Updated: 10-Feb-2003 NATO Speeches


10 Feb. 2003

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Statement to the Press

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
following the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council
on the threat to Turkey

The NATO Council met this afternoon and the NATO nations again discussed the concerns raised by Turkey regarding its security. Allies listened to a presentation by General Harald Kujat, the Chairman of the Military Committee, on the nature of the threat faced by Turkey. From that it was evident that these concerns are legitimate and the threat is real.

The majority of the NATO countries reiterated the urgency for NATO to take a decision in the spirit of the North Atlantic Treaty. Unfortunately we are not yet at the stage where we can achieve consensus and arrive at a decision. We will therefore continue to work hard to achieve such a consensus within the shortest possible time.

Nations are talking to each other now, and I dare say through the night in other to arrive at a solution. The NATO Council is adjourned until tomorrow 11.00 a.m.

Questions and Answers

Q: Secretary General, the three veto countries want to wait with a decision till the 14th of February. Is that possible?

Lord Robertson: The countries concerned haven't specified a date. They say it is not opportune to arrive at a decision at the present moment, but one of the problems we still have is that we haven't got a particular time scale laid down by those who have the reservations at the present moment.
But as I say, a lot of people are working very hard, both in here and between capitals in order to arrive at a basis for a consensus.

Q: Lord Robertson, you said this morning this was a very serious moment. How would you define the atmosphere inside the room this afternoon?

Lord Robertson: Well, clearly when a matter is serious, when the Alliance's credibility is being questioned, I think in an exaggerated way, but when it is, then inevitably there are strong feelings that are expressed. But this afternoon's discussion was calm, it was ordered, and the issues were addressed. And I dare say that that will be reflected in the reporting by the ambassadors back to their capitals.

I've spoken to a number of heads of government, heads of state, foreign and defence ministers over the past 36 hours and I expect that I'll be doing it again and they will be speaking to each other.

It is a matter of enormous consequence for this Alliance and therefore people are taking it very seriously indeed.

Q: Michael Thurst, Agence France-Presse. Would you agree that this is a crisis of credibility for the Alliance and that it's one of the most serious crises ever faced by the... by NATO.

Lord Robertson: Well people can express it in different ways. We have a serious problem. And therefore it has to be resolved. Where there are deadlocks in the Alliance we usually arrive at a consensus solution in due course, and that is what will happen here again today. But I don't underestimate the seriousness of the division that there is within the Alliance. But that division is still about the timing of the tasking and not over whether the tasking is going to take place.

I can't give you a prediction as to when we're going to arrive at a solution, but there's not a single nation 'round the NATO Council table who is not aware that the longer this dispute goes on the worse it is going to be for the Alliance and for them.

Q: (Boudewijn van Spilbeeck, VTM)Yeah, I wanted... it's perhaps in the same thing as the last question. You said that the consensus was that the threat was real and that it was legitimate. The three countries also agree with that. With what the general said.

Lord Robertson: I... the general is the Chairman of NATO's Military Committee and he was giving a briefing himself. I made the assessment that what he said was telling and was convincing. It'll be up to the nations to decide what they take from that briefing and what conclusion they arrive at. And we'll learn a bit more about that when they've had an opportunity of consulting with their capitals, sending back the chairman of the military committee's speaking notes, and when they've got back 'round the table again.

I think it was pretty sobering advice that they got from somebody with huge military experience and it may well affect the way in which they think about this issue when the morning comes.

Thank you very much.

Additional information:

  • NATO Speech : Statement by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson on measures in relation to a possible threat to Turkey, followed by Q&A with the press - 10 February 2003, 12:00
  • NATO Speech: Statement by the Secretary General on the North Atlantic Council Meeting on measures in relation to a possible threat to Turkey, followed by Q&A with the press - 6 February 2003
  • Basic Texts - Article 4 of North Atlantic Treaty

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