NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

16 Apr. 2008

Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Ambassador Kai Eide

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): A very good morning to all of you and it goes without saying that it gives me great pleasure and it gave the ISAF troop contributors great pleasure, to greet and welcome Ambassador Kai Eide in our midst this morning given the very important position, very important role he is playing and going to play, as I said, being the face of the comprehensive approach we also dearly want in and for Afghanistan.

You saw the Bucharest meeting where the United Nations Secretary General in person was present, together with other very important interlocutors, and of course, first and foremost, with President Karzai.

We always said, also in this building, that the international community needs stronger coordination. That the civilian and the military needs to be better coordinated. And around the table this morning there was great confidence in and support for Ambassador Kai Eide in having taken on this role for the past nine days, as he said himself.

As far as NATO is concerned, the military, of course, are an important function to create a climate of security and stability in Afghanistan, but the military are a function. And the final answer in Afghanistan, you know my mantra, is not a military one. That's about reconstruction. That's about development. That is about giving the Afghans who own their own country the possibility to take their country into their own hands, the sooner, the better.

But it is important that Ambassador Eide is there, now here, received at high political level in the capitals and also is going soon back to Kabul to play his all-important role there.

That is the signal all the ISAF troop contributors wanted to give to him. I say again, NATO plays an important role, but by far not the only role in Afghanistan. NATO does not pretend to coordinate others. You saw in Bucharest that NATO is ready to be coordinated and coordinate with others.

We fully respect the mandate given by the United Nations to Ambassador Eide. We agreed that we'll be in close and regular touch, be it in person, be it through modern technological means. It was a great pleasure to have the Ambassador here this morning and it is also with great pleasure that I would like to give him the floor. He has our full confidence and our full support.

KAI EIDE (UN Special Representative for Afghanistan): Thank you very much, Secretary General. Thank you, Jaap.

I also feel that the meeting today reflected the full support and confidence that is there from the international community, and from ISAF troop contributors. It's important to me as a tool that that confidence exists in the international community. I feel it exists in the Afghan government. And that confidence, combined with a mandate that is sharper than it has been, are the two tools on which I will base my work.

The civil-military coordination, as you say, is absolutely critical to the success of our joint efforts, and also to underline what you said, this cannot be primarily a military solution. It has to be a political solution, a political progress that brings us where we want to be. We've discussed the civil-military cooperation and we will cooperate more closely, but we will also move in a way where we respect the different mandates that we have during that cooperative effort.

That is important to me, and it's certainly also important to you in order for us to play the role that we seek as we move on. There were also two or three issues that I would like to mention that I think is important for us all now. Both for NATO ISAF and for the UN. That is the preparation for elections that is now announced, that will take place sometime late 2009.

You have a role, NATO has a role to play in supporting those elections and we, the UN, have a strong role in preparing for those elections. And we certainly have to talk more about that.

Another issue that we have discussed, is a question of strengthening the police. I believe that in the overall architecture of what we're doing, this is still an area which really needs high priority and extra efforts and we will have to discuss also how we move about, in order to strengthen the police and the justice sector.

We also discussed how to prepare for the Paris conference. The Bucharest conference was a great success. It was primarily focused on the security field, even if it had a broader, more comprehensive approach also.

In Paris there will be a conference focused on the political issues and here again, we have to see a firm commitment from the international community. And full support for their... from the Afghan government, which enables us to move forward as we all seek.

Thank you.

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Questions.

Q: Svetlana Ivanovska(ph), Macedonia Daily Dnevnik: I have a question for the Secretary General. Secretary General, the Macedonian media informed today that you are going to visit the country very soon. Could you confirm and tell us when?

And in this respect, having in mind the fact that Macedonia didn't get an invitation in Bucharest, and there is still this name issue to be solved, is there, in your opinion, any deadline, until when this question should be solved, so that Macedonia could catch the train with Albania and Croatia and become member next year.

Thank you.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I'll go to Skopje indeed very soon. I've been invited. I'll go there very soon. The date has not been 100 percent fixed, but it will certainly be in the coming two weeks.

