Towards NATO’s Chicago Summit

Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the European Policy Centre, Brussels

  • 30 Sep. 2011 -
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  • Last updated: 03 Oct. 2011 13:44

Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the European Policy Centre, Brussels

Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.

Hans Martens, thank you for the kind introduction. I am now half way through my mandate as Secretary General - - and many things have happened during this time. NATO is as busy as ever. And that is what I am going to touch upon today.

Like you, I am an early riser.  So I was particularly happy to accept the European Policy Centre’s invitation to speak to you today.  Because it gives me an early chance to set out my vision of the Alliance’s future.  And to look ahead with you to the NATO Summit, in Chicago, next May.

As I said NATO is busier than ever.  And it’s for all the right reasons.  Just over six months ago, the United Nations’ Security Council passed a historic resolution to protect civilians in Libya.  It called on the international community to use all necessary means to enforce the responsibility to protect.

I am proud that NATO answered that call.  And that we enforced that mandate successfully.  We made sure that the United Nations’ Resolution was  turned quickly into reality.

Our operation saved countless lives.  We protected the Libyan people from attacks. And helped them take their destiny into their own hands – and out of Qadhafi’s grip.  The people of Libya have reminded us of a basic truth.  The desire for freedom can sometimes be repressed.  But it can never be extinguished.

Although the mission is not yet complete, it has already shown that NATO can make a difference. For many in Libya, NATO has literally made the difference between life and death.  Operation Unified Protector has shown that when the cause is just -- when the legal base is strong -- and when the regional support is clear, NATO is the indispensable alliance. 

We must make sure that it remains the indispensable Alliance. Especially at a time when nothing can be taken for granted. 

The backdrop to our NATO summit in Chicago is the global economic crisis. And there is no contradiction between being concerned about the economy and being concerned about security.  Because economy and security are interlinked. Huge deficits and growing debt make nations vulnerable.  Therefore, sound fiscal policies are also sound security policies. Both require that we get the most out of every euro, pound  and dollar that we spend on defence and security.

Security is not an optional extra – even in times of austerity.  It’s not a luxury – it’s a vital necessity.  Because security problems don’t wait while we come to terms with our economic difficulties.  And they certainly don’t solve themselves.

We may not be able to spend more, but we certainly can spend smarter by spending together – and that is what we must do. In the current economic climate, the need for cooperation is clearer than ever. The need for solidarity is stronger than ever. And the argument for transatlantic commitment is more compelling than ever.

So in Chicago, I am confident that you will see a NATO Alliance demonstrating its strong solidarity even in difficult economic times.  An Alliance that is committed – capable – and connected. 

We are an Alliance committed to the enduring values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.  And we will remain committed to defending these values.  Whenever, and wherever, it is required.

We are an Alliance committed to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter – and operating under a United Nations mandate on three continents: in Libya, in Kosovo, and in Afghanistan. And we will continue to assist the United Nations to uphold its responsibility to preserve peace, promote stability, and protect civilians.

We are an Alliance committed to transatlantic solidarity and cooperation.  And to forging strong consensus through consultation and debate.  I want to see all Allies bearing a fair share of the burden of implementing that consensus.  And paying a fair share of the price.

Critics have pointed to our Libya operation and suggested that not all 28 Allies share this commitment.  And that not all are pulling their weight.  Let me address this head-on. 

In fact, the Libya operation shows the strength and the solidarity of our Alliance even in the middle of an economic crisis. When the United Nations called for support to protect the people of Libya, all Allies agreed it was the right thing to do.  They agreed that NATO should act. 

NATO acted within 6 days -- faster than ever before. And we acted successfully.  All Allies took part, directly or indirectly, through our common command structure and common funding.

In Libya, European Allies and Canada took the lead. In Afghanistan, the United States has been the leading nation from the start.  And in Kosovo, Germany is currently playing the leading role.

These are all demanding operations.  NATO’s operational flexibility allows each and every Ally to play to its particular strengths.  And to contribute where they can have greatest effect.  The Alliance framework combines all these individual contributions.  And it multiplies their impact.  

It is this operational flexibility that allows the Alliance to carry out several different operations at the same time.  And to do so effectively.

