|Updated: 16-Jun-2005||NATO Speeches|
16 June 2005
by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, H.E. Mr. Jiri Paroubek
JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary General and the Prime Minister will each make brief opening statements and then we'll have time for a few questions.
JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (NATO Secretary General): Thank you. Let me start by warmly welcoming the Czech Prime Minister Paroubek for what is his first visit to NATO. He's very welcome.
He's representing an important ally.
A staunch ally I should say which also takes its responsibilities in NATO-led operations - ambitions be it in ISAF and Afghanistan, be it with a very robust presence in Kosovo, be it in Czech participation in the NATO training mission in Iraq and in other fields. So that is, of course, commendable.
Let me add another very important capability, the Czech Republic has developed, I should of course mention, which is the leadership in the so-called CBRN Battalion which has already proved its value a number of times and which is for the development of further NATO capabilities of great importance.
It is clear that we discussed the full range of subjects.
I know the Prime Minister is in Brussels of course for very important business at the other side of Brussels but we both are strong supporters of a close NATO-European Union relationship and you can imagine that this subject was also discussed as were NATO's different partnerships. I mentioned already the operations and missions.
We have discussed Czech defence reform of course. You might remember that last week I made critical remarks about defence spending in NATO. I should say that the Czech Republic is not entirely meeting the two percent GDP criterion but the Czech Republic is very close and is in the first batch and of course we hope that this percentage could be reached in the Czech Republic as well.
In other words and in brief, a very reliable staunch ally and it's a great pleasure to welcome you here, let me say this once again, the Prime Minister.
H.E. MR. JIRI PAROUBEK (Prime Minister of the Czech Republic):
(TRANSLATION BEGINS) Thank you very much for a great welcome. I was confirmed with- together with the entire government May 13th; so one month later, I have the first official visit here at NATO Headquarters.
And of course in the case of each change of the government, it's always very necessary to confirm the orientation of the Czech Republic and this is the reason why I'm here today to confirm Czech Republic orientation towards the Transatlantic Partnership and cooperation with our allies and EU.
I would describe the security policy NATO-EU at(?) the basis of compatibility.
And regarding the defence spending, I've ensured Secretary General that despite of the existing budget we have quite sufficient reserve funds within the Ministry of Defence and the further draw-out of these financial means are depending on the tendering process speed and fact- optically we are below two percent of GDP but by the fact I think we can easily reach that percentage.
The reform of Czech Armed Forces is heading towards its final period.
And I also would like to stress the fact that from August the 1st, we are enhancing our participation in Kosovo within the Czech-Slovak Battalion, where there are existing number of staff--409--and it will enhanced of 200 personnel but it wouldn't have a negative on our other participations abroad.
And I've also ensured, Secretary General, that there is prepared materiel to be submit for the approval to the Czech government and as a follow-up to the Czech Parliament and our participations abroad will be enhanced by the document.
Yes- I mean for next year.
Q (Prima TV Czech Republic): I just have a question- Mr. Secretary General, it's actually not that much about NATO. But we now, let's say, in the middle of the crisis of the European Union. Actually this summit today- summit tomorrow- summit should decide many things. What do you, as the Secretary General of NATO think about it because it's a crisis of an important political subject which the European Union is?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well you should first of all I think- not calling it a crisis before it's a crisis if you see what I mean.
I mean the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the European Council will of course do everything they can I mean to see that the European Union will stay on the right track. That will of course not be easy but let me say as NATO Secretary General as I've said before it was- it's clear that NATO needs a strong, and efficient and effective European Union. That's an interest of NATO.
I had that reconfirmed when I visited President Bush last week in the United States. NATO needs a strong European Union and that also goes for the United States. In other words, European integration is important.
I'm not going to interfere in what is the competence of European Union leaders, I can only tell you that there is a NATO interest.
European integration which develops in complementarity with NATO, I mean, never against NATO, European integration which would be a counterweight to the United States is a dead end street, you know my opinion about that.
So I wish- I can tell the Czech Prime Minister that I wish him all the best, and his colleagues in the European Council, tonight and tomorrow to see that after the results of the French and Dutch referenda that the European Union will find a way to get its act together because that's a NATO interest.
Q (... Television): Gentlemen I have a question for both of you if I can. I wonder if you've been talking about the Bosnia issues. If you've been talking in general terms or if you've touched or stressed some specific points especially the hunting for Mr. Karadzic and Mladic? What's the issue for the European Union and NATO of course as well and you are cooperating in this area.
PAROUBEK: (TRANSLATION BEGINS) Regarding this topic, we discussed that only generally.
Q (follow-up): If you can just stress your opinion about that if you don't mind now- (inaudible) essential at the moment not only for Croatia but for the human rights and Europe at all?
Q (follow-up): (Czech)
PAROUBEK: (TRANSLATION BEGINS) I would say that this is a legitimate requirement with respect to human rights and myself personally on behalf of the Czech Republic I will only support- such a requirement.
And maybe it wouldn't- it was not noticed by the Czech media but I received two days ago a letter from the former president, Mr. Havel, and within this letter we've sort of harmonized our approaches in the area of human rights.
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: It gives me a very bad feeling that, at the moment we are almost remembering... commemorating the ten years of the Srebrenica massacre, that the Prime Minister and I still have to say Mladic and Karadzic are not yet in the place where they should be which is in The Hague.
And you know that NATO and European Union Forces are doing everything they can but also political cooperation is necessary.
But let me say that it gives me a bad feeling and that we'll do everything we can to see, in the interests indeed of human rights and human decency I would say, that they can face the Tribunal in The Hague.