Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government with Partners (2022 NATO Summit)

  • 29 Jun. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 30 Jun. 2022 07:36

(As delivered)

Good afternoon.
We have just concluded a meeting with some of NATO’s closest partners.

The European Union.
Finland and Sweden.
And for the first time at a NATO Summit, our Indo-Pacific partners: 
Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. 

We now face an era of strategic competition.

We see a deepening strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing.
And China’s growing assertiveness and its coercive policies have consequences for the security of Allies and our partners. 

China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons.
Bullying its neighbours, and threatening Taiwan. 
Investing heavily in critical infrastructure, including in Allied countries.
Monitoring and controlling its own citizens through advanced technology.
And spreading Russian lies and disinformation.

China is not our adversary.
But we must be clear-eyed about the serious challenges it represents.
And we must continue to stand with our partners to preserve the rules-based international order. 
A global system based on norms and values.
Instead of brute violence. 

So NATO will step up cooperation with our Indo-Pacific partners.
Including on cyber defence, new technologies, maritime security, climate change, and countering disinformation.
Because these global challenges demand global solutions.

We will also do more with our partners.
Yesterday, Allies approved an enhanced package of support for Ukraine.
Helping to equip and strengthen the country for the long term.
And we agreed to step up political and practical support for other partners at risk from Russian aggression.
Including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova. 
We will help them to build their capabilities, and strengthen their resilience.

NATO’s partnership with the European Union has already reached unprecedented levels. 
And we will continue to deepen our cooperation. 

Tonight, Allied Foreign Ministers will meet with Jordan and Mauritania. 
Reaffirming our determination to continue responding to challenges from south, including the Sahel. 

For the first time, Allies have today agreed a defence capacity-building package for Mauritania. 

We will help them deal with security concerns including border security, irregular migration, and terrorism.

Based on Mauritania’s requests, we will focus our support in a number of key areas.
Including special operations, maritime security, and intelligence. 

The challenges of today are too great for any nation or organisation to face alone.
But by standing together with our partners, we are stronger and safer.
We can better protect our people, our values, and our way of life. 

With that, I am ready to take your questions. 

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:  We'll start with the Financial Times.

Henry Foy (Financial Times): Good evening. Thank you, Secretary General. You had a very long day. I appreciate you taking our questions. I have a question about the 300,000 troops that you spoke about yesterday and on Monday. I’ve spoken to a number of Allied countries here today. Large Allies that would be assumingly contributing large amounts of troops to that and they have no idea about their pledges or how on earth you reached that number. Could you tell us a bit today about how you calculated that total? And when you are going to provide a national breakdown of which countries are providing how many troops? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: So what we have agreed now is a new NATO Force Structure, a new NATO Force Model. And then, we agree the framework, the principles. And then, of course, Allies have to contribute forces to that new Force Model. That is in many ways the same as we've done before when we have made similar decisions. And this will be a combination of forces deployed - especially in the eastern part of the Alliance, we have already stepped up with actually more than 40,000 troops under direct NATO command - but then the majority of these forces will be home based. But what will happen, and then.. will of course build on the forces which exist in NATO countries. But the difference is that they will now be organised in ways that can fit them into NATO operations, fit them into NATO defence planning, and be available for NATO commanders. And we will also, of course, increase their readiness. So they will be available. We speak about different tiers. The number 300,000 is the first and the second tier. One part of that is ready within 10 days and the second part will be ready within 30 days. And together this is well over 300,000 troops. We will continue to work on this. The plan is to have this in place by next year. Of course it requires, as always when you do things in NATO, that Allies contribute the forces they have promised to contribute and to live up to such a decision. But based on what we have done before, I'm confident that this will happen also this time. I remember we made the decision to have battlegroups in the Baltic countries, smaller numbers, but big new step for Allies and Allies stepped up and delivered. So this is partly higher readiness, partly to organize forces in formations which makes them available for NATO. And then, last but not least, partly about pre-assign them for specific territories. So this is the core … for the land element to the NATO new Force Model and the new Force Structure.

NATO Spokesperson: Okay, we go to IMEDI.

Ketevan Kardava (TV IMEDI):  Thank you, Oana, for the question. Mr. Secretary General, we are very happy that the door of this organisation is open. And we're also waiting for the historic decision from NATO to invite Georgia. We are living, as you many times mentioned, in an unpredictable world but still, in the context of the open door policy, what message are you sending today from Madrid to Georgia? When window of opportunity will be for Georgia? You met with Georgian Prime Minister, he had a speech. Can you tell us more about this enhanced support for Georgia. Thank you very much.

NATO Secretary General: I met with the Georgian Prime Minister. We discussed and addressed, of course, how we can, as you asked about, step up our practical and political partnership and support for Georgia. We will step up both the political and practical support for Georgia with a new package to help build their capabilities and also strengthen their resilience. Including by increasing Georgia's participation in NATO's cyber exercises, strengthening secure communications and help develop protection of critical infrastructure. We've also planned to provide additional personnel for our NATO Liaison Office in Georgia. And then, of course, we have also other elements like the training and evaluation centre in Tbilisi and other elements that can further strengthen our partnership with Georgia. On the membership issue, while we stand by the decision we've taken before but we're not going to give any dates. We stand by the decision on membership taken actually back at the Bucharest Summit.

