Updated: 23-Jul-2003 NATO Speeches


22 July 2003


Press Point

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson,
Mr. Svetozar Marovic, President and
Mr. Goran Svilanovic, Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro

Lord Robertson: Thanks. This is a pretty special and historic day. I'm greeting the President of Serbia and Montenegro for the first time ever here at NATO headquarters and I congratulate President Marovic on his election and welcome him here to these Headquarters. We've had good discussions covering a number of areas of common concern. That is a big change that has taken place.

We, all of us now, have different objectives and many of these objectives are common objectives. That is, the integration of the countries of the Western Balkans into the Euro-Atlantic structures which, for generations, for those of us in the West, have meant peace and security and prosperity.

And of course, we are already working with Serbia and Montenegro on a process towards integration and a Partnership for Peace and maybe even beyond that as well.

There are, of course, some things to be worked out on that path but already, NATO has embarked upon a co-operative program with Serbia and Montenegro on the fringes of the Partnership for Peace in order that we accelerate that process even while we discuss those areas that will remain as essential in terms of addressing, before we come to the final destination.

So NATO Ambassadors permanently consider the issue of the two remaining states that are outside of the Partnership for Peace. Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina are the two remaining states and there is a genuine willingness that we should complete the Balkan jigsaw and have those two countries in and secondly, they should be very much part of that community of safe and secure nations.

We continue to believe that Serbia and Montenegro must do more in connection with co-operation with the ICTY, although I took today's meeting as an opportunity for commending President Marovic on his country's continued co-operation and indeed, the large number indictees who have been apprehended by the Serbian and Montenegran authorities or have volunteered themselves to them, and are now facing trial and the tribunal in the Hague.

Minister Silvanovic, of course, has now become almost a regular visitor here and we've talk about a number of these issues all the time, but the President is here for the first time and I'm glad to welcome him. There are good areas of co-operation on which we must be involved and I'm looking forward to eventually the conditions being complied with and welcoming Serbia and Montenegro into the Partnership for Peace, where it ultimately will belong.

Svetozar Marovic: I'd like to thank Mr. Robertson and to greet you all. I think that we have just finished a very successful meeting. We have pointed out that the priority of Serbia and Montenegro is European and Euro-Atlantic integration. We would like to speak of this process so that Serbia and Montenegro can readily access the PFP. We have, with Mr. Robertson, just exchanged very openly certain ideas, in fact, of how to speed up the process. I think that after this meeting, we are yet another step closer to this aim of ours.

And also, the future talks in the couple of days to come that Mr. Svilanovic and Mr. Zivkovic, the Prime Minister of Serbia will have in New York and in Washington, where they will meet Mr. Powell and other members of the American administration. It will also help resolve certain issues and it will also help us speed up this process of our accession to the PFP, which is, as I said, one of our priorities, one of our prior political aims and that we will, in turn, speed up our integration with NATO, eventually. We have also embarked upon the reforms of our army to that aim.

We will, of course, continue this good co-operation with NATO, which has already been established. We have embarked upon the army reforms very decisively and within this co-operation with NATO, it will also help us go forward with these reforms. We have agreed, we have come to an agreement during our discussion that we must continue this co-operation and we have also agreed that the stabilization and the europeanization of the region, of the region of the Western Balkans is very important, primarily the issue of security and safety and we think that once all the conditions have been met for all the countries in the region to accede PFP and, eventually, NATO, by doing actually so, by meeting these conditions, we'll round off this security issue, which is relevant and very important for the democratization and stability of our region, but also of Europe.

Thank you.

Q: Lord Robertson, I would like to know if you have got any confirmation on the detention of two sons of Saddam Hussein in the north of Iraq and if so, what is your reaction?

Lord Robertson: It's too early to comment on information that I'm only seeing at the moment on the media.

Q: Lord Robertson, you just said that you are looking forward for all the conditions to be met in order that Serbia and Montenegro become members of Partnership for Peace. Does the arrest of General Mladic still remain one of the main conditions?

Lord Robertson: The indictment of General Mladic is of considerable importance, not just NATO, but to everyone in the Balkans region. And that is why we have been so interested in it. What we want to see is General Mladic in the Hague with a fair trial there on the indictments that he... that have been put to the international community.

So we want Serbia and Montenegro to apprehend General Mladic and to take him to the Hague. We've always made that absolutely clear and it's a matter of constant discussion when any of us meet. The objective, which I think is now a shared objective is that Mladic should face justice. If we can do that together, then we'll do it together. But the responsibility lies with Serbia and Montenegro.

Q: And does it have anything to do with PFP?

Lord Robertson: It has a lot to do with PFP, of course. It remains a lot to do with PFP.

Q: Question for Lord Robertson and President Marovic. The European Union wishes to have Serbia and Montenegro as a state union, but they don't exclude that one day, they could enter the European Union separately, as two separate, independent states. Do you think that it's possible that one day, it's possible that Serbia and Montenegro, separately, can join PFP and NATO also?

Lord Robertson: That's based on pure speculation, which I can't enter into. Countries make their application to NATO, whatever their status happens to be. So I think I wouldn't want to get into that area of speculation. Maybe the President...

Svetozar Marovic:Well, we represent the state union of Serbia and Montenegro and we are as representatives of Serbia and Montenegro. We are responsible to abide by the provisions of the constitutional charter, being representatives of the state union. We see the process to develop only for the country which is the state union of Serbia and Montenegro and it is our task.

Q: With the permission of mister Robertson, I will ask mister Marovic in Serbian: (Question interpreted on site) Well, the BETA agency. I would like to ask you: What is the impression on you of today's meeting with mister Robertson? What are the conditions that our country has to meet in order to accede to PFP, in addition to the co-operation with the Hague tribunal and in addition with the issue and the arrest of mister Marovic? What else should we do in order to become members of the PFP? Because from some earlier period, we had an impression that this issue of mister Marovic is the issue of whether he is in the territory of Serbia and Montenegro or not, meaning whether we can arrest him or not.

Svetozar Marovic:Well, the requests are old, but what is new? The circumstances, actually are new, because Serbia and Montenegro have done a law during only three months... In the three past months, we have done the law in order to demonstrate that co-operation for is something that we are not paying lip service to, but we are trying to fully implement our law on the Hague tribunal and that we are actually doing something concrete.

This issue of Mr. Mladic is a pending issue of course and we, today, talked about trying to jointly work it out. We actually want to join our efforts and actions so that Serbia and Montenegro do not deserve to be a hostage of this problem, of this issue any longer and we want to show to the entire international community that we want all the indictees on the Hague tribunal to end up before the court.

We think that there should be no further obstacles in this respect. Of course, there are certain dilemmas, but like I said, some kind of joint action is very important and it is also important to verify and to check whether Mladic is within the territory of Serbia and Montenegro or not.

And finally, if there should be an obstacle, actually, we should work jointly in resolving it. This is the claim of our country against eight NATO countries to part (inaudible)... against our country. You already know our position about this, but if this is going to be the last obstacle and the last condition for us to meet in order to join the PFP, we are ready to open up debate on this issue and hopefully, to enter PFP.

Lord Robertson: General Mladic needs to realize that there is no escape. There is no statute of limitations. There will be no stop until the campaign to find him and to bring him to trial. So the cowardly route of being a permanent fugitive is a dead end. The civilized world will find him and he will ultimately be tried and he should now consider coming forward and putting himself forward for a fair trial at the Hague. That would be much better than waiting alone for the rough justice of the Balkans to find him. But we are all united in saying that those who have been indicted must face trial and he will face trial one day.

Q: Yes. Don Charmers from Reuters. Mister President, I wonder if you could explain yourself a little bit further. You seem to indicate that Serbia and Montenegro might drop its lawsuit against NATO. Could you give us a little bit more explanation?

Svetozar Marovic: I think we should not hurry up and rush with the explanation. I think we should try to act as soon as possible.

Lord Robertson: Thank you very much.

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