Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Sweden, Magdalena Andersson

  • 13 Jun. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 13 Jun. 2022 16:41

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Andersson, 
Kjære Magdalena,
it's great to be back at Harpsund, great to see you and thank you for this warm welcome. 

Sweden is NATO's neighbour and our close friend. 
We share the same values. 
We share the same neighbourhood. 
And we share the same challenges - from Russia's aggressive actions to terrorism and the security consequences of climate change. 
So I warmly welcome the sovereign decisions by Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership. 

This is a historic step at a critical time for our security. 

It is clear that Sweden and Finland’s membership in NATO would boost transatlantic security. 
It will enable closer Nordic and closer Baltic defence cooperation. 
And will strengthen the Alliance’s presence in the High North.

At the same time, we have to address the security concerns of all Allies. 
And as you mentioned, Türkiye has raised some concerns, including Türkiye’s fight against PKK. 
A group proscribed as a terrorist organization by NATO Allies, the EU and also by Sweden. 
So I remain in close contact with you, Magdalena, and your colleagues, as well as with Finland, and our ally Türkiye about the way ahead. 

My staff also remain in close dialogue with officials from all three countries, in order to address the Turkish concerns swiftly and move forward on Swedish and Finnish accession to the Alliance.

I am glad that you, Prime Minister, confirmed the Swedish government's readiness to address Türkiye's concerns, as part of assuming the obligations of future NATO membership. 
I welcome that Sweden has already started to change its counterterrorism legislation, and that Sweden will ensure that their legal framework for arms exports will reflect their future status as a NATO member, with new commitments to allies. These are two important steps to address concerns Türkiye has raised.

Prime Minister Andersson, Sweden and Finland's security matters for NATO. 
And many Allies have made clear assurances and commitments to your security.
NATO remains vigilant.
And we have increased our presence in the region, including with more exercises.

As we speak, BALTOPS - our largest exercise in the Baltic Sea - is underway. 
This year, it's actually hosted by Sweden, and marking the 500th anniversary of the Swedish Navy. 
It includes over 7,000 forces from 14 NATO Allies, as well as Sweden and Finland. 
All training side by side. 
Sweden and Finland are also participating in NATO's Integrated Air and Missile Defence exercise across the Baltic region and Poland. 

Let me thank you for Sweden's valuable contributions to NATO missions and exercises. 
I'm always impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the Swedish forces. 

So Prime Minister, thank you for your strong personal leadership, your political vision, and your determination. 
And for Sweden's significant contributions to Euro-Atlantic security. 
I look forward to welcome you to the NATO summit in Madrid later this month.

Question: Johannes Ledel, AFP. I have a question. One question each for you. Prime Minister Andersson, I was wondering out of the sort of concrete demands that have been circulated from Turkey such as extraditions, are there any of those demands that we've seen that Sweden is willing to agree to? And I was also wondering Mr. Stoltenberg, if you can, maybe as, if Sweden and Turkey would not be able to reach an agreement on these demands, what can NATO and other NATO members offer Turkey as recompense?

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson: We take the Turkish concerns very seriously and other issues and not at least there's security concerns when it comes to the fight against terrorism. And we have a bilateral and trilateral dialogue with Turkey ongoing right now and we will of course, very clearly, state how we are working against terrorism and how we are fighting against terrorists. We have, we have changed our laws during the last years and have a much stronger legislation against in the fight against terrorists than we had before. And also during my years as Minister of Finance, we have a much stricter regulation when it comes to financing of terrorism. And we will also the first of July have even stronger legislation when it comes to the fight against terrorism. So here there are no questions about how strongly Sweden sees on terrorism and that we are willing to contribute to the fight, fight against terrorism. When it comes to the question of arms export. If you listen to the declaration that the Foreign Minister had last week in Parliament, you can also see that as a member of NATO, the current legislation we have might be viewed, might make the decisions that independent agency, might view it differently.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Let me first just say that I welcome very much these security message, signals from the Swedish government both on terrorism and on arms exports. Then on your question on what do we do in the meantime until we find an agreement on the concerns that Türkiye has raised as a first of all, the aim is to solve those issues as soon as possible to be able to welcome Finland, Sweden as full members as soon as possible. Therefore, we're working hard and actively on these issues in close consultation with Stockholm, with Helsinki and of course our NATO Ally, Türkiye. And in that context, those signals from Sweden are important on terrorism and arms exports. Second, I think we have to understand that Sweden is in a better place now, than it was before it applied. Seen from a security perspective, of course, the fact that Sweden applied, made that historic decision, that then the NATO Allies responded by partly making it clear that many NATO Allies have already issued security assurances to Sweden. The United Kingdom, actually here at Harpsund, the United States and other Allies. That makes a difference. And not least because also NATO has stepped up its presence, with more exercises, with more presence in the region air, sea, land. And that makes a difference, meaning that if Sweden was attacked, then I deem it as unthinkable that NATO Allies would not react. And that is a message that we have conveyed, the NATO Allies have conveyed, in a very clear way to end the potential adversary. So seen from a security perspective, Sweden is in a better place now than before they applied. Then of course, the aim is to of course, take that next step for membership as soon as possible but then we need to address the concerns expressed by Türkiye.