But effective operations do not only depend on commitment.  They also depend on having the right capabilities.  That is why I want to see an Alliance that is capable – as well as committed. 

In Libya, European Allies and Canada provided most of the assets. But the success of that operation depended on unique and essential capabilities which only the United States could offer.  Capabilities such as drones, surveillance and intelligence assets.

I want to see an Alliance where all Allies know they can rely on each other.  Where all Allies are also able to make meaningful contributions to joint operations.  And where all Allies demonstrate the political solidarity to develop, to deploy and to sustain those contributions. 

That is why I encourage all Allies, especially in Europe, to focus investment in these vital capability areas.  I am not naïve. I know that in an age of austerity, we cannot spend more.  But neither should we spend less.  So the answer is to spend better.  And to get better value for money.  To help nations to preserve capabilities and to deliver new ones.  This means we must prioritise.  We must specialise.  And we must seek multinational solutions.  Taken together, this is what I call Smart Defence.

Missile defence is a case in point.  By pooling their contributions, and by sharing the costs, Allies will be able to protect their own territory and citizens against missile attacks.  And by cooperating with Russia, we can build two different missile defence systems with the same purpose: to tackle new threats and old suspicions at the same time. And to extend protection against ballistic missiles across the entire Euro-Atlantic area.   

That brings me to the final element of my vision for NATO – an Alliance that is even better connected to its partner nations and the rest of the international community.     

Libya has been another demonstration of the importance of NATO’s network of partnerships. At the start of the Libya crisis, many said we had an image problem in the Arab world. But our operation proves the contrary. We protected the people of Libya with political support from the region. And with operational support from many of our partners in the region. NATO offers a tried-and-tested framework, which our partners know and trust.

Our security is best assured through a wide network of partnerships with countries and organisations around the globe. They build trust.  They break down misunderstanding.  And they broaden cooperation.

We aim to deepen political dialogue and practical cooperation with the United Nations.  The European Union is another unique and essential partner for NATO.  And we will continue to promote the Euro-Atlantic integration of countries in the Western Balkans and to our East.

The Alliance should also have a genuine, strategic partnership with Russia.  We have already started to develop this.  Russia and NATO are working together on many issues where we have shared concerns, such as Afghanistan, fighting terrorism and drug trafficking.  And I look to a future where we cooperate even more. 

Finally, building on the success of our Libya operation, the Alliance should also be much better connected with its southern neighbours – across the Mediterranean and into the Middle East and Gulf regions.  We have many shared concerns – from fighting extremism, through security sector reform, to maritime security.  I want us to tackle these concerns together.  If we do, we all have so much to gain.

That is my vision for NATO.  An Alliance that is committed, capable, and connected.  And in Chicago next May, we can help transform that vision into reality.  I see four specific goals for our Summit. 

First – Afghanistan.  We are on track to complete the transition of lead security responsibility to the Afghans by the end of 2014.  But our commitment to the Afghan people will not end there. So my first goal for Chicago is to lay out the detail of that commitment, by agreeing a strategic plan for our engagement throughout the transition period, and beyond.

Second – capabilities.  To fulfil its essential purpose of safeguarding our security, the Alliance needs the appropriate mix of capabilities: conventional, nuclear and missile defence.  We are currently reviewing that mix for approval at Chicago.

We are also preparing a package of specific military capabilities that Smart Defence can help us to deliver.  At Chicago, my goal is for NATO Heads of State and Government to endorse this package.  And to make a smart commitment to deliver the capability improvements we all need.

Third – missile defence.  Poland, Romania and Turkey have already agreed to host key elements of this system.  And my goal for Chicago is that we declare an interim operational capability for NATO’s territorial missile defence.  We will then be able to receive early warning of missile launches directed against us.  A big step towards the full capability that we need.

That’s the NATO track. But I would also like to make progress on the NATO-Russia track. Cooperation on missile defence makes sense militarily -- because it renders both our systems more effective. And it makes sense politically -- because it demonstrates that our missile defence is not directed against Russia.

