Updated: 31-Jul-2004 NATO Speeches


30 July 2004

Press point

with NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
on NATO assistance to Iraq

NATO and Iraq
30/07/2004 - NATO
Statement by the Secretary General of NATO on NATO assistance to Iraq
30/07/2004 - NATO
High resolution photos of the press point
30/07/2004 - NATO
Audio file of the press point (MP3/2637kb)

de Hoop Scheffer: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Today NATO put into action the decision made by Heads of State and Government in Istanbul to provide assistance to the new Iraq to... to the interim Iraqi government. Allies have agreed to establish a NATO Training Implementation Mission in Iraq. This Mission, of course, will work very closely with the Iraqi Interim Government and with the Multinational Force. It will help the Iraqi authorities to establish their own defence reform priorities. Ownership, of course, is of great importance here. An area, as you know, where NATO has a long and vast experience.

The Mission will get right to work on training selected Iraqi personnel in Iraq. You should think in this respect about headquarters training. The Mission will also help to identify Iraqi personnel for training outside of Iraq and the Alliance will begin in August to provide training to this Iraqi personnel outside of Iraq.

What NATO will also do is NATO will play a role in coordinating national offers of equipment and training. Another role I think in which the Alliance can bring unique added value.

What I will do, of course, I will immediately propose these arrangements to the Iraqi Interim Government. You will remember the letter I got from the Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi. You will remember Foreign Minister Zebari's visit to these NATO Headquarters, and I remember very well that he used the words here on this very spot, "we're in a race against time".

So I'll make these arrangements... I'll propose these arrangements with the Iraqi interim authorities and I have every reason to believe that they will be accepted.

We are answering the call, as I said, of the Iraqi Interim Government and this Training Implementation Mission will be in Iraq in a matter of days, and as I said, it will get right to work.

As you can see this Alliance is united on Iraq. All allies are determined to see a democratic Iraq succeed, and they are united in their commitment to help Iraq provide its own peace and its own security and that day, of course, must come as soon as possible and this Training Implementation Mission will help to make that a reality.
Thank you so much. I'm ready to take your questions, please.

Q: Secretary General, (inaudible)... Agence France-Presse. On the issue apparently which was of contention on unity of command, in view of a bigger NATO mission in Iraq, because here you're talking about a first initial team of 20, 30 officers, if I understand correctly. How is that resolved? Are you pushing back that decision till September, after this team comes back, or have you already an element of a solution on that?

de Hoop Scheffer: Let's first... let me first say, in an amendment to your question, that there is... the Alliance has taken a decision on training. So it's not a fact-finding mission which is going in. It is the nucleus of the enlarged training mission. Indeed, think about around 40 people. So it's one decision which has been made. There is no new decision after August on this matter.

Secondly, it goes without saying that there should be a relationship between this Training Implementation Mission and the MNF. Why? First of all, because no military man, but certainly also not the Secretary General of NATO, could ever take responsibility sending people to Iraq, a country where we can see every single day, that it is not without danger, without the Multinational Force giving force protection to that mission. So indeed there is a relationship.

The second thing, because you mentioned September, quite correctly, because on the 15th of September the NATO commanders will report on the relationship and on the command structure, which will be chosen for the Mission. But there is, of course, a clear relationship. It's a distinct mission. So it's not a Mission which is integrated in the MNF. It's a distinct NATO Mission. But there will, of course, be a relationship as far as command and control is concerned because, as I said, the Multinational Force will give the force protection to the people.

Q: Antonio Rodriguez de l'Agence (inaudible). Qui est-ce qui sera dans le groupe des 40 personnes qui vont partir dans les prochain jours en Irak?

de Hoop Scheffer: It will be... it will be a team which will certainly have, as an element, representatives from the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. If I say that the team will start immediate training and think about headquarters that is a typical SACT responsibility. There will be other people in the mission, other people in the team. Who exactly that will be is a question I think for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe to answer. But I've given you the number of people, roughly around 40... 37, 38, 40, I mean give or take one.

But it's... as I say, it will be the nucleus. I stress that the Alliance, the allies have taken one single decision on training implementation. It's an implementation decision, because as you know the decision was already made by the Heads of State and Government in Istanbul, so it's implementation of this decision.

Q: (inaudible)...Belgium News Agency. And they should leave next week?

de Hoop Scheffer: Well they are going to leave as soon as possible. I don't know exactly the day they will leave, but they should be in Iraq early August.

So I think it's a real important decision. It's really important that the allies have shown their unity on Iraq and I think I can look back to a very fruitful and good discussion in this Alliance.

Unfortunately, it had to happen on a day, today, where Belgium was hit by a terrible disaster. I know that SHAPE immediately has offered assistance, but of course, we are, with the Belgium people, we are with the loved ones of the victims, the too many victims, which have been killed in this horrible accident.

So that was on the last day where we had a very positive decision was, let's say, a very sad element as far as Belgium is concerned.

Thank you.

Go to Homepage Go to Index