Monthly Press Briefing

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

  • 15 Nov. 2010 -
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  • Last updated: 16 Nov. 2010 08:23

NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The Secretary General will make an opening statement, then we'll have time for questions. Secretary General.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secretary General of NATO): Thank you for coming. We are now just days away from the Lisbon Summit. And based on the progress we are making across the board I'm confident that this will be one of the most important summits in NATO's history.

The Summit will put in place an Alliance that is more effective, more engaged and more efficient. More effective because NATO will invest in key capabilities like missile defence, cyber defence and strategic and tactical airlift. More engaged because NATO will reach out to connect with our partners around the globe, countries and other organizations. And more efficient because we are cutting fat, even as we invest in muscle. For example, by slimming down our command structure by about 5,000 personnel.

A decision to develop a NATO-based missile defence to protect our populations would be a major step. It would make our territorial defence even more effective and it would bind the allies even stronger together. And the decision to reform and rationalise our command structures, our agencies, and our headquarters will make the Alliance fit for purpose and ready to meet the security challenges of the 21st Century.

All of that will be enshrined in the new Strategic Concept. The new Strategic Concept will guide the Alliance for the next decade. It will serve as a lever for continuous reform towards a more effective, efficient and flexible Alliance so that our taxpayers get the most security for the money they invest in defence. Which makes the new Strategic Concept a key outcome of the Summit.

Deuxièmes résultats du sommet, nous allons entrer dans une phase fondamentalement nouvelle dans notre opération en Afghanistan.  Nous allons lancer le processus qui conduira le gouvernement Afghan à assumer la responsabilité principale de la direction pour la sécurité dans tout le pays.

Ce processus de transition commencera au début de l’année prochaine et, si les conditions le permettent, il sera achevé d’ici 2014. Et cela, tout en nous engageons à long termes en Afghanistan pour que les insurgés ne puissent pas penser qu’ils leurs suffit d’attendre patiemment que nous partions. Nous resterons aussi longtemps qu’il  le faudra pour accomplir notre mission.

And the third outcome of the Summit we will make a fresh start in our relationship with Russia. My strong sense is that Russia shares our view that the time has come to stop worrying about each other. The time has come to work together. And we will.

First of all, I hope, we will decide to explore cooperation on missile defence. If so it would be a very promising decision which will help build confidence and have a significant positive impact on security in Europe.

Furthermore, we will agree on NATO-Russia joint view of the 21st Century common security challenges. It will be for the first time that we agree on such a joint threat assessment. And we will deepen our cooperation on Afghanistan, counter terrorism and counter piracy.

So overall, based on these concrete results, a new Strategic Concept, the start of a new phase in Afghanistan, and a fresh start with Russia, the Lisbon Summit will be substantial. It will shape the future of our Alliance. It will reinforce the foundations that have made NATO the most successful Alliance in history. And it will set out an agenda for change to ensure the same success in the coming decades.

And now I'm ready to take your questions.

JAMES APPATHURAI: The first question is here, and then there.

Q: Yes, thank you. (Inaudible) for ALSAT Albanian Macedonian Television.

I didn't hear in the three priorities NATO's further enlargement. I know Macedonia has not still... is not still on line with Bucharest conclusions, so they haven't resolved the name, but should we expect any surprise? Maybe they can enter with a FYROM sentence in this summit? Is it too late, too early? What will happen with Macedonia? Thanks.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: The decision from the Bucharest Summit still stands. And as you all know at the Summit in Bucharest in 2008 we stated that access in negotiations with Skopje can start, will start, once a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been found. And this is still the position of the Alliance.

To my knowledge we have not, unfortunately, reached a conclusion yet on the name issue, so in that respect I wouldn't expect a new development in the few days yet to go before the Summit. But I would like to stress that NATO's door remains open for countries that fulfil the necessary criteria.

Q: Ben Nimmo from DPA, down the front here. Secretary General, on the question of missile defence, what's your expectation now as regards the threats against which missile defence is aimed? In some of your speeches hitherto you've said that you've named Iran specifically as a threat. Would you expect Iran to be mentioned in the decision specifically, and would you expect other regions and areas to be mentioned as the main threats against which missile defence would work? Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I think if you look back many countries have been mentioned as potential threats. The fact is that more than 30 countries have, or are aspiring to get missile technologies with a range sufficient to hit targets in the Euro-Atlantic area. And we want to protect ourselves against any such threat.

