Updated: 14-Oct-2004 NATO Speeches

Poiana Brasov,

13 Oct. 2004

Press Conference

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

13-14 Oct. 2004
Informal Meeting of Defence Ministers
13 Oct. 2004
Audio file of the remarks by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
13 Oct. 2004
Audio file of the questions and answers
13 Oct. 2004
High resolution photos of the press conference
NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

De Hoop Scheffer: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

It goes without saying that it's a great pleasure for me to be here in Poiana Brasov chairing the first ministerial meeting, informal ministerial meeting, in one of the newest member states of the Alliance.

I should underline of course in starting that this is an informal meeting which means that no concrete decisions are taken. Discussions here in Poiana Brasov, informal discussions, are for Ministers to share views in what is an open and free flowing discussion and of course discussing how to take forward the key issues on the agenda and this is a very nice place to do it; enjoying Romanian hospitality.

Let me start with this morning when Ministers discussed how to take forward the continuing transformation of NATO capabilities. In essence we need to tighten the link, improve the link, between the political decision NATO takes to take on missions and the availability of the forces to do the job.

And as the person whose job it is to make sure we have the forces we need to carry out NATO's missions, I was happy to lead this morning's decision because I think the subjects were relevant. Let me mention a few key areas.

The first would be: How to meet the agreed targets that the forces of NATO nations should be forty percent deployable and eight percent sustainable in the field. As you know this was also discussed at the Summit in Istanbul between the Heads of State and Government.

Second important element: How to pay for today's operations and for tomorrow's operations as well so that we are not held back from peace operations simply because our budgeting procedures are out of date.

Point number three: How do we better prepare for operations in the future; including having longer term planning horizons. I think our force planning should have a much longer horizon which will increase the predictability. I give you an example; countries are much more willing to contribute to operations if they already know that after their tour another country is going to take over the responsibility. And I think we can set up that kind of planning forecast. In fact we have already started doing that.

And related to these elements I think is using NATO more as a political forum for discussion so that everybody understands the full implications of engagement in their operations from the beginning until the end. I think that's also an important element.

So this was this morning's discussion; then over lunch we discussed the future of NATO's current operations and of course we did look into the future of our engagement in Afghanistan.

Let me stress once again the turnout for the presidential elections was a hugely positive sign for the future of Afghanistan and the fact that the elections were held almost without violence was a tribute to NATO's ISAF mission as well as to the Afghan National Army and to the Coalition. It was a huge success. I know there was much scepticism before; it was a huge success but, having said that, the Alliance and ISAF must now look forward. We can't rest on our laurels and we discussed NATO support to next year's parliamentary and municipal elections for which the Alliance must and will also provide security assistance as we have done now for the presidential elections.

And we of course also looked at the next phase or stage of NATO's expansion in Afghanistan; what we call stage two, read in the western part of the country, and then, and you know we go counter clockwise--I should do it like this for you because otherwise we go counter clockwise--stage three to the south. And we did, of course, as well in this respect discuss the future of the relationship between Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF.

For NATO and for Afghanistan, meeting our commitments to do more and it has already been decided to go into phase two, that's not new, is of course a priority. And I intend to ensure NATO's governments are focused on meeting those commitments. In other words, we also need Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the west of the country supported by what we call a Forward Support Base to cater for the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, to provide the force protection for them.

In this respect, I mean, in the respect of the discussion on Afghanistan ministers also discussed the issue of narcotics.

It goes without saying that drugs pose a huge challenge to Afghanistan's future development and the entire international community must focus on how to help the Afghan government, who has of course first responsibility, to tackled this challenge effectively. Which means that the whole international community and certainly not only NATO and certainly not only ISAF, you know it is not ISAF's prime responsibility to fight the huge drugs problem in Afghanistan, but NATO, European Union, international donor community, United Nations, all organisations and first and foremost the Afghan government of course should fight this problem with all the means we have.

And if I say fight, I don't mean fight in the sense that using arms or using weapons I mean fight the problem in the sense that we need to give the farmers an alternative and I say we, I mean, as I said the international community.

Because we can't have a situation that NATO and ISAF are providing security and stability and at the same time, the problem of the drugs increases and increases. That is in the long run, of course, unsustainable.

Of course we discussed in the framework of our lunch the future of our mission in Kosovo. Kosovo is entering a very crucial and important period, first of all the elections at the end of October and then of course the run up to what is a crucial period--the evaluation of the standards in the middle of next year.

So it is important that KFOR can operate up to standard.

Of course we also discussed Iraq. NATO's role in Iraq is clear to you. First of all we are supporting Poland in its leadership of a multinational division and as you know last week the North Atlantic Council in Brussels agreed to the so-called Concept of Operations where NATO's training implementation mission in Iraq is concerned.

We're going to make some speed I think, I think we need some speed here; there are already some trainers in Iraq as you know. Within a couple of weeks we'll have the so-called Op Plan, the Operational Plan, which follow the Concept of Operations. That will also be approved by the North Atlantic Council and I would like to see the trainers in Iraq as soon as possible.

They want it, it's their priority and training inside Iraq is clearly an Iraqi priority that goes without saying that many nations will also go on with what they're doing at the moment that is training outside Iraq and I can tell you that the NATO School in Oberammergau; the NATO Centre in Stavanger in Norway; the NATO Defence College in Rome; all those institutions will also be active in training outside Iraq but let me stress the point that the Iraqis themselves consider training inside Iraq of the utmost importance. And there should be no doubt, in other words, that NATO is committed to expanding the training mission as quickly as possible.

