by the NATO Deputy Secretary General, Mircea Geoană at the Budapest Forum 2022: Defending Democracies - The aftermath of the Madrid NATO Summit and the new Strategic Concept

  • 22 Sep. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 23 Sep. 2022 12:01

(As delivered)

Thank you Péter and so good to see Géza Jes my dear friend, so good to see you and we have so many wonderful memories, from our work in politics and diplomacy over the years. I want to say that Géza Jes he is one of the leaders that transformed Central Europe. And he's one of the champions of Transatlantic and European integration for us so Géza, my, I'm so happy to see you.
Listen, we have seven months already of the unconceivable war on European soil after so many decades, and probably not that much for the ones in Eastern Europe, because probably knowing Russia better from our history, we were probably a little bit more prepared for the revival of this imperial appetite of Russia. But for many in Western Europe, and also for many of our citizens, this was a major shock. And I want to put this this atrocious world within context, and also to try to dissipate some of the propaganda and, let's say, to, to look into the mythology that the Kremlin is using, in waging this war and trying to transform this war into a war between Russia and the West, which is, of course supporting Ukraine.

Number one, in terms of international norms, Russia is a signatory to all the relevant documents, confirming the fact that each nation in the world and in Europe has the freedom and the sovereign right to choose its own path, the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of Paris, the documents that Russia signed to NATO, the NATO-Russia Founding Act is explicitly saying that Russia is recognizing the right of European nations, including our nations that are joining, have been joining NATO in between, to join the Alliance they wish. Géza I remember, we are running after the Americans to convince them to allow our countries into NATO. Nobody was forcing us to get into NATO or European Union for that matter. So basically, the breach of international law is so blatant on behalf of Russia, that I just cannot say how wrong this gesture is. The second part is about the war itself. Of course, Mr. Putin now is in a much weaker position, domestically and internationally, the war is going bad for him. And for Russia, he is in fact recognized de facto the fact that the special operation is in fact a war by mobilizing partially additional troops, which by the way, will not that probably that much because the logistics, the equipment, the morale of the existing Russian troops in Ukraine is so low, even if there will be some additional numbers, the quality and the motivation will be probably as low as the as the current one.

The second thing is the atrocious barbaric gestures against a civilian population. More than 1 million Ukrainians have been deported. We thought that Gulags will never come again, not only war will not ever come again in Europe, but Gulags again, Gulags in 21st century in Europe, that's something unacceptable. Rape, filtration camps. And beyond the devastation of war, we also seen tremendous human suffering and tremendous economic and material losses for Ukraine. So what Mr. Putin has been saying yesterday, is having NATO more united than ever, we are calm, we are determined, we knew that this escalate escalation would come. And as Secretary General has said yesterday, in one of his interviews, the General Assembly of the UN, we are also condemning forcefully, the sabre-rattling with a nuclear rhetoric. And this is something that a major power and nuclear power would experience in global affairs in strategic affairs, Soviet Union, now Russia, they also carry an obligation not to misuse the rhetoric. In real terms we are not seeing and our intelligence is not indicating any change on the nuclear posture of Russia, level of alertness, or any significant moves. But this is strategic communication trying to influence the morale of the Ukrainians, and the resolve of the West. This trick will not work, will continue to help Ukraine, it's a fight that they need our help. NATO is not a part of this conflict. We are very clear that NATO is not a co-belligerent to this conflict. And if you look toward NATO does as an organization, we are helping Ukraine in many ways, but nothing of the lethal aid, the military aid, which is done by Allies, and close to 50 Allies and partners are providing in a different format outside of NATO, will continue as an organization and as Allied Nations and partners to help Ukraine prevail.

Because in fact, it's about the future of democracy. It's about the future world order. Do we want to have the jungle or some form of predictable norms. So in a way, Ukraine is fighting, they're fighting for their own sovereignty and liberty. And I applaud their courage. I applaud the way in which they are behaving as a nation in these very difficult moments. But I also say that us, the supporters of Ukraine, are also doing a pretty good job in helping them and staying with them for the long haul.

And I think in Hungary, a country that is, has such an important experience with lack of democracy, with 1956, with so many things that happened in our part of the world. I think, people in in Hungary and people in Central Europe, and people in the Baltic region, our understanding the value of democracy, the value of freedom, and also sometimes the temptations that do appear in this, this never ending bettering of our democracy, our freedoms, and the rule of law.

Just one word about Sweden and Finland. We are exceptionally happy with the decision of these two invitees. We are hopeful that they will be joining our ranks in the near future. Of course, there are things that are done between Finland, Sweden and Turkey bilaterally. But we're seeing with great pleasure, the fact that now I think 25 national parliaments of the 30 have ratified the accession of these two countries. So there will be a net added value to us. And not only in terms of defence and security, in terms of values, of real democracy, societal resilience, technological advance, and also an ethic of values if you want, that will be bringing a lot more than just their size and geography to this Alliance of ours.

So 1 billion people, 32 nations, values, freedom, liberty, rule of law. This is what we are all about. And, of course, common interest and defending each other against any enemy that might dare to challenge NATO.