So there is no reason to name specific countries because there are already a lot of them.

Q: Yes, Secretary General, David Brunnstrum from Reuters. Going back on Bucharest, you say that the decision still stands there for Macedonia. Will the decision and the exact wording remain the same for Georgia and Ukraine?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: The Bucharest decision still stands as far as Georgia and Ukraine are concerned. Whether we will use exactly the same wording for both countries will very much depend on the deliberations in the next couple of days. The fact is that there are nuances in the two countries' orientation or aspiration when it comes to future membership of NATO. It may be reflected in the communiqué from the Summit, but in principle the decision from Bucharest still stands. And as you remember we decided in Bucharest that Georgia, and by the way, also Ukraine, will become members of NATO, if that's their wish, and of course, provided that they fulfil the necessary criteria.

Q: Martinez de Rituerto, with El País. We've seen outside display putting together NATO and European Union. What is expected from Lisbon in relation with this relationship that is a little bit shaky? And in particular, what do you expect for the future? What perspective you can do in the relationship between the European Union and NATO? Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I would expect a further strengthening of the already strong partnership between NATO and the European Union. We need a trust strategic partnership that covers three important areas. Operations: we should cooperate closely on operations and make sure that personnel on the ground are appropriately protected. That's one thing.

Next, development of capabilities. We share security interests and therefore we should also cooperate on development of critical and necessary capabilities, avoid duplication, avoid waste of taxpayers' money by strengthened cooperation and coordination.

And the third area where we need a strong cooperation between NATO and European Union is political consultation. We should be in a position to consult with each other on a broad range of issues of common interest. That's my goal.

And I would expect the Strategic Concept to outline this vision. And then of course we have to work hard in daily life to make sure that we can actually implement that vision.

Q: Andre (inaudible) from the Spanish newspaper ABC. You talked about the vision of a common threat between NATO and Russia.  That means that the frame of our relationship is not anymore based in the conventional arms in Europe treaty, which is now suspended. So is this model over definitely after this new Summit, or there is another... we are going to try to revive the old treaty?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: We're working on several tracks. One of them is the joint assessment, the joint review of the 21st Century common security challenges. And the purpose of that paper is to map out areas where we share security concerns because we are faced with the same security threats and we should develop practical cooperation in those areas, like counter terrorism, counter narcotics, counter piracy, and by the way, also Afghanistan, and I hope we can initiate work and exercises and cooperation when it comes to missile defence.

That's one track. Then in another track we have talks on conventional arms control and disarmament in Europe, within the framework of the CFE Treaty.

For several reasons the CFE Treaty has not been implemented, which I strongly regret, because I consider the CFE Treaty a strong framework for conventional arms control and disarmament in Europe.

NATO countries have presented some ideas as to how we could revitalize the CFE framework for conventional arms control, and we are now negotiating with the other partners, the other CFE partners. So that's a separate track. We hope to see progress in the coming month in that respect.

Q: Pascal Mallet, Agence France-Presse : Monsieur le secrétaire général, quand on parle de la défense anti-missile, il y a deux aspects que vous connaissez bien : l’aspect extérieure, celui de la relation avec la Russie, et l’aspect intérieur, qui est le débat qui continue, sauf si vous me confirmez qu’il est terminé, au sein de l’alliance entre les partisans d’une dissuasion nucléaire dont la défense anti-missile ne serait qu’un complément et ceux qui dissent que la défense anti-missile serait un substitut.  Pouvez-vous me dire où en sont les débats et qu’est-ce qu’on peu espérer à Lisbonne de la partie Russe et du débat en cours au sein de l’alliance.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN:   Comme vous le savez nous avons eu une discussion sur ce sujet. Personnellement, je pense que la défense anti-missile pourrait être un complément à la dissuasions et en ce qui concerne la politique de la dissuasion nucléaire, j’ai présenté en texte une proposition ou j’ai trouvé, je pense, un équilibre fondé sur 2 points importants.

Premièrement, nous sommes déterminés à créer les conditions d’un monde sans armes nucléaires.  En fait, la plupart des pays du mondes on déjà signé cet objectif dans le traité sur la non-prolifération des armes nucléaire il y a 40 ans, en 1970.  C’est mon premier point.

