in 2017. So there is nothing new, it's nothing un-normal we have these kinds of campaigns in many countries and we also had it in Slovakia, not many years ago in 2017.

Ľudovít Ódor, Prime Minister of Slovakia: (answers in Slovak)