Press briefing on Libya
by NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu and Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, Commander of the Operation Unified Protector
Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson): Welcome back to NATO HQ. And welcome to Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, commander of Operation Unified Protector.
It is now 90 days since NATO launched Operation Unified Protector under the mandate of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973. That historic resolution mandates the use of all necessary means to protect civilians in Libya.
The arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court yesterday for Qadhafi and his two closest aides on suspicion of crimes against humanity show exactly why that resolution was necessary – why NATO decided to act – and why NATO will keep up the pressure until that mandate is fulfilled. The arrest warrants are yet another signal from the international community to the Qadhafi regime – your place is on trial, not in power in Tripoli.
It is not for NATO to enforce that warrant – that is for the appropriate authorities. Our mandate is to protect civilians from attack. The decision of all NATO allies and partners to extend our operation for another 90 days from today is a clear signal of that determination.
This is the military track. Where NATO foreign ministers have set out three clear goals: an end to all attacks against civilians; the widrawal to barracks and bases of all of Qadhafi’s military forces; and full and unimpeded humanitarian access.
There is of course the second parallel political track – where the United Nations and the Contact Group are in the lead. NATO is part of that broad international efforts to reach a solution to the crisis, but we have made clear from the start that there is no purely military solution. It’s the combination of our continued military pressure and a reinforced political pressure that will bring about the transition to democracy that the Libyan people demand and deserve.
So with that, I hand over to General Bouchard in Naples. General, the floor is yours.