of the Foreign

16 Dec. 1997

Points for Secretary General's Statement to the Press

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

Our focus this morning was on two topics:

Bosnia and the future of the peace process; and

NATO's continuing adaptation, both internal and external.

Let me comment very briefly on each.

First topic, Bosnia. We will not tolerate gridlock and obstructionism by any of the parties. We expect the new deadlines set down by the meeting of the PJC last week to be met. Where there are blockages, the High Representative has specific authority to overcome them. He can count on NATO's support.

As you know, NATO has decided to consider a possible NATO-led military presence in Bosnia following the end of SFOR's mandate. Today we have approved detailed politico-military guidance for the NATO Military Authorities to start their planning. This guidance includes a description of the specific options they are to develop. I anticipate that the NMAs will report to us by the end of January. We will take a final decision before 1 March. Let me add that throughout this process we will consult closely with Russia and all the other troop contributing countries.

Our second topic today was NATO's adaptation; we discussed our progress in both the internal and external dimensions.

One of the crowning achievements in that process will be celebrated this afternoon. We will sign the Protocols of Accession to NATO with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. This marks the end of the accession talks with these three invitee countries which have gone very smoothly; and it marks the beginning of the process of ratification which I am confident will also go smoothly. While waiting for the outcome, we will continue to work actively with all three countries to prepare them for NATO membership.

Ministers welcomed also the good progress that we have made with NATO's internal adaptation. They endorsed the new NATO Command Structure and noted the considerable progress that we have made in developing the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance. They looked ahead to the beginning of our work to review the Alliance's Strategic Concept. This work will begin in January and will be completed by the time of our next Summit in April 1999.

Today and tomorrow we have a very intensive sequence of meetings and consultations.

Later this afternoon we will hold our first meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at Ministerial level.

Tomorrow morning we will have another meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

Finally we meet in the PJC with Minister Primakov tomorrow afternoon.

This sequence of meetings demonstrates the new NATO at work. Each time we come together, as Allies and with our Partners, we take decisions that make Europe more secure. 1997 has been a vintage year for the Alliance. It has been decisive for the future of NATO and decisive for the future of Europe.

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