Vilnius Summit: Biden To Give Major Speech Next Week About Importance Of Defending Democratic Values Globally

Vilnius Summit: Biden To Give Major Speech Next Week About Importance Of Defending Democratic Values Globally

A top White House official for European affairs and the U.S. Ambassador to NATO expressed confidence on Friday that NATO’s upcoming summit in Vilnius will unite on bringing Ukraine closer to the Alliance, and that it will move away from 2008’s Bucharest ambiguity, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Turan.

Amanda Sloat from the U.S. National Security Council, and Ambassador Julianne Smith, the U.S, Permanent Representative to NATO, both took part virtually in a press briefing organized by the State Department’s Brussels Media Hub to preview President Biden’s three-stops trip next week, centered around the NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital.  Before Vilnius, Biden will also stop in London, and the trip will end with a visit to Helsinki to hail Finland’s accession to NATO.

“This will certainly be a historic summit at a very important moment in history,” Sloat said of the NATO summit. According to her, Allies will be demonstrating “continued unity and resolve in support of Ukraine, which hasn’t wavered, disproving President Putin’s expectation of fracturing Western unity – and we believe that the Alliance remains stronger and more united than ever.”

After the summit, Biden will give a major speech in Vilnius about the importance of supporting Ukraine and defending democratic values globally, Sloat said.

In regards to whether Biden was planning to meet with his Turkish counterpart to convince him regarding Sweden’s membership and whether it was possible to say which way the wind is blowing on this topic, Sloat underscored Washington’s position that Sweden is “a strong and capable military and democracy and we believe is ready to join NATO now.”

Biden, she said, had a good meeting earlier this week with the Swedish prime minister where he reaffirmed that, and “we have certainly continued to make that position clear to our Turkish counterparts.”

When it comes to Ukraine’s NATO bid, Ambassador Julianne Smith said that Kyiv can expect “a package of concrete deliverables, both in terms of longer-term practical assistance on things like their military modernization and questions of interoperability” from next week’s summit.

“I do think that President Zelenskyy, if he opts to come to the summit as he has mentioned, will come to a summit and be well received, will see resounding support for Ukraine’s relationship with the Alliance, and will find himself holding a whole collection of concrete deliverables that signals a longer-term commitment to Ukraine from the NATO Alliance,” Smith said.

The communique of the summit in Vilnius will contain a response to Ukraine’s aspirations for membership in the military alliance and it will be different from the declarations of the Bucharest summit in 2008 that one day Ukraine will become a NATO member. “It is not just restating Bucharest, it will look different than what we said in 2008,” Smith added.

In response to the questions about Georgia’s NATO aspirations, and whether the country’s Prime Minister’s refusal to attend the summit requires any policy response from Washington and Brussels, Smith said she doesn’t “see any reverse course” in terms of how the Alliance is looking at Georgia.

“We obviously continue to stand with Georgia.  We continue to condemn what Russia did in 2008 and the fact that Russia still occupies about 20 percent of Georgian territory.  We will continue to stand with them as they work towards full sovereignty and support their territorial integrity,” she added.