Updated: 24-Mar-2005 NATO Speeches


24 March 2005

Press point

with Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO Secretary General and Mr. Fatos Nano, the Prime Minister of Albania


High resolution photos
Audio file

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (NATO Secretary General): It's a great pleasure to receive here in the Brussels Headquarters for the North Atlantic Council Prime Minister Nano of Albania and let me, by way of introduction, say that we I think have had a very productive and interesting discussion in the Council we just finished.

Of course Albania, important country involved in the Membership Action Plan together with Macedonia and Croatia; playing a very important role in the framework of the so-called Adriatic Three, and also may I start by saying that playing a very important role in the region.

We discussed of course Kosovo and the important moderating role Albania is playing in that respect and Allies all agree, let me reiterate this, that Euro-Atlantic integration is in the opinion of the Allies the recipe for continuing and lasting stability in the Balkans.

Of course when we discuss Albania-NATO relationship may I commend also here publicly the Prime Minister and his government for Albania's participation in many important peacekeeping operations. Albania is there, has done a lot on defence reform; has been making great progress in that respect and this is also a subject which was discussed by Allies.

What is, I think- and we think, of great importance is the elections in Albania in the beginning of July. Those will be a very important benchmark I think in the way the Allies will look at Albania and at its very important reform process. I already mentioned defence reform with what is also, of course very important- as important, is the ongoing process and the reaffirmation and reconfirmation and we got it from Prime Minister Nano on the important process of reform in the political sense. And there is of course police reform, reform of the judiciary, the ongoing fight against organised crime and the ongoing fight against corruption.

There is an ambition with the Prime Minister and his government and Allies will see and hope that this drive, this ambition, will also bring fruitful results. But let me say again, the elections will be a very important benchmark. We have noted what has been done in electoral reform but the fact that we will be able to say, hopefully we'll be able to say in July, these were free and fair elections of which the result will not be contested afterwards by one party or the other is absolutely important.

Let me finish by saying that- by quoting President Bush who at the Summit on the 22nd of February here in Brussels said and it was reconfirmed and restated by Ambassadors in the Council, and let me also say this--NATO and the entry into NATO and Euro-Atlantic integration is a performance-based process. So Allies will finally judge the performance of any individual nation, any and every individual country which aspires to become a NATO member and the same will be the case with Albania.

Allies have said, and I can add a 'Bon courage' to Prime Minister Nano, thanking him once again for coming here and assuring him once again of the support the Allies give Albania, to its completely justified and supported Euro-Atlantic integration ambitions.

Prime Minister.

FATOS NANO (Prime Minister of Albania): Thank you Secretary General.

I have to reconfirm that the visit at NATO Headquarters and especially the leadership and the attention the Secretary General of NATO is showing towards Albania and the region; has showed even me today- we have a very productive working day with the North Atlantic Council that made the whole process more comprehensive and better focused on the priorities of cooperation for membership that Albania and NATO are developing now in the sixth cycle of planned cooperation to membership.

I had to reconfirm to the Secretary General and to the Council of the Alliance that we consider integration into NATO, and progress for integration in the EU as well, and rationally linked strategic priorities for the growth of Albania regionally and globally as a responsible partner and a proactive country with the Alliance and with other global foras that our aim(?) of the stability, peaceful and prosperous evolutions in our part of the world.

We had to recognise that in the five key areas that membership to NATO cooperation includes from political and legal reforms, to security and resources of capacity performance, there has been very enhanced progress.

And now, we shared with the Alliance and with the respective countries- structures from Secretary General to the Council, more comprehensive commitments that will continue not simply evaluating this stable progress and capacities to be consolidated but also will continue dynamising(?) the whole rapprochement process of Albania to NATO standards and requirements for membership.

I guaranteed the Secretary General and the Council members that we are delivering the necessary conditions, legal steps and guarantees that the next elections, the parliamentary elections, will probably (inaudible) to internationally recognised standards. So the process is very transparent and I'm sure that every eye will continue focussing on elections in Albania, will be properly considering the processes are open to all and the guarantees for having a normal electoral process are being consolidated. I reiterated the commitment of the government that the standards of these elections for the majority I lead are more important than the results.

In progress and problematics that we are facing, and are showing to our partners in sensitive areas like fighting corruption and organised crime, I had an opportunity to share more information with the North Atlantic Council for new legislation and new enforcement capacities that we have built that are bringing the indicators of these sensitive areas to a more visible and credible situation for further progress and for cooperation with the specialized bodies of the Alliance and other member countries that will consolidate the (inaudible) of democratic and prosperous evolution of the region in a safer milieu.

So we are looking forward, thanks to this very proactive cooperation with the Alliance, to see based on an Adriatic Three cooperation process. Also the figures and capacities of Albania on the basis of an individual assessment be promptly considered in the frame of the next NATO summit to receive the deserved, everybody hopes to be further deserved, invitation for membership to the Alliance.

I thank you Secretary General for creating such an appropriate and favourable climate for cooperation with you.

Q: (Télévision Albanie Privé) M. le secrétaire général, j'aimerais savoir votre opinion personnelle en ce qui concerne le rôle que joue actuellement l'Albanie en ce qui concerne la stabilité et la paix après la question Haradinaj, donc après les développements à Kosovo premièrement; et deuxièmement, vous pensez qu'est venue le moment actuel pour que l'opposition doit collaborer maintenant à Tirana en qui concerne les élections libres démocratiques? Merci.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Je ne parle pas comme secrétaire général de l'OTAN sur la situation interne politique en Albanie et l'opposition et le gouvernement ça ne concerne pas l'OTAN. J'ai seulement dit que j'attachais- les alliés attachent une grande importance aux élections qui se déroulerais au début juillet.

