Press briefing on Libya

by Oana Lungescu, the NATO Spokesperson and Colonel Roland Lavoie, Operation ‘’Unified Protector’’ military spokesperson

  • Last updated: 24 Aug. 2011 10:38

Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson): Good afternoon, welcome back. And welcome to those who are following this press conference from Naples and of course via the Internet. I'm joined as you can see by Colonel Roland Lavoie, the military spokesperson of Operation Unified Protector who will give us the regular briefing on events in Libya.

This has been a remarkable week. We have seen Qadhafi's forces lose their grip over towns and cities that they have been threatening for so long. And we have seen people in Tripoli rejoicing as the Qadhafi regime crumbles.

They have lived under the threat of violence for decades. Now, they can hope for a new beginning. NATO and our Partners have conducted a highly effective campaign in support of the Libyan people under the mandate of the United Nations Security Council.

Over the past five months, we had steadily degraded a war machine, built up over more than 40 years. Today, we'll past the milestone of 20,000 sorties flown. We have damaged or destroyed almost 5,000 legitimate military targets, including over 800 tanks and artillery pieces. And we have done so with unprecedented precision and as much care as possible to minimize the risk to civilians.

For the Qadhafi regime, this is the final chapter. The end is near. And events are moving fast. What's clear to everybody is that Qadhafi is history. And the sooner he realizes it, the better. The Libyan people should be spared more suffering and more bloodshed.

The remnants of the regime are desperate. They may be trying to fight back here and there. But they're fighting a losing battle. The launch last night of another Scud-type missile against Misrata is proof that we cannot drop our guard. This use of an indiscriminate weapon against a city shows beyond doubt why our mission to protect civilians remains necessary. So we cannot drop our guard and we won't.

NATO is committed to our United Nations Security Council commitment, and our mandate is to protect civilians. And we will keep on implementing it for as long as necessary. This afternoon, ambassadors will meet here at NATO headquarters to take stock of our operation and the situation in Libya. They'll discuss the way forward. And I would expect that they'll also want to look at options for a possible NATO role once this conflict is over.

Obviously, I can't prejudge the ambassadors' discussion. But there is a general understanding that any future NATO engagement will be governed by three principles.

Firstly, the leading role in the post-Qadhafi period in supporting the Libyan people rests with the United Nations and the Contact Group. NATO will be in a supporting role. Secondly, NATO will have no troops on the ground. And thirdly, any possible NATO future role in Libya in addition to the current one under Operation Unified Protector will have to be upon request.

Right from the start, the international community has come together to confront the Libyan crisis. NATO is playing a vital role in protecting the people of Libya. We will continue to coordinate with all relevant international actors to bring this crisis to the conclusion that the Libyan people want and deserve.

With that, I hand over to Colonel Lavoie in Naples. Roland, the floor is yours.

Col. Roland Lavoie (Spokesperson for the Operation Unified Protector): Thank you, bonjour, Oana and welcome to those who are joining us from Brussels and from Naples of course. We have several people here on a warm August day, so this... this is noteworthy.

In the last few days, we have noticed significant changes, advances and momentum in anti-Qadhafi forces, on multiple fronts, in the strategic port city of Brega, in the surrounding of Misrata, in Zlitan and even in locations that were previously known as pro-Qadhafi resistance pockets such as Badr.

There's no doubt that pro-Qadhafi forces are severely eroded, losing through defections or capture. Key decision-makers being expelled from strategic military positions, and most importantly losing the ability to suppress the Libyan population in a growing number of cities and villages.

The Tripoli uprising is without a doubt an historical milestone, although not yet the last chapter of the Libyan conflict. I would like to stress here that regardless of the latest developments, our military mission has not changed.

Our mission remains to protect the civilian population against the threat of attacks and to enforce the arms embargo as well as the No-Fly Zone as mandated by the United Nations. Let there be no doubt we would continue to monitor military units and key facilities as we have since March. When we see any threatening moves towards the Libyan people we will act in accordance with our UN mandate. This has been and continues to be a 24/7 operation.

As such Operation Unified Protector remains in effect. The UN mandate remains valid. And we remain vigilant and determined to protect the people of Libya. We will keep up the pressure until there are no more attacks against civilians; Qadhafi forces have withdrawn to their base; and full and unimpeded humanitarian access has been ensured.

But as a number of areas are still contested, we have to remain vigilant and to continue to protect the civilian population. Most notably, Tripoli is still the site of numerous clashes between pro- and anti-Qadhafi forces. And the tension is far from being over.

