Press conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis

  • 28 Nov. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 28 Nov. 2022 17:41

(As delivered)

President Iohannis,
Dear Klaus,

Thank you for the warm welcome.
It is really a pleasure to be back in Bucharest for the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers.

And let me thank Romania for hosting the meeting.
And also, let me thank you, President Iohannis for your strong personal commitment to our Alliance, to NATO, at this critical time for our security.

You contribute to our shared security in many different ways.

Your troops serve in our battlegroup in Poland.
You contribute to NATO missions in Kosovo and Iraq.
And you also host a key system for NATO’s ballistic missile defence. 

I also welcome your strong commitment to maintain defence spending above 2 % of GDP.
Investing in our defence is essential as we face the greatest security crisis in a generation.

Today, in our meeting we discussed security in the Black Sea region, which is of strategic importance for the whole of NATO.
And the challenges posed by Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.

In response to Russia’s aggression, NATO is reinforcing its presence from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
We have set up new battlegroups, including the one led by France here in Romania.
Fighter jets from Canada also help to keep your skies safe.
And US Patriot missiles boost your defences.

This sends a clear message that NATO is here.
We will do what is necessary to protect and defend all Allies.

Here in Bucharest, NATO Foreign Ministers will address ways to step up our support for Ukraine, as well as other partners facing Russian pressure – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova.

As a neighbour to Ukraine, you have proven a generous host to over 1.5 million refugees.
You assist with the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain to help ease the global food crisis.
And you provide significant military assistance to Ukraine.

We cannot let Putin win.
This would show authoritarian leaders around the world that they can achieve their goals by using military force.
And make the world a more dangerous place for all of us.

So it is in our own security interest to support Ukraine.

So Mr. President,
Thank you again and I look forward to our continued cooperation.

Thank you so much.


Ramona Avramescu (TVR):
[Question translated from Romanian]
Hello, I am Ramona Avramescu from the Romanian National TV, question for Secretary General. President Zelenskyy warned last night his population to be prepared for a new onslaught of attacks against Ukrainian cities, attacks by Russia. What information does the Alliance have about this and how is it adjusting its support for Ukraine under these circumstances. And for President Iohannis, considering the developments lately in Ukraine, Romania would need a stronger Allied presence, additional from what was put in place in Madrid, with troops, military equipment, or other things like that. Is that true?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: So what we have seen over the last weeks is horrific attacks against Ukrainian cities, critical infrastructure and also residential areas. And what we see is that President Putin is trying to destroy the power system, the gas infrastructure and basic services for the Ukrainian people. And by doing that, when we enter winter, demonstrates that President Putin is now trying to use a weapon or use the winter as a weapon of war against Ukraine. And this is horrific, and we need to be prepared for more attacks. That's the reason why NATO Allies have stepped up their support to Ukraine. Also with additional air defence systems, Allies are providing advanced air defence systems and different systems that can both address the threats that are represented by the different types of drones but also cruise and ballistic missiles and I expect that one of the messages from the Foreign Ministerial meeting here in Bucharest will be the need to further step up the provision both of air defence systems but also of course, spare parts, training and ammunition to the different air defence systems, because we need to help Ukraine to defend themselves against this horrific type of warfare.

Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania: [answers in Romanian]

Andra Timu (Bloomberg):
[Question translated from Romanian]
Hello, Andra Timu from Bloomberg, question for the Secretary General. Seeing the intensity of attacks against Ukraine lately, do you have any information that we might also see an additional escalation in Ukraine? What are the actual expectations for results from the meetings you will have tomorrow and the day after tomorrow in Bucharest? The fact that the decision has been delayed about Finland and Sweden, to what extent does it influence the Alliance. And for the Romanian President, as you said, especially in terms of energy, the situation in Moldova is very difficult. Is there a risk for the leadership in Chisinau to be impacted by this, or Europe or Moldova’s pro-European itinerary? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: So Finland and Sweden, all Allies made a historic decision when we agreed at the summit in Madrid in June to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO. And we also signed the accession protocols and already 28 out of NATO’s 30 allied members have ratified the accession protocols in their national parliaments and that includes also Romania. I'm grateful for the strong support from Romania to have Finland and Sweden as members. I'm confident that all Allies will ratify and to have Finland and Sweden as members of NATO will of course be important for Finland and Sweden but it will also be important for the whole Alliance. It will strengthen NATO because Finland and Sweden have a well-trained and well-equipped high-end military capabilities. And they are also important for the North and the high north and the North Atlantic is important to the link between North America and Europe which is the backbone of NATO.

And then I also think that if you look at the map, we all have realized that our ability to reinforce the Eastern flank, especially the Baltics, but also Poland, the Baltic countries, is very much strengthened by the fact that we then have Finland and Sweden as full members. So it's good for Finland and Sweden, it’s good for NATO and it's good for the transatlantic bond to have them as full members.
Then, on escalation in Ukraine, wars are hard to predict. What we have seen over the last month is that President Putin made a big strategic mistake. He underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian political leadership. He thought that he was going to win, to take control over Kyiv within days. What you're seeing is that first the Ukrainian Armed Forces are able to push the Russian forces out of the north, around Kyiv, then in the east around Kharkiv and then to liberate also territory in the south with Kherson.
Our task is to provide support to Ukraine, because we know that the only way to achieve an outcome of this war which ensures that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation is to strengthen their position on the battlefield. Most likely the war will end at some stage at the negotiating table. But the outcome of those negotiations are totally dependent on the situation on the battlefield.
So we support Ukraine also because we know that it will be a tragedy for Ukrainian people if President Putin wins, but it will also make the world more dangerous. Because then the message to President Putin and other authoritarian leaders will be that if they use military force violating international law as a President Putin is doing in Ukraine, they will achieve their goals. The role will be more difficult, dangerous, but also we will be more vulnerable. So therefore, we need to stay the course and not back down and continue to support Ukraine.

Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania: [answers in Romanian]