< /p> NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, 18 February 2023.
Munich (Germany) – Without the North Atlantic Alliance, Europe would not be safe, which is why further strengthening of NATO is in the interest of all of us. Today in the Bavarian capital at the Munich Security Conference, the Secretary General of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, announced this. In the speech, he condemned Russia's aggressive stance and Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine militarily. He added that Russia must not win and that China is closely monitoring the price Russia is paying for its aggression.
“Europe would not be safe without NATO. It is therefore time to expand and strengthen the alliance,” said Stoltenberg, who is a big supporter of Finland and Sweden joining NATO. However, the ratification of the expansion of the alliance is hindered by Hungary and Turkey, especially Ankara is considered decisive. “It's up to Turkey,” said the secretary general.
Stoltenberg called on the alliance countries to increase spending on common defense. “Yes, the money invested in defense will be missed elsewhere. But nothing pays off more than defense and security,” he added.
The head of NATO spoke about the fact that the attack on Ukraine may have shocked, but should not surprise anyone. “For months, we tried to engage Russia in a diplomatic effort,” he said, adding that Putin ultimately decided on war. “Putin does not plan for peace, but wants to continue the war, he is planning further offensives and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of soldiers,” he warned.
According to Stoltenberg, Russia must not win, as it would not only be a disaster for Ukraine, but also a threat to Europe. “We know that Beijing is watching very closely how high a price Moscow is paying,” he said. According to the head of NATO, security is not a regional matter, but a global matter. What is happening in Ukraine today can also happen in Asia. “We must not make the same mistake with China as we did with Russia,” he added.
Finland only wants to join NATO together with Sweden, said Marinová
Finland has not changed its position on joining the North Atlantic Alliance, it still wants to join NATO only together with Sweden. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marinová announced this today in the Bavarian capital at the Munich Security Conference. She debated together with the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, with whom they agreed that despite the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, climate protection remains a long-term priority for Europe.
Sweden and Finland have repeatedly emphasized in recent days that that they want to join NATO together. The decision now depends only on Turkey and Hungary, which are still reluctant to ratify the expansion of the alliance. Turkey has reservations especially against Sweden, which it blames for excessive support of the Kurds and insufficient respect for Islam. Today, in Munich, Marinová jointly reiterated the decision to join NATO.
“When Russia attacked Ukraine, it was obvious that day that Finland would join NATO. When our neighbor Russia attacked another neighbor, it was obvious,” said Marinová. She stated that the two countries also agreed that they want to enter the alliance together not only because of their close friendship, but also for the sake of alliance planning and the collective strengthening of the defense of northern Europe. According to Marinová, both countries clearly communicated this position to Turkey and Hungary as well. “Of course, I cannot know how a country will decide to proceed with ratification,” said the Finnish prime minister, adding that Finland and Sweden would join NATO together.
Ursula von der Leyen and Marin also said that the priority despite Russian aggression, climate protection remains. “When I started my mandate, my priority was the Green Deal for Europe,” von der Leyen said. She noted that shortly after, the covid-19 pandemic broke out, followed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine with an energy crisis. “But we are not changing direction,” she said about climate protection and the transition to a climate-neutral economy.