NAt the ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), at the summit taking place between today and Thursday in Washington, Stoltenberg praised the allies’ determination to support Ukraine, but warned that it must continue in the future, despite the costs and risks.

“The greatest cost and the greatest risk would be Russia winning in Ukraine,” he said, warning that the outcome of this war will shape global security for decades to come.

“The time to defend freedom and democracy is now. The place is Ukraine,” he said.

Stoltenberg, who will leave his post as NATO secretary general in October, which he has held for ten years, admitted that there are no cost-free options when you have “Russia as a neighbor” and that in a war there are no risk-free options.

The former Norwegian Prime Minister argued that a Russian victory “cannot happen” because it would not only strengthen the Russian President, but “other authoritarian leaders in Iran, North Korea and China”.

“Everyone supports Russia’s brutal war. Everyone wants NATO to fail,” he said.

At the beginning of his speech, Stoltenberg made a special greeting to the President of Ukraine, who is already in Washington and will participate in the summit on Thursday, in the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council.

“Dear Volodymyr, we pay tribute to your leadership and the extraordinary courage of the Ukrainian people. They demonstrate the value of freedom every day,” he said.

The NATO Secretary General recalled that, 75 years ago, it was in the room where the ceremony took place today that 12 countries – including Portugal – signed the founding treaty of the Atlantic Alliance and made a commitment to “one for all and all for one”.

“Peace has been preserved, freedom has been safeguarded, which makes NATO the most successful alliance in our history,” he said, noting that today it is also the longest-standing.

Stoltenberg considered that NATO’s success is based on being the result of “deliberate choices and difficult decisions”, and not being taken for granted.

As an example, he pointed to the decision to integrate former Warsaw Pact partners into NATO, raising the question of whether the Alliance was “ready to open its door”.

“Some feared that enlargement would dilute and weaken NATO and provoke Moscow. It was not an obvious choice, it was not an easy decision,” he said, considering that, in the end, NATO supported the right of each nation to choose its own destiny.

“And we opened the door to NATO. Hardly any other decision in modern history has changed Europe so profoundly,” he said, arguing that the enlargement of the Alliance “unified Europe in a way that was previously unthinkable” and paved the way for the integration of some countries into the European Union.

Therefore, he stressed, just as NATO was not a given in 1949, it is not now nor will it be in decades.

“Everyone in this room has a responsibility as political leaders, experts, citizens. We must show the same courage and determination in the future as was demonstrated in the past when NATO was founded,” he urged.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that the Alliance “is not perfect and will continue to face difficult decisions in the future.”

“But we are at our best when we face difficult decisions with political courage and moral clarity. I know we are stronger and safer together, in NATO. It is good to have friends,” he said.

The ceremony, which was also addressed by US President Joe Biden, was attended by the heads of government and state of the 32 allied countries, including Portuguese Prime Minister Luís Montenegro, who arrived in Washington this afternoon to participate in the Summit.

Portugal is one of the 12 countries in Europe and North America that founded NATO in 1949.

[Notícia atualizada às 23h35]

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