Updated: 11-Mar-2004 NATO Speeches


10 March 2004

Press point

with NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer,
the PSC Chairman, Ambassador Declan Kelleher
and the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Mr. Javier Solana
following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council and Political and Security Committee (PSC)

High resolution photos
Audio file .MP3/3961Kb

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen good afternoon. I think we had a very constructive and good and interesting meeting of the NAC and the Political and Security Committee.

Three main topics: we have started with the Bosnia-Herzegovina, the possible decision at the Istanbul Summit of NATO, as you know, to end SFOR and the start of an EUFOR operation. It was constructive, it's of course an operation we have done already here but on a much smaller scale in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1). We now would like to do this in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well.

We have discussed, of course, a paper we have on a division of responsibilities on the different issues, we have discussed the command structure. We've done this in transparency so that this is an important element in the NATO-EU relationship and I think the result of this meeting is that our people, our advisors can go on from the NATO side and from the EU side to work on refining evermore the arrangements we need for a successful operation. And I think we all want a successful operation. It is good for NATO, it's good for the EU, so it's good for us all.

The second subject was Afghanistan. We have discussed, of course, the expansion of ISAF. You know that tomorrow there is an important Force Generation Conference. We have discussed the EU role, the NATO role, the supports for the electoral process and for the elections. And, of course, we have discussed two important dates which is the 31st of March and the 1st of April - the conference in Berlin on Afghanistan - and the 2nd of April here at NATO Headquarters we have the informal meeting of Foreign Affairs ministers of NATO, where also the subject of Afghanistan will play a very prominent role.

Third and last subject we discussed was co-operation between the European Union and NATO on weapons of mass destruction.

That was, in brief, the meeting. It was good, it was constructive as usual I may say but we've covered a number of good subjects.

Thank you very much.

Javier Solana: Well thank you very much. I have very little to add to what the Secretary General of NATO has said.

Today I think we have taken one step further into what it was from a long time... this position of the European Union to take more responsibilities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. As you know we have now in Bosnia-Herzegovina the full responsibility of police that we took from the United Nations and we all have said that we will be ready to take responsibility of security globally, as we have taken responsibilities on reconstruction, on the political co-operation with the authority of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

So today, as the Secretary General has said, we had a good meeting in order to continue the co-operation in the transfer of power from NATO to the European Union, in an operation that he has said will be more difficult than other operations we have made together; the European Union and NATO.

But I like to say that this is not an operation for the satisfaction of NATO or the European Union or for to better the relationship between the European Union and NATO. It is done in order to help the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina to gain their stability, they gain their well-being, and to help them to move forward towards the structures of the European Union and NATO. This is our aim, this is what we have in mind the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina with whom we have a commitment that comes from many years ago. And I want to say that we are pretty happy with the development of today, the debate of today.

On the second topic that the Secretary General has mentioned, on Afghanistan, we are co-operating. As you know very well, the European Union is co-operating not only with members of the European Union and the PRTs but also with help with the reconstruction. We hope that elections will take place in due course. That means around the summer, maybe a little bit after the summer. We would like to have the elections, if possible, together the presidential and the parliamentary elections. And I'd like also to emphasize that the conference that will take place in Berlin it will be very important to have pledges of economic reconstruction of the country of Afghanistan.

And the weapons of mass destruction, as you know the strategy that we approved in the European Union in the Council of December had as one of the challenges of today in which we have to get as much attention as possible with proliferation. Important events have taken place in the last period of time on proliferation that has already played an important role in the European Union. That will continue to be one of the our main objectives if we want to have a world free of this challenge... it could be the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

So I think in general terms it has been very good meeting and we will continue working. The Secretary General has mentioned ideas that would be circulated about together with NATO and I think we could, with those ideas, construct a good approach to an important operation.

Thank you very much.

Declan Kelleher: Thank you. I would endorse everything that the Secretary General and the High Representatives have said. We had a constructive, useful and businesslike discussion of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the question of the follow-on force to SFOR.

