Updated: 03-Dec-2004 NATO Speeches


2 Dec. 2004

Press conference

with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the EU High Representative Javier Solana at the SFOR transfer of authority ceremony

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): Thank you. Just to say that... to repeat, this is a real important day, first of all for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, for NATO-EU cooperation. Let me once again say that the SFOR operation, it has been a great success, that NATO is staying and will be accepting responsibilities also after this takeover by the European Union. But I'm convinced, and I'm sure that the European Union will run and will lead a very successful mission like NATO has done over the past years.

The most important thing is for the people and the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in having made such tremendous progress over the past years, and they have all NATO support in their drive for Euro-Atlantic integration if and when all the conditions are met.

Let me, for time's sake, leave it here.

JAVIER SOLANA (EU High Representative): Thank you... thank you very much. Very briefly also, today is a very moving day for many of us. In particular for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. For the European Union, as you can imagine, it's also a very important day. For the first time we take a major responsibility in a peacekeeping operation of 7000 people. It has been done within, as you know, the arrangement we have with NATO, Berlin Plus, which I think has worked very, very well.

I'd like to use this opportunity basically to say that the arrangement in the manner we have worked together between the European Union and NATO has been splendid, that the transition has been really seamless, that we are going to continue doing with the same effectiveness that NATO has done it to continue doing the job that is our obligation to do.

And to say that for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina that we are going to continue helping them, that the European Union wants Bosnia-Herzegovina to evolve, and to evolve positively in the way that he's doing, because as I said publicly, the destination of this country is only one. The destination of this country is Europe and I hope very much that as things move and move in the right direction, that the train will arrive to the station the sooner the better.

Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: (inaudible)...some questions.

UNIDENTIFIED: For translation, it may be the whole... not simultaneously (inaudible)...

Q: (inaudible)...

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: The government of Bosnia-Herzegovina is the prime responsible for this, and we all know that some steps have to be taken here, and it is the EUFOR and the NATO presence which together of course will play the supporting... essential supporting role in arresting the PIFWCs.

Q: Sir, (inaudible)...

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Essentially the prime responsibility is where it was.

Q: (inaudible)...


SOLANA: I thought this was done simultaneously.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Answer the question?


UNIDENTIFIED: (inaudible)...

Q: (inaudible)...Television. Mr. Solana, (inaudible)... expect the next steps, visible steps of integration (inaudible)... into European Union after (inaudible)...? How we look at this presence of European Union in the region when (inaudible)...next steps forward?

SOLANA: Well...

UNIDENTIFIED: Let's have interpretation of the question, please.

SOLANA: Thank you very much. I'll try to make two comments. First, I do remember in the summit that took place in Thessaloniki, we decided to give all the countries of the region the possibility and the path towards being members of the European Union. At what rhythm? That will depend very much on the work of the different countries.

As you know, we have established a mechanism, which is a stabilization and association mechanism. Some countries have already incorporated into it. Some others still have not joined because they have not done sufficient adaptations, sufficient reforms to be there, but I hope very much that through the feasibility study that's going to be made, the countries will join the stabilization/association scheme. That will be the door through which you can enter into the European Union eventually.

Now let me make another comment, which I think is very important. As you know, we have a new commission now. Historically the countries of the region were under the responsibility of a member of the commission in charge of dealing with the countries of the Balkans. As you know, in this commission the countries of the Balkan are on the same commission that is talking... or had the responsibility of enlargement. That is a very, very important decision, taken by the European Union. Which is not only symbolic. It goes beyond symbolism because it goes to prepare also the countries with a... if I may say, the technology to adapt their reforms, to adapt their code of conduct, to adapt their economy to be as soon as possible moving into the stabilization association process, that I said is the door through which they will be entering into the European Union.

Q: Markus Bickel for the Tagesspiegel Berlin. One question for you, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer. Can this cooperation between NATO and EU here be a role model for a cooperation of the two organizations in Iraq and the Palestinian territories? And a question to you, Mr. Solana, when will you be ready to take over the command of KFOR in Kosovo?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let's not try to beat world records in international politics, first of all. Of course, the cooperation we have seen here, as Dr. Solana has just indicated, is a very good example of how NATO and the European Union can work together. And one should never exclude that this cooperation, as we have seen in Bosnia-Herzegovina could take place in the future. But if you mention other parts of the world, and if you mention the Middle East you know that my comments were accompanied... preceded, I must repeat, by two ifs. And the two ifs were, a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, and two, a specific request from all the parties concerned.

