Jens Stoltenberg: “We must invest more in defence”

31.10.23 | News
Jens Stoltenberg på Sessionen
Photographer
Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org
In the midst of two burning conflicts in the Middle East and Europe, this is what the NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said in his opening speech at the Session of the Nordic Council in Oslo on Tuesday. He pleaded for people not to let the war in Gaza overshadow Ukraine, and welcomed the fact that the entire Nordic Region will soon be in NATO.

In front of all the Nordic parliamentarians and ministers who filled the Storting chamber, Stoltenberg began by condemning Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israel and emphasising that Israel’s response must be in accordance with international law.

    “Ukraine must stand strong”  

    He also reminded people that we simply cannot focus only on one crisis at a time.  

    “The war in Gaza must not weaken our willingness or ability to assist Ukraine,” he said, stressing how vital it is that Ukraine remains strong in the battlefield.

    When the war is over, Ukraine must also be strong at the negotiating table.

    Stoltenberg also added that all NATO countries are in agreement that Ukraine should also become a member state.

      Increased NATO presence in Nordic Region

      This week, Sweden’s application to join NATO is being looked at by the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee, and Stoltenberg expects it to be approved.

      He stated that although Finland’s and Sweden’s membership will strengthen and deepen defence co-operation between the Nordic countries, he wouldn’t like to see a Nordic block in NATO.

      “It’s good news if all of the Nordic countries are NATO members. This strengthens and facilitates NATO’s presence in the Nordic Region, its ability to defend the Nordic Region, and our ability to come to the rescue of our Baltic neighbours. But stronger Nordic co-operation must not pose a risk of barriers in respect of other NATO countries”, he said.

        Invest more in our security

        Currently, stockpiles of grenades and weapon systems are being depleted in all the countries which are aiding Ukraine, and NATO countries need to increase production.

        During his visit to the Session of the Nordic Council, Stoltenberg argued that we need to invest more in defence. 

        “NATO’s leaders have adopted new defence plans, and we need to invest at least two percent of GDP if we’re to fulfil them. I’m glad that all the Nordic countries have plans to meet that goal.”

          Dependence on China makes us vulnerable

          Stoltenberg drew parallels between our previous dependence on Russian gas and our current dependence on trade with China.

          China produces 70 percent of the batteries for our electric cars and 80 percent of all solar panels. The EU imports almost all of the important and rare minerals it needs from China.

          “We must continue to trade with China, but not in a way that undermines our security,” said Stoltenberg.

          Nordic Region serves as example of hope and peace

          He said that the history of the Nordic Region serves as an example of hope as he travels the world meeting people in conflict areas. 

          “I tell them about the Nordic Region and explain that although we were enemies at first, we’re now the best of friends,” concluded Stoltenberg.