Updated: 17-Dec-2004 NATO Speeches


16 Dec. 2004

Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the President of Bulgaria, H.E.Georgi Parvanov

Audio file .MP3/ 6949Kb

MODERATOR: The Secretary General and the President will each make brief opening statements and then we'll be happy to take questions. Secretary General.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): Thank you very much. I was, of course, very glad to meet, again, I say, President Parvanov of Bulgaria because it's important to have regular contacts.

Bulgaria being an important ally participating in many of the NATO-led operations.
We had what we call an interesting tour d'horizon. We discussed, of course, the different theatres and the different operations and missions of NATO's activity. And that means the expansion of ISAF in Afghanistan to the western part of the country, the NATO support... organization of the NATO support for the electoral process in Afghanistan; the situation in Kosovo, where Bulgaria is also making an important contribution; and of course, the NATO training mission in Iraq, where Bulgaria, not in the framework of NATO, also as you know, has a very important contingent in the multinational force.

We discussed, of course, the strategic defence review in Bulgaria, where a lot of progress has been made, but defence reform is, of course, a continuing process. I think the 2.6 percent of GDP defence spending in Bulgaria is an important figure, of which I sincerely hope that it can be sustained.

And I can end my brief introduction where I started in my conversation with the President, of course, and that is that I have commended Bulgaria for the excellent way in which it has had the chairman in office of the OSCE in this year 2004 and may I repeat that in public again. That's of course, a comment for Bulgaria, for the President, and also more specifically for my friend Solomon Passy who has done, I think, a very good job indeed.

It can be said that of course the OSCE, and that's what we also discussed, played a very important role in the observation mission of the elections, the fraudulous elections in Ukraine, and I'm sure that the OSCE is going to pay a very important role again with observers on the re-run of the elections on the 26th of December.

Thank you very much.

GEORGI PARVANOV (President of Bulgaria): Well thank you, Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, I wouldn't like to go into further detail because Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has in a very detailed manner presented the contents of our regular meeting.

For me this meeting was a good chance to inform the Secretary General about the organizational steps around for implementing the plan for the reform of the Bulgarian Armed Forces until 2015, which is indeed an implementation of the strategic defence review that was adopted.

Indeed, for me too it's very important that we can keep up...uphold this relatively good percentage of 2.6 of the GDP for defence. Moreover that in that way we can cover also the expenditure for the 11 projects and the plan for implementing the strategic defence review.

I had a chance to reiterate our commitment to keep our presence with... in the various missions, both in the Balkans, in ISAF, and Iraq.

Of course, our contribution to the Balkans is not just military and technical. We have been very active in stabilizing that region through the various bilateral and multilateral political initiatives there.

In respect of the ISAF mission I have informed the Secretary General that Bulgaria is prepared to increase its mission there by a minimum of say 25, 30 people. This is a figure which was decided at the consultative meeting on natural security, the consultative council on national security with the President's office, which will mostly be military police and medical units that can be useful for the processes under way in that country.

As to Iraq, we look forward... we believe that the parliamentary elections that are to be held in late January will be crucial to the future of that country. A very important step for the democratization and reconstruction of that country. Which hopefully may allow a reduction of the combat forces. Forces from there could be possibly released, and this is something that we're going to discuss, to be redeployed for... towards a training centre for the security forces of Iraq.

Of course, this should be a part of a common strategy of the multinational forces on the territory of Iraq, which implies that we need to discuss it with our allies there.

Q: My two questions are to the Secretary General. Do you believe that after Bulgaria was asked in Istanbul to increase its presence in Afghanistan, the figure that we have cited of 25 or 30 you find sufficient and whether a redeployment of Bulgarian forces into the training centre or training mission is feasible and possible?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: The NATO Secretary General will never answer it's sufficient because one can always do better, one can always do more. But having said that, it's important, as I heard from the President, that Bulgaria is going to increase its presence in Afghanistan. What we also discussed, of course, was the fact that in the expansion of ISAF into phase two, it is important and that's a question I have not only for Bulgaria, but for all allies, that we have as many Provincial Reconstruction Teams as we can get. In this respect the President and I have also discussed a possible participation of Bulgaria in a Provincial Reconstruction Team.

As far as the training mission in Iraq is concerned, the president referred to this... this is, of course, first of all, an internal Bulgarian political discussion. But for the NATO training mission in Iraq at the Al-Rustamiyah complex outside of Baghdad. It is important that allies could make... could participate. And because of the fact that the president of Bulgaria is now visiting NATO, I've asked him to see if it were possible at all in whatever construction, for Bulgaria to participate. For instance, in the sphere of force protection for the NATO training mission.

And you've heard the President say that he'll take this message home with him, and that he'll discuss it politically. And given the fact that Bulgaria, of course, is involved in a non-NATO operation, the MNF, I can very well imagine, that the President says, and I'm in full agreement with him, we have to discuss this with our allies.

MODERATOR: Last question.

Q: Thank you. Mr. Secretary General, Bettina Jotra, Bulgarian Daily. Mr. Secretary General, my question to you is on the common funding for NATO operations, because you know this is so famous Bulgarian example about our idea to expand the Bulgarian mission in Afghanistan with 200 more soldiers, but we cannot sustain. And we supported the idea at Poiana Brasov for common funding. Would you mind to explain on which stage you're at, the negotiations on this issue?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Yes, thank you. Oh sorry, you want to translate?

Q: The second question to the Bulgarian president was, that the military analysis of NATO recently showed that there would be need for former Warsaw Pact equipment for Iraq, and my question to the Bulgarian president, is do we have such extant equipment and are we prepared? Can we send it there?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me answer you that I remember very vividly that your President raised the issue of the financing of operations at the NATO summit in Istanbul and he did it again during our conversations, and I think he's right. You will remember that the conclusions of the Istanbul Summit indeed supported also my opinion, because I agree with the President, that we need to come to another way of financing our operations, and that, as you said, concerns of course the balance between the NATO principle, which is called "costs lie where they fall". If Bulgaria sends forces, Bulgaria pays. And the question of common funding.

This is a balance we have to find. At the moment we are in the process of trying to find an answer to this question of finding more solidarity between allies. It is not an easy discussion, as you will realize, because it's about money and discussions about money are always the most complicated ones, but you may rest assured that the initiative and the intervention by your president, by President Parvanov, has been taken up at NATO and is being discussed at the moment. But it's... I repeat, it's not an easy one.

PARVANOV: I don't think it's up to the President, the head of state of a country, to go into the details of armed stockpiles and armaments. What I can say is that indeed we are doing a great deal to modernize our army. I did refer to the eleven projects to that effect. Of course, we will read carefully the analysis and we'll see what we can do, what we have. But if something specific could be done, but this is not a matter that I am willing to go into the details of right now.

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