Joint press point with NATO Secretary General and the Prime Minister of Luxembourg

  • 02 Sep. 2015 -
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  • Last updated 07-Sep-2015 11:14

JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General):  Thank you so much, Prime Minister Bettel. And thank you so much also for hosting me and my delegation here in Luxembourg.  And I also like to thank you for taking me on a very brief, very short, but very nice tour of the city.  And I had an excellent guide and that was you. 

And I actually learned today that I should also start to thank Luxembourg for the NATO anthem.  And Luxembourg actually has been the nation where the author of this anthem was born and raised. And it just underlined the strong historic relationship between Luxembourg and NATO.  Luxembourg, we all know, is a founding member of the Alliance.

We just finished a lunch where we had extensive discussions covering a wide range of different issues.  And I would like to start by stating what I also told you that this is my first visit to Luxembourg as Secretary General of NATO.  But I visit this country with the knowledge that Luxembourg is a staunch ally. And I commend you and I thank you for your contributions to NATO. 

You have always been a reliable ally. And you contribute to our operations in for instance Afghanistan, in Kosovo. And you also play a key role when it comes to investments in high-tech capabilities like for instance satellite communications which are of a great importance for the Alliance.

I'm also grateful for the announcement you made today that Luxembourg is going to contribute to the trust fund financing defence capacity building.  And defence capacity building is very important; because it is a way for NATO, for the Alliance to help to train, to assist, to advise other countries to increase their capacity to defend themselves, to protect themselves, to stabilize their own countries.  And if our neighbours are more stable, we are more secure.

And I know that you will especially focus on Jordan.  Jordan is a key country in the Middle East.  It is an island of stability in a sea of instability.  And by supporting Jordan we helped to stabilize the Middle East, we help to fight ISIL. And actually we also addressed the root causes of the immigration... or the immigration crisis we now see in the Mediterranean and in the southern part... and all over Europe.

So your contribution to the trust fund for defence capacity building is very much welcomed.  And I think it's underlining how NATO is contributing also to stabilize our neighbourhood.

Then, I would like to underline that NATO is adapting to a new and changed security environment.  We are facing a new security environment, new challenges, both stemming from the East with a more assertive Russia, supporting the separatists in Eastern Ukraine and annexing Crimea.  But we also, of course, see the challenges related to... and the threats related to all the turmoil, the violence, the instability to the south of the Alliance with ISIL, in Iraq, Syria; violence and turmoil in North Africa.  And we have to address this.  And we address it by adapting to a new security environment by increasing the readiness and preparedness of our forces.  We are doubling the size of the NATO... NATO Readiness Forces.  We are establishing a new Spearhead Force.  We've already established the Spearhead Force; because it is important to increase readiness and the preparedness of our forces in general. And I also welcome that you are participating and contributing to the increased readiness of NATO and our forces.

I also welcome that you have pledged to increase defence spending in a sustainable way.  And this is important; because all contributions matter.  And NATO is an alliance based on solidarity where we protect each other.  And therefore contributions from all members are important. 

But in addition, of course, the increased defence spending in Luxembourg is something which is also then encouraging other countries to invest more in our security.

So I'm looking forward to continue to cooperate with you.  I welcome your strong commitment to the Alliance and I'm very grateful for being able to visit Luxembourg today.

XAVIER BETTEL (Prime Minister of Luxembourg):  Voilà, the opportunity to have some questions. 

Q:  The opportunity applying...

UNIDENTIFIED:  Can you speak (inaudible)?


Q:  Gérald Godin from the Belgium News Agency in Brussels.  I would like to ask:  "Can you be a little bit more specific about your contribution to this... enfin, senior law... several trust funds?"

XAVIER BETTEL (Prime Minister of Luxembourg):  Several trust... I didn't understand the question.

So how about...?  We'll go from 0.4 to 0.6.  There is a commitment that we took.  But we don't do it by cutting the development budget; because I know there are some other countries where they do an effort for military expenses.  They do that on a cost of other budgets.  And very often it's the development aid budget.  And we don't want to do this. 

Generally, we have... and we are... we have a military satellite where we give the opportunity for NATO to use it.  And so we take care of the cost. And we then have these special funds where we will do a trust fund for defence capacity building; where we will help issue 150 000 Euros which is a project... also which is a longer project for the next four years which will help to... as Secretary General said... to help the country to have a capacity building of defence also in their own country; which is also conflict prevention which is exactly my government wants to support, instead of trying to resolve problems. We think that to prevent problems it's always the best thing and in these parts of these aids; but also in the development aid that my government decided.

Then, I have to admit as teams or material we don't have the opportunity to have...  You know that with your country we have a common history with the plane.  I don't want to insist on that.  So we have some different opportunities where we are able to work together and where we are able... we know that NATO can count on us. 

Q:  Julian Barnes, Wall Street Journal.  To Secretary General:  debate going on in Europe on the migrant crisis.  You've in the past said NATO was willing to help the vast...  Has there been any...?  Is there any role for NATO either in providing ISR or marshalling other assets of member states to help with their crises?

And to the Prime Minister, you've mentioned you're going to Russia and Russia has been very critical of NATO's training base in Georgia, the new headquarters in the Baltics and elsewhere, as well as the exercise.  I wonder what... if you're playing to engage with the Russian leadership on this sort of NATO... these new NATO initiatives?

JENS STOLTENBERG:  The migrant crisis in Europe has profound effect on all of us.  And it is a human tragedy.  And all NATO Allies are engaged in trying to solve the migrant crisis and to deal with huge human tragedy either as EU members or through other international organizations, for instance supporting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. 

There is no military solution to the migrant crisis.  But what NATO does is by working with partners in the Middle East, in North Africa, in Afghanistan by working with them, addressing the root causes of migrant crisis. 

