NATO Secretary General: Sweden and Finland’s membership will make NATO stronger

Sweden and Finland’s membership will make NATO stronger

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to NATO Headquarters on Thursday (20 October 2022) for discussions on Sweden and Finland’s applications to join the Alliance.

“Joining the Alliance will make you safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,” said the Secretary-General. He noted that the accession process for Sweden and Finland has been the fastest in NATO’s modern history and nearly all Allies have completed their national procedures. He underlined that many Allies have given security assurances to both countries and NATO has increased its presence in the Baltic Sea. “It is inconceivable that Allies would not act, should Sweden and Finland come under any form of pressure,” he said.

Read the transcript from the press conference:

Press conference

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

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Kristersson,

Kjære Ulf,

Velkommen til NATO

Congratulations on your election, and welcome to the NATO Headquarters.

I really appreciate that you are here just three days after taking office.

This shows your long-standing commitment and support for Sweden’s membership in NATO.

As a close NATO partner, Sweden has made valuable contributions to the Alliance for many years.

You have well trained and professional armed forces;
high-end military capabilities;
and you already operate to NATO standards.

At our NATO Summit in Madrid, all Allies made the historic decision to invite Sweden and Finland to become members of NATO.
Joining the Alliance will make you safer,
NATO stronger,
and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure.

Your membership will strengthen the Alliance’s presence in the High North.
And deepen Nordic and Baltic defence cooperation.

As invitees, you are now integrating into NATO’s political and military structures.
And it is inconceivable that Allies would not act, should Sweden and Finland come under any form of pressure.

Many Allies have given security assurances to both countries.
NATO has increased its presence in the Baltic Sea region.
And we have been exercising and working together more than ever before.

The accession process for Sweden and Finland has been the fastest in NATO’s modern history.

Nearly all Allies have now completed their national procedures.

So, Prime Minister, I welcome your commitment to the Trilateral Memorandum signed by Türkiye, Sweden and Finland to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

We all agree on the importance of the memorandum.
And the need to address Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns.

I welcome the major, concrete steps Sweden is taking to implement the Trilateral Memorandum.
Ending any restrictions on arms sales to Türkiye.
Significantly enhancing cooperation on counter-terrorism.
Prohibiting participation in terrorist organisations, including the PKK.
And working through the Joint Implementation Mechanism on issues such as extradition and terrorist financing.
We also agree that we must stand together as we face the greatest security crisis in a generation.

President Putin is failing in Ukraine.
But he has not given up on his brutal war of aggression.

So I welcome Sweden’s strong support for Ukraine with arms and ammunition, as well as humanitarian assistance.

NATO Allies will continue to support Ukraine’s right to self-defence.
For as long as it takes.

So, Prime Minister,

Thank you again for being here today, and for your strong commitment to NATO.

I look forward to working with you.
And to welcoming Sweden and Finland as NATO members.

So please, you have the floor.
NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: OK, we have time for some questions. We’ll go to SVT.

David Boati (SVT): Hello, yes. This process, is there something that you two can do or is it just a waiting game for Mr. Erdoğan?

NATO Secretary General: Well, what we do together is that we ensure that the agreement that was signed between Türkiye, Finland and Sweden in Madrid is implemented. And I welcome the efforts that Sweden has already made to implement the agreement, not only by stating clearly that they are ready to step up cooperation regarding the fight against terrorism, but actually also strengthening the Swedish legislation including by the prohibition of membership in terrorist organisations, including PKK; lifting restrictions on arms exports; and also establishing the permanent mechanism, which is a platform to exchange more information and also to do more when it comes to intelligence and also in sharing the intelligence between the countries involved. So the good news is that what we have seen so far is the fastest accession process in NATO’s modern history. 28 Allies have already ratified the agreement. And we also have to remember that Finland and Sweden are in a very different place now than before they applied for membership with more NATO presence in the Baltic region, Sweden and Finland are integrating into NATO’s civilian and military structures. It is inconceivable that NATO Allies will not act if there is any form of pressure against Sweden and Finland. Maybe you want to add something?

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson: Well, I fully agree of course. And just to say the obvious that we are very committed to the agreement between Sweden and Finland and Türkiye, and we’re doing everything we can as soon as possible to fulfil all the obligations in it. Just wanted to stress the fight against terrorism is of fundamental importance in this agreement.

NATO Spokesperson: Swedish Radio.

