Speech by the Prime Minister following meeting with US President Joe Biden
Rose Garden, White House, 19 May 2022. Check against delivery.
Mr President, thank you for welcoming President Niinistö and me to the White House.
The bonds between Sweden and the United States are strong and long-standing. As you know, Swedes first set foot in your home state of Delaware in 1638. We were one of the first countries to recognise the United States as an independent nation in 1783.
Since then, our countries have developed a deep and long-standing friendship through family ties, trade, and mutual interests. And I personally am very much a part of this.
But most of all, we share values and beliefs in democracy and freedom – values and beliefs that are now being put to the test.
Today, the situation in Ukraine reminds us of the darkest days of European history. And I must say that during dark times, it is great to be among close friends.
Over these past months, we have shown transatlantic unity and strength at its best. Together, we have responded forcefully to Russia’s aggression and provided unprecedented support to Ukraine. We have not flinched.
Mr President, I want to thank you for the massive US support to Ukraine, and for your sustained engagement in European security.
President Niinistö and I have come here at a historic moment for our countries. And for Sweden, after more than 200 years of military non-alignment, Sweden has chosen a new path. Yesterday, Sweden and Finland submitted our formal requests to join NATO.
Russia’s full-scale aggression against a sovereign and democratic neighbour was a watershed moment for Sweden. My Government has come to the conclusion that the security of the Swedish people will be best protected within the NATO alliance. And this is backed by very support in the Swedish Parliament
And with Sweden and Finland as members, NATO will also be stronger. We are security providers, with sophisticated defence capabilities. We are champions of freedom, democracy, and human rights. We have a long tradition of extensive military cooperation with NATO, including in all missions. We are right now ramping up our defence spending, and we will reach 2 percent of GDP as soon as practically possible.
Mr President, your support for our countries’ NATO aspirations, and for our security, are of fundamental importance.
We now look forward to a swift ratification process by NATO members. The United States and the Senate are crucial in this regard. We are right now having a dialogue with all NATO member states, including Turkey, on different levels to sort out any issues at hand.
In the United States, the Senate is crucial in this regard. Last Sunday, I hosted a delegation headed by Senate Republican Leader McConnell in Stockholm. Later today, President Niinistö and I will meet Senate Majority Leader Schumer and other leading members of Congress. We greatly appreciate the broad and strong support expressed by both parties in Congress.
Mr President, our countries also work closely together when tackling global challenges.
Sweden – like the other Nordic countries – has shown that emissions reductions can go hand in hand with economic growth. In Sweden right now, the green transition creates thousands of jobs through investments in battery factories, green mining, and fossil-free steel production. I actually brought the President a unique example of this: a candle holder made of the world’s first fossil-free steel.
And what we are seeing in Sweden right now is that previously neglected areas are no longer struggling with unemployment or depopulation, but how to build housing, infrastructure, and schools quick enough to meet up with the expansion. Here I see fantastic opportunities for cooperation between the Nordic countries and the United States.
I am also proud that Sweden contributes to the U.S. economy and the prosperity of the American people. Swedish companies are active in every single state, creating more than 350 000 jobs in the United States. We are the 15th largest investor.
Mr President, I want to thank you for your leadership in our joint efforts to promote democracy throughout the world. Because democracy requires constant work and safeguarding - we have to win every new generation.
Allow me to conclude where I started:
Peace and stability in our part of the world is a common security interest – for us, for you and for the rest of Europe. We stand here today more united than ever, and we are committed to strengthening our bonds even further. Sweden is prepared to shoulder its responsibility as an ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.