We had a useful exchange on Afghanistan both in the light of the recent EU ministerial visit and in the perspective of the upcoming conference in Berlin at the end of the month and as Javier Solana has said we also discussed non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction which is one of the key issues that has emerged from the security strategy that our heads of state and government in the EU adopted in December of last year.

Questions and answers

Q: (inaudible)... with Radio Free Europe. If I could ask the Secretary General what do you expect in concrete terms from tomorrow's Force Generation Conference for Afghanistan? What to expect from the nations?

de Hoop Scheffer: Well as I've said many times before, what I expect and what I hope is that we'll see an expansion in numbers of the so-called provincial reconstruction teams and the forces coming with that so that will be a very result. You know that we discussed this in Munich; we will discuss it certainly on the 2nd of April again here in Brussels when Foreign Ministers meet.

It is of course ISAF NATO taking more responsibility than at the moment in Kabul and in Kunduz where as you know ISAF has the responsibility for the German-led PRT in Kunduz and I'm confident that the result of tomorrow's Force Generation Conference will be a good one.

Q: Karl Stangsen(?), DW Radio. Secretary General, what's NATO's reaction to President Karzai's letter asking for possible help with the elections? And how do you feel about what could be an extension to NATO's role in Afghanistan?

de Hoop Scheffer: Well, about the extension, I just gave the answer to the question put to me by your colleague. Of course we have started a discussion on President Karzai's letter and where NATO can, within, of course... within, of course, the possibilities NATO has... ISAF has, we will see what we can do to support the election process. I make one important remark which is also in President Karzai's letter that the first responsibility of course is with the Afghan authorities themselves.
I mean it's not ISAF taking on first responsibility. ISAF and NATO will be there in a backup role and be working out arrangements of how that best could be done.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Nick, please.

Q: Nick Fiorenza, Defence News and Armed Forces Journal. This is question to all three gentlemen. When the EU takes over the mission in Bosnia, whenever that is, I suppose by the end of the year, what kind of division of roles do you foresee and what kind of command structure is being discussed to handle that division of roles?

de Hoop Scheffer: We are discussing, as I said and as the High Representative said, we are discussing, on the basis of a document we have taken note of today, as we did in Council this morning, the North Atlantic Council, of a delineation of responsibilities. I cannot exactly say how... what that exactly will look like, that's exactly the point our collaborators are going to discuss and it will come back in the NAC-PSC, it will come back in the NATO Council and for that matter also within the European Union.
As you know the operation will be conducted under Berlin Plus, which means a residual NATO role, a continued NATO role. And we'll, of course, we'll seek agreement on a good transparent division of responsibilities.

And let me also add that what is important, as the High Representative I think has said, that we do this, of course, in consultation with the authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I mean, I entirely side with Javier when he says that it's not for us that we're doing it, it's for them. So we'll do it in full consultation.

What the final result will look like I do not know yet. We'll have to study that, but we have made new progress today.

Javier Solana: Let me add to what the Secretary General has said. Today we have now discussed in detail the command structure, or the different roles(?), but this is very clear that an operation that stand under the Berlin Plus arrangement, the commander on the ground will have the full responsibility of what happens on the ground, and the commander on the ground will be the commander of the force of the European Union.
Other co-operation we can establish, but this is something that is clear and have been clear today.

I think that the co-operation, as has been proven in other co-operations like it was in fire, in Macedonia, we have lessons learned from that operation and I think we have to apply the lessons that were learned. And one of the lessons learned, not only from that operation, but from previous operations, that in an operation that entail military action, in crisis management, etc.., the clarity of the chain of command is fundamental.

Therefore, we will clarity in the chain of command. That is fundamental for everybody.
But as I would like to repeat, that we have to be more concerned about the well-being of the Bosnian people, which for whom we do all these exercise, for whom we are committed, for whom we want to continue helping them.

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

Go to Homepage Go to Index