Joint press statements

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez

  • 23 Sep. 2020 -
  • |
  • Last updated 25-Sep-2020 16:01

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:

So Prime Minister Sánchez, dear Pedro,
welcome to the NATO Headquarters. It’s great to see you here again and it’s always a great pleasure to meet with you.

I want to pay tribute to the Spanish people for their incredible resilience and strength throughout the pandemic.

And I commend you for your leadership throughout the crisis.   

It was a great honour for me to attend the remembrance ceremony in Madrid in July for the victims of COVID-19.

Spain has not stood alone during this crisis. 

NATO’s disaster relief centre coordinated assistance to Spain.
And Allies delivered medical supplies which helped to ease the burden on the Spanish healthcare system, and to save lives. 

I pay tribute to the Spanish armed forces who have supported civilian efforts during the pandemic.
This proves once again the importance of keeping our military strong.  
And I want to thank Spain for its continued commitment to NATO missions and operations.
From Afghanistan to Iraq, to the multinational battlegroup in Latvia, to your contributions to Baltic Air Policing. I met Spanish soldiers in many places and I’m always impressed with their dedication and professionalism.  
Prime Minister, we addressed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Half a dozen meetings have been held here at NATO Headquarters with Greece and Turkey. The aim is to create a de-confliction mechanism. With the aim of avoiding incidents and accidents at sea or in the air. 
These meetings are ongoing. And good progress has been made.
These are technical military talks. 
They complement the diplomatic efforts led by Germany to resolve the underlying dispute. 
The German efforts have led to an agreement yesterday to hold exploratory talks, which I welcome. Developing de-confliction mechanisms between militaries is a natural role for NATO. We did this before in the 1990s, and it proved very effective. 
I remain in close contact with both the Greek and Turkish leadership.
And Prime Minister, I welcome your strong support for NATO’s de-confliction efforts.

We both agree on the importance of keeping our Alliance united and strong.

So we also discussed the NATO 2030 reflection process.
This is about keeping our Alliance strong militarily, making it stronger politically, and making it more global.

A strong partnership with the European Union is an important part of it.

Because it strengthens EU Allies, and it strengthens NATO.

So, dear Pedro,

In these uncertain times NATO stands with Spain. And Spain stands with NATO.
Thank you for being here today.
And thank you for your strong personal commitment to our Alliance.
So once again, welcome.

Pedro Sánchez, President of the Spanish Government:

Good afternoon, everyone. 
Thank you for your hospitality, dear Jens, dear Secretary General.

For Spain, preserving Allied unity is of paramount importance. You can be sure that my government and my country will continue to work to make this unity a reality. 

The complex strategic scenario close to our borders is a big challenge. Security risks no longer threaten individual countries; they are a collective threat to all of us. 

This means that we have to  compromise and find consensus through and enhance an effective multilateralism. 

And I would like to make an appeal to cohesion and solidarity. They are the cornerstones of our transatlantic Alliance and we have to protect and uphold them. 

Spain is a responsible partner, a firm believer in multilateralism as the best way of protecting the interests and values that all members of NATO share. 

The regular deployment of the Spanish troops far from our borders, over our 30-year membership of NATO, constitutes the best example of our commitments to the Alliance. 
Now, the current COVID-19 crisis has brought to public attention the role that NATO can play as a multilateral organization in this kind of crisis. 

On this occasion, I also wanted to thank my dear friend Jens, the Secretary General of NATO, for his work in this complex scenario in the Eastern Mediterranean. He has done an outstanding work to keep the communication channels up, open among Allies. 

He has put forward mechanisms to prevent an escalation and he has preserved the principles of unity and solidarity that I mentioned before and which are fundamental for NATO. 

His work has complemented effectively the different efforts carried out by some of us, especially Germany, to try to reopen the dialogue between two Allied countries, Greece and Turkey. 

The announcement, made public yesterday, that both countries will relaunch exploratory talks interrupted in 2016, so that they can together discuss all matters related to their maritime borders and the continental platform, is a significant step in the good direction for the Spanish government. 
\It also is a signal of the effort and generosity of both countries. 

Since a few months, and especially over the last couple of weeks, in which I've had the occasion to discuss this issue with friends and Allies, I’ve highlighted that only through an honest and direct dialogue between the parties was a solution to be found, so that de-escalation first, and then, an open discussion of controversies can take place. Now we have a real opportunity to make this happen. We must not fall to provocations and we have to keep walking in this direction. 

Both NATO and the European Union can and should contribute to the process.Spain is resolute to keep its engagement and keep talks with all actors, so that the Mediterranean can be a sea of peace, cooperation and integration. 

So thanks very much, Jens, Secretary General for your time and thanks very much for your hospitality, and your very positive and constructive approach at work.