Andreas Liljeheden (Swedish Radio): Thank you very much, Andreas Liljeheden, Swedish Radio. Two questions, one for you each if I may, first of all to Prime Minister. What can you and the new government do in order to speed up the process and especially in the talks with Türkiye, what can you give to Türkiye that the previous Swedish government couldn’t give? And to Secretary General if I may, what more do you expect now from the new Swedish government? And since this is for Swedish listeners, may I ask you feel free to answer in Scandinavian if you’d like.

Prime Minister Kristersson: For the rest of you, you may have to may learn some Swedish, I’m afraid. [answers in Swedish]

NATO Secretary General: I will also give the answer in Scandinavian and I may say a few words in English at the end. [answers in Scandinavian]

Prime Minister Kristersson: [answers in Swedish]

NATO Spokesperson: Anadolu.

Ömer Çam (Anadolu Agency): [inaudible] to repeat my colleague’s question because I don’t speak Swedish. Yeah, not yet. You said you would redouble the efforts of the Swedish government. Are you going to do more than the previous government and what exactly are you going to do to address Türkiye’s security concerns? Yeah, that is the question. And how fast are you going to do this?

Prime Minister Kristersson: Well, the short answer is obviously that we now is implementing new legislation and that will mean a lot for our possibilities to fulfil our obligations according to the agreements. So that’s the short answer. The agreement itself is what it is. And we are fully committed to it as was the former government. But I think we now have more tools to actually prove in practice that we are delivering what we were promising.

NATO Spokesperson: Bloomberg.

Natalia Drozdiak (Bloomberg): Natalia Drozdiak from Bloomberg, thanks so much for the question. Secretary General, I want to ask about the situation in Ukraine, if I may. Does NATO have any evidence that Iran is sending missiles to Russia in an effort to aid its war in Ukraine? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: I never go into the specifics of our intelligence. But what I can say is that every indication points to Iran supplying Russia with these drones. And we call on all nations and including Iran to not support Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine. And this is a war of aggression. It’s a war which clearly violates international law and it’s an attack on an independent sovereign nation in Europe. And therefore NATO Allies and partners have provided unprecedented support to Ukraine and we are stepping up our support. At the defence ministerial meeting last week several NATO Allies announced new deliveries of air defence systems. Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, France and others are now in the process of delivering more and advanced air defence systems to Ukraine. And of course the horrific attacks we have seen by these drones just highlights the urgency of stepping up support for Ukraine. Fundamentally, what we see is that Russia’s war, President Putin’s war in Ukraine is failing. President Putin made a big mistake by invading Ukraine. He was forced to withdraw from the territories in the north around Kyiv. Then they launched a big offensive in Donbass, that offensive has been stalled by the brave Ukrainian forces. And now the Ukrainians are actually able to take back territory and liberate Ukrainian land and we support them in doing so.

NATO Spokesperson: Dagens Nyheter.

Natalia Drozdiak (Bloomberg): Sorry just one follow up, the question was about missiles. Is there any evidence about missiles being sent to Russia? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: Was it about drones? No, sorry. Well, it is fundamentally the same answer that we don’t go into specific intelligence. But we are of course monitoring closely what Iran are doing when it comes to also providing any support to Russia. And we call on Iran not to provide neither drones nor missiles. And any supplies of missiles will also be in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

NATO Spokesperson: Dagens Nyheter, the last question.

Pia Gripenberg (Dagens Nyheter): Yes, please. Dagens Nyheter. Two questions. Do you have a meeting planned with Viktor Orbán or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan because of the process of ratifications? And also will the discussions with Türkiye be more easy when we have a male prime minister, a male foreign minister and a country that doesn’t push for feminist foreign policy?

Prime Minister Kristersson: Well, thank you. I won’t try to guess or to interpret Türkiye’s views on that, honestly. On the first question, we have told the Secretary General that I’m very prepared to go to Ankara as soon as possible. I will send that signal also to… we have already sent that signal to our Turkish friends. We discussed what timetable will be suitable for that trip. So that’s in my plan, yes.

NATO Spokesperson: Thank you very much, that’s all we have time for.

Ritva Rönnberg (TV4): [inaudible] he says you’re going to have a structured dialogue. How is the structured dialogue working? Is it progressing? Can you describe it?

Prime Minister Kristersson: Well, honestly, I have been in office for two days, so I can’t… I don’t have full insights into everything yet, I have to admit. But we have had a very good dialogue with the resigning government or the last, former government. As far as I can tell that dialogue has been very well working and we stick to that. As you know, we have… I have asked the chief negotiator to stay in office and to fulfil his work. All my impressions are that these are… that there is a good dialogue ongoing. And of course I will stick to that and I will try to make it even better.

NATO Spokesperson: Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference.