Press conference

by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at Warsaw Military Airport

  • 16 Mar. 2018 -
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  • Last updated: 16 Mar. 2018 23:50

(As delivered)

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Thank you all for being here tonight in this snowy evening in Warsaw.  I wanted to say what an honour it was to visit the battlegroup that is deployed here in Poland today and to see what I consider to be the promise of the Warsaw Summit meeting, in July 2016, now delivered.  I have had the opportunity now, as Deputy Secretary General, over the past few months to visit all four of the battlegroups, and I can see that that promise made among all Allies in Warsaw in 2016 has resulted in certified, effective battlegroups that are training every single day of the week, to provide for the deterrence and defence of this Alliance.  So, I was very proud to be here, I was very proud to see the troops who are here, the Polish troops of course ably commanded, and the framework nation being Poland, we also have the United States here as the lead nation, Romania, Croatia and the UK also represented, so all working together and all serving the deterrence and defence of the Alliance.  So, it was a great day and I thank Poland for hosting me here today.

INTERPRETER: [Spoken in Polish]

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Questions.

QUESTION: Are there any change of plans on this [inaudible] considering the battlegroups, maybe different… more nations or…

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Well, the battlegroups are always rotating, so there are constantly changes going on.  This particular battlegroup here in Poland has already been through two rotations.  I was very impressed, I saw soldiers today who had been out until three o'clock in the morning in freezing weather, completing the training for this rotation.  That group of soldiers will soon be leaving and others will be coming in.  Now, it's up to nations to decide whether they wish to contribute or not, so I think it's entirely possible that, in the future, the battlegroup here in Poland will have different NATO Allies participating.  But at the moment, as I mentioned a moment ago, it's… together with the United States and Poland, it's UK, Croatia and Romania.

QUESTION: But we mean rather replacing nations by nation, not withdrawing, not taking down the amount of soldiers or something like this, rather replacing.

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Yes, it's a rotation, so they are replacing the troops that are here.  It is entirely possible that new nations will put up their hand and volunteers and send new and different kinds of units here to participate.  Of course, that will be up to the lead nation, the United States, and Poland as the framework nation, to figure out how all the pieces fit together and what works best for the battlegroup.

INTERPRETER: [Spoken in Polish]

QUESTION: Secretary, I wanted to ask you on the new development on the Sergei Skripal case.  Yesterday, NATO's Secretary General, while presenting the Annual Report said that membership countries are united with the UK.  However, UK government is pointing towards Russia and Foreign Minister, Mr Johnson, was pointing towards President Putin as the perpetrator of the case.  So, will it be some kind of new development inside NATO and does it relate in some way to the Article 5?

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: The Secretary General yesterday said that we have no reason to doubt or question in anyway what is going on and we support the investigation that the UK is conducting.  In fact, all 29 of the NATO Allies, just two days ago, came together and put out a very good statement in which the Allies said they support the investigation, they consider really a shocking first offensive use of nerve agent on NATO territory, since the end of the Cold War, and so this is really quite indeed a serious development and all of the NATO Allies are joined together in solidarity, in supporting the UK and its effort to respond.

QUESTION: But does this may relate to Article 5 in some way, when UK is pointing towards Russia without any doubt from their side?

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: You know, in… with regard to Article 5, it's really up to the nation that is affected to really call upon NATO Allies.  So, I think that it's up to the UK, and I've seen reference in the UK press to this kind of conversation going on in the press.  But as far as the UK government is concerned, it hasn’t been a matter that’s been brought to NATO.  It's not for the Allies to take this matter up, it would be for the UK to take it up.

INTERPRETER: [Spoken in Polish]

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Could I [inaudible] one fact and that is, really since the beginning of NATO, we have never seen this kind of use of an offensive nerve agent in this way and I think all of the NATO Allies are concerned about this important norm that is embodied in the Chemical Weapons Convention.  We've seen it weakened in recent years with what has been happening in Syria, and to see this now happening on NATO territory is something that is of serious concern, it's of grave concern, and it's something I think that the entire global community obviously is watching very carefully.  So again, the NATO Allies called on the, the other day, called on the Russian Federation to cooperate with the investigation and to answer the questions that the UK government has raised about this agent series called Novichok, that programme.

QUESTION: Is this also your call for the Russia to cooperate into the investigation?

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Well of course, the Secretary General and I are entirely one with our Allies around the NAC table, the North Atlantic Council table, so we definitely support what the Allies have agreed.

INTERPRETER: [Spoken in Polish]

MAN: Thank you very much, that’s all the time we have for.

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Thank you.