Questions and answers

at the joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Madeleine Albright, Chair of the Group of Experts

  • 17 May. 2010
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  • Last updated: 18 May. 2010 14:00

Joint Press Conference Left to right:  Madeleine Albright and NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen

PASCAL MALLET (Agence France Presse): Je suis désolé, Pascal Mallet de l'Agence France Presse. Je pense que Mme Albright parle très bien français.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT (ancienne secrétaire d'État des États-Unis): Oui, je parle français.

PASCAL MALLET: Et donc, je vais poser la question en français aux deux. En ce qui concerne l'affirmation que l'article 5 reste la base de l'OTAN, tout le monde doit être d'accord. En ce qui concerne l'affirmation qu'il faut multiplier les opérations expéditionnaires à titre préventif pour bloquer toutes menaces avant qu'elles ne touchent le territoire des pays membres de l'OTAN, je crois que le rapport a souligné qu’il fallait que les Alliés maintenant fixent les principes directeurs permettant une telle action hors zone, hors territoire. Est-ce que vous pensez, Madame, et vous pensez, Monsieur le Secrétaire général, que le rapport fournit une base suffisante ou est-ce qu'il faut que les alliés en discutent profondément pour fixer ces principes directeurs?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Alors, je commencerais. Je dois dire que je pense que c'est très important que les Alliés pensent beaucoup à tout ce qui doit être fait pour aller dehors de l'Alliance. Parce que c'est une question qu'on doit débattre. Et j'espère que ça va venir avec les consultations que le Secrétaire général va faire avec les autres. Mais si on pense à toutes les horreurs qui sont là, à ce moment-là, beaucoup de ces horreurs viennent de dehors Alliance. Alors, c'est pour cette raison qu'on a pensé que c'est très important dans le rapport qu'on a fait.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secrétaire général de l'OTAN): Ce point est vraiment très intéressant. Et maintenant, nous allons étudier et discuter ce sujet plus en détails. En ce qui concerne les principaux critères d'intervention de l'OTAN en dehors du territoire d'un pays membre, il y a, à mon avis, deux points principaux.

Premièrement, une telle intervention doit être pour la sécurité de nos pays membres. Et deuxièmement, une telle intervention doit être pour... contre aux vrais défis de sécurité internationale basés sur les principes de la Charte de l'ONU. Et enfin, laissez-moi souligner que l'OTAN n'a pas l'ambition de devenir le gendarme du monde.


Q: Ben Nimmo for the German Press Agency here in the middle. Two questions if I might for both of you. First of all, on missile defence, we understood that the November Lisbon Summit would be deciding whether or not missile defence should become a NATO mission. I read in the report that it has become for NATO an essential military mission. So can you just clarify where exactly are we on the missile defence debate? Is it now decided that that's a NATO mission or do we wait for November till that one? And on the question of Russia, Russia has identified NATO enlargement around its borders as a threat to its security. So how do you reconcile improving relations with Russia with insisting on the open door policy? Thank you very much.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: You want... the first one?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes. On missile defence, we have not yet decided whether missile defence can or should be considered an Alliance mission. This is for the summit in November to decide. This is an independent report from an independent group. This group considers, apparently, missile defence an important Alliance mission. I could add to this that, personally, I fully agree with the group of experts. But of course, at the end of the day, it is for Allies to decide. But in my opinion, there's no doubt. We are faced with a real threat. And we need a real protection against a real threat. And to that end, we need an effective missile defence system which covers all populations in all Allied nations.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we, as an independent group, did in fact recommend that it be a mission as the Secretary General has stated. And we are an Alliance that is defensive and needs a deterrent. And that is the basis on how that was stated. But obviously, as Secretary General said, that will be a decision made by the heads of government and State.

On the issue of Russia, let me just say that, when we went to Russia, we had this particular discussion and tried to make clear that NATO is not directed at any particular enemy, that we do not see the gradual enlargement of NATO on the basis of article 10 as something that should be viewed as a threat to Russia. And we all believe that and we will continue to state it. And the Russians, in their own turn, have to decide how they react.

But the bottom line is that there are many aspects of this report that indicate that we see any number of ways that the Alliance can cooperate with Russia on dealing with common threats. And so it is an open door open hand in terms of dealing with Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED: Dmitry Shkurko, National News Agency of Ukraine. Secretary Albright, just follow-up of the question of my colleague. In the current geopolitical circumstances, do you consider any geographical limits for NATO open door policies? And to Secretary General please, don't you think that all the current developments around Ukraine means some kind of lost opportunities for entire process of EuroAtlantic integration? Thanks.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think that we restated that NATO should retain an open door policy based on the previous criteria that have been used. And we also made very clear that NATO is an entirely voluntary organization. So the guidelines and criteria that have been used for previous membership is the same; will continue the same.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: As far as Ukraine is concerned, NATO policies still stand. We decided in 2008 that Ukraine, and by the way also Georgia, will become members of NATO if they so wish and if they fulfill the necessary criteria. Right from the outset, we have stated that, of course, it is for each individual country, also for Ukraine, to decide its own path. And I have taken of the fact that the government of Ukraine has stressed that it will continue to cooperate with NATO within the current framework of NATO-Ukraine Commission.