NATO Spokesperson: We’ll go to Asahi TV.

Adam Pigott (TV Asahi): Thank you Secretary General. Firstly, what is the significance of inviting Prime Minister Kishida to the NATO Summit now for the first time. And secondly, China has reportedly accused the US of planning to create a similar alliance to NATO in the Asia-Pacific. Have there been any discussions on the creation of such alliance?

NATO Secretary General: Not at this meeting. And what kind of organisations our partners in the Asia-Pacific are ready to engage in or not, that is not for me to comment on. What I can say is that we appreciate very much the partnership with them. And it's an important thing in itself that they all have been represented for the first time at the NATO Summit, at the level of Heads of State and Government. We share the same values, we share many of the same threats. NATO will remain an alliance of North America and Europe. But this region, North America and Europe, faces global threats and challenges: that’s cyber, that’s terrorism, but also the security consequences of China. Because that has effect on us. Therefore, it is important to work together with, for instance, our Asia-Pacific partners. And of course several Allies have also expressed concerns related to freedom of navigation, and China's coercive and assertive behaviour in the South China Sea. This matters for the countries in the region, but it matters also for every country concerned about the freedom of navigation and the importance of trade being conducted in a safe and secure way.

NATO Spokesperson: La Vanguardia.

Beatriz Navarro (La Vanguardia): Thank you for the floor. I have to interlinked questions for you, Secretary General. Listening to you and reading the Strategic Concept, I wonder, whether NATO has assumed that we are actually getting into a new Cold War, a second Cold War. And the second question, as I said, what would you say to critics who say that NATO is reinforcing the blocks mentality, which will further divide the world? Thank you very much.

NATO Secretary General: NATO has strived for a better relationship with Russia for decades. We established the NATO-Russia Council, we agreed to NATO-Russia Founding Act, we invited Russia in to participate in many different activities. And in our current Strategic Concept agreed in 2010 we actually state that Russia is a strategic partner. It is Russia that has walked away from this attempt to build more trust, more partnership, and work closer together. And they've done that with a pattern or behaviour….using military force against Georgia in 2008, then annexing Crimea in 2014, and using force in eastern Donbass since 2014. The war didn’t start in February 2022. The war started in Ukraine in 2014. What we have seen this year is escalation of a war which has been there for a long time. And that has made it impossible for us to continue to have the kind of partnership, engagement with Russia that we have worked for so long. So yes, tensions are… our relationship with Russia is at the lowest level since the end of the Cold War. But there's no doubt that responsibility for that is Russia. It was a message, among all those countries participating today, that of course we are like-minded countries, NATO Allies, the European Union, Georgia, Finland and Sweden soon to become NATO members and Asia-Pacific four partners. But NATO has to have an open mind and engage with also countries which are not as like-minded as the countries gathered in that room.  And therefore, this is not a kind of closed cooperation, or partnership, we want to reach out, but at the same time we cannot be naïve when it comes to Russia: they use force. President Putin tries to establish some kind of sphere of influence, controlling what neighbours can do or not do. And then, we need to partly provide support to those partners which are under attack from Russia. And at the same time also ensure that there's no risk for any military action against any NATO country by Russia. That's reason why we have increased the military presence in the east.

NATO Spokesperson: Ok, we will go to lady over there.

United States Press Agency: Secretary General, this is a momentum and, like you said, a historic step for NATO, including Finland and Sweden in such a fast pace within this complicated conflict in Ukraine. Can we say now that NATO is implementing an effective and fast speed diplomacy, and your way of diplomacy towards international defence and also to serve peace? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: When the world is changing, NATO has to change. And when things happen fast, we need to react fast. And that's exactly what happened after the invasion on the 24th of February. We have actually prepared for this possibility for a long time. It's not as if NATO suddenly woke up on the 24th of February and realised that Russia was dangerous. This invasion was predicted, very precisely, by our intelligence services. We shared publicly those intelligence reports, back, last fall, and very precisely predicting that Russia was building up and planning to invade Ukraine. So what we predicted happened. Of course, we worked hard to the very end to try to prevent that from happening. We met with Russia, we engaged with Russia, but they continued with their plans and they invaded Ukraine. And the reality is that we have also been preparing for this since 2014. Because that's the reason why we have increased our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, why NATO Allies have started to invest more in defence, and why we have increased the readiness. And also why we have now, for some time, worked on a new Force Structure, which is what we now decide. And then, of course, when Allies commit to new Force Structure, we also expect them to deliver the forces. And the good news is that more and more Allies have actually announced forces to fill that new Force Structure with substance. And now, in the coming months, I expect more Allies to commit more forces so when they make decisions, they of course have to also realise that that also will require more forces from NATO Allies at higher readiness organised in a way which makes them available for NATO operations, missions and NATO commanders, if needed.  And then, also to be pre-assigned for specific areas in the east. So this is an ongoing adaptation but what we do now in the new Force Structure is more fundamental than we have done for many years.

NATO Spokesperson: Thank you very much. I am afraid this concludes this press conference. We’ll see you tomorrow.

NATO Secretary General: Thank you.