The situation in Tripoli is indeed very, very dynamic and complex, even today. And as we are closely monitoring these developments hour after hours. Outside Tripoli, fighting and acts of aggression still occur in such areas such as Sirte and Sheba and also in Zaarara (?) where civilians are uprising and being repressed by indiscriminate shelling.

No later than yesterday a surface-to-surface missile was fired from the southwest of Sirte and landed in the vicinity of Misrata, apparently without any casualties. NATO has also destroyed two multiple-rocket launchers that were firing from western position towards the recently freed city of Brega.

In sum, our mission is not over yet. As Libyans are taking control of your country what is left of the pro-Qadhafi military gave no sign that they will stop terrifying the population. They are aggressively fighting to keep their control over the coastal access between Bishr (?) which is 20 kilometer west of Brega and Bani Walid which is southwest of Misrata and to preserve freedom of movement from Tripoli to Sheba where they have a relatively strong fallback position.

We urge them to stop, to return to their bases and to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all the people in need of assistance. Until this is the case, we will carry on with our mission. Thank you, I could take a few questions.

Oana Lungescu: Thank you very much Roland. ZTF?

Q: Colonel Lavoie, Kai Niklasch from German Television. Can you give us an idea what the strategy of NATO is at the moment? Whether you are bombing directly in Tripoli for example, where Qadhafi is supposed to be now? Or are the targets of NATO at the moment in Tripoli? This is my first question. And if you allow a second one, how many soldiers do you still expect there are in Libya to work for Qadhafi?

Col. Roland Lavoie: First regarding the strategy, our mission remains. We continue to protect the civilian population, to be vigilant, to enforce, of course, the No-Fly Zone and the arms embargo. We are doing it 24/7. We have done since March. And we're continuing to do exactly the same thing.

Regarding the situation in Tripoli, I could not comment on the current operations of course. But I could tell you that we remain vigilant. And we will take out and strike at targets if they pose a threat against the civilian population. This is what we have done since the beginning and what we will continue to do with full determination.

With respect to the number of soldiers at the disposal of the Qadhafi regime this is not something we could estimate with precision. What I could tell you however is it's not much the number of soldiers that you have that counts, because many of them could be demobilized or returning to their country if you talk about mercenaries.

What is important is the ability to fight. And I could tell that since the beginning of this campaign we have severely eroded the Qadhafi regime military capability to a point that their command and control capabilities are severely affected, that they have severely reduced logistical capabilities, mobility capabilities, because they don't control many accesses within the country. And they have a lot of senior leaders who have either defected or who have been captured. So basically, let's be clear here. Despite the noise that they could be making today in Tripoli, the Qadhafi regime has passed the tipping point and is going down. So for us, it's a matter of when - rather than if - is indeed the case.

Oana Lungescu: Yes, follow-up.

Q: Colonel Lavoie, because I still would like to understand. I've understood that you are protecting civilians. But I still would like to know how you are doing it now in Tripoli where there are, I think, many people around this bunker where Qadhafi is supposed to be. And what are the military targets that NATO can have if there are so many people around? What are you doing there?

Col. Roland Lavoie: As I mentioned, I would not comment on current operations as we are conducting them now. But what I could tell you is that there are still weapons and there are still targets that we could hit, if we have any signs they could represent a threat to the civilian population.

No later than yesterday, we took out, for example, two BM-21s which were basically firing in the direction of Brega, from the west of the city. So these weapons were actually firing when we engaged them.

Of course, in the urban city of Tripoli, the situation is far more complex. But we still do have the precision munitions that could allow us to take some targets if again we believe that there's an immediate threat against the civilian population.

We have done so in the past. We have taken some facilities, buildings, pieces of artillery, radar sites with very accurate precision. So we have the capability to do so. And believe me, we will do so if there's any threat against the population.

Oana Lungescu: Jane's.

Q: Yes, Brooks Tigner, Jane's. Two questions. Unless Tripoli falls quickly, the rebels are going to need close air support. Has NATO categorically ruled out that option, providing it to them that is? And secondly, the NATO nations are debating today and later on the renewal of a mandate. Do you foresee any need for the use of combat aircraft after mid-September? Thank you.

