Joint press conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson

  • 07 Mar. 2023 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 08 Mar. 2023 16:51

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
[Remarks in Scandinavian as translated]

Thank you, Prime Minister Kristersson,
thank you Ulf.
Thank for the possibility to conduct this meeting here in Stockholm.
It is always good to come to Stockholm, especially today. We could discuss Sweden's road towards NATO. And there was a period of opportunity for me to meet the representatives of the different political parties in the Swedish parliament. This has been very fruitful to me.
And it this shows that me personally and NATO focus a lot further the ratification process both for Sweden and Finland. I will move on to English and I will say Q & A in Scandinavian.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
[Remarks in English]

We meet at a critical time for our security.
President Putin's war against Ukraine grinds on.
He is not preparing for peace.
He is preparing for more war.
Launching new offensives. Mobilising more forces. And reaching out to other authoritarian regimes for more weapons.
So today we discussed the urgent need to step up and sustain our support for Ukraine.
For Ukraine's sake, and also for our own security.

I welcome the significant financial, humanitarian and military assistance Sweden is providing to Ukraine.
This includes training, artillery ammunition, and soon, Main Battle Tanks.

Sweden is also playing a leading role through your Presidency in the European Union.
Coordinating more support for Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia.

More than a year since Russia's full-scale invasion, Ukraine stands defiant.
NATO is united and our Alliance is stronger than ever – and will soon be larger.

Today we discussed finalising Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO.
This is a top priority.
And we are making progress.
Türkiye has legitimate security concerns.
No NATO Ally has suffered as many terrorist attacks.
I welcome that Sweden has stepped up in the fight against terrorism, including the PKK, by introducing new terrorism legislation, and strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation with Ankara.
I also welcome that Sweden is ensuring that there are no restrictions on arms exports to Türkiye.
Sweden has delivered on its commitments under the Trilateral Memorandum.
And the time has come to finalise the ratification process.

I recently met with President Erdoğan.
And I am glad that he agreed to restart meetings of the Permanent Joint Mechanism.
I have convened another meeting of Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden at NATO Headquarters on Thursday.

I also welcome that the Hungarian Parliament has started discussions on ratification.
And I expect the process to be completed shortly.

Sweden and Finland's membership will make our Alliance stronger.
With highly capable forces, an advanced defence industry.
And years of experience training and operating together with NATO Allies.

Sweden and Finland's applications have already strengthened your security.
You are sitting around the NATO table, integrating into our political and military structures.
And exercising more with Allied forces.

NATO has increased its presence in the Nordic region. And many Allies have extended security assurances to Sweden and Finland.
So it is inconceivable that NATO would not act if your security was threatened.
Your invitation to join the Alliance has demonstrated once again that our door remains open.
President Putin wanted less NATO.
He is getting the exact opposite – more NATO.

Dear Ulf,
Thank you again for an excellent meeting, for your personal leadership, and for Sweden's strong commitment to NATO.
I look forward to welcoming Sweden and Finland as full members of the Alliance in the very near future. Thank you.


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
[In Scandinavian as interpreted]

For Ulf Kristersson. So what kind of expectations do you have with respect to the meeting of Thursday? What do you believe will come out of this meeting? Considering that Türkiye before the election will pause its parliamentary session, what's the schedule for Sweden when it comes to hopes for the ratification by Türkiye?

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson
The expectations are basically not high, we just to have a good conversation to restart. This is something I've said earlier, we're had some problematic weeks where the discussions were stopped, so it's good that they’ve restarted. The meeting has been not very dramatic, we have presented what Sweden and Finland have done. We had discussion with Türkiye. And right at this stage, there's quite a lot to tell them, specifically the terror legislation is much more specific now. So basically it's a working meeting will becomes slightly [inaudible] because the working meeting have been suspended. So it hasn't been confirmed that the election will take place on the 14th of May. But I will wait until it's confirmed and we'll know when the Turkish parliament will close before the election, when they will reconvene after the election. Our basic [inaudible] is that Sweden and Finland will join NATO in conjunction with the Vilnius Summit that is still there. But we also know that Türkiye makes Türkiye [inaudible].

