SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a pleasure to get a chance to meet with Foreign Minister Kacer in his new capacity, but we’re longtime acquaintances and colleagues.  We go back many years, including to your time in the United States as envoy there, or all of the remarkable work you’ve done over many years on NATO-related issues.

So it’s really good to have a chance to actually meet in person, and also to express the gratitude of the United States for the strong partnership that we have with Slovakia that’s been demonstrated very powerfully in our common efforts to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian aggression, to support the Ukrainians, to strengthen our own Alliance here at NATO, and to stand up for the values and interests that we share.  I also very much appreciate the work that Slovakia has done on energy in particular, and helping Ukraine make sure that it has what it needs to help it through the winter.

Lots to talk about in a brief period of time; we’re both, I know, very pleased as well to be together as colleagues at NATO.

Mr. Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER KACER:  Thank you very much.  It’s an honor and pleasure to meet here at the margins of the NATO ministerial.  This is my first NATO ministerial, although I have spent most of my life, professional life, almost all of my professional life on NATO agenda, and I have very good memories for that period when we were trying to get membership.

Now thinking of Ukraine, it is claiming their own ambition.  What was the effort behind it?  How many years this was while we were handing over the instrument of ratification, treasury (inaudible)?  So we have a lot of (inaudible).

And I want to thank you for the support of the United States for freedom and democracy in Slovakia, in Europe (inaudible) extremely important.  Without you, the process – all of the process would be much harder.  And now I think we all see that it made great sense.  Probably we wouldn’t have expected time ago that Russia would do what they did, that they would break everything, that they would crush all what was dear in the relationship among states.  But now we see that what we invested in joint security, now it brings fruits.  And we can jointly help Ukraine fight for their own freedom and sovereignty.  And it’s not only morally right to do, but I think the only bearable strategic choice.

Thank you for that.  Thank you for being with us (inaudible) soldiers.  And it was (inaudible).


U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future