Col. Roland Lavoie: I will talk about the first part which is about close air support. We do not provide close air support. And let's keep in mind that the situation in Greater Tripoli is very complex. We talk here about urban fighting. So basically, being engaged directly beside combatant would not... would not really be practical. What we're doing is more to look at what is... I can't go into the details. But essentially, we're looking at what is going on on the ground. And we could identify it as a threat to the civilian population. It might not be on the frontline. It might be in the approaches of Tripoli. There's movements of vehicles. It could be if we identify a command-and-control node from where there's communications giving orders or directions to conduct attacks. These are examples. So, yes, we can be active in Tripoli. But no, we do not provide close air support to the anti-Qadhafi forces.

Oana Lungescu: On your second question, Brooks, this mission isn't over, the mandate stands and NATO remains vigilant. As you know, NATO extended, together with all its operational partners, the mandate at the end of June for another 90 days. So the operation is still ongoing. Clearly, we will continue to adapt in light of what's happening on the ground.

The situation remains fluid on the ground. And any adaptation will be done following advice from the military authorities as ever. And decisions will have to be taken by the North Atlantic Council as ever. But at the moment, we continue to assess; to consult and discuss both within NATO, with the military authorities, with our operational partners and of course with all the other relevant international actors in this crisis.

BBC.

Q: Thanks, it's Chris Norris from BBC. Two questions. First of all, what advance notice did NATO have of the rebel offensive against Tripoli? Presumably, it didn't come as a complete surprise to you.

And secondly, just referring back to the initial question, there's clearly a lot of outgoing fire at the moment from Qadhafi's bunker and compound in Tripoli. But that's mainly because it is under attack by rebel forces. Does that mean it constitutes to a legitimate target for NATO?

Col. Roland Lavoie: In terms of advance notice, we have Allied contacts on the ground. So we have a quite good understanding of the large scale, if you wish, movements of troops on both side actually. Of course, we are not coordinating what we do in a technical fashion with any of the key players. So we do not certainly conduct technical operations with the anti-Qadhafi forces. So I guess that touched your first question. The second question you were referring to what is going on... Could you repeat your second question please?

Q: Yes, in terms of the mandate, a lot of reports suggest there's a lot of fire coming out of the bunker - the compound in the middle of Tripoli - where Qadhafi may be or may not be. And a lot of that fire may well be going towards civilians. But probably, the primary reason for that fire coming out of the compound is because rebel forces are attacking it. So I want to know whether you think that makes it a legitimate target for NATO action?

Col. Roland Lavoie: For the moment, we have no signs that the anti-Qadhafi forces behave in a way that is not consistent with the UN resolution. Having said that, we revert to our mandate which is to protect the civilian population. And we are maintaining a vigilance there over the situation there. I would not speculate on any future operations. What I can tell you is that we have received assurances from the National Transitional Council that they want to respect the letter and the law of international laws. And basically, what we are seeing on the ground essentially reflects that.

If I may remind you of some of the atrocities that occurred in the last weeks and months and no later than yesterday when you had a Scud missile being launched towards an urban area, I think it shows clearly that this is the pro-Qadhafi forces here that are conducting very aggressive repression of the population.

Oana Lungescu: Roland, we can go to you in Naples for the next three questions, if there are any.

Q: Everybody is saying that now... the end of the regime is really close, near. It might not be a matter of hours. So now that the situation has changed, would you say how long you need to get to the end? So can another month be enough?

Col. Roland Lavoie: I think we have to look at it from a global perspective. Like probably, there's nobody... and if somebody would claim so, I would probably challenge it, there's nobody who could predict exactly when the Qadhafi forces would finally drop their weapons. They will do so, probably when there would be a political settlement to their conflicts. So nobody could say exactly when... What I could tell you in more general terms however is that over the last few months the Qadhafi regime has been eroded gradually. And initially, we could not necessarily see the difference it could make on their ability to conduct aggressions from a day-to-day fashion. However, over time, they have lost the capability to maintain the repression.

What we're seeing now is not a major offensive from military people. What we see is the population - doctors, teachers, farmers, citizens - who basically realize that suddenly the control over their cities and villages is not fully controlled any more and that they have the opportunity to uprise which makes it quite encouraging, but also quite difficult to predict. Because we don't talk about military formations advancing and doing a conquest here. We talk about simple citizens who suddenly realize that they could take their destiny in their hands and do something about it. So I think there's no doubt it's coming, the exact when, we'll see.

Q: (Inaudible) Il Matino. (Inaudible) The location of Qadhafi. And second one, is it true that NATO already allows it, ground troops to fight close to the rebels in Libya, in Tripoli?