Question to Jens Stoltenberg. If Sweden and Finland do not join NATO by the Vilnius Summit, how delayed will the process become in that case? What would it mean If Sweden misses to join by this time?

NATO Secretary General
My goal, what I work for, is that both Sweden and Finland should become full members of NATO as soon as possible, at least by the Vilnius Summit. I cannot give any guarantees. The decision which NATO has taken - NATO has been taken the important decision to invite Sweden and Finland - was taken at the NATO summit in June last year, and NATO countries has followed the membership protocol for Sweden and Finland, and it has been signed by all the member countries. So now it's the internal decision which has to be - 28 of the NATO members have ratified, so have ratified, but I’m working with, and I am in contact with Türkiye, to contribute - to make sure that - the certification takes place as soon as possible. So far, this is the fastest membership process in the modern history of NATO. Sweden and Finland applied in May last year. Already in June they were invited to become full members, and 28 countries have already ratified the protocols. And as the Prime Minister said, Sweden and Finland are in a much more secure position compared to when they applied, because they're being integrated in NATO's structures through their status as invitees. NATO is also increasing its presence in the Nordic area. Sweden and Finland have been granted different security assurances from, among others, the USA, the largest NATO country, and therefore it's inconceivable that Sweden and Finland will be subject to military threats without NATO’s reaction. So right now, Sweden and Finland are in a better position compared to before. And two, we’re doing what we can to conclude the ratification process as soon as possible. So what is the answer to the question? Sweden will become a member. The question is, when. And we're doing what we can to conclude the process as soon as possible.

Swedish Prime Minister
Okay, thank you. SVT in blue jacket - try to be brief.

Question to both of you. What do you believe about the possibilities to reach a deal regarding ammunition to Ukraine at the meeting tomorrow, the meeting of the defense ministers? How do you comment the information that the Nord Stream could have been attacked by a pro-Ukrainian group?

Swedish Prime Minister
I don't know whether it's completely clear. With Kaja Kallas’ initiative from Estonia, that we should help each other, that European countries should help each other, for this, and from the European Commission’s initiative. I don't know all the minutiae, whether the agreement has been reached and how they should be turned out, so let me come back to you. When it comes to this second issue, I don't have any further comments right now. In Sweden there is now an ongoing criminal investigation when it comes to Nord Stream, so I don't plan to comment on this information at this stage. 

NATO Secretary General
When it comes to ammunition: I'll take part in the meeting tomorrow with the EU, but the EU will be taking the decision. What I can say is that NATO countries - a lot of EU members - are now increasing the production of arms and ammunition in order to deliver more ammunition to Ukraine. This is a war of attrition, this is a fight of logistics to get the arms and ammunition and so far, NATO countries and partner countries, which we've reached NATO is working very closely. Then we have reduced our stocks of ammunition to give to Ukraine, but the use of ammunition Ukraine is higher than their production. And it's not a sustainable situation in a long term perspective. Therefore, during this autumn, the defense industry of NATO countries has decided to increase their production, several NATO countries have increased the production, and also EU countries. And now there are further measures from the EU which will strengthen the process to get more ammunition, and the countries go into the so-called Joint procurement procedure. This is something which NATO has done for many years, and we'll continue doing that. But it's not - if it's several countries or separate countries which supply arms and increase their production - the important thing that is happens, and in order for that to happen, there are contacts between the defense industries, and there are several other NATO countries which have had contacts with the defense industries to increase the production. I know that Sweden and Finland have contributed a lot. Thank you.

This question is for both of you. Which challenges are there in terms of the restart of the discussions or negotiations which will be restarted on Thursday, which are the challenges? This is a question to both of you. And then I'd like to follow up what my colleagues from SVT said, when it comes to information from the New York Times. What kind of information does the Swedish government, Swedish agencies have together with NATO regarding the information which was presented, that a pro-Ukrainian group could have sabotaged the Nord Stream?