So this, ladies and gentlemen, was the essence of our discussions today, they were substantial. They were frank and they were open and that was exactly what I had hoped for in an informal meeting.

And I think we made a lot of progress in shaping the future direction of NATO's transformation and in guiding the next steps in our operations. So let me once again, I did it in other fora as well, thank our Romanian hosts and more specifically Minister Pascu for the warm hospitality we have all around us here in Romania.

Questions and answers

Q: Mr. Secretary General, Will Dunham with Reuters. Will NATO...

De Hoop Scheffer: Would you put your... keep it a bit closer, please, the microphone, then I can hear better.

Q: Yes, this is Will Dunham with Reuters. Mr. Secretary General, will NATO's military authorities be instructed to formally begin devising plans for a possible integration of the NATO force in Afghanistan and the U.S.-led force there, and is such an integration a good and realistic idea?

De Hoop Scheffer: We discussed, as I said, this over lunch. What the NATO military authorities are going to do, and that is in the run-up to the informal meeting defence ministers will have in the spring in France, in Nice, that is that they are going to provide ministers with options in the relationship between Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF to see that... how, providing options how we can come to more and a greater coherence between OEF and ISAF; how the unity of purpose can be improved. In other words, they will advise defence ministers in February of how to bring the relationship between OEF and ISAF forward in order to reach, and there ministers very much agreed, to reach a greater degree of coherence between ISAF and OEF.

I say again, no decisions were made over lunch, but this is the guidance Ministers have given me, and through me to the NATO Military Authorities.

Q: Mr. Secretary General, Eric Schmitt with the New York Times. Can you please tell us whether or not any of these military trainers will be on the ground in Iraq, starting the academy work before the end of the year? To what extent is a force generation problem going to be difficult in achieving that?

De Hoop Scheffer: The definite ambition is to have the trainers on the ground in Iraq as soon as possible. That's why I said in my introductory remarks that speed is of the essence here. This is what the Iraqi want. I mean, it's not because I want it or the NAC wants it, it's what the Iraqis themselves want.

Do remember, the whole training implementation mission came about on the basis of a letter by interim Prime Minister Allawi to me, to the NAC in other words. I mean, it's their priority. And we must honour their priority and that is what the NAC has done up till now.

So my answer to your question is affirmative. We must have the trainers on the ground, including the force protection as soon as possible. And as soon as possible for me is this year.

Q: Mark John from Reuters. Secretary General, on the discussions on stage two of the Afghanistan mission did any nations come forward and volunteer to put forward any resources as far as before planning in the West or indeed PRTs now?

De Hoop Scheffer: I'll not mention manes, of course, here, but yes. Some nations came forward with their willingness to either field a PRT, or to participate in a PRT together with other nations. And as I said, what we need is two things. We need PRTs, of course, as we discussed, and we need force protection for those PRTs.

Now I may add, to go into some more detail, that the force protection we have been able to generate for phase one of the PRTs in the North is already, let's say, substantial enough to cover at least a large part of the force protection we need for stage two. But the answer to your question is affirmative.

Q: Secretary, Knowle(?) (inaudible)... News. Did you discuss the... I'm sorry... Did you discuss the possibility of expanding NATO's role in Iraq beyond the training mission? Did any of the nations step forward on that?

De Hoop Scheffer: We did not discuss this, Knowle. We focused the discussion on the training implementation mission in Iraq.

Q: Dan Dombey, Financial Times. I was just wondering if you could put perhaps some of the comments made by some of the allies about an eventual unified command for ISAF and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in context. How important is that issue? How important is the issue of getting more boots on the ground?

De Hoop Scheffer: Well, first of all, on your question about OEF and ISAF, I think the options the military authorities are going to present to ministers in February will certainly also include, as an option, the possibility of a unified command. Certainly ministers will then have to choose and to make the political decision formally what they want. But certainly this will be an option.

As far as boots on the ground are concerned, as you know, ISAF has now been considerably strengthened in the framework of the electoral process. We don't know the result yet. As you know there could be a second round in Afghanistan if no candidate will have the majority now.

So for the moment ISAF will keep its, may I say it's quote/unquote electoral strength, its strength in support of the elections. I said already in my introductory remarks, we're going to do this again when the parliamentary... the municipal elections are going to be held next spring and that is the present situation.

So I think ISAF is up to strength and is up to standard and it will be for the electoral period and it will again be for the electoral period in this week.

Q: Yes, Secretary General, you have just said that ISAF will intend for the moment to keep the electoral force. Where I'm coming from, from El PaĆ­s, Spain, Martin (inaudible)... my name. The Spanish government said that once the elections in... the presidential elections were over we'll be retaining the troops that were sent to the North to Mazar-e-Sharif. Does this keeping of the electoral force that they are going to stay?

De Hoop Scheffer: Well, I mean, as you know, as you say, the Spanish battalion came in for the purpose of electoral support. That was the understanding on the basis of which the battalion came in. What exactly will happen I do not know. But let me say that I have greatly appreciated the fact that Spain is playing such a very important role in ISAF, because as you know, it's not only the battalion, it's more than that. And I would certainly hope so, let me express a hope that Spain will be in a position to continue its support. If that is on the same basis as now with the elections I do not know. But I certainly hope that Spain will play the very important role in ISAF it is now playing, because it's very helpful.

Thank you very much indeed.

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