Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö

  • 12 Jun. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 12 Jun. 2022 16:52

(As delivered)

President Niinistö, dear Sauli,
It’s great to be back in Finland.
Thanks for your warm welcome.
And it’s great to see you again.

As a Nordic neighbour and friend, I have visited your country many times.

And I have always been impressed by the way you have combined vision with pragmatism.
Turning bold goals into reality.

The decisions by Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership are historic.

You have long been our closest partners.
You have strong democracies, with capable militaries.
And your membership in NATO will increase our shared security.

Our forces have trained and exercised together for many years.
Finnish soldiers contribute to NATO missions and operations, from the Western Balkans to Iraq.
And we have further enhanced our sharing of information at this critical time for our security.

Finland’s and Sweden’s membership in NATO would further strengthen the Nordic region of our Alliance.

And now, Allies are considering the next steps on your path to NATO.

We have to address the security concerns of all Allies.
Including Turkish concerns about the terrorist group PKK.

So I remain in close contact with you, Sauli, and your colleagues, with Sweden, and with our Ally Türkiye on the way ahead.

My staff also remain in close dialogue with officials from all three countries.
To address the legitimate Turkish concerns,
and to move forward on your accession to our Alliance.

So President Niinistö,
NATO and Finland share common values and common interests.

The security of Finland and Sweden matters to NATO.

Many Allies have already made clear their commitment to your security. 
NATO remains vigilant.
And we have increased our presence in this region.

As we speak, our exercise BALTOPS is underway.
With over 7,000 forces from 14 NATO Allies, and Finland and Sweden, training side by side.

Finnish and Swedish forces are also participating in NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence exercise across the Baltic region and Poland.

These are powerful demonstrations of NATO’s commitment to this region of strategic importance.  

So dear Sauli,
Thank you for our discussions today.
I look forward to welcoming you to the NATO Summit in Madrid. Thank you.

Spokesperson: It's time for questions. First question goes to Finnish Broadcasting Corporation, Marti Koivisto.

YLE, Marti Koivisto: Turkey has been blocking access in talks with Finland and Sweden for almost a month now. Has there been any progress in talks with Turkey? And what's your assessment? Is there a possibility of solving this issue in Madrid?

Secretary General: The Summit in Madrid was never a deadline; at the same time, I would like to see this solved as soon as possible. And therefore we are working hard with our NATO Ally Türkiye, and also with Finland and Sweden, to address those issues that Türkiye has raised. And these are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism and about weapons exports. And we have to understand and remember that no other NATO Ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Türkiye. And also Türkiye is an important Ally with strategic geographic location, being a Black Sea nation, but also bordering Iraq and Syria. And Türkiye has played a key role in our fight against terrorist groups like ISIS / Da’esh. We also need to take into account that no other NATO Ally hosts more refugees than Türkiye. And that Türkiye is playing a key role in providing support to Ukraine. And they are now also playing a key role in the efforts to find a solution on how to export the grain from Ukraine. So when a vital, key Ally like Türkiye raises a concern like terrorism, then of course we have to sit down and take this seriously. And that's exactly what we do. And then we also welcome the clear message from Finland and President Niinistö, and Sweden, that actually they are ready to sit down to address those issues and to find a way forward. This is the right decision for Finland and Sweden, to apply for membership. That will strengthen their security, it will strengthen NATO, and it will strengthen security and stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic area.

Spokesperson: Next question [in Finnish]
President Niinistö answers in Finnish.

Question: What about the predictions that we heard before Finland applied for the membership? Many, including yourselves, had said that we would have possibilities for a very speedy entrance. Some people even spoke about in a heartbeat, in a blink of an eye, and it never crossed our minds that we could be accused of being a terrorism-supporting nation. It's very far from us Finns, as you know. So have we been too optimistic about entering NATO? Thank you very much.

Secretary General: Well, I think we still have the ambition of making this decision that doesn't drag out for too long. And to solve these issues as soon as possible.

Second, as President Niinistö has also said, we had reasons to believe that actually this was going to be supported by all Allies. Then Türkiye has raised some concerns and then we sit down and we are working on them as we speak. We have frequent, regular contacts with Türkiye, and with Finland and Sweden, to look into the issues that Türkiye has raised. So that's the way we do this. And I think still we have to remember that what we face is a more dangerous world. We face a Europe where we have seen Russia invading a neighbor and using brutal military force to gain territory, to re-establish a world order with spheres of influence. And that triggered the Finnish decision. And then, NATO, of course, is ready. And all Allies, also Türkiye, have expressed again and again, that NATO’s Open Door is a great success. And NATO's door remains open. NATO's Open Door Policy over decades has helped to spread democracy and shared peace and stability.  Therefore, Türkiye, Finland, Sweden, NATO are working hard on how to ensure the membership of Finland and Sweden as soon as possible. 

President Niinistö answers.

TV2 News, Norway: Is there any progress with the negotiations with Türkiye? And in which areas?

President Niinistö answers.

Spokesperson: Okay, allocated time. Do you have final remarks?

President Niinistö answers.

Secretary General: Once again, thank you so much for inviting me here. I'm really honoured by being here at Kultaranta and looking forward to the discussions later today. And let me once again commend you, Sauli, President Niinistö, for your leadership, for your vision, for the courage of the Finnish people to make the historic decision to apply for NATO membership.

This is, as you said, sign for Finland for the Finnish democracy, the way you were able to make the decision, to have the strong support not only for the public, from the public opinion, from the people in Finland, but also from the parties and from parliament. So I think that demonstrates that Finland is a country which has the courage to make their own independent decisions. And we should never allow intimidation, violence to decide which path countries choose. But that should be a result of democratic processes. Exactly as we have seen in Finland. 

And then, it is our responsibility together with you, to ensure that the accession process, that your accession to NATO, can happen as quickly as possible. And the only way of doing that is to address the concerns raised by one Ally and that's exactly what we are doing now.

Spokesperson: Thank you. This concludes this press conference.