Sur le Kosovo, je crois et il est très important, je l'ai pendant ma petite introduction, les alliés considèrent le rôle que l'Albanie joue et le Premier ministre a joué concernant la stabilité au Kosovo est un rôle important. Je sais que le Premier ministre Nano a pris contact avec le Premier ministre au Kosovo, Kosumi, et je crois que c'est important plus en général que l'Albanie, comme il fait à l'heure actuelle, joue le rôle pour aider le processus et pour chercher conciliation au Kosovo.

Vous savez aussi que moi que le Kosovo est en train d'entrer une période cruciale dans son histoire. On a bien sûr l'évaluation des standards, on a peut-être--je ne sais pas--fondé sur ce processus à un certain moment le début des négociations sur le status mais quand à l'Albanie je peux dire que l'OTAN considère le rôle du gouvernement albanien un rôle constructif.

Q: (Albanian Public Television) Mr. Scheffer, what do you think about the steps Albania have made to approach NATO standards and, on the other hand, when do you think will be the proper time that NATO will invite to be a member Albania and the two other countries of the Adriatic Charter: Macedonia and Croatia. Thank you.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Thank you- your last question, I cannot give you dates and the reason for that is what I said in finalizing my remarks that it's a performance-based process. So I do not know but let me stress again that I think that if we look at defence reform Albania has made a lot of progress, that we see what has been done on the important issues of the elections, the electoral process. The elections, may I repeat, are a benchmark and the Prime Minister and I will agree that reforms in the judiciary, reforms in the police, will have to continue.

It's very important that there is a continuous ambition for these reforms because these are the benchmarks. I mean the Membership Action Plan is more than defence reform, the Membership Action Plan and the road to NATO is also of course about sharing democratic values.

This is as important as defence reform so again, I cannot give you a date, the elections will be a very important benchmark. I discussed with the Prime Minister in our bilateral conversation before the Council that it is of course of the utmost importance that we will see not only free and fair elections but that we see a process on the basis of which not immediately afterwards one party or the other will say we contest the result of the elections. That would be detrimental, I think, to the process in Albania so those are very important elements and very important benchmarks.

Q: (Albanian Satellite Television, ALSAT): Mr. Secretary General, let me insist again on the election, I wanted to know what could happen between the relations of the organisation with Albania if these elections are not good and from the other side, if they will be good, it's the only condition to integrate NATO- it will be sufficient to integrate NATO? Thank you.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I have learned, in a long political career, that I never answer "iffy" questions so I'll not do that again. But let me say at the same time that I refuse to leave from the assumption that the elections would not be free and fair and that they will be contested.

I mean we here have a Prime Minister who shows the ambition and the drive on the basis of the Membership Action Plan for the Atlantic integration of Albania and Allies support that process. The only thing- I'm saying and I'm repeating is that those elections will be a very important benchmark not only for NATO by the way but that goes for the European Union and for the OSCE as well; and we have discussed the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations as far elections are concerned and the first one to realize this is Prime Minister Nano himself and the Albanian authorities; and the Albanian people for that matter.

Q: Yes Secretary General today is the 24th of March, big day for Kosovars, the day when NATO started intervention. Looking back six years, how do you see the performance of NATO? And maybe Prime Minister Nano can comment on this also.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I can remember you asked me this question a few days ago as well (Laughter) so I hope I'll be consistent and give you the same answer- I'm sure by the way that I'm consistent.

NATO is playing a very important role in Kosovo. KFOR is there, KFOR is there to stay- KFOR is there to stay on the basis of its present operational capabilities. The situation is fragile, the situation is far from certain but on the other hand we have seen in the recent weeks, maturity with former Prime Minister Haradinaj when he was indicted. We have seen maturity with the people in Kosovo, that they have followed the appeals of their political leaders to stay calm; we have seen that the anniversary of the very unfortunate ethnic violence passed without major incidents.

We now see a new government, we see a new Prime Minister, in other words- and we were, and you and I remember the moment when we discussed this, yesterday Soren Jessen-Petersen was here, as the Prime Minister and I were also discussing, and he sounded a note of cautious optimism but on the other hand we agreed that it's possible that the Kosovo Serbs participate in the political process in Kosovo; that it is important that we have a serious Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue.

And making a bridge to what the Prime Minister might want to say it is important that that process in this fragile and uncertain situation is not only supported from the part- by the international community led by the U.N. and Mr. Soren Jessen-Petersen, but also gets a boost, an important boost, from the region and Prime Minister Nano and Albania is one of those countries I spoke about, playing a very moderating and constructive role.

NANO: Well indeed the presence of NATO in Kosovo and the assistance that Euro-Atlantic institutions from the European Union, and the OSCE to the United Nations specialist (inaudible) put in place for the region are indispensable for continued progress and integration of Kosovo with the other capitals in the region, to the agendas of reforms that bring the whole Western Balkans scenario in compatibility with the multi-ethnic democracy standards that are required to make everybody feel safe at home, to make (inaudible) less relevant, to make possible that before any new European status be defined there are operational standards and the functioning of democratic institutions in opening of the markets, and in guaranteeing to all ethnics living in the region equal opportunities and legal guarantees for a European citizenship or a status of free citizens in the respective free societies.

We will continue supporting what NATO and the EU and other international and Euro-Atlantic organisations are doing for Kosovo and for the region, and we will never give up playing our contributions that we consider important because of being complementary with what NATO and the other international parties do in the region.
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