Q: (Inaudible)... Radio and Television. Secretary Albright, in the next few years, a lot of public budgets, at least in Europe, will see massive cuts and austerity. Is that reflected in your report? Did you consider that? And Secretary General, how concerned are you that this climate, this economical climate, will impact negatively on your organization? Thank you.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: We did reflect that there clearly were economic issues. But we also talked about the necessity of fulfilling the responsibilities that NATO membership brings in terms of support for this Alliance and the fact that it is an alliance in which there are shared responsibility. And that the public... This is one reason that I think we believe that the publics need to understand the value of NATO and what it is they get for the budgets that they put in. And the necessity of streamlining some of the decision-making in terms of buying, having a common funding, trying to figure out ways of procurement that make sense in the 21st century.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Obviously, the current economic climate is a challenge. Many countries have been forced to make deep cuts in government budgets, including defence budgets. And from a long-term perspective, this is, of course, a matter of concern. Also, if we'll see a deepening of the gap between North America and Europe as far as defence investments are concerned.

Having said that, I also think governments could take advantage of the crisis, if I may use that term, and use the budgetary constraints as a leverage for necessary reforms and transformation to make sure that we really get value for money and make efficient use of our resources.


Q: Yes, Brooks Tigner, Jane's Defence. I want to come back to the reform issue which I pressed the Secretary General on before and ask this to you Madam Albright. In your call for increasing NATO's efficiency, does this mean reducing the size of political and military committees and structures across NATO? That's something NATO has not managed to do in any significant way since the fall of the Berlin Wall. And related question, what does this mean for dealing with non-State actor threats in ways different than NATO has done in the past? Thank you.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, we certainly understood the problems of bureaucratic expansion and various committee growth and specifically gave authority or asked that authority be given to the Secretary General to work further on his reform projects to streamline.

We felt that we were not in a position to specifically dictate which committees or what, but really felt that it was necessary, in this day and age, to streamline the decision, the number of committees and the way that they work together. And it has something to do with the previous question in terms of budgets. I think we believe that we need to... that NATO needs to spend smarter. And I think that that will be very important.

The other part on the non-State actors, we did note specifically some of the problems that are raised as a result of non-State actors, be it terrorism, cybersecurity, disruption of various maritime traffic lanes, etc. So we point all those up and say that is important for NATO to begin to address itself more to those kinds of non-State threats.

Q: Claus... Claus Hecking from Financial Times, Deutschland. Could you just go a little bit into detail on the role of Mister van der Veer? Was he just responsible for energy security or was it much broader – his role? Thanks.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: No, Mister van der Veer was the vice-chair. And he was somebody that spent a great deal of time on all the subjects. And if I were to say one thing that he really focussed on was public support. I think that is something that he has spoken about from the very beginning and also in terms of rationalizing a lot of the decision-making.

He has been a full partner in this whole project. And I must say that all the experts contributed an incredible amount of time and knowledge and hard work. We divided it up into a variety of working groups and – I think, Mr. Secretary General – probably worked harder than you thought we would. But we really spent a lot of time and everybody – I think – was very dedicated to this challenge.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: May I just add to this that I selected Mr. van der Veer because I also wanted a private sector perspective on this work. And we have really profited from that in our deliberations.


JIM NEUGER: Jim Neuger from Bloomberg. Just wanted if you could say more about how you see NATO's potential partnership with China developing, especially if you regard Central Asia as one of the principal hot spots for the next 10 years. And also on the matter of peacekeeping, what should NATO's future role in peacekeeping be? Especially if there is a peace in the Middle East, would you recommend that NATO forces serve in a peacekeeping operation there?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that we were quite open minded, I think, in terms of the possibilities of partnership in the broader spaced way, that not only the kind of... ones that one might think right of. We made a very special point about partnership with the European Union. And then we obviously talked about Russia and just generally partnership. We did mention the importance of looking into ways of partnering with China on a variety of issues. But obviously, I think, that is something that needs to be explored.

The issue generally of peacekeeping, and let me just say this – this is something with which I had some previous experience – I think that it is important to try to find the right organization and right tool for peacekeeping. And one of the aspects that we talked about was how various organizations partner together on peacekeeping operations.

We did leave open the possibility that – if the parties were interested and if there were a peace to keep in the Middle East – that this was a potential possibility. But I've used many subjunctive phrases here, because it was just something that was discussed in one of our seminars.

Q: My name is Nadia Demanska, I am from Ukrainian television and my question for Mr. Secretary General. I know that you promised to make the new concept as the most transparent in NATO history and even asked bloggers to send some interesting ideas. Are there any results and exotic propositions from the Internet?


Q: You posted, sorry, word for bloggers, for Internet users. Are there any ideas from the people from Internet concerning the new concept of NATO?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I think that several of the ideas presented by bloggers and other participants from the broader public have been represented in the groups' report, maybe not exactly in the form in which they were presented on the net. But eventually, they establish a platform for proposals which have been reflected in the group's report. We have really enjoyed that so many people have contributed to our work. And I hope that they will continue discussion as we approach the summit in November.

JAMES APPATHURAI: We have time for one more question.

Q: (Inaudible) from the EU Observer. Coming back to the spending issue, taking into account the fact that most of the NATO members are also EU members and the EU is now developing a stronger defence policy and it has its own defence agency that looks at streamlining defence spending, to what extent do you take that into account in the new concept? And how do you plan to be more efficient in how European member States plan their defence budgets? Thank you.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, let me just say we take note of the fact that the taxpayers are the same for most of the countries. And that it is very important to be efficient and try to figure out ways where, in fact, the two organizations can cooperate so that there is not a duplication in terms of effort, and a way that there can in fact be a maximization of the various potential of these two great organizations.

JAMES APPATHURAI: I'm afraid that's all we have time for. Thank you.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much.