Col. Roland Lavoie: For the first question, where's Qadhafi? If you know, let me know. But we don't know. I don't have a clue. And I'm not sure actually that it really does matter in the sense that the resolution of this situation will be political. And I think that everybody recognizes that Qadhafi will likely not be part of that solution. He's not a key player anymore. So from that perspective we don't know. But I don't think it really matters. Although, I recognize the symbolic value that it could have for his supporters.

In terms of having ground troops in Libya, if you refer to NATO ground troops, this is not considered at all. Our mandate is very, very strict, do an arms embargo, enforce a No-Fly Zone, and protect the civilian population. And this is what we'll continue to do.

Q: Hi, Jeff (Inaudible) with the Stars and Stripes. Here's a quite hypothetical for NATO. Let's say that NATO surveillance over the skies somehow tracks Qadhafi fleeing from a location that you don't think he was coming from, you know, under the mandate, does he get targeted at that point? And kind of a second question, in terms of the discussions being held today. You know, is there any kind of timetable for a decision on anything that will be announced by the NATO member states regarding the next steps should the rebels consolidate their gains?

Col. Roland Lavoie: I could take the first one. We do not target individuals. And Qadhafi is not a target for NATO. If Qadhafi leaves the country and lets the political process help find a solution, frankly we'll just be happy about that. He's not a target.

Of course, part 2 of the answer, we do target command-and-control facilities. So if Qadhafi is located in a facility that commands and controls attacks, these are legitimate targets and we will strike. I will not comment on the other part - that might be more for Brussels.

Oana Lungescu: On the second question, obviously, we will keep you all informed about any decisions today and in the future as we have throughout this crisis and as ever.

Next question, Europa Press.

Q: Thank you, Colonel, Anna Pisonero from the Spanish News Agency, Europa Press. The rebels claim that they control already 95% of Tripoli. I don't know if you can confirm this. And also yesterday we could see some wires that were talking about tanks presumably from the regime of course, leaving the presidential palace. So I don't if these threats for the population are still there on the ground. Or what can you identify as the main menace for the population now in Tripoli? Thank you so much.

Col. Roland Lavoie: Thank you for the question. Giving a percentage is always a risky business. And I remind you also that we're not on the ground to count assets. What I could tell you is that globally Tripoli is not under Qadhafi control anymore. I would not risk going into percentages because there are still obvious pockets of fighting. And it links me to your second question.

The situation in Tripoli is still very serious and very dangerous, especially in the light of the missile attack, for example, that Qadhafi conducted no later than yesterday. In an urban area, snipers shelling, missile launches could do some serious damage; it could not change the course of history, or change the course of this campaign. But it could be quite harmful for the population, which explains why we are keeping on with our mandate, by the way.

Oana Lungescu: Over there.

Robert Nisbet – SKY News.

Q: In talking about the principles imagining a post-Qadhafi Libya, you talk about NATO playing a supportive role. What would that supportive role involve?

Oana Lungescu: There is clearly a leading role in Libya in the post-Qadhafi period which has already started. And that is for the United Nations and the Contact Group. And we will welcome the fact that both have announced meetings as a matter of urgency. We continue to hold staff-to-staff meetings and to be involved in those consultations actively. NATO, as I said, will have a supporting role if required. On request, NATO will consider how it can play a role in helping stabilize Libya further. The details remain to be discussed, as I said, with our military authorities, within NATO itself with our contributing partners and of course with the international organizations in the lead, and with the Libyan people who are in the lead themselves in their transition. FT.

Q: Peter Spiegel with the Financial Times, first question for Naples, Colonel, just a follow-up on the 95% question. Putting percentages aside, can you give your assessment of how accurate the assessment from the Transitional Council has been particularly given the recent incident with Saif al-Islam where they claimed to have captured him and apparently he was not captured.

Are you relying on their assessments and do you find them credible? And then, one for Oana, if I could ask to drill a little bit more on what's going to happen this afternoon. You mentioned in your opening remarks that they're going to review options for future... Can you just talk about tasking? Has the Military Committee actually had been tasked to look at specific options for post-Qadhafi either peacekeeping stability operations.

I believe at the defence ministerial the Secretary General said they were waiting for guidance from the UN. But if they're meeting this afternoon to talk about that, it would imply that there was some work being done in the Military Committee to either plan for or present options for post-Qadhafi stabilization. Can you address that, thank you?