To answer the second part of your question, there is, of course, no formal deadline. May I refer to the Bucharest Communiqué, where there is clear language on the name issue, on the solution hopefully as quickly as possible on the name issue, and on the invitation which might then follow.

So that is my answer to your question. I can add to that, as you know, in the name issue NATO doesn't play and doesn't seek a role.

Q: Pascal Mallet, Agence-France Presse. My question is for both Mr. Eide and the Secretary General. We are talking about coordination, but to what extent on each side do you consider that now you have something to say also on the way the other is behaving. That is to say, for instance, is UN considering it has a right to say something, to express its views in case of problems with military operations? And does NATO consider that it has also... as it has already done, by the way, express... the right to express its views about the way civilian works is ongoing?

EIDE: I think the most important element here is that we can maintain an open and frank dialogue among us as we had today, here in Brussels. We would do that in Kabul. And we'd also do that at the more local level in Afghanistan.

I think we should be open and frank with each other. If there are things that we believe should be raised, we should raise that in an appropriate way. And we should discuss how we can support each other. When you say coordinate I think it's very important here. And this I really think is a relatively new element. I sense today much more of a readiness from those who say let's coordinate to also be coordinated. That, I think, is also an atmosphere that I felt during the discussions we had here today. And it is important that both international organizations and donor countries, demonstrate their readiness to be coordinated.

Much has been achieved, but if we are to achieve more we will all have to look to see what we can do differently. That is particularly the case as we now move towards the Paris conference, where the Afghan National Development Strategy will be presented. That will be the document behind which we should all coordinate and align our efforts, and therefore it's so important that we all demonstrate that readiness to be coordinated exists.

Thank you.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: And NATO, the ISAF presence, is an important function in the process Ambassador Eide is describing. So I can echo his words. It is an important one because without security and stability there will be no long-lasting development. But as you know, the opposite is also true, and that was proven around the table this morning.

We'll be in close touch. Ambassador Eide will be in touch with the players on the ground in Kabul; first and foremost with the ones who own their country, that is the Afghan government, and the Afghan people. And he will be in touch with us, with ISAF, with the ISAF commander, and we'll be in touch with him.

So I think, indeed, that there was this call for this stronger role. Now we see this stronger role, and around the table, it was proven this morning, as Ambassador Eide said, as Kai said, that that is the correct and the right approach.

APPATHURAI: Paul and then Chris.

Q: Paul Ames from the Associated Press for Ambassador Eide. The three points you mentioned, both in terms of the elections, the police and the Paris conference, can you give us in concrete terms what you're expecting with regard to those three issues? Are you expecting more NATO troops to help with the elections? More police trainers? And what do you want international donors and nations to bring forward to the Paris conference?

EIDE: We are still in the early stages of preparing for the Paris conference. There is eight weeks to go. I'm sure that it will be a successful meeting. With regard to elections, yes, of course, the security situation is a challenging situation and has to be constantly addressed. That is important.

It's also very important that we, the international community, commit ourselves to funding the elections in an appropriate way, so that we can see that the elections can take place in a credible manner. And also to provide the technical support that will be required by the Afghan government during the process leading up to the election.

That kind of processes are so much more demanding than we often think, and we have to do that job well, and prepare it well. Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Last question is there.

Q: Chris Dickson from European Diplomacy and Defence. Ambassador Eide, you mentioned the willingness to be coordinated, which is obvious key to your role. My question is, how far does that extend to the Afghan authorities? They have, in the past, expressed strong preferences for certain lines of command perhaps being changed to what they are at the moment. Have the Afghans expressed a willingness to be coordinated by yourself?

EIDE: I think the first days of dialogue with the Afghans have been very, very promising, very encouraging. Now you say the Afghans being coordinated... this is Afghanistan. It's their country. It's their plans and their priorities that have to be at the basis for everything we do. And what we've seen so far perhaps is that not enough of our resources and our efforts have been spent in a way which support Afghan authorities, build their capacities and give them the ability to demonstrate to their population that they can deliver services. That has to be our objective.

It will take time, but it will require more focus and stronger effort than we've seen today.

APPATHURAI: That's all we have time for, I'm sorry.

Last updated: 18-Aug-2008 15:13