Finally – partnerships.  I would like the summit to reaffirm our commitment to the Euro-Atlantic integration of our partners here on this continent.  But also to send a strong signal to countries across the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.  That we continue to share an interest in the stability and security of their region.  And I hope that by the time of our Chicago summit, a new, democratic Libya will be among our partners in the region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our Libya operation showed once again the value of our Alliance.  And it was not a one-off.  NATO has a strong record of success that goes back over six decades. 

My goals for Chicago are clear and concrete.  They are ambitious.  But achievable.  They will strengthen the transatlantic relationship.  And they will help to ensure that the Alliance’s record of success continues through this economic crisis, and well into the future.    Because they will deliver an Alliance that is even more Committed.  More Capable.  And more Connected.

That’s my vision for NATO.  At Chicago we have an opportunity to make it happen.  And I am confident we will.

Thank you

Q: Thank you. My name is Brooks Tigner. I write for Jane's Defence. I have two questions. Secretary General, I'm wondering, have you and NATO set a precedent for unilateral humanitarian intervention across the world with their mission in Libya? And if not, why? What was the non-humanitarian rationale for this if it was not setting a humanitarian intervention? Thank you.

And secondly, Chicago, what would your Smart Defence package cover beyond cyber defence and strategic transport for the Heads of State to approve? Thank you.

Q: Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Secretary General, thank you very much for your detailed and very eloquent speech on the challenges of NATO going forward.

My name is Thomas Reynaert with United Technologies. You mentioned capabilities quite a lot and you confirmed that the challenge or to get to more capabilities is indeed one of the Chicago convention goals. As I am from industry my question is quite straightforward and probably expected, but so how in terms of... with regard to the capabilities, how can industry help NATO? How can industry help you? And can you maybe... could you maybe explain to us a little bit what's going on at that front as concrete as possible. Thank you.

Q: Good morning, sir. My name is Paul Adamson. A much nicer question than Brooks' question and I think what Thomas asked. First of all, thank you very much for making this very long political journey from Evere down to Rue de la Loi. We appreciate you being in this side of the town, sir.

A common theme in your speech seemed to be very much the cooperation, more cooperation between member states and the EU between the U.S. and Europe, and of course between NATO and the EU.

Now I understand you have quite strong views about the need for more urgent cooperation between NATO and EU. Could you give us an example maybe of the kind of things you can't do at the moment between EU and NATO because the rules of the game don't allow it, but more importantly maybe a theoretical example of what you think could be done if only somehow the EU and NATO could work more closely and systematically and productively together. Thank you.

Moderator: Okay, thank you. We have three questions now. I think Mr. Secretary General, if you'd like to address those. We'll see what's the next, please.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Secretary General of NATO): Thank you very much. First, the question on humanitarian interventions. Let me stress that NATO's core function remains the territorial defence of our populations and our territories. That's the core function of NATO and it will remain so.

However, we have to realize that in today's world the defence of our borders very often start beyond our borders. And prevention is better than cure. So this is the reason why we are in Afghanistan, to prevent the country from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists that can use it as a launching pad for their attacks against our populations. That's the reason why we decided to take on the responsibility for the Libya operation, because we consider this of strategic interest for NATO territory. Instability in North Africa could also have negative repercussions for NATO Allies. And furthermore, we had a clear UN mandate and support from the region.

This is the reason why we engaged in Libya and we are in Kosovo also on a UN mandate to maintain a safe and secure environment.

You can call it humanitarian interventions, but I wouldn't explain it that way. It is about territorial defence, it's about defence of the interests of our countries and our populations. And that will be the guiding principle for taking on operations in the future, that they serve to protect our territories and our populations. But it may very well be out of area, because in today's security environment defence of our societies may very well start beyond our territory, even in cyberspace.

Which leads me to the second part of your question. Because strengthened cyber security is actually an important part of addressing emerging security challenges. And it is among our priority areas.

Last year in November at the Lisbon Summit we approved a package of so-called critical capabilities. We want our Allies to give priority to investments in a number of areas and we have listed 11 critical capabilities, among which you'll also see cyber defence. And that's not just science fiction. Four years ago one of our Allies, Estonia, was severely hurt by a cyber attack and we learned a lot of lessons from that. And this is the reason why we have started work to strengthen our cyber security at NATO, in NATO as such, as well as in individual Allied nations.

