with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Minister Çavuşoğlu, dear Mevlüt,
Thank you so much for your warm welcome.
It is always a pleasure to be back in Istanbul, and to meet with you.
Türkiye is a highly valued NATO Ally, making important contributions to our shared security.
You play a major role in the fight against terrorism.
Including in our mission in Iraq.
You are also contributing to our maritime and air policing deployments.
And contributing to our collective defence in many other ways.
NATO also contributes to the security of Türkiye.
By augmenting your air defences.
And through our air and naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Our unity and solidarity are essential as we face the greatest security crisis in a generation.
Today, we discussed a number of issues, including the situation in the Aegean, our fight against terrorism, Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO, and our support for Ukraine.
President Putin is failing in Ukraine.
But he is responding with more brutality.
In recent weeks, we have seen dozens of drone and missile strikes across Ukraine.
Including on critical infrastructure.
Cruelly and deliberately depriving Ukrainian civilians of heating, water and electricity at the outset of winter.
We also see Iran offering drones and considering ballistic missile deliveries to Russia.
This is unacceptable.
No country should provide support to Moscow in this illegal war.
I want to thank Türkiye for all its support to Ukraine.
The cutting-edge drones and ships built here in Türkiye are helping to uphold Ukraine’s right to self-defence.
I also commend Türkiye, and President Erdogan personally, for negotiating safe passage for Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, easing the global food crisis.
I welcome the continuation of the UN grain agreement.
And Türkiye’s efforts to maintain this life-line, on which hundreds of millions of people around the world depend.
Today, we also discussed the ratification of Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership.
At the Madrid Summit in June, all Allies made an historic decision to invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
And all Allies signed the accession protocols.
Türkiye, Finland and Sweden also agreed a Trilateral Memorandum.
As you said, Mevlüt, you have significant expectations that this Memorandum will deliver more security for Türkiye.
I recognise your concerns.
At the same time, it is clear that Finland and Sweden have delivered on the Memorandum and are committed to the long-term partnership with Türkiye.
This week I have spoken to the leadership of both Finland and Sweden.
And I welcome the major, concrete actions taken by both countries to put the Memorandum into practice.
Finland and Sweden have significantly increased cooperation with Türkiye to counter terrorism.
And a Permanent Joint Mechanism has been established.
Sweden is passing new legislation prohibiting participation in terrorist organisations, including the PKK.
And strengthening the tools on terrorist financing.
More extraditions and expulsions are taking place.
And restrictions on arms sales to Türkiye have ended.
Finland and Sweden have delivered on their agreement with Türkiye.
They have become strong partners in our joint fight against terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations.
And they are clearly committed to a long-term engagement with Türkiye to address your security concerns.
So it is time to welcome Finland and Sweden as full members of NATO.
Their accession will make our Alliance stronger, and our people safer.
In these dangerous times, it is even more important to finalise their accession.
To prevent any misunderstanding or miscalculation in Moscow.
And to send a clear message to Russia that NATO’s door remains open.
And it is only for Allies and aspirant countries to decide on NATO membership.
So I look forward to welcoming both countries as full NATO members in the near future.
Thank you again for Türkiye’s strong commitment to our Alliance.
I look forward to continuing to work with you.
And to the rest of my visit to Türkiye.
Reporter (CNN Türk): [question in Turkish]
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu: [answers in Turkish]
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: [inaudible] my gratitude to Türkiye, to President Erdoǧan and to Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu and to the Government of Türkiye for their efforts and the important work they have done to enable and to make the grain deal possible. Because we need to understand that hundreds of millions of people around the world totally depend on grain and food exported from Ukraine – over the Black Sea through the Bosporus to the world market. And if this food is not exported, if it's not reaching the global market, then prices will go up and millions of people will suffer. So the grain deal is extremely important for food prices and for feeding hundreds of millions of people around the world. And therefore, I commend Türkiye for what they have done. I also commend Türkiye, the President, the Foreign Minister, for the latest efforts to ensure that after the suspension we saw over the weekend, the grain deal is functioning and enforced again. And I also agree with Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu that it is important that the grain deal is renewed and extended, because this has to continue. And this demonstrates the important role that Türkiye has played in the conflict in Ukraine. Not only by supporting Ukraine, with essential equipment, with drones, with ships, with other humanitarian and military support, but also in facilitating diplomatic efforts, supporting and enabling the grain deal. Also, of course, the United Nations and others have participated and been part of this. But also the exchange of prisoners and other diplomatic efforts which I think are extremely important in trying to at least reduce some of the effects of the brutal war which is going on in Ukraine. But let me just end with the following: and that is that the increased prices and the problems we have seen in the global food market is not caused by sanctions. It is caused by the war itself. So the best way to end this is for President Putin to end the war. It is the war of aggression that is undermining and threatening the supplies of food from Ukraine to the world market. The grain deal helps to reduce the effects, but the lasting solution will be to end the war and that's Russia's responsibility to end this war of aggression against Ukraine.
Reporter (Norwegian Aftenposten): Thank you, good evening. I'm [inaudible] from Norwegian Aftenposten. Mr. Foreign Minister, the Secretary General was very clear that Sweden and Finland have now lived up to the commitments in the agreement. Can you confirm whether Türkiye will be… when Türkiye will be ratifying the applications and whether this will happen before the Turkish elections in 2023?
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs: [answers in Turkish]
NATO Secretary General: First of all, I welcome strongly the decision taken in June by all Allies, also Türkiye. Second, what we have seen is that Finland and Sweden are implementing on legislation on stepping up cooperation with Türkiye on fighting terrorism and also removing restrictions on arms exports to Türkiye. I have spoken over the last few days with President Niinistö of Finland, Prime Minister Kristersson of Sweden, but also Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland, and they all convey the same message: that this is important for them. They are living up to the joint memorandum. And they also see the value in actually working closely together with Türkiye to fight terrorism because that's also in their own interests. And we see that legislation has been changed. We see that for instance, Sweden is now banning, or in the process of banning, membership in terrorist organisations. And that will also affect of course, the numbers of people that can be extradited from Sweden. So Finland and Sweden have delivered. I think the time has come to invite them or to make them not only… they are already invited, but to make them full members of the Alliance. And therefore, this was the issue we discussed today. I expect that also to be an issue to be raised with President Erdoǧan tomorrow, but more importantly, the Swedish Prime Minister will be here in a few days, and of course that will be one of the main issues I expect them to address. So I think the time has come to then make sure that Finland and Sweden are full members in the near future.