NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg believes that Russia should not influence the accession of any country to the North Atlantic Alliance, as these are sovereign states.
“The issue of NATO membership is directly related to the candidate country itself and NATO, Russia has no right to interfere in the processor block it,” Stoltenberg said at a Paris Institute for International Relations virtual conference, responding to a question that NATO expansion may have led to a deterioration in Russia’s relations with the West.
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He also rejected the claim that NATO had behaved aggressively by agreeing to accept into its ranks states that were formerly part of the Warsaw Pact Organization. According to him, it is not a question of “NATO expansion to the east,” “because these countries themselves decided through democratic procedures that they wanted to join NATO.” “We don’t oblige anyone to join NATO, Sweden and Finland, for example, are our neighbors, they don’t want to join NATO, and we respect that,” he added.
According to Stoltenberg, the Baltic States, Romania, Bulgaria, and other states independently decided that they wanted to join NATO and became members of the alliance, having confirmed their compliance with standards.
He also commented on the alliance’s relations with Georgia and Ukraine. “Georgia wants to join NATO, and Russia cannot prevent it. Whether or not Georgia joins NATO is a question that concerns only Georgia and the alliance,” Stoltenberg said.
According to him, NATO supports and assists these countries, including conducting joint exercises.