Updated: 15-Sep-2004 NATO Speeches


14 Sept. 2004

Press point

with NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
and Sheikh Ghazi Al-Yawar, President of Iraq

NATO's assistance to Iraq
President of Iraq to visit NATO HQ
Press point with NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Sheikh Ghazi Al-Yawar, President of Iraq
  High resolution photos
  Audio file .MP3/6025Kb

De Hoop Scheffer: Good afternoon. The North Atlantic Council has very much welcomed the Iraqi president. We're very glad that he has come here. I think his coming to the North Atlantic Alliance is very timely because as you know the NATO ambassadors and the NATO governments are discussing one of the very important decisions made by NATO Heads of State and Government in Istanbul at the end of June, and that is training the Iraqi security institutions.

You know that a mission has been to Iraq and is in Iraq still, already started to give some headquarters training. In the intervention by the President in the North Atlantic Council two remarks stick to my mind. The first remark made by the President was the Iraqi people are looking at you, and I think, Mr. President, you're very right. The President is right. And from that remark stems the notion that I think that NATO should speedily further implement this decision on the training of Iraqi security institutions and this is exactly what ambassadors under my chairmanship are actually doing.

And the second remark, the second words used by the President several times, was the word "urgency". It is, of course, urgent that the Iraqi government, but first and foremost the Iraqi people, can take the responsibility for their own safety and their own security in their own hands. And that is exactly the reason that what NATO has embarked upon, this training mission, is one of the most essential things one can do in present-day Iraq, where we see from day to day and deplore and regret the loss of life, the loss of innocent life in Iraq, by people who do not accept a free, democratic Iraqi society.

And we saw it again this morning. And we deplore the loss of innocent life. We deplore, of course, those people in Iraq who have been taken hostage by those people who are trying to destruct the process, the political process in Iraq.

Hostages whose faces and whose names we know. The two French journalists, the two Italian Simonas, even women, who were there in the interests of the Iraqi people. But also the many hostages who are nameless and faceless. And the President has assured me in the bilateral meeting that we had, that of course the Iraqi government will do everything it can to see a speedily release of these hostages as possible.

But the central message of the President has been picked up very well and that is exactly what NATO will do. On the basis of the decision made by Heads of State and Government, NATO will speedily implement, the decision has been made, the training mission in Iraq, and will certainly also, at some later stage, discuss a report I have written, also an instruction of the NATO Heads of States and Government on what further can be done by NATO to support the Iraqi security institutions.

Thank you very much, and I'll end my introductory statement here because we want to listen to the President.

Ghazi Al-Yawar: I have the privilege of meeting the esteemed ambassadors of NATO member countries this afternoon. I found very understanding gathering of our situation in Iraq and they were very supportive. We heard a lot of words of support, and there were some clarifications that we had to give on the situation in Iraq.

We're moving, we're gaining momentum toward a free... establishing a free and democratic Iraq state run by institutions, not individuals or parties. But as you see, the security situation, we've been plagued with terrorist acts and they are terrorists by all the meaning of the word. They are nameless or faceless groups with no leadership known or any ideology, kidnapping people, killing randomly and the most important mission they have is to undermine the stability of Iraq and threaten the people of Iraq's lives.

The situation in Iraq is not a war between factions. No. It is the Iraqi public and the Iraqi government on one side, and these groups of people who are making it their mission to undermine the political process and to take Iraq into chaos on the other side.

We are very appreciative to the NATO organization countries for helping us and training and equipping our security forces. We want further and further help from NATO. We want to enhance the expertise of our security forces. Especially we are heading toward elections in January and definitely we want to have a secure and safe environment so that Iraqis can cast their votes without being intimidated or fearing anybody. This is very important to us.

We have heard a lot of words of support. There is an urgency in doing so in the time being and very fast, because as days goes by we are getting closer to the date of the elections and we see it's a challenge to have these elections on time. This will be the most wonderful thing that can happen in Iraq for the time being.

Thank you very much.

Questions and answers

Q: Thank you, (inaudible) from (inaudible) Egyptian Television. Secretary General, I'm just wondering, the security in Iraq it's not stable, as you mentioned right now, and I just was asking, this unstable security in Iraq might effect the mission, the NATO mission in Iraq.

And for the President you were talking about some further help from NATO. Can you give us some example, like what you are expecting more from NATO. Thank you.

De Hoop Scheffer: Let the President answer first, please.

Ghazi Al-Yawar: Thank you, sir. What I meant further help from NATO, we want more involvement in helping us training our expertise, increasing the capacity of these training courses or expanding this training also if we can get help and equipment.
Also the moral support that we need to get. It's just to enhance the cooperation that's starting here.

De Hoop Scheffer: Let me answer you that I do not think that the decision which has been made already, as you know, on the training implementation mission, will be affected. NATO will decide on the training mission and as you know, the force protection for the training mission will be provided by the multinational force. That is the reason that unity of command for this distinct NATO mission with the multinational force is of the essence. But I can assure you that it will not affect the decision by NATO.

Q: I'm (inaudible)... from the Arab Television (inaudible).... My question to the President, there is reports in the media that Prime Minister Allawi said that the election could be organized in the area where there is peace, and maybe in some area there will be no election or the election will be suspended. How do you see, let's say this challenge and is that could be possible please?

