Updated: 17-May-2005 NATO Speeches


12 May 2005

Press point

By General Harald Kujat, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee after the meeting at Chief of Staff level

12/05/2005 - NATO
Press point by General Harald Kujat, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee after the meeting at Chief of Staff level (.MP3/13510Kb)

Of course, I want as always to be very brief. I'll just give you a quick information of what the subjects of our discussions were at the Military Committee.

What is important, I think, to note is that this was the second time we had a meeting, the Military Committee, a NATO Military Committee with the seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries, CHODS, which is a major step forward, I think. The fact that this meeting took place is remarkable.

We agreed that we will meet again in November, so we apply this normal six-month cycle, and the main subject was the question: How can we intensify and deepen our cooperation. So we were extensively discussing our work program, and we discussed the question whether we could apply some similar system as we do with our partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. That was from... there was no final decision, but that was obviously well received.

And of course, we invited the seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries both to participate in Operation Active Endeavour. We are in the process of discussing details with Algeria, and who is it... Israel, right. Israel. But of course, we invited the others as well. And we offered participation in NATO exercise of course, PfP exercises, and similar.

We then concentrated on the question of how can we intensify the exchange of intelligence information concerning our fight against the international terrorism. So that is a very concrete and very specific project now. So we are really discussing the details, the signing of security agreements, the way we could plug them into our system, so that is very specific, in the meantime I don't want to go into detail, but just to explain that here we are really making progress.

So of course, we have informed our Mediterranean partner countries of our ongoing operations. We've been as transparent as possible. We covered all our ongoing operations. The briefing was given by SACEUR and they had the opportunity, of course, to ask questions or provide comments as necessary.

That's it more or less. The other meeting was the Ukraine and Russia were very routine meetings. Nothing specific actually.

But we had a very interesting, very difficult, I should say, agenda with the NATO Chiefs of Defence and here specifically... Of course we have discussed operations as well. That's a routine agenda item. We have then in more detail discussed the possible expansion of our mission in Afghanistan. So what we call the synergy between ISAF and OAF mission there, and possible command arrangements in that respect.

And then, of course, the status of the NATO Response Force, where are we? Are there any problems? What do we need to do in order to have full operational capability of the force in June next year, because that's our target date?

And the third major issue was the so-called comprehensive approach. We have been discussing one element, the most important element of our Military Committee input to the comprehensive political guidance. You know, that that's work that is being done here in this headquarters. We had already three, so to say, three slices of input that had been agreed at the permanent representative level, and now we have... this was the number four, which is so to say, the core message of the military that has been discussed by the CHODS have been finalized, of course, so these are the three main issues that we have on our agenda.

Good. That's it. Questions.

Q: (inaudible)... Atlantic News. Two questions on Afghanistan. Can you maybe tell us a bit more about the question of synergy with OAF and how could it work and when could we expect a decision on this? And second, on political guidance, I'm afraid I don't know exactly what these political guidances are, so if you could explain us what this consists of.

KUJAT: Well as far as your first question is concerned, we are now in the process of implementing our expansion into Area II, and the question was then, how do we do that Area III and Area IV, and as a logical consequence of that question is, of course, then a new command arrangement because we are expanding into the area where the Operation Active... what is it? Enduring Freedom... sorry, I'm mixing them up in the meantime, is taking place, so we need of course, and we want to achieve the synergy, but we need also to coordinate our activities there.

So I think that this is an issue that will be on the agenda of defence ministers, I hope at least, in June. And it depends very much what they decide. I don't know that when this process then will begin or continue actually, but we think that... we still need some time to expand into Area II. Which is proceeding very positively, by the way, so we have good offers and it's not that difficult as it has been in the past actually. That's going quite nicely. But we need, of course, to do that first one step after the other. And then we have the elections in September. We need to prepare support for the elections as well.

So I think this is a step then that we'll follow at a later point in time, maybe at the end of the year. But this is something that ministers have to decide. We did not discuss the actual date.

And your second question...

Q: Political guidance.

KUJAT: The second question was political guidance. You know, I think we have discussed here several times already what we call the comprehensive approach, that we have to change the way we are planning for operations, the way we are planning to produce, say the forces that we need on the ground for our operations; that this must be based on mid-term actionable intelligence, that we need to have contingency... early contingency planning. And of course, that we need to change the system, how we produce, let's say, the forces.

