Updated: 29-Jun-2004 NATO Speeches


28 June 2004

Press Conference

with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Mr. Javier Solana

NATO Istanbul Summit
High resolution photos
Audio file of the press conference .MP3/ 3305Kb

de Hoop Scheffer: Let me say that I had a meeting with the High Representative, of course, discussing what concerns very much what is on the key on the agenda of the NATO-EU cooperation at the moment which is the, I think, important decision heads of state and government took this morning about ending SFOR, the operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina which has been a big success.

Knowing that the European Union has shown the willingness and the ambition to take responsibility for that mission, I think, the process through which NATO and the European Union have gone has been a very efficient and good one. It also is--as I said many times before--very important for the general relationship between NATO and the European Union which means that the EU will take over which means that NATO--certainly because it's under the so-called Berlin Plus arrangements--will have a residual role in Bosnia-Herzegovina, will have a headquarters, will still perform certain functions but I think the decision which was taken this morning was a very good one.

There is of course a second important element in the relationship between the European Union and NATO. As you know, and that is... those are the arrangements of the European Union, being represented at SHAPE and SHAPE being represented at the European Union military staff, but the key of course this afternoon was here, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I think it's a moment to mark. It's really a moment to mark that we see a successful NATO mission ended and the European Union from its responsibility--with the assistance of NATO--taking that mission over and I think that that very much justifies the fact that we are standing out here and that we had this meeting.

Having said that, it's my pleasure to pass the floor to Javier Solana.

Solana: Thank you Jaap, thank you very much. For somebody like me, which... it was a the beginning of the first deployment of the force in Bosnia, IFOR in 1965; it's a great pleasure to see that NATO has finished its mission and has finished with success.

I would like to praise the manner in which this operation has taken over, all the way to the end and now the responsibilities are going to be passed to another organization, to the European Union, which is ready to take it. The European Union as you know is engaged in Bosnia in many different domains. It's engaged in Bosnia from a political point of view, it's engaged in Bosnia economically, it's engaged in Bosnia with the police operations that we took over from the UN and now we are going to take responsibility of a military nature after the NATO operation as such, SFOR is over.

It will be cooperation on the ground with NATO and we praise that and we are pleased to hear that it happened, but the idea now is to go from the Dayton Agreements to the European approximation of Bosnia into it.... into us. Therefore we are moving the centre of gravity fortunately to a potential crisis to a potential moving of the Bosnia-Herzegovina to the European Union which is our dream and is our objective.

Therefore I think that today the decision is a crucial decision for the stability not only of Bosnia-Herzegovina but is a crucial decision for the stability of the Balkans. You put that--the decision of today together with the resolves of the election yesterday in Serbia, I think we're having good news coming out from the Balkans which is something that makes us very pleased and very happy. So we're going to continue working until the end of the mission together with NATO no doubt about that.

This will be an operation under Berlin Plus therefore we'll be in cooperation with NATO, led by the European Union with assets that belong to NATO. It will be the first operation in which we applied all the way to the fullest the scheme of Berlin Plus which was established between the European and NATO.

So I am very pleased to have the opportunity to make this decision already public here after the Summit... after the morning Summit of today and I'm sure it's going to be a success. Let me tell you that all these efforts are doing the... not because NATO wants to do it but because the European Union wants to do it for themselves. This is for the benefit of the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, for those we make this effort, for those we can continue to get engaged because we want them to give the opportunity to get as close as possible to NATO and to the European Union. Thank you very much.

de Hoop Scheffer: And to show that, if I may make one additional remark, to show that it is for the benefit indeed--as the High Representative has said--the Higher Representative and I will pay a visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina very soon to show...

Solana: On the fifth.

de Hoop Scheffer: ...on the fifteenth of July, to be exact, to show that the European Union and NATO here work very closely together. May I echo Javier Solana's words on the result of the presidential elections in Serbia, Montenegro, I'll certainly as NATO Secretary General also will go there to Belgrade very soon indeed. Thank you very much.

Q: You said it's for the benefit of the people of Bosnia, what is the benefit that the people of Bosnia will get from the European Union that we're not getting from NATO? How will (inaudible) change for the people of Bosnia?

Secondly, if there is a need--as it happened months ago with Kosovo--that NATO moves... that some troops are moved from Bosnia to there, will it still be possible and will it still be possible to do it quickly as it was done last time?

Solana: Yes to the two questions. The first question, as I said before, the main concern of Bosnia-Herzegovina for a long period of time has been the agreements of Dayton and now the main concern of the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina is to get closer to the institution that we represent here: NATO and the European Union.
And that is a very important change and that important change is marked by the fact that the responsibility on the ground fundamentally is going to be led by the European Union which is an organization--it's not only military--it is political, it is economic, it is response from the police, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

So we are getting closer and closer politically to the Bosnia-Herzegovina and the European Union and that is something that without any doubt is the dream of many people in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I will dare to say the majority of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The second part of the question I will say would but probably the answer should be given by the Secretary General of NATO. I hope that we will have enough reserves so that we can tackle any possible difficulty in the whole theatre in the Balkans. I'm sure about that.

de Hoop Scheffer: I can echo those remarks by the High Representative, if I talk about a NATO role, a residual role it is certainly also in the sphere of reserves.

Q: Question for both you. Who is going to have supremacy or who is going to be in charge of assisting and arresting indicted war criminals, EU or NATO?

Solana: The arrest of criminals is the responsibility of everybody. The first responsibility lies on the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina and beyond that everybody will have responsibilities but first responsibility is for the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

de Hoop Scheffer: I very much agree, let's get them. That's the key message and not... more so that who is doing it, let's get them. And the first responsibility indeed is for the authorities. Thank you.

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