We have not yet decided what will specifically be in the package to agreed in Chicago, but definitely cyber is among our priorities. We have already approved that in Lisbon. Strategic transport, yes, definitely. We have already an excellent example. Ten NATO Allies, plus two Partners, 12 countries all in all, have engaged in a joint project to acquire C-17 transport aircraft. Very expensive aircraft. For individual Allies it would be impossible to acquire such aircraft. They are too expensive. But by pooling and sharing resources these 12 countries have now acquired three C-17 aircraft.

So through multinational cooperation we have succeeded in acquiring such a capability. Otherwise, it wouldn't be possible.

So we will build on that. So strategic airlift will still be among the priorities. And probably... it's already in the list of capabilities we approved in Lisbon, and probably elements of that could also be part of the Chicago package.

How can the industry help? Well, I have to say I have focused on economic austerity, which of course makes it visible that we have to make more efficient use of resources. Because all Defence Ministers are faced with huge challenges. They are forced to cut defence budgets. So economic austerity makes it very visible that we need to make more efficient use of our resources.

But I have to say that it's also a long-term challenge. This will not disappear, even during a period of economic recovery, because we can see a long-term trend that sophisticated military equipment becomes more and more expensive, and actually prices rise more rapidly than inflation and GDP. So also in a longer-term perspective it is necessary to spend money in new ways to promote multinational cooperation, to prioritize, to specialize if we are to acquire such expensive military equipment.

So obviously industry could help by making sure that prices don't rise so fast, but maybe we could give a helping hand. I think an opening up of markets would help. I'm a free marketeer. I strongly believe that strengthened competition will improve quality as well as reduce prices.

And there's a lot to do. I appreciate very much that the European Commission has initiated a work to open up European defence markets. Personally I do believe that the European defence industries are too fragmented, not least compared to the US defence industry.

I do believe that a more open market would help make European defence industries more efficient and promote more cooperation. And I think that would be of great help in this project of smart defence.

But obviously we also have to communicate, to have a dialogue and it's also my intention to take initiatives to promote such a close dialogue between NATO and industry and between individual Allies and industry.

NATO-EU... yes. The good news is that a lot of practical work has been... and cooperation, has been initiated. And on a daily basis, I would say, we have an excellent practical dialogue between NATO and the European Union. But from an overall political perspective, the cooperation between NATO and the European Union has not reached its full potential.

I would point to three areas where there is a lack of efficiency in our cooperation. First, in theatres where we operate together we have a lot problems when it comes to the agreement of security arrangements. We have succeeded in finding practical arrangements on an ad hoc basis, but it's very complicated. If we had a smooth cooperation then we could have an overall security agreement and the whole thing would be much easier.

Secondly, when it comes to capabilities we have examples where NATO has initiated programmes, the European Union... the European Defence Agency has initiated programmes. I think in a period of economic austerity, but also in more long-term perspective, we should cooperate and avoid duplication, avoid waste of money, ensure that we coordinate, even merge some projects. I mean, 21 countries are members of both organizations. They only have one set of capabilities, so of course it's obvious that we should cooperate when it comes to development of capabilities.

And finally, political consultations. That's absurd. I mean, the only thing we are allowed to consult on officially, that's Bosnia-Herzegovina. Of course, it's important. It's a very important theatre. But I could easily think of other areas where NATO and the European Union could and should have regular political consultations.

So we can call meetings on Bosnia, but we're not allowed in that meeting to discuss anything else, like Afghanistan, like Libya, like Kosovo. Yes, well. It speaks for itself.

So we have to find solutions to this, but we all know that the origin of all the problems is the Cyprus dispute and as things stand I don't think we can expect rapid progress. So it will take hard world to find a solution to this.

Moderator: Thank you very much. We'll go for the next round of questions. I have quite a lot here. I'll start with you.

Q: Thank you very much. Anya Venetska(ph) from New Europe. Secretary General, just now you said that there would be two systems, one for Russia and one for Alliance. I'm talking about anti-missile defence system. So where's the guarantee that the systems can't be used one against the other and we won't fall into Cold War again?