And that is the first step in that process is the comprehensive political guidance, to be issued by ministers. This is the instrument with which we kick off the process, so it's, of course, then very important from our point of view, that the necessary elements are included in that comprehensive political guidance in order, of course, to allow this process to take place. And that is what we have done.

This... yeah, okay. Yeah, yeah, go on.

Q: (inaudible)... Pourquoi avec les sept pays partenaires mondiaux Méditerranéens de l'OTAN il y a eu des discussions particulières avec Israël et l'Algérie? Pourquoi des discussions particulières avec l'Algérie et Israël?

KUJAT: It's very simple, because we have offered participation in Operation Active Endeavour, and these two countries, so far at least, have responded positively. So now, we are, of course, in the process of discussing details with them.

But as I said, we have invited the other countries to participate as well, but that is maybe then a second step, the earlier the better.


Best wishes from me. Yeah.

Q: The Mediterranean Dialogue, who has participated from Israel's side at this meeting here? (inaudible)...from Israel?

KUJAT: No, he could not come because there was a... I think, a very specific holiday on 10 and so he could not come. I don't know exactly the reason.

Q: And the second question, was there any question from Israel raised for NATO to participate in...


Q: ...concerning NATO's participating in this area...


Q: ...between Palestine and Israel?

KUJAT: No. No they did not discuss that.

MODERATOR: Yeah, Mark.

Q: Mark John, Reuters. Back to Afghanistan. Are there any numbers at this stage for how much the expansion to phase three and phase four would take in terms of troop numbers? And what's your feeling? Would it be the same kind of expansion as for Phase two, for example, or more?

KUJAT: No. Well first of all, numbers are secondary issue for me. So I don't deal with numbers. For you it's always the first priority. For me it's important that we provide the necessary capabilities. That is the point. So we did not discuss numbers at all. And... but obviously the number of forces would be very similar to the number in stage two. And you have to take into account that stage four, Area IV is already covered because the U.S.-run PRTs are already in Area IV, and they will, of course, continue to do so and they have forces put on the ground already there.

So it is just III now that is the bridge between II and IV. And once this is in place we have automatically, so to say, covered the whole of Afghanistan.

Q: Also on Afghanistan, even if the ministers have to decide it's hard to believe that you didn't talk about options, about the synergy effects and how you could... how the relationship between Enduring Freedom and ISAF could be.

Could you just give some details about the options on the table.

And if I may, the second question's on Iraq. Could you discuss in more detail the state of play with the training mission in Iraq?

KUJAT: Well, we don't provide options. We provide a solution for ministers. Because we discussed already, including the ministers, we discussed options in February, so now we have been working out the details and bring forward a specific proposal to ministers.

But I don't want to discuss that here because as you will understand ministers would not wish to read in your newspaper how, interesting this may be, but they wouldn't wish to read that in your newspaper what finally then will be proposed by us.

But we have... we make specific... we recommend a specific arrangement, and how we are going to do that. And then... and as far as Iraq is concerned, this was an issue, very general, in the update that we got from the strategic commander operations, but we did not discuss every details there.

Q: Two questions, totally unrelated. As president of the Military Committee, and as a German... well, at least president until June, would you agree with statements from your Minister, Minister Fischer and Minister Struck that it would be time, or maybe a good idea to start discussing withdrawal of U.S. nuclear warheads in Germany?

And second question, unrelated, when you mention the exchange of intelligence with the Mediterranean countries, and specifically Israel, how far is Israel willing to go in the exchange of intelligence and could you be a little bit more... is there a specific area in this exchange of intelligence? I mean, what does it cover? What are we talking about exactly?

KUJAT: Well, as I said, taking your second question first, we are talking about exchange of intelligence information concerning terrorism, international terrorism. And so that is the subject. So to what extent the individual nations will provide input to that, I don't know, because we need to start that, and see then what the experience is.

And as far as... which country did you mention there in your first question?

Q: Just to follow up to what you just said, so this is discussions to set up exchange of intelligence. Nothing has happened yet? I mean, there's no agreements yet to actually exchange intelligence?

KUJAT: Well, yes, there's an agreement that we will do that, but now we need to work out, of course, the details. I mean, that's a technical question, because we don't exchange information, as you might think, that somebody with a dark suit, and a baseball cap and a piece of paper under his arm is meeting in a dark floor somewhere in Brussels and hand over... this is... we don't do that. That's already for some time that we don't do it this way.