Col. Roland Lavoie: I'm afraid you may not find my answer fully satisfactory, because NATO is not in the business of assessing military capabilities of belligerents in a conflict in which we're only one party with a limited role which is basically to enforce the embargo, the No-Fly Zone and to protect the population.

Of course, we have an overall appreciation of the situation. And it is quite clear. We could even watch it on TV that the regime has lost its control over key strategic areas over the country. But I would not venture into guessing percentages or commenting on other people's estimates.

Oana Lungescu: Peter... first on Saif al-Islam. A brief appearance at the dead of night doesn't indicate to me somebody who is control of a country or capital or of anything much at all really. It shows that the remnants of the regime are on the run.

And it's up to the Libyan people to decide the fate of the three who've been indicted by the International Criminal Court once they're caught. And as we've seen very recently in the Balkans, those who are on the run from international justice may be on the run for some time; but they can't hide.

In terms of what will be decided this afternoon, as I said, and you won't expect me, I think, to prejudge the discussions of the ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council. Rest assured we'll let you know as soon as decisions are taken. And those are rest assured that NATO will continue to make prudent planning for all contingencies as we have done from the beginning of this crisis, and as we do as a serious security organization. And I think we've all seen that prudent planning has been paying off with a very effective campaign.

Q: (Inaudible) ... to prepare something for this, in anticipation of the meeting.

Oana Lungescu: The military authorities are always asked to provide their assessment on a regular basis to inform the decisions by the North Atlantic Council. I think we had AP.

Q: Sorry, Oana, I was going to ask the same question about the military. I apologize.

Oana Lungescu: Reuters?

Q: I have sort of a broader question. Could you assess over time to what extent NATO coordinated in any way with the rebels in terms of surveillance, picking targets or any kind of coordination? And if there was any, how it changed over the last months since March?

Col. Roland Lavoie: I could take this one. We do not coordinate with the opposition. We do our missions which are basically to do the No-Fly Zone, the embargo and the protection of the civilian population. Of course, we obtained information from our Allied nations who have presence on the ground to know what is going on and to know where and when we should act to better accomplish our mandate. But we are not in direct contact with the anti-Qadhafi forces to coordinate attacks or to coordinate manoeuvres.

Oana Lungescu: We can go back to you, Roland if there any more questions from Naples. If not, we've got quite a few, still here in Brussels.

Col. Roland Lavoie: We have one.

Q: Could you just clarify that last answer? You said you obtaine information from Allied nations with a presence on the ground who know what's going on. There's been some media reports stating that British and French special forces have been arming and training the rebels through... you know in different parts of the conflict. Did that happen? You know, was that outside of the, you know, NATO umbrella? Or can you elaborate a bit more on what you meant by Allied nations with a presence on the ground who knows what's going on?

Col. Roland Lavoie: You could understand that as a spokesperson for NATO I can't comment, although there's national activities in Libya. But of course, in general terms, we do have eyes and ears in the country which is basically that intelligence is basically merged with the intelligence we could get from our own means also for this operation.

We don't have any more questions from Naples.

Oana Lungescu: Die Welt.

Q: Stefanie Bolzen, German daily, Die Welt. My question goes to you Oana. I know you're saying the situation is still very fluid. But talking about the next steps, there is kind of like waiting atmosphere that the UN comes out and there will be a decision that UN will take over with whatever will be necessary: peacekeeping troops or whatever. So my first question is... isn't it in Europe nearest neighbourhood, wouldn't it be the duty of the Europeans and NATO to take over the responsibility here? And second, what do you expect from the regional players, from the African Union and the Arab League? What initiative should they take now?

Oana Lungescu: Stefanie, we've seen the United Nations and the Contact Group together with other international regional organizations in the lead on the political front, from the start in trying to bring this crisis to a solution.

NATO is implementing a mandate from the United Nations Security Council resolution. And we will continue to do that until all attacks and threats of attacks against civilians have stopped, until all of Qadhafi's forces have withdrawn to base and until there is full and free humanitarian access as NATO and our Partners have decided in Berlin in April. These are the three clear military goals.

But we've also made clear that in the post-Qadhafi period, NATO will take a supporting role if required. It is for the United Nations and the Contact Group to take the lead in conducting any stabilization operations, in taking decisions as to how to support the people of Libya build a stable and secure future.

