Updated: 08-Dec-2003 NATO Speeches


5 Dec. 2003

Questions and answers

at the press conference
by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson and
Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, MInister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
following the meeting of the NATO Ukraine Commission
at the level of Foreign Ministers

Q: (inaudible)... Lord Robertson, yesterday you said that Istanbul summit agenda would include the strengthening of relations between NATO and Ukraine. What did you mean by that?

Lord Robertson: Well clearly, the Istanbul summit will give consideration to all of NATO's new partnerships and new relationships and, as this meeting today has demonstrated, the relationship with Ukraine is an extremely important one.

The Minister is at his first meeting and I'm at my last meeting and I can say that it is my last meeting but it was certainly the best meeting, because it was candid, it was forthcoming but it was also very substantive. And that is the measure of the progress that we're making. The progress in Ukraine is reflected in the progress in the relationship itself and I have no doubt that it will be one of the key issues that will be discussed over the next six months up to the Istanbul summit.

Q: Paul Ames from Associated Press. I'd like to ask the Ukrainian minister how you see the situation in Moldova developing from the latest developments there? And also for Lord Robertson, what role can NATO play in solving that situation?

Kostyantyn Gryshchenko: Clearly, Ukraine, as a neighbouring state, as one of the five guarantor countries, is very much concerned about not only the present situation but the fact that for such a long time we were not able to solve what is really a sleeping conflict at our borders. From that perspective we have touched upon that particular issue at the session which just has ended.

Ukraine believes that there was a lot of real effort done recently but what we need to do today is really to concentrate the efforts of all participants, of all those who can provide real input into the process. The ideas are on the table. The approaches that could be acceptable to both parties and to the neighbours and to OSCE and the wider international community, those are issues which are clear. What is needed is a final push to reach these solutions. Thank you.

Lord Robertson: I don't think I've got much to add to what's been said. It's clearly an issue that bothers people. Ukraine is one of the neighbouring countries to it and therefore it's a subject that gets raised, but the initiative at the moment lies with the OSCE. Of course the former chairman of office of the OSCE will play a role in NATO from the new year onwards so I daresay that we'll keep an eye on this issue and NATO will do what it can, when it can, if it's required.

Q: Slobodan Tomic(?), (inaudible)... First of all Lord Robertson, your last meeting, thanks (inaudible)... myself about your influence from situation (inaudible)... stability. Some Western media have some speculation, (inaudible)...is the new (inaudible)... conflict or civil war (inaudible)... at same time. Can we expect (inaudible)... Istanbul official (inaudible)... for enjoying full member of NATO. Thank you very much.

Lord Robertson: Oh, I think that's a premature issue to be raising at this point, however optimistic. You might be and I thank you for the kind comments that are there, but there is no reason why Macedonia should slip into civil war or into conflict. And the lessons of 2001 have been learned, there is a good and strong coalition government inter-ethically composed. They know what needs to be done to keep the country together and for the country to make serious progress towards becoming a part... a full part of the Euro-Atlantic family of nations.

And I recently visited Tearce and the terrible valley and met a lot of the children especially there, with many of the other people who survived through that period of trouble. They're safe, they're happy, they're in good surroundings and that is because NATO and the European Union acted so decisively in 2001. I think that we owe those children and the people who went through that trouble to make sure that the Ohrid peace process continues and is consolidated and that Macedonia becomes an example of a solution and no longer a serious part of a problem.

Q: Louis (inaudible) Agence France-Presse, a question for Lord Robertson. There was a lot of talk yesterday about the NATO engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Considering NATO had some problems, assembling a couple of helicopters for ISAF, do you find it at all realistic in the not-too-far distant future that NATO could actually have... play a role in Iraq.

And second, I'd like to ask... have your analysis of why do you think the Americans chose these meetings this week to call for a wider role both in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Lord Robertson: Well, there was temporary problem about some helicopters which was resolved amicably and suitably after some words of encouragement from me and, in fact, we've ended up with a greater helicopter capability now for Kabul than we had originally asked for.

So I don't think that you should see that as being an indication of anything more than a momentary problem in what we call the first generation process as well.

We have not yet come to the stage of discussing whether a wider role is appropriate for NATO in Iraq. That will probably come next year and it, I think, will be judged in terms of what we still have to do in Afghanistan.

But of course we are giving support to Poland in Multi-National Division South Central. They undoubtedly will come and report to us as they do on a weekly basis, but report on the success of the operation and how valuable the NATO support has been there.

From that maybe there will be other applications for help for individual countries or in that division.

Why did the Americans choose to raise it? Why not? We have already become involved in Iraq as indeed the international community is. Eighteen out of the NATO 26 countries are already in Iraq and doing something in post-conflict Iraq and therefore I thought it perfectly natural that both Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Powell would raise it. There was nobody saying, no but at the moment our preoccupation is with Afghanistan.

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