Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini

  • 04 Nov. 2014
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  • Last updated 10-Nov-2014 09:46

JENS STOLTENBERG (Secretary General of NATO): Thank you so much, thank you so much, and first of all let me thank you so much for welcoming me here at your second day in office. It's really great to meet with you, and I take that as an expression, both of our old friendship and it's so therefore nice to see you again in your new capacity, but also of our common intention to develop further the cooperation and the relationship between the European Union and NATO.

NATO and the European Union we have a lot in common. We share common values, we share common assessments and we face common challenges, and we are working together in the Balkans, in Afghanistan and also in fighting piracy off the coast of the African Horn. So there are already many places where we are working closely together and we should look to how we can expand and develop that cooperation.

Then, during our meeting, we discussed several [break in transmission] Federica has already mentioned, but one of the issues we focused a lot on was of course the situation in Ukraine, and in Ukraine we have had so-called elections by armed separatists in the eastern parts of Ukraine. Those elections they run directly counter to the Minsk Agreements and NATO allies will not recognized those so-called elections.

Recently we are also seeing Russian troops moving closer to the border with Ukraine and Russia continues to support the separatists by training them, by providing equipment, and supporting them also by having special forces, Russian special forces, inside the eastern parts of Ukraine. So we call on Russia to make genuine efforts towards a peaceful solution and to use all their influence on the separatists to make them respect the Minsk Agreements and respect the ceasefire which is a precondition for a political solution to the difficult situation in Ukraine.

We also discussed the international effort to combat the terrorist group ISIL and the threat that returning foreign fighters can pose to our countries and the turmoil we see in Libya, and I underlined that NATO stands ready to help the government of Iraq and to help Libya and others to bolster their defence and to increase their capability to take care of their own security in their own country.

NATO and the European Union play different roles in different parts of the world but we are important together when we are able to cooperate and when we are able to complement each other, and that's the aim of our cooperation is that we shall be even better in the future to complement each other and to work together.

And I also would like to underline that in this challenging [break in transmission] there is a need to both invest more in defence but also to invest better in defence, and that very much relates to defence industry, to our industrial base, and that's of great importance both for the European Union and for NATO that we are able to, we call it NATO Smart Defence, in Europe you speak more about pooling and sharing, but to be able to utilize our resources in an even more effective way so we are getting more defence out of the investments we make in defence.

So there are many different areas where we are going to work together. I welcome very much the invitation to attend different meetings within the European Union and I'm looking very much forward also to invite Federica to our meetings as signs of the importance of expanding the cooperation between the European Union and NATO. So thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Considering the time we'll take two questions. Maybe Irina.

IRINA: Irina [break in transmission], Agency [inaudible]. I have a question for High Representative and Secretary General. High Representative, because Russia did not say clearly and did not make a statement about this so-called election on [inaudible], was not legitimate, so by this way they, let's say they recognize [inaudible], okay, don’t you think that the EU has to strengthen sanctions against Russia? What kind of intervention we can expect on this move on Russia?

And Secretary General, also on the Russia activity, because recently we see in the past few days that they increased activity, military activity in the European sea, we see a Russian fighter flying above the field, and you also mentioned Russia activity in the Ukraine and around Ukraine. What do you think Russia is doing, especially when we are talking about fighters in European sky? What do you think that Russia intends to do and how will NATO will react on this? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG: So first when it comes to the increased Russian military activity, both in the air but also along the borders of Ukraine, I think that what we see is, especially when it comes to increased air activity of Russian planes, is that they are showing strength, and what we are doing is what we are supposed to do: we are intercepting the Russian planes, whether it is in the Atlantic Sea or the Baltic Sea or in the Black Sea. And the numbers of intercepts has so far this year been over 100, which is about three times as much as the total number of intercepts in the whole of last year. So there is an increased military activity and NATO is doing what we are supposed to do and that is to intercept those flights.

I will not speculate too much on the intentions and the purpose but we are present, we are reacting in an appropriate way, and I think also it underlines the importance of [break in transmission] continuing with our reassurance measures and that we are continuing with the air policing which increases our ability to both monitor, to follow the situation, but also to intercept these kind of flights which we have seen more of from the Russian side during the last year.

