Updated: 21-May-2003 NATO Speeches


20 May 2003


Press point

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
and the Prime Minister of Serbia, Zoran Zivkovic

Lord Robertson: I do apologize for appearing late at this point de presse and inconveniencing members of the press corps. The meeting started late and for which I blame the European Union...to do with that.

But I was delighted this afternoon to meet Prime Minister Zivkovic here, the first Serbian Prime Minister to visit NATO headquarters. He follows, however, after the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia Dr. Covic and the Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro Minister Svilanovic, both of whom have been here on such repeated occasions that nobody really notices that anymore. And we've worked closely together on crisis management, in particular on the early crisis in 2001 in southern Serbia where a combination of military action and inspired political leadership defused the situation and has created a zone of stability.

The death of Prime Minister Djindjic horrified and shocked all of us here since he represented a new democratic force in what we now know as Serbia and Montenegro and I'm delighted that his successor has come following the action that has been taken there to reinforce the democratic forces and also the powerful impetus towards integration with the European family of nations.

Serbia and Montenegro has an ambition to join the Partnership for Peace; an ambition that we share. But NATO, of course, has made it clear that the Partnership for Peace is open to countries, but that there are conditions laid down and we've discussed those conditions here today and the Prime Minister has made it clear that if General Mladic is on Serbian territory then he will be arrested and his indictment and arrest warrant will be discharged in relation to the international criminal tribunal. That is one of the critical preconditions for membership of the Partnership for Peace.

However, NATO has also said that we will enter into arrangements with Serbia and Montenegro to help with that process towards membership of the Partnership for Peace and we will be looking at a tailored program to assist Serbia and Montenegro, especially with the issue of defence reform.

We are, after all, part of that European family and defence Minister Tadic, who came here recently, impressed NATO Ambassadors with his mastery of the subject after a very short time.

But also with his clear determination to reform the armed forces of Serbia and Montenegro, which is of course a joint enterprise that all European nations have to be involved in now if we're going to deal with the threats that will face us tomorrow, rather than with the enemies that we had in the past.
So you're very welcome, Prime Minister. Please.

Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic: Thank you very much. Our visit to Brussels today had many purposes. One of the purpose was coming here to the headquarters of NATO to voice our clear desire that Serbia and Montenegro join the Partnership for Peace.

The reforms that Minister Tadic started have full support of the government of Serbia and we'll do everything we can to make sure that by the end of this year there will be no obstacles to us joining this programme.

There are no reasons why Serbia and Montenegro should be left out of the process. There are certain conditions which I think are possible to fulfil and I am also sure that by the end... or come the end of this year the tribunal in The Hague will say that Serbia and Montenegro have completed co-operation successfully.

By this way we shall continue our road towards European and Euro-Atlantic... on the road of our integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures and by this way through the Partnership of Peace Serbia in a matter of years will be in the position to join the union itself.

Since Lord Robertson is leaving this post at the end of this year I'm sure that we can give him as a present the membership of Serbia and Montenegro in the PfP programme, and wish him every success on the job he will work in the future.

Q: Secretary General, you know we have to ask, it's been reported, and it seems that we should expect tomorrow a decision by NATO, by the Ambassadors at NATO to mandate the military experts to eventually help Poland in the administration of its sector in Iraq. What comment do you have on that? Do you confirm?

Lord Robertson: Well, you have to ask the question and I have to give you the answer, that we have not taken a decision yet, and you should not assume that decisions will be taken tomorrow.

The matter is still being examined, still looked at. It will certainly be discussed, but when there's a decision we'll tell you.

Q: (inaudible)... Try to put a question for Prime Minister Zivkovic in Serbian for the electronic media.

Mr. Zivkovic just said that he expected by the end of this year Serbia will have fulfilled all the conditions and will eventually join the Partnership for Peace. Does that mean that all those who have been indicted by The Hague will go over there and that if they don't that the tribunal will say that Serbia has done everything to apprehend them and to bring them to justice, but is not in the position to do so?

Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic: By the end of the year we hope that (inaudible)... we do expect to complete our co-operation with The Hague. We shall turn over those that we now have which are on the indictment list of The Hague, or some of those who have been indicted will be ceded to us. Or eventually those who are not on the territory of Serbian Montenegro they will be recognized as not being within the capacities of us to deal with them.

Q: Secretary General, if NATO decides tomorrow to give technical support to Poland in Iraq, do you think that this could be a first step like in Afghanistan in that NATO could take over the mission which Poland is going to lead in Iraq in a few months, like it's going to in Afghanistan?

Lord Robertson: It's always, I think, unwise to start a question with the word "if", because it then allows the answerer of the question to say that is pure speculation, which is precisely what I do.

We haven't got to the first stage. We haven't taken any decisions yet. Once those decisions are taken then maybe further consideration can be given, but that is not on the agenda at the moment, or in the foreseeable future. We haven't reached the first post, never mind gone beyond that at all. So I cannot and will not speculation.

Q: Prime Minister, are you willing to take one more question?

Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic: Yes.

Q: Sorry, it will also be in Serb.

Mr. Prime Minister, recently there were rumours that talks, low- level talks will be started between Sarajevo and Belgrade, in which Belgrade is supposed to be offering Bosnia-Herzegovina to help in the deconstruction of the Republic of... Republica Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina should desist from pursuing for it, or rather withdraw its suit before the International Court of Justice.

Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic: If we could subsume under low profile something which does not exist then indeed such negotiations are going on, but as you know, no such negotiations have gone on. They do not exist and no reasonable people could conduct such negotiations.

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