|Updated: 19-May-2005||NATO Speeches|
18 May 2005
with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer;
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary General and the Foreign Minister will each make brief opening statements, and then all three ministers and the Secretary General will be available for your questions.
JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): Good afternoon. It was a great pleasure... it is a great pleasure and a privilege to see three Georgian ministers coming to NATO to discuss with NATO the present state of play in the Georgia-NATO relationship, and more specifically in the way Georgia is implementing the so-called Individual Partnership Action Plan.
We have met very committed ministers—we knew that before—very committed to show that there is this real ambition for Euro-Atlantic Integration. And we have seen that a lot of progress has been made in the framework of IPAP. There is a very solid structure. Implementation, of course, is not always easy. Progress has been made. A lot still has to be done. But it is important to have these regular discussions with our Georgian friends.
Of course, IPAP was discussed, the Individual Partnership Action Plan. We also discussed the general political situation. It is crystal clear—let me repeat that—that also NATO respects the territorial integrity of Georgia; that we haven't change our opinion as far as the Russian bases in Georgia are concerned, on which negotiations are taking place; that we hope that peaceful, but quick solutions can be found for the problems in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
In other words, it was an interesting stock-taking of where we are. It is clear that that implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan is what matters. But I'm convinced, I say again, about the commitment of our Georgian friends in doing this and NATO is ready, wherever, to assist and to help.
Let me leave it here, and ask Minister Zourabichvili to say a few words.
SALOME ZOURABICHVILI (Georgian Foreign Minister): Thank you very much, Secretary General. For us too, I think that this day was very important and the signal of our determination and the importance we give to the implementation of our IPAP is the presence today of us three ministers together to meet with the North Atlantic Council, and that was a very important meeting.
We are encouraged by the support that we have received from all the member states in this road of IPAP which we take very seriously. We know that it will take some more efforts, and we are ready for that, but we are, again, encouraged by the fact that we have support and proposals for direct assistance in the different fields of IPAP.
And we are also, all of us, very encouraged by the support we got in our negotiations for the withdrawal of the military bases, because time has really come for the withdrawal of those military bases and we are also very grateful for the support, for the peaceful initiative that we have taken and the peaceful resolution of our conflicts.
So thank you, again, Mr. Secretary General.
Q: (Speaking in native language)...
And second question for General Secretary, about NATO's position of Russian military bases withdrawal from Georgia, and after that, what do you think, will we have a more chance to stay NATO's member?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Could you explain in English what the first one was? My Georgian is not what it used to be.
Q: Yes. (Laughs) Yes, is about, exactly a question about the...
ZOURABICHVILI: (inaudible)...is the procedure.
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Oh, thank you.
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: No, you. Guest first.
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me answer you that the NATO position on the Russian bases has not changed, and will not change. You know that on the basis of the Istanbul commitments entered into in 1999 these bases should go. Of course, it's a matter, as I said in my introductory statement, for talks between the Georgian government and the government of the Russian Federation. But it is clear that the end state, as soon as possible, can be no other than that the bases go.
And on the second part of your question, I said, I see a committed government in Tbilisi in Georgia. We are focusing... they are focusing, we are focusing on a solid and good implementation of the IPAP. You know the whole process is performance-based. It is not a matter of days or weeks or month or year. It's performance-based, and I think the ministers of Georgia got a lot of encouragement from the NATO ambassadors a minute ago in going on and following the path they have entered. And I say again, a lot of support for the ambition of Georgia for Euro-Atlantic Integration. That's crystal clear.
Q: Excuse me, the question to the Minister of Foreign Affairs is from ITAR-TASS News Agency. Do you... do you agree with a compromise proposal... Russian compromise proposal to pull out in four years? Is it acceptable basis for resolution of this problem? And when do you expect an agreement which could give the Russian military a legal basis to get money from budget for this pull-out?
ZOURABICHVILI: I do not agree with qualification of Russian compromise proposal, because in this negotiation both sides, and in particular the Georgian side, has made quite a number of compromises, because we... and that the only way you get to the end of negotiations we consider that it's in the mutual interest to get a result on those negotiations and to get the withdrawal of the military bases.
The question of the dates, I won't go into, as I've been saying permanently(?) because that's one of the main issues and it's not resolved. If it was resolved we would already have probably an agreement. We have a meeting that is planned in Tbilisi on Monday and we are determined to do our best and to get to the end of this negotiation. That's all I would be commenting now.
MODERATOR: Okay, the last question...
Q: To Mr. Secretary General, TV Mze Georgia. Is NATO going to help Georgia to control our air space in the nearest future? Like in Baltic countries?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well, that is, of course, related to NATO airspace. Air policing is something which is done in NATO airspace, and it will be limited to NATO airspace. So there's not... there's not a plan for a project. NATO air polices NATO airspace, and I've said many times before, when the new nations entered the Washington Treaty last year it was logical that there was NATO air policing in what is called the NATO airspace. But it's limited to the NATO airspace.
MODERATOR: I'm afraid that's all we have time for.