Updated: 09-Dec-2004 NATO Speeches


9 Dec. 2004

Press conference

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
following the NATO-Russia Council

08/12/2004 - NATO
NATO Foreign Ministers meet in Brussels
Programme of the Foreign Ministers meeting at NATO HQ on 8 and 9 December 2004
Audio file of the speech (.MP3/2886Kb)

de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you. Well if you look, let me start there, if you look at the joint statement coming out of this NRC you will notice with me a very important paragraph on Ukraine.

I'm not going to read it all, but everything is in there which I think is essential: avoid the use of violence, refrain from intimidation of voters, free fair electoral process, the will of the Ukrainian people, independent sovereignty, territorial integrity, democracy. I think this is a major breakthrough that together, with our Russian friends, we have a joint statement of course focusing on the many forms of practical cooperation we are achieving and have achieved in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council but also having this paragraph on Ukraine.

It shows, let me reiterate that, what I've said on many occasions, it shows that this is not and this should not be and may not be an East-West confrontation; a sudden East-West rivalry. Ukraine is of course a neighbouring state of the Russian Federation but Ukraine is a partner of NATO. So NATO has every reason to have a consultation and discussion with Ukraine which we will have by the way, I hope, as soon as possible after the not cancellation but postponement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

Let me briefly only refer to the statement, let me reiterate the many important forms of practical cooperation we had and we have. I signed today with Ambassador Totskiy the Memorandum of Understanding on the modalities of Russian support for NATO's Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean.

We agreed another I think important document which is the Partnership Action Plan on Terrorism with the Russian Federation.

We endorsed a number of other documents and we showed I think and may I also make a remark about the general atmosphere, the mood, in the meeting. We showed, all of us--twenty-seven--that the NRC is of course a forum for many forms of practical cooperation but certainly also a forum to discuss the more political elements and the more political subjects we should discuss in the framework of the NRC.

I'm not saying we agree on everything. If I mention the Istanbul Commitments it is my dear wish and NATO's wish of course that we will see an integral and full commitment to the Istanbul Commitments and implementation of the Istanbul Commitments by the Russian Federation, you know, that is linked of course on our side to the ratification of the adapted CFE Treaty.

So we have some hard nuts to crack but the mood of the meeting was a good mood and I'll stop here because of my own schedule but also because I'll come back later this afternoon as James Appathurai said to brief you more fully, also on the results of the NAC of this morning. We'll start the lunch any moment now.

Q: TASS News Agency, Russia. Do you envisage a visit to Moscow in this year or next year? And what will be the next step of development of the relations?

de Hoop Scheffer: I definitely envisage a visit. I mean it always takes great pleasure for me to visit Moscow so that will certainly be the case.

What we have to do is, as I said in my introductory remarks, is in fact two things:
Increase the work of... the practical cooperation. Very important indeed and an exercise we had in Kaliningrad, very important; civil emergency, doing it together, very important; peacekeeping brigades, very important; increasing the interoperability if we do peacekeeping together--and we had as you know a tabletop exercise on this subject as well. So I mean I can mention a whole range of very practical and interesting forms of cooperation.

Apart from that, let me first state again, the NRC is of course important for practical operation but is also important to have a broad political debate. And you know we already discussed Iraq, we discussed Georgia, we have discussed Ukraine this morning--we have a joint statement.

And we have, let me repeat, the hard nuts to crack: Istanbul Commitments which is of course also important.

Q: The Financial Times. You said that it was a major breakthrough in the communiqué with the NATO-Russia Council in that Russia signed up to... both sides have signed up to things like respect for the law, and peaceful conduct and so on. In fact Russia signed to very, very similar commitments last month at the Russia-EU Summit, again respect for the law, and peaceful conduct of discussions.

And yet, and since then, we've seen Russia attack the idea of election monitoring as something that's potentially destabilizing, we've seen Secretary Powell attack Russia making it clear that Russia needs to respect free and fair elections and Russian and Ukrainian authorities. We've seen a difference of opinion very strongly of the Istanbul Commitments. So in what sense is today really a major breakthrough?

de Hoop Scheffer: Well the fact is the breakthrough, I mean you are giving me very eloquently better than I can do it the arguments. I mean given the situation, given the fact that in Sofia a few days ago this was not possible I think it's a very important step that it is possible now.

And what is even more important, that NATO in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council, I can, now, after what I ventured publicly as comments on the situation in Ukraine I can now take this statement and tell our Russian friends, listen we had an NRC meeting at NATO and we all signed up, we reached a consensus on this statement.

I mean, the Ukrainian people can decide in free and fair elections according to their own will who will be their next president. I mean that's a big result first of all of developments in Ukraine itself, of the mediation that which has been taking place. I can tell you that Javier Solana, who was present this morning in the North Atlantic Council was commended for what he did together with the Polish President, President Adamkus, other mediators.

I must quite honestly say that what I have in front of me I did not expect yesterday night so I think it's a very positive result.

Q: Pravo Daily, the Czech Republic. Mr. Secretary General can you elaborate on the concrete contribution of Russia to building PRTs after this Memorandum was signed today, the PRTs in Afghanistan.

de Hoop Scheffer: The Memorandum which was signed today was on Russia's support for Operation Active Endeavour so that has nothing to do with the PRTs in Afghanistan. I have no indication at this very moment that the Russian Federation is envisaging setting up a PRT in Afghanistan.

Q: Ask if there was a proposal from the Russian side and in NRC to hold an official head of states meeting in the ninth of May, next year, in Moscow. There is such a proposal going from Moscow to some capitals now so was it tabled now to NATO officially and what do you think about this? Would it be suitable to organize as mostly all the leaders are going to go on the ninth of May to Moscow anyway?

de Hoop Scheffer: It was not tabled. I don't know where leaders will exactly go the ninth of May so it is, for the moment, not on the NATO agenda and it wasn't tabled by

Thank you. See you later, thank you very much.

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