Updated: 16-Jul-2003 NATO Speeches


15 July 2003

Press Point

by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and the Chairman of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the European Union, Ambassador Maurizio Melani

Lord Robertson: We had a good meeting this morning, a business-like approach to our regular consultations. We had a substantive discussion about Operation Concordia in Macedonia where the EU is on the brink of making its decision on extending the highly successful operation on which there were strong congratulations today.

And NATO will make its decision tomorrow on whether to extend the help and assistance that NATO has given under Berlin Plus to the European Union, and I'm fairly confident of the outcome of that discussion.

And the cooperation on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) is a very clear sign of how NATO and the EU are working together. We had a brief discussion this morning on Moldova. This is being discussed by the OSCE which is looking at a number of different issues in association with the European Union and other international organisations. And we were briefed on the discussions taking place in the European Union in line with the EU-NATO cooperation under the Berlin Plus arrangements.

We discussed also the European Union Security Strategy Paper. It contains many useful and important points and we're looking forward to having further discussions with the European Union as it seeks to refine that policy document towards the end of the year.

NATO also arranged this afternoon a briefing on our developing concept of operations on the military strategy for defence against terrorism. This was in order to give the European Union visibility of what NATO is planning in this regard. And we will continue the close cooperation that we have with the European Union on the urgent subject of current terrorism.


Maurizio Melani: Thank you Secretary General. A little to add to what the Secretary General has said. We had an exchange also on the outcome of the Thessaloniki European Council and a brief presentation of the Italian presidency's program for the next semester.

From our side, we briefed also NATO on the ongoing operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Operation Artemis. And we... I informed also about the ongoing operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the police mission.

We had as usual a very useful exchange on these issues and it has been a useful phase of our consultations with NATO.

Questions and answers

Q: John Chalmers from Reuters. Could you tell us how far advanced you are on plans for any peacekeeping operation in Moldova and would NATO be involved in it through Berlin Plus?

Lord Robertson: Well, there is no decision about peacekeeping missions in Moldova. The matter is one for the OSCE and they have produced some thoughts which they have been circulating to the European Union and other international organisations. But we're not at the point of decisions being made in this regard and the OSCE will make its view known.

People today were very heartened by the movement of the train with tank ammunition which has been stored on a siding since the 17th of June. It represented a danger to the surrounding populations and to the process of removing the Russian armaments from the area. That train moved last night and that is a very good sign that things in general appear to be moving on this front. And we'll hear no doubt -- both NATO and the EU -- from the OSCE in due course about what the next stage is going to be.

Q: (inaudible)... Moldova. Do you think it will be necessary, would be useful to send a peace mission to Moldova?

And then to Ambassador Melani, do you think that the European Union could take this year a decision on sending a mission to Moldova? And do you think the European Union could do it in an autonomous way or with, in this case, with NATO assets like in the former Republic of Macedonia?

Lord Robertson: Well, I think it's premature to give you a conclusion on this matter because the OSCE have themselves not made any proposition about a peacekeeping force.

It's a complicated part of the world, but we discussed in a preliminary way today what the OSCE had been thinking. But we're not nearly at the stage of going beyond that.
What was important today was that this was discussed in the context of Berlin Plus, which is not simply about using NATO assets and capabilities to help the European Union, it's about transparency and openness and consultation when it comes to crisis management. So, we're in the very early stages of that.

But the initiative, I think we've got... both of us, I think would want to emphasise the initiative here is with the OSCE.

Maurizio Melani: Yes, in fact, we're not already at the stage in which we are discussing about a possible... a peace consolidation missions with military means. We have to consider also that there is a political process which is going on which will require at the moment a support also on the ground. The European Union is already engaged in the participation as a permanent observer in the walls of the joint constitutional commission.

As far as the implementation is concerned, as we're saying, we are not yet at this stage. There is a primary mandate, which is for the OSCE.

We have in the European Union and in NATO the necessary instruments to give the necessary support for the implementation in the European Union. We have a wide range of civilian instruments which can be used, therefore we are not, as we're saying, at this stage in which this matter in terms of military implementation has been discussed.

Q: If NATO, the European Union decides to send a peace mission to Moldova, do you think the Russians should withdraw anyway from Transnistria or they could work together with the Russians there?

Maurizio Melani: Well, it's clear that the Russians have an interest and a stake in this country. We think that in the OSCE, it can be found the necessary ways to understand the best way in order that all the interests, which around this country which is a new neighbour for the European Union, will be taken into account.

Q: (inaudible)... Agency. But do you think that it could be useful to include in that mission some Russian soldiers too?

Lord Robertson: Well, I don't think that at this stage, we're involved in that sort of speculation. Ambassador Melani has made the point that the Russians have a stake in this, an important view in this. It's in the hands of the OSCE where Russia is represented. But we haven't got to the stage of thinking about how that might be factored into any possible operation that might take place.

  1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

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