Le deuxième point : aussi longtemps qu’il y aura des armes nucléaires, l’OTAN restera une alliance nucléaire.  Et la dissuasion demeure un élément central de notre stratégie.  Je pense que ces deux points représentent un équilibre politique qui est acceptable pour les 28 alliés.

Q: Janos Karpati, Hungarian News Agency, MTI. As I understand you want to speak about NATO-EU relationship, improving this relationship in the Strategic Concept. What is Turkey's opinion about it and do you have an agreement already about the text in this respect?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: We are still negotiating all texts before the Summit, but I'm quite optimistic that we will reach consensus. Also when it comes to the NATO-EU relationship. I mean, it's not a secret to anybody in this room that the NATO-EU relationship has been and is subject to discussion. I have worked hard to try and find solutions that could carry that relationship forward. And as it stands, we have some forward-leaning texts and I'm confident that we will find a solution at the Summit in Lisbon. Or even before.

Q: Radio Latvia, Ina Strazdina. Secretary General, I would like to ask you, will you discuss with Russia about NATO cargo transit? And firstly, because we know that at the moment there is just one way direction. Cargos through Baltic states and Russia has been brought to Afghanistan, but these trains basically come back empty.

And secondly, will you discuss as well potentially that these cargos might become military because at the moment there is no military content in the cargos. So and if I'm not mistaken you discussed these issues with Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister last week as well. Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes, I expect a discussion on our transit arrangements with Russia, and I would also expect a decision to expand the current transit arrangement so that it will also allow the so-called reverse transit. That is, transit of cargo from Afghanistan and back and not only one way transport of cargo to Afghanistan. So that's one thing.

And we are also discussing what kind of cargo could be transported. I'll not go into details, but stress... that's important to stress, that we're only speaking about non-lethal goods and cargo.

Q: Nawab Khan, from the Kuwait News Agency KUNA. Mr. Secretary General, how will this new Strategic Concept affect your relations... NATO's relations with the Arab world and the wider Muslim world given the fact that the Alliance is now engaged more and more in this part of the world? Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: You will see a Strategic Concept that really expands NATO's partnership policies.  Existing partnerships as well as new partners, across the globe. It will be mentioned explicitly in the new Strategic Concept that we want to deepen our cooperation with countries within the existing partnerships, the Mediterranean Dialogue, with countries in North Africa and the Middle East and also within the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, the four Gulf states.

We consider these partnerships of utmost importance in the accomplishment of our security mission. The political consultation within these partnerships is very valuable for us. The practical cooperation, the exchange of information and intelligence with countries within these partnerships are also important elements for us.

So, you will see a Strategic Concept that is very forward leaning when it comes to our partnership policies, and I would also expect the Summit to initiate a follow-up work on partnerships and ask the NATO Council to develop a new partnership concept. Because we realize that in today's world there is rarely a military solution solely to conflicts. We need an outreach to important partners if we are to accomplish our security mission.

Q: Khalid Hameed Farooqi, from Geo Television, Pakistan. Secretary General, can you tell us where are we on the negotiation with Taliban and there are widely believed in the western press, in particular, that Pakistan is hampering the efforts of direct negotiation between Taliban and the West?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I consider it in the interest of Pakistan to see progress in Afghanistan with a view to stabilizing the situation. And the same goes for a political solution to the problems in Afghanistan.

I won't guess about the outcome of the reconciliation and reintegration process in Afghanistan, but I think it is worthwhile to give it a chance. If former Taliban fighters want to put down their weapons, cut off links with extremist and terrorist groups, abide by and respect the Afghan constitution and respect basic human rights, including women's rights, then I think we should give it a try.

This process is led by the Afghan government. We appreciate efforts with a view to finding a political solution, but I also have to add that I consider it of utmost importance to continue our military operations because the fact is that it is the increasing military pressure on the Taliban and the Taliban leadership that has stimulated the reconciliation talks. So there is no alternative to continuing the military operations.