So let's not beat a world record in international politics because I'm afraid that the solution for that conflict, although I hope it could come very soon, it's still a bit further away than we might hope. But we have cooperated in a way in the run-up to this transfer, which was... which was a very good experience, and as you know, I am a great fan of the most intensive NATO-EU cooperation one can imagine

SOLANA: On the second...

UNIDENTIFIED: Microphone (inaudible) please.

SOLANA: I'm sorry. On the second question, on Kosovo, you know the difference between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo is fundamental. Bosnia-Herzegovina has a government, etc. and Kosovo is still run by a UN Security Council resolution. A UN Security Council resolution that gives the responsibility of the security to KFOR. And therefore KFOR will continue to be the responsible in Kosovo, at least as long as the constitution, if I may allow to say, of Kosovo continues to be a UN Security Council resolution you could describe that in a very precise manner. Let's see what happens in the future.

As you know, the year 2005 will be an important year for Kosovo. The standards process has been started. It has to give good results. And if that is the case it may be the possibility to begin thinking about how to evolve from Resolution 1244. But as long as that is the case I don't think there's much point to talk about any of the responsibility of KFOR.

Q: (SPEAKING IN SERBO-CROATIAN)... Mr. Bartaravic(?), BH Radio 1, Public Broadcast Service of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina see a brighter future of Bosnia-Herzegovina in joining European Union and the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina committed themselves to reform and to join the EU. But how do you see situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina in view of the reforms and especially the three-ruling parties, and having also in mind that the High Representative has recently abolished the amnesty law in Bosnia-Herzegovina? So how would you see it one side the wish of citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina to join European Union, and on the other side, the actual situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I'll try to answer the question as precise as possible. I have no doubt that the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina like very much to move in the direction of Brussels, of the European Union. I have to tell you also in the last period of time important steps have been taken by the leaders also.

Is everything perfect? No, is not everything perfect. They have to do more? Yes, they have to do more. And as you know very well Mr. Ashton... Lord Ashton, which is the representative from the European Union and from the United Nations both has said... and has taken decision in the last days. It will continue to take decision in the last days in order to move the process forward as fast as possible. I have full support... I give the full support to Lord Ashton. He's doing a very good job and I'm sure he will continue to do so. And I've really appealed to the leaders of the country to move in that direction. The faster they move into that direction the better. You know some elements have taken place in the reforms of the defence military part and police is something that has to be done, and I want to underline that, because it is very, very, important for law and order, etc. etc. and other reforms of economic nature.

But in any case, rule of law is fundamental, fundamental, fundamental, and I would like to underline it as many times as you allow me to do it.

Q: (SPEAKING IN SERBO-CROATIAN)... Svetlana Todorovic(?), TV Pink. A question for Mr. Scheffer. The inauguration of the NATO Headquarters in Bosnia-Herzegovina today, could you just comment, is it a permanent headquarters? Will that headquarters stay in Bosnia permanently, forever.

And question for Mr. Solana, about you know, operation of the EU Force today, whether these forces whether they will remain in Bosnia-Herzegovina as long as Bosnia-Herzegovina is not accepted in the European Union, or whether you will discuss and deliberate withdrawal of these forces before.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I sincerely hope the NATO Headquarters in Bosnia-Herzegovina will not stay here forever. Nothing is permanent, but I'm saying this, of course, because I hope that the tremendous progress almost having been made in Bosnia-Herzegovina will continue and that at a certain stage one could say that this country does not need a mission EUFOR and a NATO Headquarters anymore.

But for the moment, for the foreseeable future, there will be the NATO Headquarters, with specific tasks, as you know, in supporting the very important process of defence reform in, as I said before, in answering another question, under the prime responsibility of the Bosnian authorities, see to it ... and assisting them and see to it that the persons indicted for war criminals are arrested and brought to The Hague, and that is a supporting task and there will be a task if necessary as far as counterterrorism is concerned.

