Joint press point
by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Thank you so much Prime Minister Johnson, dear Boris.
It’s great to be back in London and thank you so much for your strong personal leadership on strengthening our transatlantic bond. The bond between Europe and North America. And the United Kingdom is really a staunch and highly valued NATO Ally. You invest a lot in our common security. And I had the pleasure of visiting the HMS Queen Elizabeth off the coast of Portugal last week and that is really an impressive aircraft carrier, demonstrating the commitment of the United Kingdom to our common security, to our collective defence.
And we need that commitment because we live in a more unpredictable world, with more global competition and therefore we need to strengthen our Alliance and that is exactly what we are going to do when I’m looking forward to welcoming you and all the other NATO Leaders to our Summit in Brussels in June in two weeks time where we will demonstrate our strength, bold and forward looking agenda, and demonstrate our commitment to standing together. The transatlantic bond, not only in words, but also in deeds.
So once again, thank you much.
Carl Dinnen (ITV): Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary has said that he wants NATO Allies to stand up to Russia and its behavior. What are the ideas that you'll be putting forward or ways that Russia can be confronted without being provoked?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson: Well, thanks. NATO Allies, if you think about it, Carl, they've been really outstanding in the way that they have come together to support, for instance, the UK over the Salisbury poisonings. You remember, a lot of NATO Allies came together and expelled diplomats in sympathy with the UK for what happened, the assassination attempt on the Skripals, the killing in Salisbury.
But what we want to do is make sure we work together to defend, protect ourselves against cyber threats, against all the kinds of intimidation that some NATO members still feel there on NATO's eastern borders. And we work together to protect against that. I think if you look at what's happened recently with the appalling, outrageous incident of the hijacking over Belarus. I think NATO members will be wanting to stand together in protest against what happened and to call for the release of Roman Protasevich and indeed his girlfriend from captivity in Belarus. But, Jens, it's very…standing together against threats from the east is very much part of your vision 2030, isn’t it?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Absolutely. And in the NATO 2030 agenda, which we are going to agree at the Summit in two weeks’ time, we address a wide range of challenges where we have to work together on, for instance, resilience, protecting our critical infrastructure, on technology, maintaining our technological edge in the more competitive world, on strengthening our deterrence and defence with high readiness of our forces, more exercises, and also how we can work more closely with partners, and also train and build local capacity. Because we believe that's one of the best ways to also fight international terrorism. And of course, I totally agree with you, Boris, that it is absolutely unacceptable about what Belarus did, the forced landing of a civilian aircraft on its way from one NATO capital – Athens, to another NATO capital – Vilnius. We call on the immediately so those arrested, and also for an independent, impartial, international investigation. And I welcome sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom and other NATO Allies, and the EU, as a clear message, and sending a message that has consequences when the regime in Minsk behaves the way it did.
Carl Dinnen (ITV): Just one more question, Secretary General. In is there anything beyond sanctions then that NATO can do?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: We have agreed a very strong statement where we strongly condemn. I think the most important thing now is to make sure that those sanctions that are agreed are fully implemented. And I also know that other Allies are looking into where they can step up further.
It has to be clear that when the regime, like the regime in Minsk, behaves the way they did, violating basic international norms and rules, we will impose costs on them. And I'm also sure that the NATO leaders, when they meet, this will be an issue they will discuss as part of the response to the unacceptable behavior of Belarus, but also as part of their response to more assertive Russia. Because this is part of the behavior, we also see Russia and Belarus are working closely together.