So it's... it's primarily... primarily it's a technical question. There is... we have a system in NATO, a system with which we do that. I don't want to go into details of that. And so you need to discuss the technicalities, so to say, how to plug into that system and things like... more. And then of course you need to have the necessary arrangements, security agreements and things like that.

That is the subject. And what was the country you mentioned?

Q: The first question was, as a German and as president of the Military Committee, do you... would you agree with the statements made by Minister Fischer and Struck that it would be not a bad idea, or time to maybe start talking, including inside NATO, of the possibility of U.S. withdrawal of nuclear warheads in Germany?

KUJAT: Well, not as a German, but in my international capacity as chairman of the Military Committee, I do not comment national statements, so to say. I'm representing NATO. I'm not representing a specific country. And it's impossible for me—we have 26 nations in the Alliance—to comment on every internal issue actually.

But generally I can tell you, I don't think that the question of nuclear weapons is something that should be discussed... well... how should I phrase it?

UNIDENTIFIED: In public. That's one point.

Q: Well, in...

UNIDENTIFIED: And the other point, it's a bilateral thing. It's not a NATO thing. In the first thing. It's something which concerns the United States and Germany. And it's not a topic within the NATO organization.

Q: But you do have a Nuclear Planning Group with NATO. I mean... there is a Committee for that.


KUJAT: That is true. Is it the same... or is it somebody different?


KUJAT: Well, I mean, you will appreciate that I don't want to comment that. That is... that's a purely... for the moment it's a purely national, and I would even go further, it's an internal issue. The debate is an internal debate in the country you mentioned, what was it? Which one was it? Somewhere in Europe. So I don't say anything.

Government Maybe in July you'll want to respond (inaudible)...

KUJAT: Well, no no, that has nothing to do with July or not July. It's ... for me it's not a subject.

MODERATOR: Any further questions, please?

Q: (inaudible)... National News Agency of Ukraine. Sir, you characterized meeting with Russian and Ukrainian Chief of Staffs like routine. The question is, was it there something interesting in there? This is the first question.

And the second, was there some changes in format of negotiations or maybe intensity of negotiations since Ukraine got the status of Intensified Dialogue?

KUJAT: Yeah. Well, you are right, of course this is a new aspect. You know that we... first of all, it was a routine meeting in that sense that there was nothing spectacular. We are cooperating in a very nice manner, very substantial, but you are right, we have... we discussed the work done for 2005 and gave guidance for the... for drafting the work done in 2006.

So and of course we need to take into account the Vilnius decision. So what we will do is of course we will look into the work done in 2005 and see whether there is a need to adapt the work plan, and of course, we were in the process of drafting the 2006 work plan. This question of do we need to change something, do we need to incorporate new initiatives, that's an issue that of course has been discussed. But not as far as the substance is concerned. We discussed that just as guidance to our collaborators to take this into account. No more. Otherwise it was a good meeting. I'm tempted to use diplomatic language, but I don't think you appreciate that.

Q: Girard Godin, (inaudible) News Agency. There will be elections in Afghanistan in a few months time. Have you got any idea... could you tell us what...

KUJAT: Who will be elected?

Q: ...NATO is going to do to increase the support?

KUJAT: Yeah, oh yes. Well, we have... of course we have plans. We will support the elections in the way that we provide for stability there, and we have identified the military capabilities that we need for that, and they are available. Which is the most important question, of course. The identification process is always easier on the military side, but the question whether these forces will be made available is in most cases difficult. This time that's absolutely clear. We'll get the forces that we need, they are ready and they will be moved in time before the elections and they will stay in place beyond the actual date, I think it's 18 September, and they will provide security.

Additional security, I should say.

Q: General, from time to time... sorry... General, not only discussing the technical implications, but also the political implications of what they are doing, and how far... did you speak, for instance, about the Schröder approach, and later on the approach of the Secretary General, to NATO to become a more political, relevant forum?

KUJAT: No, we did not discuss that because that is something for the Council to discuss and I think they are doing that already. My impression was in Vilnius that this was a very good meeting in that sense, that there was a good political discussion. But we in the military, we don't discuss, of course. Obviously there is no need for us to discuss that.

And by the way, specifically here in these last two days we were so occupied with technicalities that there was no room, even if we wanted to discuss that, but I don't see a need for us.