But it important that NATO will stay and for the foreseeable future, but I mean, it is up to the people and the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina to see how long that future will stretch. The NATO Headquarters will stay, but certainly not forever. I hope. And you hope, I agree.

SOLANA: As you know, the presence of EUFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina is part of a broader cooperation that the European Union does have with your country, with Bosnia-Herzegovina. All the cooperation is done by mutual agreement between the European Union and the leaders of your country. So the question that you posed to me has a very easy answer. It will be done in negotiating with the leaders of your country and we will not be here in this mission of EUFOR, as long as your country does not need it, or doesn't want to be to be... to ask to be here.

As you know, the most important part of the security is structure, which is now bringing in from the EUFOR, is at a different level, not in size, but as the country has evolved, it's not the same as IFOR. IFOR, you remember... you know, you were too young probably to remember IFOR, but IFOR was the beginning, then SFOR, etc. etc. and we adapted to the needs of the country, in cooperation with the leaders of your country.

Q: Antonia (inaudible)... Daily. Question for Mr. Solana. One of the missions for you, for also countering the organized crime. Does this mean that EUFOR will keep it only on the information sharing basis, or the EUFOR will also conduct some investigation on its own?

And the question for both, do you have any message for Karadzic and Mladic. Thank you.

SOLANA: Let me start by the last part of the question, which is more important than the first. I have a very clear message for them. They have to be... where two people which are indicted by the international community should be. In front of international community having a fair trial.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me add that, of course, I share what Javier Solana has just said. Adding that here is, of course, a important responsibility when I was answering an earlier question, are there now three bodies responsible, there's one. With the support of EUFOR and NATO, SFOR has done everything it could and it is as much a disappointment for you as it is for me that those people are not where they should. Not here running around freely, but in The Hague.

SFOR has done everything it could and I do not, quite honestly, accept criticism on NATO and SFOR, because let's have the responsibilities where they are. SFOR assisted wherever they could. SFOR is instrumental I getting 28 people. Republika Srpska, zero; BiH, zero. Those are the figures. And I'm sure that, of course, EUFOR and the NATO presence will do everything they can to assist the authorities of BiH and more specifically, if they cooperate, also the authorities in the Republika Srpska to see that these people go where they belong, which is in The Hague.

UNIDENTIFIED: (inaudible)...

Q: (SPEAKING IN SERBO-CROATIAN)... (inaudible)... Question to Mr. Scheffer. Could you answer me, what's the purpose of your today's meeting with Ms. Carla del Ponte and why are you meeting with her in Sarajevo today?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I have no meeting with Carla del Ponte. She came to the NATO Council not that long ago. I have no meeting with her because when she arrives I will have left.

But let me say this on her remarks and on the situation in general. I think it is not helpful. It doesn't help our cause, our common cause, which is to arrested these persons indicted for war crimes, the most horrible crimes humanity knows, to start pointing fingers at others, or pointing fingers at NATO or at SFOR. I think it's unhelpful. I think it doesn't serve the cause of the tribunal. Let's keep the responsibilities as they are, and I'm sure, let me repeat that, the EUFOR will do everything it can in cooperation with NATO to support the BiH authorities in seeing that these people go where they belong, which is in The Hague.

SOLANA: I'm afraid I did not answer you. You posed two questions, I answered only the second, not the first. If you allow me I will answer the first also.

As you know, the European Union now has two responsibilities on the ground on security, broadly speaking. We have the EUFOR, which has taken over today. But we have had for a year already the police mission. Both will cooperate and therefore the question of law and order, the question of organized crime, etc. will be very, very high on our agenda. You can be sure about that.

Now, this is the end. Can I say something I hope that the Secretary General of NATO will not mind if I say.

We have worked very well between NATO and the European Union. But I would like to say that here there are four generals, without their very, very, very dedicated time nothing what has happened today could have been done. So I think that we want to, I'm sure, Jaap wants to say the same thing that I'm going to say, to really pay tribute to these four generals who are the real responsibles. We are only talk. They do the things.

Thank you very much.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I can only second that wholeheartedly, of course.

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