And it's clear to me that Pakistan must play a positive role if we are to find long-term solutions to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Q: Secretary General... Stephen Fidler from the Wall Street Journal. What, in your... I mean, it was only a few years ago that the Russian leader was sharply criticizing NATO and suggesting all kind of negative things about it. What explains the change in views that would allow you to sort of sign this agreement in Lisbon, and further to that, with respect to this country you said it's not necessary to be explicit about which countries missile defence might be aimed at, but is it... would it be necessary in the strategic document to specify countries that it's not aimed at?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: (Laughs). It's, of course, a good question, but I think the answer gives itself, or provides itself in the fact that we will decide at the NATO-Russia Summit in Lisbon to initiate a joint analysis as to how missile defence cooperation could be implemented.

This clearly demonstrates that our missile defence system is not directed against Russia. On the contrary, we can benefit from cooperation on missile defence militarily because cooperation, exchange of dates and information will make the whole system more efficient, give better coverage, economically because there are also cost savings in cooperation; and politically, because cooperation would clearly demonstrate that this system is not directed against Russia.

I think we are witnessing a fresh start in the relationship between NATO and Russia. And maybe I could go further and say a fresh start in the relationship between Russia and the West. And I think this is of huge strategic importance. To my mind the future of Russia lies within positive cooperation with the European Union and NATO. A strong cooperation between Russia and these two organizations can create the conditions for the modernization of the Russian society that President Medvedev has launched and to which he attaches so strong importance.

And we are also interested in increased cooperation with Russia when it comes to trade, as well as security, as well as the political cooperation. All of that could contribute in a very valuable way to an improvement of the overall security environment in the Euro-Atlantic area.

Q: Slobo Lekic, Associated Press. President Karzai has just called on NATO to reduce its military footprint in the country, saying that the night raids and the presence of so many foreign troops were actually making the security situation worse. How would you comment on that?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Well, I have read carefully what President Karzai actually said and in fact, the thrust of his comments go exactly in the direction we wish to move as well. Towards greater Afghan leadership of military operations and transition to a supporting role for international forces.

And the decisions we will take at the Summit in Lisbon will launch the transition process and President Karzai will be there with us.

Of course, I can't say that I agree with everything President Karzai has stated on all issues, but we also have to accept that he is the elected president of the country, and of course, he can express his views as he wishes.

Q: Antonio (inaudible), Portuguese Television. On the last meeting of the 14th of October it was decided that the geographical definition of the structure of commands would be delayed until June next year. However, we know that from the three operational commands one is supposed to disappear and the Portuguese authorities insist they would veto any decision that would exclude Lisbon.

Due to the fact that the Alliance has to look south and the maritime threat exists nowadays, can we conceive in the future the distribution of commands taking into consideration the fact that there will be a need for a maritime command south? Could this be, in your imagination, outcome for a situation (inaudible). On the model three you are working now the Portuguese seem not to be willing to go with it. Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I will resist temptation to make any comment on the geographic footprint, because this is, and has throughout the process, been a two-step approach. And the first step will be taken at the Summit to decide on the framework for the future command structure.

You might put it this way, at the Summit in Lisbon we will decide how could the command structure ideally look like. And Heads of State and Government will make that decision. And then afterwards we will see, within this agreed framework, how could we locate a headquarters. And I would expect Defence Ministers to take that decision at the latest in June.

So this has been the two-step approach right from the outset and we will stick to that. So, for that reason I will not comment in any way on the questions as regards geographical location of a headquarters.

Q: Christoph Pruessl, German Public Radio WDR. It's on missile defence and the cooperation with Russia. Do you see the opportunity to build up one comment missile defence or do you see two systems operating in a strong way linked together, technically speaking?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Realistically speaking, I think of two separate systems. A NATO system and a Russian system that cooperate and a major element in that cooperation should, of course, be exchange of information and exchange of data, and that's exactly what would make the system efficient and give it good coverage.

So this is what we're going to do at the Summit in Lisbon. Initiate a joint analysis as to how we can implement cooperation on a future territorial missile defence system. So we will explore what should be the overall missile defence architecture: how could we in practical life exchange information and data? There might also be questions about cost sharing: how do we ensure interoperability between the systems?

All these questions need an answer, and I think the right approach is to find the answers in a joint analysis, and I would expect the NATO-Russia Summit to make that decision.

Let me, on a final note, as regards missile defence, remind you that actually we had practical cooperation with Russia on so-called theatre missile defence until the beginning of 2008. We had even joint exercises. So we could build on that past cooperation. Also when we're looking forward to an expanded territorial missile defence system.