Swedish Prime Minister
Let's start with the challenges, as far as I can say. [Inaudible]. There have been major – but they’re part of the trilateral memorandum, and I believe, and I know that he has told us he has emphasized that as well. We have really implemented what we agreed upon to implement, and a large and important step which we’ll take now on Thursday with a government decision regarding the new anti-terrorist legislation. So this has been important, this was important to follow. For me, as in many countries, this becomes an issue of domestic policy. There is an upcoming election, countries are facing their domestic issues. And Türkiye has suffered from a horrible earthquake, which obviously takes a lot of - requests a lot of - efforts. I'm more concerned about other things, that the Swedish or the Finnish accession is not at the top of the agenda. I have all respect for that. But at the same time, there's an ongoing war in our vicinity, and it's important that the process which started one year ago, will finish as soon as possible. And like I said earlier, I will not provide any further comments. There is an ongoing investigation in Sweden, and I will not provide any comments until the criminal investigation is completed.

NATO Secretary General
When it comes to meeting on Thursday between Türkiye and Sweden and Finland, the goal there is to get unity that Sweden and Finland have delivered in terms of what they undertook in Madrid, which in my opinion they clearly have, both in terms of increasing the fight against terror, but also to remove restrictions when it comes to arms exports. But Türkiye - it's important for them to know, to meet, to discuss, and we'll see whether we can secure, that there is an understanding of the implementation of the memorandum. And what the Prime Minister said; it's important to meet if there have been issues, and to discuss these issues. And there - because there has been no meetings with the trilateral mechanism -

Well, when it comes to Nord Stream 2 pipelines, the situation is that - what we know – is that there has been an attack, that this was sabotage, and that this was an attack against critical infrastructure for Europe. But there are ongoing investigations and inquiries, and it shouldn’t be right to speculate who is behind that until the investigations and inquiries have been concluded. What we can say for certainty is that these attacks show the vulnerability of crucial infrastructure - internet cables, gas pipelines, oil pipelines, thousands of kilometers of critical infrastructure which is important for our modern societies.

And NATO for many years has been dealing with this security of infrastructure. But after the attacks in the Baltic Sea, we have doubled our military presence and the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. We have also increased the cooperation between NATO countries to exchange information and to strengthen preparedness to better stop further such attacks in the future. We have created a separate unit to coordinate the measures at the NATO Headquarters between the Member States and also private industry, which are also important role in terms of this infrastructure to increase the security for undersea [inaudible].


The last question to Mr. Stoltenberg. Is there any hope that already on Thursday, we can get Türkiye to agree that the trilateral memorandum has been fulfilled?

NATO Secretary General
Well, I want to be careful in terms of pre-announcing about what will come out of this meeting, it will make this meeting even more difficult. What's important is that a meeting will take place, that we get the process going again. And from my point of view, this isn't – I said this earlier – but I said this in both Ankara and Istanbul last year autumn and then in Ankara a couple of weeks ago, I made it clear that Sweden and Finland have fulfilled the items, the requirements which follow from the trilateral memorandum. Therefore the time has come to ratify Sweden, Finland.

And my question to the Prime Minister: do you believe that the new terror act will be a strong blow against the PKK’s activities in Sweden? Could it lead to further extraditions to Türkiye for example, or in any other way?

Swedish Prime Minister
Well, the specific consequences are quite difficult to see right now. But this will be a serious blow against people who take part in terror activities, I'm convinced about that. There are reasons why other countries have legislation of this nature in place. There's a reason why we want to introduce this legislation, why we changed our basic law, in order to create possibilities for such a [inaudible]. Some people say that this is quite a profound legislation. I agree, because we have serious issues, serious problems. This issue, the problem with Sweden has been that we didn't take it seriously enough these types of terror activities or participation or financing which was directed at other countries rather than Sweden. Now we're taking it really seriously, and I am sure that it will be noticeable once legislation has been introduced. Thank you. This is the last question. Thank you. Thank you.