NATO is willing to help in a supporting role if requested and if needed. So we've made clear also that there will be no NATO troops on the ground in the future as there are no NATO troops on the ground right now. And as you've seen in the past, I trust and we've already seen that all the international actors involved in this crisis have stepped up to the plate and played their full role in bringing this crisis to a solution that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people. We had a question over there.

Q: Oui, bonjour, Lila Lefebvre, Al Hiwar Television. Ma question, je la poserai au colonel Roland Lavoie. Colonel, s'il s'avère que le pays voisin de la Libye, s'il s'avère qu'elle abrite de grands responsables du régime Qadhafi, même un certain nombre de la famille de Qadhafi, quelle serait la position de l'OTAN par rapport à ça, en sachant que l'Algérie est signataire d'un certain nombre de conventions internationales et qui est aussi partenaire du Dialogue donc OTAN-Méditerranée? Merci.

Col. Roland Lavoie: Notre mission est très claire. Elle est limitée à l'imposition d'une zone d'interdiction de vol, l’imposition de la mise en oeuvre d'un embargo et évidemment la protection de la population civile au sein du territoire libyen. Donc, c'est un mandat très... très restreint que nous allons continuer à appliquer mais qui se rapporte à aucun autre pays.

Oana Lungescu: Évidemment, on s'attend à que tous les pays de la région, ainsi que tous les autres de la communauté internationale respectent leurs engagements internationaux et les résolutions du Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU. NPR.

Q: Thank you, Teri Schultz with National Public Radio. The French Defence Minister has publicly called for NATO to step up its bombing of the main Qadhafi complex. He says that it would be symbolically important to show that there's no sanctuary. Given that you're saying it's not really important where Qadhafi is, do you disagree that it would be important to destroy that complex?

And also for Oana, given that the TNC has actually been here and been recognized as the partner, the negotiator for the rebels, why is it that there is still no coordination?

Col. Roland Lavoie: With respect to the complex, we had strikes against that complex. And I'm not commenting about present or future operations. But we will continue to imply... to... with our mission. And we will do strikes, conduct strikes, wherever necessary to protect the population in Libya. So I won't speculate about the future. But it has to be very clear; we will strike at every threat that could be present in Libya against the civilian population.

Q: The French are saying it would be symbolically important. You disagree; you're saying if it's not tactically important, you don't find it necessary to intensify the bombing.

Col. Roland Lavoie: As a matter of policy, I will never speculate about current or future operations or value of a military target. And if that location had no importance we would not have struck it in the past. So this is, of course, not purely symbolic. When I was talking about symbolism, I was talking about Qadhafi himself. And so I would say: "Stay tuned".

Oana Lungescu: On the National Transitional Council, clearly we consult with them; we are in touch with them. The mandate of this mission remains the same. The mandate is clear and that is the protection of civilians and civilian populated areas, the No-Fly Zone and the arms embargo.

Over there.

Q: You said that any future involvement of NATO in Libya would have to be on request. Would you specify what request, Libyan or international? And secondly, if you say that there will be no NATO boots on the ground in Libya, how do you imagine the role of NATO then in a post-conflict country, where there is no fighting, with no boots on the ground, thank you.

Oana Lungescu: Could you please introduce yourself?

Q: Vassili (Inaudible), daily Trud, Bulgaria.

Oana Lungescu: These are very good questions. And I know you're trying to get me to say a bit more. And I will not prejudge the discussions of the ambassadors in the North Atlantic Council. Over there.

Q: J'ai deux questions. Donc, Jean-Pierre Stoobants du Journal Le Monde. Dans les missions que vous accepteriez, le cas échéant, est-ce qu'il y a... est-ce qu'il y aurait la possibilité de participer à une réorganisation des forces de sécurité libyennes? Et deuxième question, est-ce que vos évaluations vont également porter sur la durée de ce conflit? La plupart des experts qu'on peut interroger pour le moment, estiment que cinq mois ça a été beaucoup trop long compte de la situation sur le terrain. Et que si la mission avait été mieux alimentée en hommes et en moyens peut-être, ça aurait dû durer beaucoup moins de temps. Quel est votre avis là-dessus?

Oana Lungescu: Jean-Pierre, le secrétaire-général a déjà dit dans un discours au début juin qu'une des possibilités qu'on pouvait envisager pour la période d'après Qadhafi serait une aide de l'OTAN pour la réforme du secteur de défense et de sécurité en Libye comme peut-être dans d'autres pays de la région. Mais bien sûr, c'est un domaine où l'OTAN a une expérience extrêmement importante.

