Joint press point
with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹, Nikola Gruevski
Prime Minister, it is a great pleasure to welcome you back to NATO headquarters.
We have discussed our excellent cooperation. We highly value your strong contribution to ISAF, our mission in Afghanistan, and your help with lines of communications for our KFOR operation in Kosovo. So you are a strong contributor to international security.
NATO is committed to the stability and security of the Western Balkans, and to the Euro-Atlantic integration of those nations that aspire to join our Alliance. Your meeting with the North Atlantic Council today will provide you with an important opportunity to present the progress made in your reforms, including in the defence sector.
It is key to keep the momentum of reform, for the benefit of all your citizens.
Effective democratic structures, an inclusive dialogue and freedom of the media are important in helping you advance your Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
Cooperation between government and opposition, and across all communities, remains essential to deliver the full potential of reforms.
We very much welcome your firm commitment to the NATO accession process. We have agreed to extend an invitation for you to join the alliance as soon as a mutually acceptable resolution to the name issue has been reached. And we stand by our commitments.
So we will continue to work closely with you. To support you in essential reform efforts, so that we can move quickly once the name issue is resolved. And we encourage you to continue your efforts to find a solution.
We all agree that NATO’s Open Door policy has made Europe more secure.
And we all agree that accession to the Alliance should be based on performance.
There is still work to be done. But our door remains open.
NIKOLA GRUEVSKI TION THROUGHOUT (Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹) [Interpretation throughout]: Thank you. Dear president, today, I had an opportunity to have a constructive and productive meeting with Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen. And in the meeting the Secretary General of NATO, we exchanged views regarding the progress accomplished in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration of the Republic of Macedonia within the framework of the Membership Action Plan and regarding political and security issues of mutual interest in the run-up to the NATO Summit that will take place on the 4th and 5th of September in Cardiff, Great Britain.
On this occasion, I also presented our country's results in the comprehensive reform processes, with particular focus on the political, economic, defence and security achievements. I also underlined the strategic commitment of the Republic of Macedonia to become a full-fledged NATO member as well as our utmost dedication to the realization of that goal.
With Secretary General, we jointly considered the current issues pertaining to the implementation of national reforms in the context of our NATO membership and concluded that the NATO membership of the Republic of Macedonia is of common interest. And a firm commitment of the Republic of Macedonia in the Alliance while emphasizing the importance of NATO's open- door policy that was mentioned before.
I also underlined our readiness to provide for support to NATO in the international peace operations, more precisely in the NATO's mission in Afghanistan called "Resolute Support" which will commence already next year, at the end of the ISAF mission.
We also discussed about the KFOR's role in maintaining peace and stability in the Balkans, as well as ways to enhance mutual cooperation with them. I'm reminded about our commitment to the UN process regarding the imposed dispute as well our principled attitude regarding the importance of the respect for international law, including addressing and reminding about the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding the outstanding issue with the southern neighbour as one of the fundamental principles in upholding peace, stability, prosperity, good neighbourly relations and respect for human rights, which represent the basis for our country's Euro-Atlantic integration.
I presented our view that the NATO membership of the Republic of Macedonia is well-deserved, based on arguments. And it will be beneficial both for us and the Alliance if Macedonia receives an invitation for full membership to NATO soon.
Also, today, at the invitation of the Secretary General of NATO I will address the ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council of NATO. And to that forum, I will reaffirm the commitment for (inaudible) joining of the Republic of Macedonia to NATO as one of the strategic foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Macedonia, as well as the commitment to constructive and intense cooperation with NATO Alliance in all areas of common interest.
This was a good opportunity for exchange of opinions, regarding what was achieved in Macedonia, concerning reforms, including all segments that Mister Secretary General mentioned, including all segments of the reforms and of course exchange of views about everything which was happening, regarding the imposed dispute by our southern neighbour as well as our plans for the future and the future cooperation with the NATO Alliance.
OANA LUNGESCU: We're starting questions over there. Lady, over there.
Q: I have one question for Macedonian Prime Minister Gruevski and one for General Secretary Rasmussen. (SPEAKERS OVERLAP)
UNIDENTIFIED: ...Prime Minister Gruevski, which will be the message that you will convey today at the meeting of the Northern Atlantic Council...?
Q: And for General Secretary Rasmussen, why NATO does not respect international law completely? I mean year by year NATO ignores hard verdict where it's very clear that Greece had violated the term agreement and don't let the Republic of Macedonia join into an international organization under its constitutional name; and at the same time, maybe a little bit hypocritical, NATO expects from the candidate countries to respect international law. Thank you.
NIKOLA GRUEVSKI: Thank you, I will answer to your first question. What I plan to say today in my presentation is to emphasize two important things. The first is explaining in detail the reform and progress in all important sectors from the point of view of NATO Alliance. We know what are the most important things that they follow.
And in those segments, we have done a lot... a lot of reforms, progress. And we plan to elaborate all that very well so that the ambassadors can be aware about everything what has been done in Macedonia and about the further plans about progress in all these fields. They are subject to observation by the NATO Alliance.
We also plan to talk about the part which is connected with the imposed dispute and our efforts that remain in that direction and as well as about the plans for further efforts for a resolution of this issue.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: For my part, let me stress that NATO took a decision at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008. The decision was that we are prepared to extend an invitation to accession talks once a mutually agreeable solution to the name issue has been found. That decision at the NATO Summit in 2008 was taken by all NATO Allies. So it's not just one Ally but all NATO Allies that took that decision.
Now, we stand by that decision. The ruling by the International Court of Justice doesn't change the NATO position. Our rules are very clear. Any decision in NATO is taken by consensus that requires all NATO Allies to vote in favour, also when it comes to enlargement. So we have stated that our door remains open. But there are also certain criteria to be fulfilled. And once we are about to take a decision on enlargement, it requires a consensus that is all NATO Allies must support that decision. And this is the reason why it's so important to find a mutually agreeable solution to the name issue.
OANA LUNGESCU: ANSA?
Q: Secretary General, as you know, two Italian marines are held in India since two years. And they are prosecuted under the anti-piracy and anti-terrorism law, according to Lady Ashton and the Italian Foreign Minister Bonino, this implies that Italy is a terrorist state. And how can such an accusation affect the international operations for anti-piracy and generally speaking the Italian nation abroad?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I am, personally, very concerned about the situation of the two Italian sailors. I'm also concerned by the suggestion that they could be tried for terrorism offences. This could have possible negative implications for the international fight against piracy. A fight which is in all our interest! So I trust that we will see an appropriate resolution soon.
OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much. That's all we have time for now.