Questions and answers at the press conference by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
on the second day of the meeting of NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers, Berlin
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secretary General of NATO): Now I am happy to take your questions.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): Please introduce yourself and your media organization. Reuters.
Q: Hello, Erik Kirschbaum from Reuters. Has there been any progress in getting additional strike aircraft you need in Libya? And can this mission succeed without greater U.S. participation? And what are your views of the letter issued by France, U.K. and the U.S.?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: First of all, as I indicated yesterday, overall our commanders do have the assets they need, but they also request a number of precision fighter aircrafts. We have got indications that nations will deliver what is needed, but this was not a force generation conference, or a pledging conference, so I'm hopeful that we will get the necessary assets in the very near future.
On the United States' participation I can inform you that the United States already participates in the operation and contributes with critical capabilities. While NATO, as such, is in the lead of this operation, but as you all know the United States is a very prominent Ally and in that capacity the United States also contributes to our operation.
And finally, on the letter from President Obama, President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron I think the letter reflects the unity of purpose and the determination of NATO Allies exactly the unity we expressed yesterday in our Libya statement.
Yesterday NATO Foreign Ministers made clear the three military objectives of our mission in Libya. Firstly, an end to all attacks and threat of attacks against civilians. Secondly, the withdrawal of all regime forces to barracks. And thirdly, an immediate humanitarian access.
And we strongly endorsed the call by the Contact Group for Qadhafi to leave power.
So, NATO is absolutely determined to continue its operation for as long as there is a threat against Libyan civilians. And it's impossible to imagine that threat disappear with Qadhafi in power.
OANA LUNGESCU: Germany Television. In the middle there.
Q: Kai Niklasch from German Television ZDF. Is there any chance, any interpretation of the UN Resolution 1973 to get boots on the ground?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: No. This issue has not been discussed and it is not mandated by the UN Resolution 1973. And I have not heard any request of amendment to that Resolution.
OANA LUNGESCU: Over there.
Q: Elena Chernenko, Russian newspaper Kommersant Daily. Just a day ago Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that the international partners and NATO have exceeded the mandate of the UN Resolution and that this is very dangerous for international politics. What do you think about that statement, and how was your discussion with Russia on Libya? Thank you.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: We had a very, very positive exchange of views today. Russia has clearly stated that NATO's operation is legitimate. It takes place in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973. I have to stress that in the conduct of that operation we do not go beyond the text or the spirit of UN Security Council Resolution 1973. On the contrary, we are implementing the Security Council Resolution in strict conformity with both the letter and the spirit of that Resolution.
OANA LUNGESCU: Swiss Radio.
Q: (Inaudible...). Secretary General, what you just said about strict conformity with letter and spirit, does that apply also to the arms embargo? How comfortable are you with the ongoing discussions about supplying weapons to the rebels?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Also as regards the enforcement of the arms embargo, we are implementing the UN Resolution in strict conformity with the content of that Resolution.
Q: Khalid Farooqi from Geo Television, Pakistan. Are Turkey, Spain and Germany completely onboard on Libya?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes. All NATO Allies are onboard. I mean, we take, as you know, all decisions by consensus. We decided to take full responsibility for the operation in Libya by consensus. Yesterday we issued a joint statement by consensus, as always. So it is a united Alliance.
OANA LUNGESCU: FT Deutschland. I think we have time for two more questions.
Q: Klaus Hecking. On the missile shield you just said we addressed the prospect for the missile shield also. Has there been any concrete progress during these days, or let's say at least during the last weeks? Thanks.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes, we have very constructive dialogue within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council. It's obviously a challenging job. It's quite a new thing to develop such a common missile defence architecture. Yet we have not agreed on how to build that architecture, but it is about a common objective. Namely, the protection, the effective protection of populations in Russia, as well as in NATO countries. Protection against a real threat, a missile threat. From the NATO side our position is very clear. We are thinking about two separate systems, a NATO system and a Russia system, but with a common objective. So these two systems should coordinate and cooperate closely, exchange data and thereby make the overall architecture much more effective.
OANA LUNGESCU: One last question. Second row.
Q: Boris (inaudible) from Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. Mr. Rasmussen, the main reason for a NATO operation in Libya is protecting civilians. So why NATO doesn't stand up for civilians in Yemen and Syria and don't you think that NATO operation creates the situation where semi-authoritarian and authoritarian regimes are motivated to obtain weapons of mass destruction as a guarantee from foreign intervention? Thank you very much.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: We have taken action in Libya because the UN Security Council took an historic decision to adopt a resolution that lives up to the responsibility to protect; the responsibility to protect civilians against brutal and systematic attacks from their own government, their own regime. And we operate in accordance with and within the framework of that UN Security Council Resolution.
A UN Security Council Resolution applies to all countries and this Resolution also mentions regional organizations like NATO, so we feel a responsibility to participate in the implementation of that Security Council Resolution. So this is the reason why we took action in Libya. To live up to what the UN Security Council requested.
OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much indeed. Have a good weekend.