On 11-12 July, liberal leaders from across Europe attended the NATO Summit in Vilnius. The meeting between world leaders was took place in the context of Putin’s ongoing war in Ukraine and the future confirmation of Sweden’s accession to NATO.
European Council President Charles Michel and Prime Ministers Xavier Bettel (DP, LU), Alexander De Croo (Open VLD, BE), Kaja Kallas (Reformierakond, EE) and Mark Rutte (VVD, NL) joined world leaders in Lithuania and stressed their unwavering support for Ukraine as well as their satisfaction for Sweden’s prospective membership.
Allies agreed that Ukraine’s future is in NATO, reaffirming the commitment made at the Bucharest Summit in 2008. Leaders wrote that Ukraine has made substantial progress on its reform path and they will be in a position to invite Ukraine to join NATO when all Allies agree and conditions are met.
In his remarks, Michel said: “This meeting is extremely important to stay together and support Ukraine as much as we can. It is important to make it very clear that we want to be ready to provide security guarantees to Ukraine and participate in all their efforts. We also support the just peace formula proposed by Volodymyr Zelenskyy based on the UN Charter and justice: there is no place for impunity.”
Upon arrival in Vilnius, De Croo remarked: “Our main message is unity towards Ukraine. What we have shown over the past 17 months was definitely unexpected from the other side and the support we have given is only showing what we will be able to continue doing. We are extremely happy to have Finland and now Sweden as part of NATO, it shows that NATO is the best guarantee for countries on the North Atlantic side to have security guarantees.”
In his remarks to the Public Forum, Rutte said: “Everybody here agrees that it’s a future path for Ukraine into NATO but it’s all about intermediate steps and language. It’s extremely important for Ukraine to know that there is a future NATO orientation.”
Just arrived in Vilnius for the #NATOSummit. This will be a crucial meeting, which centres on the increased threat facing the NATO Area and the Russian war in Ukraine. We’ve gathered here in Vilnius with one key mission: to reaffirm NATO’s support for Ukraine and to structure… pic.twitter.com/UJiNtpQHTA— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) July 11, 2023
Kallas added: “We are reconfirming that Russia is the biggest threat to NATO’s alliance and we need to adopt new defence plans. There will be a clear pathway for Ukraine to NATO membership because it is the cheapest and actual working security guarantee there is. We also welcome Sweden joining NATO, it means a lot for the security of our region and makes NATO much stronger.”
My message ahead of #NATOSummit:#Russia is and will remain the most significant and direct threat to #NATO.— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) July 11, 2023
To counter the Russian threat, the decisions we make here at #VilniusSummit must strengthen our collective defence. 1/ pic.twitter.com/CIAnXaVYo7
Photo credits: NATO / European Union 2023 / Stenbocki maja