We're trying to stabilize, to help those countries.  And if they are more stable we are more secure.  And of course, we're also then addressing this one element... one part of the causes for this migrant crisis. 

So when for instance Luxembourg is now announcing that they will support the trust fund for defence capacity in Jordan.  It's just a small... but it's an important contribution to trying to stabilize the region which creates problem in security; but in addition creates a huge number of refugees.  And that's the reason why we are so focussed on how we can project stability without always deploying a large number of combat troops; but enabling countries to be more able to stabilize their own countries and their own region. 

So NATO is playing a role both by fighting terrorism, by trying to stabilize our neighbourhood, especially in the South.  But of course the immediate challenges we see in Europe are dealt with by the European Union. And it's more police and home affairs which is dealt with... by the European Union and not by NATO. 

XAVIER BETTEL:  Just to answer very shortly too!  I think that a fence or a wall is not a solution to the crisis.  It's not a national solution.  We need an international solution, an European solution where we'll be able to give answers.  Because the people, they don't know the borders.  They just want to live freely.  We... you know when I said that... last week, I already said:  "That if we have to make a difference between economic migrants and refugees. These are not the same."  And so it's very important on our side, from the European side, that we agree on this list of safe states where we are able to make the difference. 

This will... It's hard to say... But for the moment we have... the priority is refugees, people trying to live, to survive; and not people who decide that from one day to another they could maybe have a better life somewhere else.  These are people and children and families who just want to survive.  And if you see the pictures of people, just released... I took these examples because this is crazy to imagine that you've got your whole life in a plastic bag. 

Very often, they just have a plastic bag. And that's all they have from their life.  And they live for somewhere...  Some people say: "Yes, where they want to go...?" They don't know very often where to go.  They just knew that they... They just know that they've been on a boat and they went somewhere.  They left a land and they arrived on a land.  And they're happy to survive this situation.  So I'm happy that on the 14th of September there will be a meeting also of the Immigration and Internal ministers to discuss the topic.  We need a European solution; but not only a European solution.  We need Africa too on the table.  I know that we'll have a meeting in Malta.  We'll speak with African countries.  We need an international support; and really that everybody is responsible also for that.

You asked me about, Russia, my visit to Russia.  I will go to Russia and I will go to Ukraine.  It's not a one way visit.  It's a visit where I want to listen to each other.  But the situation in Ukraine will be one of the main themes; but not the only one!

I think nowadays, especially in this topic we just spoke before: about immigration, about the problem we have nowadays in Syria with terrorism, we need Russia also to find a solution together on these topics. 

We shouldn't think that we are able to find all the solutions together and we should try to work with all the partners to find a solution.  We know that Minsk Agreement is based of trust which was found on the "Normandie format". 

I hear some politicians now saying that we need to open this "Normandie format"; that we should be more around the table to discuss.  I think that the first results we had from the "Normandie format" is... are good.  And I don't think if... to be more on the table would be the right solution to be more efficient. 

But I will discuss with Mister Putin about NATO; but also about other topics.  It's a bilateral visit.  I know that we have the presidency.  So it's important also to note the views and the point of view from the Russian President and also from Mister Poroshenko. 

As I told you before, implementation is important; and the vote on Monday.  And I strictly condemn what happened in front of Parliament where some police officers died which is unacceptable.  Every answer by violence is not an answer I support.  But we should know to resolve some crises and we saw it also on other topics on international actualities the last month that Russia is also needed around the table to find solutions together.  But what's happened on the Ukrainian border is not acceptable.  And Minsk has to be respected. And we need to see the implementation. 

It's the last question; because afterwards Mister Secretary General has a lot of appointments.

Q:  Hello, (inaudible) with a tabloid from Luxembourg.  Prime Minister, you have been talking about a situation with military satellite and its use.  Well, there's one thing to discuss... the discussion is going about trust.  And a lot of people were scared there would be a bad use of it.  So could you both tell us more about than what you have been discussing?  Could there be a wrong use of it; because we have been talking about drones or some other communication means to use this?  What's your take on that?  Thank you!

XAVIER BETTEL:  This is our responsibility as Luxembourg; because we leave it to...  We leave the capacities to use it on NATO.  But the fact this... And I think Mister Schneider presented it also when he introduced the bill about our topic that it's... we have strict rules.  It has...  There is rule... There is international rules.  There is rules we fixed. And they have to be respected to be used.  And it has also been the question of drones and things like that.  And as you can imagine, the coalition... we had big discussions about those topics.  And we got guarantees about the use of the satellites.

I... I'm not the right person to give you now more details about exactly... I think Mister Schneider would be happy if you questions to ask... ask him.  But it's the same questions very often people ask me:  "Yes, why do you bought UMA(?) you know... what's the name of   Dingoid(?) for the Luxembourgish Army?"  It is to military use.  It's not to hunt wild pigs in the forest.  So there is a military satellite which will be used for military reasons.  But we had a lot of points we asked as a guarantee for things we wanted to have guarantees before using it.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  I can just add that for NATO satellite communication is a key capability.  And it is something which we are very grateful for, that Luxembourg is providing to different operations and activities conducted by NATO.  And to enable our forces to communicate is key... It's a key for them to be able to do the operations in a successful way.  And it is, of course, a key for the safety of the soldiers.  And for instance to use drones... what NATO now is developing is surveillance drones.  We're going to deploy some new drones in Sicily.  And this is a new capability which is of great importance and which will increase our ability to understand, to see, to increase situational awareness.  But of course, everything we do is in line with agreed guidelines for the different operations.  And it's agreed among 28 Allies.  And it's always done in accordance with the international law.  So this is key technologies which we need.  And NATO is an Alliance of 28 democratic states and we use them to protect all Allies and fulfil the commitments we have as an Alliance.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.