Updated: 11-Feb-2004 NATO Speeches


11 Feb. 2004

Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
and H.E. Georgi Parvanov, President of Bulgaria

High resolution photos
Audio file .MP3/6128Kb

de Hoop Scheffer: Let me first of all say good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, that the President of Bulgaria, Parvanov and I, have had a very good discussion and I'm really happy and glad so short after my arrival here to have been able to receive the President.

We have of course had a discussion at the very important moment, at the very important juncture because it will not be for long that we can cross out the word 'invitee' and we'll have Bulgaria as a full member of this beautiful Alliance.

We have of course discussed all the important items, first of all the process in Bulgaria itself. The restructuring of the Armed Forces, the President has said that he is also convinced that some political attention will have to be given to problems of minorities, to the export of dual-used goods to the accession of classified NATO information. But I'm very sure that sufficient political attention will be paid in Bulgaria as well as to the defense reform process to solve these problems.

But on the whole I can that Bulgaria has done a lot and has seen... we have seen great achievements and that was not always that easy in preparing Bulgaria for the membership of NATO so I have commended and applauded the efforts which have been so far and they are of great importance.

And of course finally we discussed all the important theatres where NATO at the moment is active with full Bulgarian participation, we discussed of course Afghanistan, we discussed the Balkans and the end of the S4 operation and the beginning of a new operation.

I have commended the President for the important role Bulgaria plays in Iraq in the framework of the Polish-led multinational division and we have of course compared notes in the run up to the Istanbul Summit and the subject which will be discussed there.

So it was a pleasure to have you here Mr. President and it was good to have the opportunity to speak so shortly before Bulgaria will formally enter NATO. Thank you very much for coming.

Parvanov (translated): I would also like to thank you Mr. Secretary General. I would like to thank you as I did a little while ago but now here in front of the media for the successful conclusion of the ratification process and for the fact that Bulgaria's membership in NATO is a reality. I would like to thank you Mr. Secretary General for your encouraging assessment of everything Bulgaria has done in all these processes and problems.

The problems are not new to Bulgaria but we have been coping with them... the problems connected with the security... national security collective defence and the processes in which Bulgaria and NATO have common tasks.

And I would like us to part of the information which I presented to the Secretary General to repeat here... the highlight Bulgaria's efforts in completing the first stage of its reform of the military, of the defence and start preparations for the next stage which will involve the strategic defence review which will come up with a vision for Bulgaria's defence capabilities until the year 2015.

Which would imply for us politicians together with the statesmen and the military in this country, under the guidance of the Alliance, to strike the right balance... to find a way so as to build a national defence which will together be of maximum use for the collective defence.

Which will mean for us that we have to build such a model, such a structure for the Bulgarian military which will integrate all the other structures, avoid any duplications, streamline the whole structure of the defence, in order to make our military deployable, effective, efficient, as you said Secretary General, and usable and useful for the multinational forces and the NATO.

And at the same time under the Constitution of Bulgaria, these should be forces which should be of maximum use, most efficient and effective for the national defence of a country as we are which still lives in a rather unruly area.

I did reassure the Secretary General that we will continue our presence in Afghanistan where our military have been putting a good performance and also in Iraq, we'll keep our commitments there despite the toll of life which unfortunately we gave.

As to the Iraq and Bulgaria's involvement there I did share with the Secretary General a thesis which I have been presenting to the Bulgarian media and the Bulgarian journalists on many occasions before. That it will be desirable that NATO will have a role in Iraq especially in that part of the country where Bulgaria is serving under the Polish command.

I'm saying this while recognizing the sensitivity of the issue, the delicacy, the sensitivity of some member states on this matter and also taking account of the fact that it must happen with the wish, explicit desire expressed by the Iraqi population or rather the legitimately elected democratic government there.

As to the Balkans, notably the western Balkans, I did confirm, reaffirm the fact that for us NATO is a pillar of peace and stability there and that this should be carried out in two ways: through the military presence of NATO on the ground and through the implementation of NATO's professed open-door policy... the continuation of the process of euro-Atlantic integration which will begin by Bulgaria and Romania, involving Bulgaria and Romania, and must spread to other countries in the region.
Once again, thank you Secretary General for the very frank and very fruitful dialogue we had with you.

de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much Mr. President, thank you so much.

Questions and answers:

Q: My question is to Secretary General Scheffer. How did you, sir, accept the President's idea... proposal of a NATO presence in Karbala where the Bulgarians are serving under Polish command and are you going to discuss this to the NATO Council and put it to the attention of the other member... Alliance... member states?

de Hoop Scheffer: As I've said many times before and there I agree with the President, we'll see political developments in Iraq and I'm convinced that if the transfer of sovereignty will take place and if there is a legitimate government in Iraq which would ask through the UN or directly to NATO to play a structural role in Iraq, I presume the answer of the Alliance would definitely not be no.

But we haven't come that far yet. You know that there is a UN team now preparing for the elections in Iraq, we have not seen yet to transfer sovereignty but on the other hand NATO plays a role in supporting our Polish friends who are currently leading the multinational division.

Would our Spanish friends ask that if they take over the leadership or if they would ask to do... NATO to do the same thing or more... the answer of the Alliance would certainly be yes. But if we discuss a new structural role in Iraq, I think it's very important, as the President has said himself, to see the elections and to see a legitimate Iraqi government which will, without any doubt, be supported by the United Nations to put that request to NATO and then it will be discussed of course in the NATO Council.

Q: Question for the Secretary General, it's a formal question. Are you in a position today to say that the invitees will officially become or formally become members for example on April 2nd as we hear the meeting could be on April 2nd?

de Hoop Scheffer: We have not had dates as you mentioned confirmed so I cannot be (inaudible) but I cannot be give you a formal answer because it also depends on when all the acts of ratification will have been deposited and you know that the French Senate ratified last week. When all the acts of ratification have been deposited with the United States... the State Department... which is the depository state. If that has happened, and that has not happened yet, they will write me a letter that all these acts have arrived and then I can write a formal letter to all the invitee countries and of course they have their own ratification process but that will be the formal moment when they accede to NATO and you can rest assured that it will not go unnoticed at this Headquarters.

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