Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed President Katalin Novák of Hungary to NATO Headquarters on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, to discuss Sweden’s accession to the Alliance, support to Ukraine, and the situation in the Middle East.
The Secretary General thanked President Novák for Hungary’s significant contributions to NATO, including leading one of the multinational NATO battlegroups and hosting NATO’s Multinational Division Centre. Hungary also supports the Alliance’s stability efforts in the Western Balkans, notably by leading NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo last year.
Addressing the finalisation of Sweden’s accession to NATO, Mr Stoltenberg underlined that he counts on Hungary to fulfil its commitment, saying: “the Hungarian parliament should vote to ratify without further delay.” He stressed that Sweden has completed all the necessary steps, that its membership will strengthen the Alliance, and that the time has come to welcome Sweden as the thirty-second NATO Ally.
The Secretary General and President Novák further discussed the importance of continued support to Ukraine in the face of Russia’s brutal war of aggression. Mr Stoltenberg welcomed the arrival of the first F-16 jets for Ukraine, donated by the Netherlands, at a training centre in Romania. He said: “President Putin thinks he can outlast our support for Ukraine. We must continue to prove him wrong.”
Turning to the Middle East, the Secretary General affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law. He also said that “civilians must be protected; Allies support humanitarian pauses to allow aid to reach Gaza. It is important that this crisis does not develop into a regional conflict. Iran, Hezbollah and other groups must not escalate.”