SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: So Secretary Blinken, dear Tony, welcome.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: Welcome back to the NATO Headquarters. And it’s great to receive you here on such an historic day for NATO. Because the Washington Treaty, NATO’s founding act, was signed on the 4th of April, 1949, and today we are welcoming Finland as the 31st member of our Alliance. And I can hardly think about any better way to mark our anniversary than having a new member come into our Alliance.
We will have the meeting with the foreign ministers today. There’s many different and important issues. Of course, Ukraine is up on the agenda. We’ll meet with Minister Kuleba in the NATO-Ukraine council. And thank you so much for the steadfast, strong support from the United States to Ukraine. And we’ll discuss how to sustain and step up our support to Ukraine.
We’ll also meet with our Asia Pacific partners, and that reflects that security is not regional; security is global. And in a world where Russia and China stand more and more closer together, it’s even more important that we stand together as NATO Allies, but also together with our partners in the Asia Pacific – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea.
We will also address how to ensure that Allies are investing enough in defense, and we will start preparations for the summit in Vilnius, where I expect Allies to agree a more ambitious pledge, to regard 2 percent of GDP for defense not as a ceiling but a floor, a minimum, that we should all meet.
And then let me just end by saying that thank you once again, Tony, for your personal commitment, your leadership in this Alliance, for the transatlantic bond, and everything the U.S., the Biden administration, are doing every day to ensure that we all are safe and secure in NATO and as a transatlantic alliance. So welcome.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Jens, thank you so much. And I just want to say, as we would say: Right back at you. We are so grateful for your leadership at a truly historic moment for our Alliance, for the transatlantic community, indeed for the global community that stands strongly for the basic principles of the UN Charter and that stands strongly for peace, stability, and security.
This is truly an historic day, because very shortly, as the Secretary General said, we will be welcoming Finland into the Alliance, to its seat at the table. And I’m tempted to say this is maybe the one thing we can thank Mr. Putin for, because he, once again here, has precipitated something he claims to want to prevent – by Russia’s aggression, causing many countries to believe that they have to do more to look out for their own defense and to make sure that they could deter a possible Russian aggression going forward. But I think we’ll be thrilled to have Finland as the 31st member of this Alliance, so this is an important day, on an important day already in NATO’s history.
And then as the Secretary General said, we have a lot of work to do today to prepare for the Vilnius Summit, with the leaders from our countries coming together. That, too, will be a hugely important moment, both in continuing to reaffirm in both political and practical ways our support for Ukraine, to continue the work that we’ve been doing over previous summits to strengthen the defense and deterrence capacity of the Alliance itself, and as the Secretary General said, to continue to build out new partnerships between NATO and countries in other parts of the world, notably in the Asia Pacific, precisely for the reasons that the Secretary General said.
The challenges that we’re facing are global in nature, and what we’ve seen over the last couple of years is greater convergence than I’ve seen in my own experience, doing this for 30 years, between the United States and Europe, between the United States and Asian partners, and amongst all of us in how to effectively meet the challenges of our times.
So the work could not be more timely, could not be more important. And as always, it’s great to be here at NATO. Thank you.
SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: Thank you.