by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US President Joe Biden at the start of the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius

  • 11 Jul. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 11 Jul. 2023 15:28

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
President Biden, dear Joe, welcome to the NATO Summit and many, many thanks for your strong leadership in making this Alliance united, and even stronger. This Summit is already historic, because the agreement we made yesterday will make Sweden a full member of NATO. And that will make our Alliance even more capable of defending all Allies.

At this meeting we will also send a clear message to Ukraine, that we stand by them as long as needed, and also that we agree on united and positive message on the path forward for Ukraine and membership for Ukraine.

Another major message from this Summit will be that we need to invest more in our defence, and we will agree a new Defence Investment Pledge, where we state clearly that 2% of GDP for defence is a minimum. The good news is that European Allies and Canada are stepping up. This year, we have new numbers showing that they have added 8.3% in real terms for their defence budget. This is record high, and that demonstrates that Allies are delivering on their commitments. So once again, Mr President, it is great to have you hear at the NATO Summit.

US President Joe Biden
It is good to be here and thank you for continuing to deliver. Make no mistake. The press is not at all surprised, I have been touting the fact that I think it is really important at this critical moment in Ukraine, in the whole NATO mission, that you continue to lead NATO. You are well trusted, no one knows the situation we are facing better than you do. And this historic moment, adding Finland and Sweden to NATO is consequential, and your leadership really matters.

And we agree on the language that you proposed, relative to the future of Ukraine being able to join NATO. And we are looking forward to continuing a united NATO. You have heard me say, my American press has heard me say many times, I still think that President Putin thinks the way he succeeds is to break NATO. Not going to do that, especially with you as the lead of it. Thank you.