Moderator: Thank you.

Q: George Broduk(ph) with ABB. Secretary General, building on the earlier question on the industrial potential to help you, one of the ways to keep industrial capabilities and technology capabilities is to have export markets. On the other hand one of the big problems before the Arab Spring was that apparently too many of us valued stability over democracy. So can you give us an idea of where the limits of export markets are and what NATO values or does not value and where the limits are?

Moderator: Thank you for the uncontroversial question here. Yes.

Q: Khalid Hameed Farooqi from Geo News, Pakistan. Secretary General, Pakistan army is involved in three active operations. A lot of opposition among Pakistani public against these operations and Americans and NATO pushing for Pakistan military for further two more operations in Waziristan and against some militant group in Punjab.

Pakistan military has no capacity, neither intention to start these operations and Americans came public against Pakistan establishment to start these operations.

In this the controversy regarding Afghani Network, Pakistan... if Pakistan ends cooperation completely with NATO, how you view this particular thing in the future? Will it... what kind of effect will it have on NATO operation in Afghanistan.

Moderator: Thank you very much. There was one more at the same table. Is it okay to take one more? Yes, please go ahead. And then we'll come back to you.

Q: Nawab Khan from the Kuwait News Agency. So with your operation, NATO operations coming to a close in Libya do you feel that NATO might be called again to intervene in some other campaign in the Middle East?

And my second question is, you asked often in the past to push to relations or cooperation with countries like India and China, so are you planning to visit these two countries sometime near? Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. So, four questions.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Yes. First on missile defence. Yes, we... our view is, or our vision for a future structure of missile defence systems is two independent systems, a Russian system and a NATO system, but two systems with a common purpose.

And you asked me which guarantees can be delivered to ensure that the NATO system does not constitute a threat towards Russia? I would like to make three points in that respect.

Firstly, the system we envisage to build is not designed to undermine the strategic deterrence of Russia. It's not directed against Russia. And it's not designed to undermine the strategic deterrence of Russia. So that's the first... that's the technical aspect.

Secondly, I think the very best guarantee Russia could get would be to actually cooperate actively and that's what we have suggested. That would give transparency.

And thirdly, we would also like to make that cooperation visible through the establishment of two joint centres. Two joint centres that could constitute a framework for exchange of data for the elaboration of joint threat assessments, preparation of joint exercises, just to mention some elements.

And I think that whole framework in itself would be an excellent guarantee.

We have no intention whatsoever to attack Russia. And I don't think Russia has an intent to attack us. And actually already in 1997 when we agreed on the Founding Act in the Russia-NATO Agreement, already in 1997 we declared that we will not use force against each other. So I think all this could be an excellent guarantee.

Now to whom can we export military equipment? It's a really complicated question. I don't think we can make an exhaustive list. But of course you touch upon some of the principles. How do we prioritize stability versus democracy? Of course, my answer is very clear. We are strongly committed to freedom, to democracy, to rule of law, and in the long run there is no contradiction between stability and democracy. In the long run you can't neglect the will of the people. You may be able to suppress people in the short run, but in the long run it will provoke upheavals and revolutions as we have seen in North Africa and the Middle East.

So the only long-term stable system is democracy. And maybe there are also in that respect some lessons to be learned from what we have seen in North Africa and the Middle East. And the good news is that thanks to new communication technology it will be more and more difficult for autocrats to establish regimes in the future and to maintain their regimes because people have access, free access to news through satellite television. They can network easily with other people through the social media, the internet, etc. So I'm very optimistic about the future. I do believe that democracy will prevail.

As regards Pakistan, it goes without saying that we need a positive engagement of Pakistan if we are to ensure long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the region. And my bottom line is very clear. We need a strong partnership with Pakistan. NATO would like a strong partnership with Pakistan. Individual NATO Allies would like a positive and strong partnership with Pakistan. We need that.

But in that very same spirit, we encourage the Pakistan military and the Pakistan Government to do its utmost to fight extremism and terrorism in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is really a security problem for our troops in Afghanistan that terrorists have safe havens - and that's a fact - in Pakistan. And we have to deal with that and it's in our mutual interest to deal with that.

