|Updated: 17-Dec-2004||NATO Speeches|
16 Dec. 2004
Joint press point
with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the President of Lithuania, H.E. Valdas Adamkus
JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (NATO Secretary General): It was a great pleasure to receive here at NATO the President of Lithuania and I can almost say... of course, I started the conversation in commending him for the important role he has played at the height of the problems in Ukraine after the fraudulous elections and I think it's certainly to his credit and the credit of the other mediators that we hopefully will see on the 26th of December a free and fair rerun of the elections.
I'm saying this of course first commending the President, but secondly because Ukraine is an important part of NATO. We have a special relationship and that relationship, I do consider, an important one. And that's why it's so important that the values which are on the basis of this relationship are being adhered to.
The President and I discussed a number of subjects. Of course, the preparation for the meeting, the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers at the end of April in Vilnius; we very much of course are looking forward to that meeting. It will be the first informal meeting of Foreign Ministers in NATO and the President has said that he also looks forward to the meeting, that everything will be very well organized.
Lithuania as you know is participating in a number of NATO Operations, may I mention the very important contribution Lithuania has announced to participate in the ISAF Operation in Afghanistan with 40 people which is very important.
I hope, as I told the President, that perhaps in cooperation with other Baltic nations it might be possible to see a Baltic Provincial Reconstruction Team in the western part of Afghanistan. This is of course a debate and a discussion which is first, a discussion between the Baltic nations, but I'm very happy with Lithuanian participation in Afghanistan as I am with the Lithuanian trainers for the NATO Training Mission in Iraq. You know, we do consider this as a very important mission as well.
The third important point I would like to raise, we of course discussed as we do with every visitor... as I do with every visitor, the very great importance NATO attaches to defence reform, also in Lithuania, we sincerely hope, and I trust I must say after having listened to the President, that Lithuania will be able to pick up the nice and good road again and will spend two percent of GDP on defence.
It is now less because NATO uses a different definition of defence spending but I'm sure and I'll trust that Lithuania very soon will pick up again because it is important that we move away from old concepts of territorial defence and have Forces that are useable and deployable in our jargon.
We of course discussed as well the different NATO theatres, the different NATO partnerships. I must say it was a great pleasure to meet President Adamkus here in Brussels.
It goes without saying we discussed the air policing, you know we have a longer term schedule now in NATO for air policing. You know that I do not want to hear, as NATO Secretary General, about Baltic air space. There's only one air space I know which is NATO air space and I'm glad that with the rotation schedule we have found permanence in the air policing discussion for the nations concerned.
Let me leave it here saying again that I have greatly appreciated the visit by Lithuanian President and I've wished him bon courage and good luck when he goes back again to the other side of the city where there is an important European Summit. Thank you very much.
VALDAS ADAMKUS (President of Lithuania): Thank you very much Mr. Secretary General.
Once again we are delighted and grateful that we could accept the responsibility within the NATO organization. That Lithuania actually not on a paper member of this organization but we are definitely participating and contributing or fulfilling our responsibilities to the overall defence system.
I'm not going to repeat what the Secretary General already indicated here. I would like just to stress one point, that even in our political activities which is the case of Ukraine right now--we discussed that issue here--I believe this is one additional factor where Lithuania feels in contributing to the overall NATO responsibilities, just as well, because we are extremely concerned about the stability and security of the region; and Ukraine is one of those factors which Lithuania is actively participating.
We definitely are very interested to make sure that we can actively contribute to the air space policing in the eastern borders of Europe over there with the NATO participating and providing us the airplanes. We are trying to commit our Forces and I am very pleased that our Parliament extended our participation until the end of 2005.
Our military details in Afghanistan, that again proves our willingness to continue and to do our best according to the resources and possibilities which are extended to us.
So thank you very much Mr. Secretary General for the opportunity to meet with you right here in Headquarters and let me reassure you once again that Lithuania is the active member not on a paper, but will be participating in all the NATO efforts.
Q: Mr. Secretary General, since you've mentioned the other side of the city tonight, in the context of the EU Summit tonight, what would the possible Turkish accession to the European Union would have on to the European wing of NATO... the strength of this European Union wing of NATO?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well I could answer your 'iffy' question--because as NATO Secretary General I will not take a position vis-à-vis a decision which is going to be taken by President Adamkus and others in the EU framework. I can only say that Turkey, for decades... since 1952, is a staunch and very important NATO Ally and that Turkey's... Turkish contribution to NATO is highly appreciated.
Q: (in Lithuanian)
ADAMKUS: (in Lithuanian)