Q: If I can follow up on the previous question on the elections in Afghanistan. When you say the forces are available, I mean, does this mean in precisely which country and which units are going to go?


Q: Or you just have promise in general?

KUJAT: No, it means precisely which unit we will use and which country is providing this unit.

Q: How many people will that be in total? You know we like numbers.

KUJAT: I don't know. I must tell you, I don't know. I have no idea. We have... the battalions in NATO have different strengths, of course. I don't know the exact figure.

Q: (inaudible)... from Kuwait News Agency. Just questioning about the meeting, the Mediterranean Dialogue countries. Did you sense that there is sensitivity on the part of the Arab countries regarding dealing with Israel militarily? You said only one out of six Arab countries accepted to participate in Active Endeavour, so it's only Algeria to approve to (inaudible) with Israel. What about the rest? Did you sense there is some sort of sensitivity? On the part of the Arab countries?

KUJAT: What do you mean... What do you mean when you say sensitivity? To what?

Q: I mean, dealing with Israel on a military basis.

KUJAT: There was... well, the discussion was very open. There was... very friendly, I should say. There... I could not identify any strange behaviour. They behaved like NATO nations. I couldn't see anything. I could... really, that was a very good atmosphere. Very much to the point. No sensitivities at all.

I mean, that's the idea. We want... of course our opinion is when you sit together you discuss things together, you have lunch together, then of course there is a better understanding of each other, and that may help.

And my impression is it does.

Q: General, I'm Tanichi(?) from Japanese News Media. Afghanistan, you mentioned the synergy between ISAF and coalition forces. Thinking of the non-member states of NATO, non-member states of EAPMC, do you think it's better to have the singlized command and control under NATO in the future, or do you think militarily it's possible to have a sort of flexible, harmonized command and control in the future this synergy...?

KUJAT: You mean to OAF?

Q: Yes.

KUJAT: Yes. What we want to achieve is, I should say, a 100 percent unity of effort. That is what we need. And of course, on... but on the other side, of course, a lot of nations are interested in a clear distinction between the two missions. So... and we need to take that, of course, into account. So what you then wish to have, of course, is a command structure that allows for unity, a 100 percent unity of effort, and at the same time, allows for to have a distinct difference between the two missions. And I think that is possible. I think...

Q: General, you speak about exchange of information... intelligence information about terrorism. You speak of the bilateral exchange NATO would reach of the Mediterranean countries or (inaudible)... among the partners along the Mediterranean.

KUJAT: Well, you know that there is no NATO... by definition, no NATO intelligence. So what we have in NATO is we have an input from the individual nations and that is this information is being made available to NATO, to member countries. And in future, of course, to the Mediterranean Dialogue countries.

The same applies to their input. We would expect them to make information available to NATO member countries, but at the same time they would, of course, be available for the neighbouring Mediterranean Dialogue countries. So that is... that is obvious.

And then beyond that, of course, just for completeness, only when there is a need, then of course, we sit together and we produce something that we call NATO-agreed intelligence.

But that is, of course, not the normal thing because what we actually need is the information itself. We don't need to say harmonize our views among the 26. But that's a possibility.


Q: If we could just go back to the Afghan elections, please. Given that you're saying that the capabilities have been identified and are available, but you seem unable to give us more detail on the numbers, I'm still trying to get a sense for what level of reinforcement this will entail. So could you give us details on the countries that have come forward and what battalions?

KUJAT: Details of what...

MODERATOR: Countries.

Q: On the countries that have come forward to offer capabilities and what battalions are being offered.

KUJAT: I leave that to the countries concerned. For me it's not relevant which country is providing the forces, the battalions. What is relevant is that we have the forces that we need. And I mean, you see, just to explain... In most cases the countries have to go through a parliamentary decision-making process. At least the cabinet has to decide or they have to go to the Defence Committee. They would not wish me to go public before they have done so. So, and that's the reason why I don't discuss details. That's an issue that they have to take up.

Q: Is there any detail on these capabilities that you can give us, over and above simply saying that the capabilities have been identified?

KUJAT: Well, what we would... well, we have the necessary forces, the necessary numbers, I should say, the necessary capabilities. That is all I can say.

MODERATOR: The lady here, on the right.

Q: Ingrid Klintborn from the Spanish News Agency EFE. I was just wondering, with this new political dialogue going on in NATO, have you seen any difference, I mean, are the forces now in Afghanistan available due to this new political dialogue? Is it easier to gather these forces, to generate them, or do you expect any improvement in the future thanks to this new initiative?