And that's a reason why we have conveyed that clear message to the Pakistan authorities. But believe me, the bottom line is, we do want a strong and positive partnership with Pakistan. And Pakistan can play a very constructive role in solving the problems in the region.

Finally, NATO has no intention to intervene in Syria or other countries. We took on the responsibility for the operation in Libya because there was a clear UN mandate, and there was strong support from the region and none of these conditions are fulfilled as regards Syria or any other country.

Moderator: Thank you very much. We have a question over here. The gentleman there. Behind you.

Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary General. Sertaç Aktan from IHA News Agency, Turkey. There is a growing will and intention between Israel and NATO to have more cooperation these days. Do you find the timing appropriate for this? My first question.

The second thing... Because Israel wants to open an office in NATO and NATO General Stavridis visits Israel. I want to know if you find the timing appropriate.

And the second thing is that how do you evaluate the exchange of intelligence... sharing of intelligence when it comes to missile defence system with Israel? How do you evaluate that issue? Thank you very much.

Moderator: Thank you for your question. We have one at the back, please.

Q: Thank you so much. Sophie … (inaudible) from Georgian TV Imedi. A question about upcoming Summit in Chicago and you mentioned about Euro-integration. What about Georgia? What should Chicago Summit say about this country? And your upcoming visit to Georgia also, could you give us details about that? Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you very much. We have room for one more question for this round. Yes, and there's one there.

Q: Alexander Mineyev, ITAR-TASS News Agency Russia. Secretary General, do you expect to have the NATO-Russia Summit at the same time in Chicago?

Moderator: Okay, thank you.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen: First question about Israel. Let me remind you that in Lisbon, at our Summit in Lisbon, we adopted a New Strategic Concept including a very forward-leaning partnership policy. And we followed up on that when Foreign Ministers met in Berlin in April and decided that Partners can establish missions at NATO Headquarters. And ‘partners’ also include Israel. So it's a decision that has been taken and it applies to all Partners.

As regards cooperation with other countries on intelligence-sharing, of course we never comment on such specific operational detail, but I can assure you that we do all we can to share all the intelligence we can to protect our populations. I mean, that's the essence of being an Alliance.

Georgia. We appreciate very much our partnership with Georgia. It is a special partnership. We have established a NATO-Georgia Commission, a commission that meets on a regular basis and the NATO Council will visit Georgia in November. We will get an opportunity to meet with political leaders in Georgia and we look very much forward to that visit. It will be a reconfirmation of the special partnership we have with Georgia.

Georgia is among the most important contributors to our operation in Afghanistan. Georgia's contribution is very, very significant. Very significant. It's a strong commitment, strong practical commitment to our Alliance and it's a strong political commitment to our Alliance and this is a reason why we - the whole NATO Council - have decided to visit Georgia in November.

And finally, we keep it as an option to also have a NATO-Russia Summit in Chicago as we had a NATO-Russia Summit in Lisbon, but no decision has been made yet. It will very much depend on substance. But if there is real substance, if there are some concrete results to deliver, then there may be a NATO-Russia Summit in Chicago. But let me stress, once again, no decision has been made yet and it will be substance that will be the decisive factor when we decide whether we'll have a NATO-Russia Summit in Chicago.

Moderator: Thank you. I think we have one or two questions more. We actually have three, and this will be the last round because we have very little time afterwards. So we start over there, we go there, we go there and there, and that's it. Right, okay, please.

Q: Thank you, (inaudible...) of Iran. There are some news that shows India is going to give the permission to deploy some parts of anti-missile system in India. What's your opinion in this regards?

Moderator: Thank you very much. In the middle here, yes, please.

Q: Thank you, Giovanni Cremonini from the European External Action Service. I'd like to go back to the question of cooperation with China or India. And I also link to what you pointed out, of the idea of territorial defence, but extended to out-of-area situations that may pose threats to the interests of the member states.

