President Obama and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg talked about including Ukraine at the meeting of March 4, 2016.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a great pleasure to welcome back once again my good
friend, the Secretary General of NATO, Secretary General Stoltenberg. We are
marking the 67th anniversary of the NATO alliance, and NATO continues to be the
lynchpin, the cornerstone of our collective defense and U.S. security policy.
We had an excellent meeting that started with marking the tragedy that had
taken place in Brussels, and reinforcing the importance of us staying focused
on ISIL and countering the terrorism that has seeped up into Europe and around
And we discussed the eastern side of the equation. We continue to be united in
supporting Ukraine in the wake of Russian incursions into Ukrainian territory.
We continue to work in a train-and-assist fashion in helping support Ukraine
develop its military capabilities defensively. We continue to provide
reassurance to the frontline states there, our NATO allies, to make sure that
they have not just reassurance of words, but that we have actually deployed
concrete assets that let them know that Article 5 means something, and that we
stand by our commitments to our allies. And I have in my budget put forward a
quadrupling of the resources that we spend, and allocated a portion of that
money to make sure that we’ve got ground brigades that send a clear message
about our commitments to our NATO allies to the east.
That does not mean that we are not continuing to work with Russia to try to
find resolution to the problems in Ukraine. We think it is important to
maintain a dialogue, and NATO has continued to consult with Russia and, in very
transparent fashion, indicate the firmness of our resolve to protect our values
and our allies, but also our interest in being able to reduce tensions and the
dangers of potential escalation.
So I just want to state how effective I think Secretary General Stoltenberg has
been in managing a whole range of challenges. This is obviously a tumultuous
time in the world. Europe is a focal point of a lot of these stresses and
strains in the global security system. We are lucky to have a strong NATO
Secretary General and a strong team that is such an excellent partner with us.
And it is because of the strength of NATO and the Transatlantic partnership, this
Transatlantic Alliance, that I’m confident that, despite these choppy waters, we
will be able to continue to underscore and underwrite the peace and security and
prosperity that has been the hallmark of the Transatlantic relationship for so many
SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much, Mr. President. It’s always
an honor to be here, and especially on a day like this, because as you said,
today is the anniversary of our Alliance — NATO was founded in this very city.
And that NATO is as important as ever, because NATO has been able to adapt to a
more dangerous world — not least because of your personal commitment and your
personal leadership, and we’re really grateful for that.
We stand together in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism affects us all, from
Brussels to San Bernardino, and all NATO allies contribute to the U.S.-led efforts
to degrade and destroy ISIL. And just last week, we started training Iraqi
officers, and we will continue to support the efforts of the United States and other
countries to fight ISIL.
We are also responding to a more assertive Russia, responsible for aggressive
actions in Ukraine. And I very much welcome, again, the leadership that you
have shown in increasing our collective defense in Europe with the European
Reassurance Initiative, which is, as you’ve proposed, going to be quadrupled in
the budget you have proposed for the Congress.
This is really a strong example of the Transatlantic bond, how the United States is
important for the security of Europe and also over European allies — or the
European allies are also stepping up, so together, we are now implementing the
biggest reinforcement through our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.
I will work together with all the NATO allies to make sure that they make good
on the pledge they made together to increase defense spending. And this is
about that we have to invest more in our security when tensions increases, and
therefore we have to make sure that we do what we promised, and that is to
invest more in defense in the following years.
We will meet again in Warsaw at our summit. We have a lot to do, but I’m
certain that we will deliver because we have seen time and again that North
America and Europe is able to deliver when we stand together in a strong NATO
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