FEDERICA MOGHERINI (High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy): As for my part is concerned we have stated very clearly already on Sunday evening that these so-called elections are not only illegal and illegitimate and will not be recognized, but also that they risk to put in danger, in serious danger, the path of dialogue and peace that was in difficult but wise way put in place first of all by President Poroshenko with the work on the Minsk Protocol and the Minsk Process. This is the main risk that I see, that we close this window of opportunity for internal [break in transmission] and for dialogue with Russia, to which the Ukrainians themselves have worked on and that was, that is still what they're mainly asking us to support politically, trying to find a way of solving the crisis in a political way.

Having said that, the evaluation of the sanctions, as you know, is always ongoing. We've always said in the past and we will continue to say in the future the evaluation of the situation on the ground is what moves us in strengthening the sanctions, in lifting the sanctions, in limiting the sanctions, in adding more elements to that, and this is a process that is going to go on in the coming weeks. We have a Foreign Affairs Council foreseen on the 17th of November, the situation in Ukraine will for sure be on the agenda and we will have a discussion there, but I would say the main topic of discussion today should be I think what is in Ukraine which is how do we ensure that we find a solution to the conflict.

Sanctions can be an instrument, can be an effective instrument, can be a less effective instrument depending on the timing and on the scale and on the unity that we have around these measures that we take, but it stays a form of political pressure, a form of instrument, not the aim in itself. The aim in itself is the research of a solution to the crisis.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Laurence.

LAURENCE NORMAN (Wall Street Journal): Hi. Laurence Norman from the Wall Street Journal. One question for each if I may. For the High Rep, you stole my question from me, so maybe I can just ask you when will you make an announcement and what will be the role exactly of the person that you put in charge? Will they be responsible for the investigation or will they be overseeing the investigation that is carried out by EULEX.

And then for the Secretary General, a question on Ebola. You said I think last week that you are consulting with the UN on a NATO role. Since then you've come under pressure from two of your predecessors to step up NATO's role, particularly on [break in transmission] airlift. Is NATO ready to take a bigger role on Ebola and when can they get that off the ground?

FEDERICA MOGHERINI: I start first now. As I said I took the decision today to appoint a legal expert, an independent legal expert, to look and review the mission's mandate implementation, obviously with a particular focus on the handling of the allegations. I will communicate the name as soon as, first of all, the name is identified and the person concerned is informed and agreed on doing this job which might be quite challenging. I would tend not to communicate that to you before I communicate that to the person identified.

And obviously I hope and I'm sure this will be in a reasonable time framework because this is in our interest as we have [break in transmission] with me coming in as a new high representative but also a new leadership of the mission in Kosovo, to be completely transparent, completely reliable in terms of credibility not only of EULEX but also of all the other missions that are and have to stay credible. Obviously the mandate of this expert will have to cope with the legal framework that he will have to face, he or she will have to face, can do a lot, cannot do all, cannot substitute its work to the judiciary one, but I hope that it will come very soon. I'm confident it will come very soon.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Thank you. We will have to stop here. Sorry about that.

JENS STOLTENBERG: I'll just take the Ebola…

MODERATOR: Oh, sorry. Okay.

JENS STOLTENBERG: On Ebola, I would like to stress that the Ebola crisis it's very serious and it's actually also a threat to international peace and security. At the same time NATO is not the first responder to this kind of crisis, but as I stated last week we are in contact with the UN to see if there is any specific role for NATO to play in the fight against Ebola.

You know, to a large extent what NATO possesses of resources is actually national resources, so it's partly also a discussion on whether the different resources, for instance airlift capacity which different allied nations possess, if it's most efficient to organize that through NATO, or more directly towards the region, or in cooperation with other countries, or through the UN. So to some extent we speak about the same resources but how to channel or how to organize the delivery of those resources through NATO or through other channels because we speak partly about national resources which in one way or another is going to be used against or in the fight against Ebola.

Let me just end by saying that many allies, many NATO countries, they are already doing a lot, and I welcome very much the efforts of many NATO allies in fighting the Ebola because it's such a serious crisis and threat to all of us and therefore it's important to mobilize a lot against it.

MODERATOR: Thank you and sorry for that Mr. Stoltenberg. Thank you very much to all of you.