Ghazi Al-Yawar: Well, I haven't heard such a comment, but it's a national election. You cannot have it in certain areas and not the others. But we are working very hard in cooperation and conjunction with the United Nations envoys in Iraq who are living it with us until it's the time we are working day and night to meet and respect the dates of the election in January. And unless the United Nations says that it's impossible to hold it we're going to hold the elections at that time.

Q: Mr. President, a comment on the terrorist attack this morning in Baghdad and then a question, why did you cancel the visit in France? Is it related to the crisis of the hostages? Is it because France considers, for example, that the troops and the bombings from Iraqi troop and from American troop is impeding release of them. Thank you.

Ghazi Al-Yawar: Well, no, it's... the visit to France, it was postponed upon the request of the French government. They thought the situation may be a little bit sensitive and they didn't want... actually you have to ask the French why did they ask for rescheduling the visit.

But no, we hold a lot of respect and... to France. We consider France a major country in the world. It's a superpower and France stands for great values of the French revolution. Definitely we have to maintain excellent relationship with France, and all the other superpowers. We are not reactionists. We do not let reactions come... lead our way. We are people who work for Iraq. We have extended arms and open hearts to the whole world community to help us in Iraq, and we are very thankful to whoever understand us and help us.

Q: Yes, Mr. President. Here. Since you are restructuring Iraq armed forces and there's no need anymore for peshmerga army in the Kurdish area, do you plan to merge this army with the national armed forces of Iraq? And to Mr. Secretary General, how do you see this army and are you going... what would be the relations... how does NATO look to this army now? And in the future also in the restructuring planning.
Thank you.

Ghazi Al-Yawar: Could you identify yourself, please?

Q: My name is (inaudible), I'm from BBC Arabic.

Ghazi Al-Yawar: I see, okay. First of all, the peshmerga is the regional army of Kurdistan and we agreed in Iraq that we are implementing federalism in Iraq. Kurdistan will be a region... federal region within the whole unified Iraq. The peshmerga are Iraqis too. Some of them will be integrated in the Iraqi army. Some of them will be police in Kurdistan. Some of them will be like national guard in Kurdistan. Some of them will be defending Kurdistan according to what the legislations for the federal regions in Iraq will allow.

The other part is for you.

De Hoop Scheffer: Well sir, NATO is looking at the Iraqi people. And as the President has stressed just a moment ago here, but also in the North Atlantic Council, Iraq is a country for all the Iraqi people, whatever their background, whatever their ethic background or other backgrounds. And that is what NATO is interested in. NATO is in a free, stable and democratic Iraq.


Ghazi Al-Yawar: Okay.

De Hoop Scheffer: My Arabic is not what it used to be, so could you please...

Ghazi Al-Yawar: It's for me. It's for me, but I'll translate. The most important points that we have agreed upon, or discussed?

Q: Agreed.

Ghazi Al-Yawar: Well, it's not... there's a... (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)...

I'll say that in English too.

De Hoop Scheffer: I agree, I agree.


Ghazi Al-Yawar: Okay. I said, there were no points to agree upon. It was a consensus that everybody was supportive and positive towards helping the Iraqi people and through helping the security forces of Iraq. NATO is into a debate and into a session that His Excellency is kind enough to be out of it, staying here with me.
The outcome was positive and I'm very gratified and impressed.

De Hoop Scheffer: Let me answer you in English, if I may, that, I mean, the important thing is in NATO that everybody realizes whatever the opinions were, as the President said a moment ago, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, everybody realizes, and the President stressed this once again, and everybody very much agrees that there is one dominant ambition everybody should have.

First of all, the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people, but also NATO, all the European Union, and that is participate to a free and democratic Iraq, because everybody realizes that when one dares to imagine, what would happen if that process does not succeed, would not have consequences for the Iraqi people who are suffering already rather much under terrorism, would not only have consequences for the region, but would have much wider consequences. When the President said that in the North Atlantic Council I think all ambassadors and I very much agreed with him.

That's at stake. And the stakes are high. So that is the reasons that I'll press for NATO to implement this decision speedily.

Q: I'm Mark John from Reuters News Agency. Mr. President, quite separately from the cancelled trip to France, can you explain your decision to cancel your address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg?

Ghazi Al-Yawar: No, it was not cancelled. Mr. Prodi is not there and Mr. Patten was kind enough to come and see me in Brussels, that's why. I mean, we didn't cancel. We take the European Union of great value and for great importance, and definitely we are working on maintaining and strengthening ties with the European Union.

Q: President, (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)... What about Iraqi relation with Arabic countries and Islamic countries, and specifically with the Syrians and Iran?

Ghazi Al-Yawar: Well, we have normal relations with the... all the Arab worlds and Islamic world and the international community. We don't have a problem with anybody. Iran and Syria are our neighbours.

I think they have a leadership clever enough to understand that instability in Iraq will be directly an instability in both countries. Prosperity in Iraq will pose stability and prosperity indirectly in their countries. We are willing to cooperate and we look at the European Union as an example. These countries has united for the sake of their people, for mutual benefits of each country of these countries. Economy should be the driving motivation into getting closer and together. You cannot live along nowadays. You have to be part of the whole world. Nobody can live in isolation.

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