KUJAT: Which dialogue do you mean?

Q: Well, you know, that they're starting to discuss the political issues among the nations at NATO?

KUJAT: I'm not quite sure what you mean. When you refer to what I call this comprehensive approach, then I think that we will be in a better position, as I said, to produce the forces we need for the individual operations. However, I should say, the question whether forces are being made available is always a question that the individual nations have to answer. And that is always a difficult issue.

Why is that difficult? It's primarily a political issue. Because that's expensive, of course. I've said that several times in the public as well. Most of... if not all our nations are undergoing a reform process of their armed forces and that costs money. So and when you can only spend the euro once, so either you spend it for the reform, or you spend it for operation.

So that's the reason why nations are reluctant to offer forces in great numbers. But the process itself will help, I think. I'm a 100 percent convinced it will help. It will make the force generation easier. Why? Because we provide early information. We increase transparency in the whole planning process, so nations are better prepared to take a decision, and of course, we will have a decision earlier than so far.

So it will help the process. But at the end of the day, that is the reality in NATO. NATO doesn't own forces. Nations own forces, so the final decision has to be made by nations.

MODERATOR: The last three questions: You and then Mrs. Raul(?) and then Mr. Muller(?).

Q: To follow on Afghanistan, without getting into specific numbers, can you give us an idea of the scale? I mean, do we speak about the same numbers as the presidential election, or regarding the fact that it is parliamentary so many more candidates, much more complicated, are we going to get more numbers?

KUJAT: It is roughly in the order of what we deployed last time, because last time we had more than the actual requirement. This time we need a little bit more than last time, and we will get what we need.


Q: During the last NATO meeting in Vilnius Secretary Rice mentioned Darfur. Do you see any NATO mission there for the near future, and if yes, which kind of mission?

KUJAT: Well, where are we now? You know that there is a request from the African Union to provide logistic support. What we need to know in more detail what kind of logistics. I don't know. So far so we are in the process of finding out, and this is an ongoing process. And only once we know exactly, and of course, have coordinated with the United Nations and the European Union and those nations that are already present on the ground, then of course we can start planning, if, if the NAC decides so.

What is not clear so far? You know, we need consensus here, and that may be the case, it may not be the case. But we are, from my perspective, we are far away from a firm decision so far.

MODERATOR: Mr. Muller.

Q: Sir, 40 years this Alliance has influenced your military career. You have now the highest position. You're leaving in four weeks. What was your impression about this Alliance? I think this is the last time together with us here in (inaudible)...

KUJAT: Yeah, yeah. Although I wouldn't say that. Maybe...

Well, you all know that the world has changed in the past 14 years, quite considerably we've changed, and when you look backwards you recall that in November '91 we had the first strategic concept, which is actually security policy concept. We never had that before.

So the Alliance has become more political actually. And after the end of the East-West conflict, because at that time we all concentrated on this possible part of hopefully never-happening defence situation—we call Article 5 situation. It was time to plan for that extensively.

Now we are an Alliance that is in operation. It's... we are... our soldiers are close to the Chinese border. Actually, the German soldiers. So we are running an operation in the Mediterranean, which is a very successful one, which has a major impact on other related issues.

So... and the temper is very high, the operational temper is very high. So we need to change, of course, the way we are planning, we need to change the way we are generating forces. We need to change the structure, the equipment of our armed forces. A lot has happened during that time.

We have a new command structure. They established a strategic first time in his... NATO's history, a strategic command for transformation, which is doing an excellent work. We initiated on the military side this transformation process. And so the world looks completely different.

Now, when I look at my different hats; I'm the chairman of the Military Committee, 26 nations. Some of them have been on the other side of the Iron Curtain 15 years ago. I'm the chairman of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, 46 nations. From Georgia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, what have you, in the east, to Canada and the United States in the West. We have Russia being an equal member in the NATO-Russia Council. We're discussing very important aspects of common interest, of security risk, so that's a major change, isn't it?

The Chiefs of Defence of the Mediterranean Dialogue countries are sitting together with us, and we talk about the exchange of intelligence. Could you imagine that 15 years ago?

So a lot has happened, a lot has happened. The Warsaw Pact disappeared. And this Alliance is still a very successful Alliance, very attractive for everybody. And it is the most powerful Alliance in this galaxy. Not only on this globe.

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