Question: [Inaudible] Swedish Television. Question for Mr. Stoltenberg. When do you expect a Sweden and Finland might get a green light and proceed in the applications for membership status by the Madrid summit in late June? by the Swedish elections in mid-September? or by the Turkish elections next spring? And if you please, Mrs. Andersson, the adjustments you mentioned in the foreign policy declaration last week about fight against terrorism, new terrorism legislation. Is this to be seen as a direct answer to the Turkish concerns?

NATO Secretary General: Well, first, on the issue of when. As soon as possible. And that's the reason why we're working so hard. But of course, when several nations are involved in those talks, there is no way to say exactly when we will be able to solve and find a joint way to move forward on those issues. We, our aim is to make it, to find the solution as soon as possible. And because I think that the historic decision of Sweden to apply for membership was the right decision at the right time. It's good for Sweden, it's good for Europe, it's good for NATO, and it's good for transatlantic unity and therefore, I do whatever I can to make sure that we are able to welcome Finland and Sweden as soon as possible.

Swedish Prime Minister: Well I mean the reason that we had the new declaration is because we have applied as a member, for membership in NATO. I mean, that's the reason why we had it in the first place. And of course, this also has raised concern with among some Member States and that it was relevant to also address for instance, that we are very firm in our fight against terrorists.

Question: Thank you Alf Johnsen, VG in Oslo. I like to challenge your answer the, "as soon as possible". Is there a timetable now for a further process? Are there scheduled meetings, the next day's, countries combined, or any other forms? Is it possible to start the formal accession for Sweden and Finland before the summit in Madrid? And if I may, can this internal deadlock spill up an impression that NATO is not as united as you want it to appear? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: The Madrid summit was never a deadline, but at the same time, we are working to find the solution as soon as possible. But when many countries or several countries are involved, there is no way to say exactly when these countries are going to be able to agree. But let me also then add that that's also the reason why it is so important that in the meantime, we have agreed both to step up. We see NATO Allies have provided substantial security assurances to Sweden and NATO has stepped up its presence in this region. So it's not like nothing has happened. And these assurances and this presence matters. And of course, then I hope that can be replaced with a more formalised full fledged membership as soon as possible.

Swedish Prime Minister: I'd also like to really underline how important these assurances and also the presence is for us here in Sweden. It was absolutely fundamental for our decision to join NATO and of course, this is very useful in this situation.

Question: [Inaudible] Swedish Radio. Mr. Stoltenberg, what do you think that Sweden should do to meet the Turkish concerns? You took the sales of weapons for example, you touched it a little bit, could you please explain some more?

NATO Secretary General: Well, there are now talks going on in different formats, in different ways between Sweden, Finland, Türkiye and NATO. I don't think it would be helpful if I go into the details of those talks. But I just say that the messages, the signals that Sweden has provided over the last days and with the statement in the in the Parliament last week and also by the Prime Minister now. They are helpful. And they indicate that Sweden, as Finland, are ready to in a concrete way address concerns related to terrorism, that Sweden, of course, fights terrorism, and is ready to cooperate with all the NATO Allies in fighting terrorism. And on arms exports, again I welcome to the signals. The details I think has to be sorted out in the talks. But in general, I will just say that we are stronger when we stand together. And that's exactly why we have NATO, the NATO solidarity and of course by joining NATO, Sweden will get the formalised treaty, security guarantees, so collective defence guarantees, at the same time Sweden will take on as all of the members take on the responsibilities and obligations being a NATO Ally. Thank you.