Plusieurs de nos alliés ont fait ces réformes eux-mêmes, notamment après la chute du communisme. Alors, on peut mettre cette expérience à la disposition de la Libye ou d'autres pays de la région. Mais comme j'ai déjà dit, tout ça reste à décider. Ça dépend s'il y a une demande. Le rôle de l'OTAN sera un rôle d'aide. Il ne sera pas le rôle principal. Et il n'y aura pas des troupes de l'OTAN sur le terrain.

Pour la durée, on ne va pas faire maintenant, on ne va pas deviner la durée de ce conflit. Je crois que ce qui est important, c'est qu'on a vu une campagne extrêmement effective, une campagne où pendant cinq mois, on a réussi à démanteler une machine de guerre accumulée par le régime Qadhafi pendant presque 42 ans. Et on a vu les résultats de cette campagne dans le fait que le régime Qadhafi ne peut plus monter des campagnes massives contre sa population. Je ne sais pas si Roland voudrait ajouter quelque chose là-dessus.

Col. Roland Lavoie: Je crois que c'est déjà très éloquent, Oana.

Q: Another question, Brooks Tigner, Jane's Defence. So no troops on the ground in the future. Post-conflict though, there can only be two roles for NATO. One would be a protective role which you seem to be excluding. And the other would be security sector reform if we exclude political contacts, but that's something I assume would be led by the other major organizations since that's purely political. So that leaves security sector reform. In all instances, security sector reform involves two kinds of personnel, either civilian members of MODs or military. When you're saying no ground troops, are you including or are you excluding those people as well? Thank you.

Oana Lungescu: Brooks, another excellent question. At the moment, I'm not going to go into any more details. As I said, in a speech in June, the Secretary General mentioned the possibility of security and defence sector reform as one of the areas in which NATO could conceivably play a future possible role in Libya or in other countries in the region. But that, of course, would have to be if requested and if needed. So at the moment, we'll have to leave it at that.

Over there, Agence Belga.

Q: Oui, Gérard Gaudin, une question pour Oana. Est-ce qu'en faisant une comparaison, on peut dire qu'en Iraq, je dis bien la mission d'entraînement, c'est "no boots on the ground" ou bien c'est considéré comme "boots on the ground"?

Oana Lungescu: Est-ce que tu pourrais répéter?

Q: La mission d'entraînement en Iraq....

Oana Lungescu: Oui.

Q: Est-ce que c'est considéré comme "boots on the ground" ou pas?

Oana Lungescu: C'est une mission d'entraînement, mais je ne vais pas vraiment préjuger des discussions. Pour le moment, ce qui est important, c'est qu'il y a une mission. Il y a un mandat. Et l'OTAN reste vigilante pour compléter le mandat qu'on a de la part des Nations-Unies. C'est ça notre priorité.

On fait, bien sûr. On fait du "planning" comme on fait en tant qu'organisation de sécurité et de défense sérieuse. Et au moment où on a des décisions dans la lumière de la situation sur le terrain, on va annoncer ces décisions comme on l'a toujours fait. (...) Over there.

Q: (Inaudible...) Norway. I wonder how important it is that Qadhafi and the other people in his family that have been warranted for arrest by ICC come out of this alive? And what exactly do you do vis-à-vis the rebels to ensure that this happens? Thank you.

Oana Lungescu: I think that Roland has answered that question to some extent already. It is for the Libyan people to decide the fate of those who've been indicted for crimes against humanity and other serious crimes by the International Criminal Court. What is important is that the transition in Libya is to a state that is democratic; that respects human rights; that respects the rule of law; that is based on reconciliation and not violence or retribution. But obviously, the rule of law is important and must be respected. And we welcome the statements made in the last few days by the leadership of the National Transitional Council. I think those statements are very clear. And the road map that they've already presented to the Contact Group is also very clear and very welcome.

We have one last follow-up over there.

Q: Yes, as a follow-up, when you say no NATO boots on the ground, does that formula exclude another formula, separate NATO members’ boots on the ground under their own command?

Oana Lungescu: I think I said no NATO forces on the ground. But obviously national decisions are national decisions so I won't prejudge any national decisions that haven't even been made. So, as Roland put it very clearly, as a matter of policy, we don't discuss hypothetical questions. And since we have entered the realm of hypothetical questions already, thank you very much.