Joint press conference
by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Boris Tadić, President of Serbia following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council and the signing ceremony of the Framework Document for the accession of Serbia to the Partnership for Peace Programme
De Hoop Scheffer: A very important moment indeed ladies and gentlemen to stand here side by side with the Serbian President Boris Tadić. You know why he came and you know why I'm saying this marks a very important moment indeed, because the President a moment ago signed the Partnership for Peace framework document and the words Partnership for Peace say it all. It's about peace; it's about stability in the Western Balkans region where Serbia can, is and has to play a very important role.
And the second element is Serbia entering the European Atlantic Partnership Council, the APC, which means this also marks a moment in the process where Serbia and the other nations we received here at NATO this morning, but that very much includes Serbia, has made a choice for the route, the road to Euro-Atlantic integration. And as we stand here side by side, my friend Boris Tadić and myself, we have of course discussed the Atlantic integration part. And the PFP of course, the Partnership for Peace, gives us many more possibilities and openings for further co-operation between Serbia and NATO because the PFP toolbox will be opened.
I'm sure it will be a stimulus in Serbia to continue the important reforms which have already been made over the past period. It should be a stimulus and NATO will help and NATO will assist there at a very important juncture of course for the region. Because as was also discussed of course in the council a moment ago, and reconfirmed by President Tadić (but he'll have his own words to say about that), it is crystal clear that this situation and the obligation on full co-operation with the ICTY, with the Tribunal in The Hague, has not changed at all as far as the approach and the attitude by the Allies is concerned. It's the same position which the Allies had before Riga, during Riga, and now as we speak, after Riga. And I do know that President Tadić has been on the record many, many times privately, but also publicly, that this full co-operation is absolutely necessary because this problem will not go away unless Serbia makes it go away. That's of course the bottom line.
A second important element of course is... and I mentioned the regional aspects and the developments in the region... it is also clear that the Allies who are supporting President Ahtisaari in his endeavours to come to a solution for the status of Kosovo expect a responsible approach by Serbia in this process.
I think on balance it marks a very important moment indeed that we have the President of Serbia here and that he has put his signature under the framework document for the Partnership for Peace. Now it's about preparing the presentation document in the framework of the PFP and that's a document Allies are very much looking forward to. It's a document in the preparation of which, wherever and whenever possible and asked, NATO assistance of course is in the offing. It will be very important.
Finally let me state clearly what is Partnership for Peace all about, what is NATO all about, and I'm not going to quote President and what he said a moment. It's about values. It is about values. NATO is an alliance which has, since 1949, defended basic values. And signing a Partnership for Peace is also about values; respecting values, promoting values. And let me end by saying that if I talk about Euro-Atlantic integration, it is my clear conviction as I have stated publicly many times before, that at the end of the day this region will only know lasting security and stability when it fulfills the full road, goes the full road to Euro-Atlantic integration. And as far as the Atlantic part is concerned, Mr. President, Boris, we have set an important step this morning. Please.
Tadić: Thank you very much Mr. General Secretary. Thank you Jaap for your support and your understanding. Signing Partnership for Peace program means that this is the end of isolation, but at the same time it comes with a new responsibility, not only for Serbia, but also for regional countries.
Today we have three more countries in the program. Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina, Western Balkans. I would like to see at the end of this process all Balkan countries in the NATO, fully integrated in the system of the NATO. That means we are going to bring values of the NATO, of the European Union, in our region.
Right now I would like to say that we are facing with some responsibilities regarding ICTY co-operation and I'm going to repeat to underline that we are fully committed to finalize this process, to arrest all indicted and to send them in The Hague Tribunal. This is what I feel is very important right now to say and I'm going to support this process as the Serbian President.
To be in a Partnership for Peace - that means for Serbia more opportunities for development and reforms in our defence sector. This is very important. We achieved really so many things in reform sector, in our defence sector, and I'm very satisfied with that. But we need more and for that reason co-operation with NATO is very, very important. I would like to say that we have new opportunities, not only in defence sector, but in all aspects of security, even science, even medicine, new technologies. This is also very important for my country.
I think that Partnership for Peace program means new opportunities for investments in Serbia. For foreign investors we have a new climate in Serbia and the region. We are creating new relations with NATO and I'm pretty sure that in next few years we are going to have more possibilities to be in the European Union. That is going to be our next goal.
Thank you very much for understanding. Your support Jaap, your personal support, was extremely important for my country, for supporting defence sector in Serbia, for armed forces and I'm really sure that our armed forces in Serbia are going to be very important partner for NATO in the future. Without Serbia there is no stability in the region and this is our primary goal.
Thank you very much.
Questions and answers
Q: (Inaudible) from Italian Agency Apcom. President today you got a sign of opening from NATO. Do you expect a sign of opening from the EU and the European Council and do you have in particular any hopes about the Italian initiative on ASAA?
Tadić: To be totally open, I have some hopes, but I'm not sure that that is going to be enough regarding some decisions which are coming from the EU today, but we'll see. A few months ago it was totally impossible to imagine Serbia in NATO. It was a very tough go for all of us, but sometimes we can achieve something what was only a few months ago totally impossible and we have to try.
But I would like to underline whatever is going to be the decision of the EU today, we have to finalize process of co-operation with ICTY. This is our obligation. I'm going to repeat it one hundred times.
Q: (Inaudible)... Belgrade. For Secretary General. Secretary General two hours ago you said for Bosnia that it's too early to have Bosnia in the NATO membership in 2009. President Tadić when he was last time here in Brussels said for first time officially that aim of Serbia is to join NATO. Is for Serbia too early to expect membership in 2009?
De Hoop Scheffer: You're trying me again and you'll get the same answer I'm afraid - that I'll not give years and dates because that would mean that we would leave the track of the performance based process. In other words, I'm afraid I can't answer that question. The only thing I can say and I can stress and repeat, that if you want to see proof of the intentions of the Allies and my intentions, on the road we have to go together. Those intentions are crystal clear and those intentions are Euro-Atlantic integration and I'm representing on behalf of the Allies the Atlantic part of the equation. In other words, the ambitions are clear, but the timelines on... I'm going to repeat myself, but again, on the long and winding road are impossible to give because it depends on performance. So if it's too late or too early... let's do the homework we all have to do and there's a lot of homework to do.
Tadić: You're not asking me about it.
Tadić: We have to believe this is possible.
Q: Mr. Tadić NATO is asking for a responsible position from Serbia on Kosovo. Have they indicated what would be a responsible position and are you willing to change your opposition to independence?
Tadić: We are talking about responsible position of Serbia, not making war. Creating more stable region. We are not talking about final solution on Kosovo. This is how I see our responsibility. We are defending our interests. We are defending our borders, but in European way, using diplomacy and negotiation process. We are not going to make war. We are going to contribute to the stability and peaceful process. This is modern, new, democratic, European Serbia.