Q: Georgian Public Broadcasting. Mr. Secretary General, how are you going to explain to Russian leader that the enlargement of NATO is not a threat for them?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Because Russia has benefited from NATO enlargement in several ways. First of all, NATO's open door policy has contributed significantly to stability and security in Eastern Europe. That is, stability and security along the western border of Russia. And actually that has been a Russian aspiration for, I think, centuries, to ensure stability along the western border.

We have provided that through our open door policy.

And next, thanks to that peace, security and stability in Eastern Europe, after the breakdown of communist dictatorship, we have also seen an impressive economic development in Eastern and Central Europe, and when we look at the figures we can see that Russia has benefited significantly, also in economic terms from that stability.

So it's evident that our open door policy has been to the benefit of Russia, and of course, there's no need to repeat, but anyway, I would like to do it, that we have no intention whatsoever, to attack Russia and it's also my firm belief that Russia has no intention whatsoever to attack NATO countries.

So, for that reason the Russians should look upon our open door policy in a more positive way than has been the case in the past.

I think if Russia is threatened, the threat comes from other geographic corners than the West.

Q: (Inaudible...) from (inaudible) Japanese daily newspaper. If the NATO is not going to act as a world policeman, with this new Strategic Concept and with this deepened partnership with many countries around the world, and with the cooperation of Russia, how do you describe this new version of NATO when it will born in Lisbon?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I would describe it as territorial defence in a modern world. NATO's core function is still territorial defence of our populations and our member states. However, we have to realize that in today's security environment it may on occasions be necessary to go beyond our borders to protect our people effectively. And of course, Afghanistan is a case in point.

And speaking about Afghanistan, we also have to realize that if we are to ensure long-term peace and stability in that country, we need positive engagement from Pakistan. And if we are to engage Pakistan positively we also have to ease tensions between Pakistan and India. So we should also engage with India. And we know that China can play an instrumental role in stabilizing the whole region.

I just mention this to illustrate that in today's globalized world territorial defence requires an outreach to an engagement with important players on the international scene.

So NATO has no ambition to become the world's policeman, but if we are to make territorial defence effective we need a global perspective in our policies. And that's what the new Strategic Concept is about.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Last question on this side.

Q: Rafael Canas from the Spanish News Agency EFE. I have two questions, if I may. First, Secretary General, you say some element to convince NATO countries of the missile defence system that the suite system, that there will be only need to invest 200 million Euros in ten years to create this system starting for what we have now. That some experts and even some NATO officials say that there will be a need to invest much more in order to buy military hardware to really implement the framework. Like (inaudible) systems or Patriot missiles and so on. So don't you think that NATO is catching a little part of the argument of missile defence here with issue of the costs?

And second place, of Afghanistan, the training missile is still short on trainers. Do you have the last figures about how many trainers are still needed and are you planning to ask for them in Lisbon? Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Thank you. First, on missile defence, I think there is a clarification of the cost issue and obviously there are two kinds of expenditure here. You have expenditure and investment in each individual member state, and you have expenditure on NATO's common budget.

I have been speaking about the NATO part of this, and the NATO part of this, on our common budget, is less than 200 million Euros over ten years, shared among 28 allies. And that's the additional cost to connect existing systems, to expand the protection from being defence of our deployed troops to be a protection of the whole population.

Obviously in addition to that you have national investments, but NATO doesn't interfere with national investments. We don't know what is the exact figure in each individual member state, but what I should add here is that we have long ago decided to establish a missile defence system to protect our troops. So nations have already long ago decided that they will build a missile defence system and make the necessary investments to protect our deployed troops, and of course that makes sense.

What we're speaking about now is to link these existing systems together and by linking them together, and not least, of course, through the input from the United States, we can expand the protection from being just the protection of deployed troops, to be protection of the whole population.

And honestly speaking, I think it's a good deal that the additional cost to do that is less than 200 million Euros over ten years shared among 28 allies.

As regards our training mission, the good news is that we have received quite a number of indications, recently, that nations are prepared to provide more trainers. In exact figures I would say that we still need about 450 trainers by summer time next year, and another 450 trainers by the end of 2011, because this is a gradual build-up. And I think it's realistic to say that these shortfalls will be filled based on the indications we have already got.

So yet another positive news from the Lisbon Summit.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Thank you very much, Secretary General.