How far does this out of area interest go? And does it go as far as the South China Sea, for instance? Because you may be aware that there was an editorial in the Global Times, Chinese official paper, suggesting a limited war in South China Sea against Philippines or Vietnam this week. And the editorial actually put as a possible example the war waged by Russia against Georgia in 2008. Does NATO have anything to say there? Thanks.

Moderator: Thank you very much and I think we have two very quick questions here, one there and one there. Yes, just... okay, then behind.

Q: Hi, (inaudible...) News Agency. We are observing escalation in Eastern Mediterranean after Cyprus decision to oil drills in the southern Cyprus. What do you... we know NATO has interest in energy politics as well in recent years. What do you expect? Do you expect an armed conflict in the region and what is your preparations for this?

Moderator: Okay, thank you very much. And just here. Behind, yes, please. And that will be the last one.

Q: I'm from Ukrainian news agency, Ukrinform as (inaudible). Secretary General, taking into account the current a little bit contradictory internal political situation in Ukraine, which now provokes lots of concern in European Union, in the United States of America also, so are there any prerequisites from NATO maybe to review some current relations, maybe with Ukraine? I mean, in order to help Ukrainian leaders maybe to improve situation in the field of democracy, etc. Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you very much. Four quick questions, Secretary General.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Yes. Firstly, on missile defence and India, I have to say that goes far beyond what is NATO territory and NATO responsibility. What I have spoken about today is a NATO-based missile defence system, which will cover the territory of NATO Allies and that's it, no more. In addition, we would like to cooperate with Russia, as I have described, two independent systems with a common purpose. And it reminds me that I forgot to answer the question about India and China. I have not prepared any visits to the two countries, but we have dialogue with both. Recently NATO organized a meeting on counter-piracy. We invited partners from across the globe to consult on, to discuss how we can possibly strengthen the fight against piracy, and the invitees also included China and India.

And I think that's the way forward. A substance-driven agenda, where we engage with partners in areas where we have shared security concerns and counter-piracy is one of them, cyber security might be another, and then we will consult with countries that have specific expertise or specific interests in those areas and with whom we share security interests, security concerns and are faced with the same security challenges. So it will be on an ad hoc basis. And I think that's the way forward.

I was asked how far the out-of-area concept goes. Let me stress once again the core function, the core task, the core purpose of NATO is territorial defence of our member states and our populations. And that will be the guiding principle. So when we are going to decide whether we will take on responsibility for a specific international operation then of course it will be a decisive factor whether it contributes to the security of our populations and our territories.

And that's the best answer I can give because we don't have plans to intervene in new areas. We have ongoing operations in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, in Libya and we have no plans to intervene in other countries. But of course, we stand ready, we stand ready to protect our territories and our populations if conflicts emerge. That's the essence of being a defence Alliance.

I don't envisage an armed conflict in the eastern Mediterranean. I urge all parties to find peaceful solutions to disputes through constructive dialogue.

And finally, on Ukraine. I met with Ukrainian President Yanukovych last week and we had a very constructive meeting in which he reconfirmed the Ukrainian interest in continuing a constructive cooperation with NATO, within the NATO-Ukraine Commission. A dialogue in which I stressed the need for continued reforms in Ukraine. Also when it comes to the rule of law and defence reforms that's an integrated part of the partnership we have with Ukraine.

I'm very pleased to see that the current political leadership in Ukraine has confirmed its interest in continuing practical cooperation with NATO. Actually Ukraine contributes to most NATO-led operations and we have an excellent practical cooperation. But obviously a part of our partnership is also to have an open and frank dialogue on issues like democracy and the rule of law, and I made clear in my conversation with the President that we attach the utmost importance to reforms in these areas.

Moderator: Secretary General, thank you very much. We have been spending a very interesting morning here thanks to you, so I thank you for your time, I thank you for your vision, for your speech, for participating in our debate, in our dialogue.

I also wish you good luck with the construction work, which I suppose can be a tough one, with building the new Headquarters, but also with your implementing the visions. And I wish you good luck for the Summit in Chicago next year, and I would like to remind you if you haven't noted, that it's also an election year in the US so it might be a little bit more political than you would like it to be.

But anyway, thank you very much. Thank you to you for coming. See you very soon at the next EPC event and have a good day.