Updated: 08-Jul-2005 NATO Speeches


8 July 2005

Press Conference

by NATO Secretary General on the Extra-ordinary meeting
of the North Atlantic Council

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Ladies and gentlemen the Secretary General will make an opening statement then we'll have time for questions.

Secretary General.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (NATO Secretary General): Good morning.

Well today's extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council was of course first and foremost for Britain's 25 allies in NATO to express their unwavering solidarity and support in response to yesterday's attacks.

We began the meeting with a minute of silence for the victims and, as you will have seen and as you can see in fact, the flags here at NATO are all at half-mast.

We conveyed to the United Kingdom Ambassador, Sir Peter Ricketts, our deep condolences to the people of the United Kingdom, to the victims, to their families and to the people of the United Kingdom.

And respect was shown around the table for the dignity, the calm and the resilience with which they have faced, they, the people of the United Kingdom, have faced this great shock.

We heard from Sir Peter Ricketts the United Kingdom initial views on what has happened and the measures the United Kingdom authorities are taking to respond both to manage the consequences of the attack and to find those responsible. And full confidence was shown of course in the British authorities to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice and all NATO nations, all ambassadors, were fully committed and are fully committed to help and they stated that very clearly here today.

It is clear that yesterday's horrific events in London only reinforce the determination of the NATO allies to continue with their operations and with our missions who also have this drive, as far as NATO is concerned, to fight the fight against terrorism together--be it Afghanistan, be it our naval patrols in the Mediterranean, be it the training mission in Iraq.

We must deny to continue- we must continue to deny operating bases to terrorists; and we must continue to tighten the ring around them.

At the same time however we must continue to tackle terrorism at its roots by supporting reform in those regions where it can threaten to grow and here too NATO is playing its part, and NATO will continue to play its part by offering partnership and assistance as you know to an increasing number of countries.

As we have seen in New York, Washington, Madrid, Istanbul and many other places around the world terrorists can cause, and we saw it in London yesterday, massive damage and massive and incredible human suffering. And yet I'm firmly convinced that time is not on their side because the terrorists who commit these acts, like the one we saw yesterday, have no political vision to advance nor any just cause to pursue.

For them violence is an end in itself. This is simple nihilism and that is why ultimately they will not succeed.

We are, the North Atlantic Council, the ambassadors, NATO governments, are harbouring of course no illusions as to the time and the effort this will take. This is a long term challenge. There are no quick fixes but we can prevail through patience, persistence and above all through the active solidarity of all democratic nations and that was shown again around the NATO table this morning.

We do it, we practice it here at NATO from day to day, day by day in our political discussions and in our consultations but first and foremost in the operations ambitions we are undertaking. And that is why for us and for the North Atlantic Council this morning the tragic events of yesterday are not a reason to despair but to redouble our efforts within NATO but also certainly between NATO and other international organizations like the European Union, the United Nations and many others.

And I think we can take an example, we can consider the Londoners, the people, the emergency services in London as an example of this. Not a reason to despair, but fighting terrorism wherever it occurs because it's an international scourge, an international challenge; and the most effective way to defeat it is through international solidarity and no one should have any doubt the NATO allies will stand together.

Let me end by a remark which was made around the table this morning and I think goes to the heart of the matter. It was crystal clear this morning that when NATO, which is a value-based organization, has always defended values in all the decades of its existence, and is doing that today again because those values are threatened by those same terrorists. It was said around the table that we should realize that we are doing what we are doing not only for our generation but more specifically for generations to come.

That they can enjoy as well our open, free and democratic societies which are the core values this Alliance has always stood for.

Thank you very much.

Q: M. le secrétaire général est-ce que vous pourriez nous dire en français exactement ce que vous avez dit concernant la poursuite des missions bien sûr en Irak et en Afghanistan et puis nous expliquer qu'est-ce qui a été pris comme décisions concrètes au niveau de le partage des renseignements entre les pays membres?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Il est clair que les opérations et les missions de l'OTAN bien sûr sont importantes dans la lutte contre le terrorisme, la lutte commune contre le terrorisme.

Si j'évoque l'opération de l'OTAN en Afghanistan, pourquoi est-on là? Bien sûr pour donner le soutient au gouvernement du président Karzai mais aussi pour prévenir que l'Afghanistan comme le pays était sous le Taliban devient de nouveau un exportateur de terrorisme. C'est ça. C'est la raison qu'on est là bien sûr et ça va aussi pour les autres opérations et missions de l'OTAN.

Il est clair, il est clair comme vous venez de dire que l'échange des renseignements est un des éléments qu'il nous faut renforcer.

Quand j'évoque la relation et la coopération nécessaire entre l'OTAN, l'Union européenne, les Nations Unies et les autres organisations internationales, si j'évoque nos partenaires, si j'évoque les relations qu'on a avec par exemple la région du Moyen-Orient, notre Dialogue méditerranéen, les initiatives de coopération d'Istanbul, c'est aussi bien sûr important dans ce cadre d'avoir une échange de renseignements. D'être efficace, d'être effectif, et je crois dans ce domaine on pourrait faire plus, on pourrait faire plus.

Q (Nile News, Egyptian Television): Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary General, we know the role of NATO in fighting against(?) terrorists but in a practical way what NATO can give the partner to make them to avoid such an easy target like an attack in public transportation? Thank you.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Thank you very much.

It is, let me repeat that and Prime Minister Blair said it and many other world leaders said it yesterday, I think we should not have the illusion that we can protect our free, open and democratic societies for the full 100 percent against these horrendous acts of terrorism because these people are only there to kill--to kill as many people as possible, to kill indiscriminately, to kill the average Londoner, or the average citizen of Istanbul, or New York, or Washington. That's their objective.

But what we can do, and that's why I was specifically mentioning NATO's partnerships and I was also mentioning may I say your region, the Middle East, we should work together as much as we can because only if we have as close a cooperation as possible we can fight this scourge.

And that is what was reconfirmed this morning around the NATO table as it has been reconfirmed in Gleneagles by Prime Minister Blair, by many other world leaders yesterday.

And we should be aware, we should be aware that these people will go on in trying to destroy the values which are so dear to us all and which are the reason of existence for this Alliance, for NATO.

Q (Lithuanian Radio and Television): Mr. Secretary General would there be any necessity of evoking Article 4 or Article 5 of the Treaty regarding the London events?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: You know that the decision taken in 2001 is still in force as far as Operation Active Endeavour is concerned. I can tell you that the United Kingdom Government has not asked for invoking Article 5.

Q (Jane's Defense Weekly): My question is, has the UK Government asked NATO for any assistance with air surveillance of any kind?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: At the moment the situation is that the United Kingdom Government has indicated and we saw the great efficiency yesterday as I said in my introductory statement, has indicated that they can cope. But it is clear and it was said around the table that whenever the United Kingdom Government might decide assistance in any form of NATO would be needed, NATO will be ready and all the allies confirmed that they will be ready to give it.

Q (BBC Television): This meeting, this extraordinary meeting, was at ambassador level; will there be further special meetings at a higher level to discuss NATO's security readiness in light of these attacks?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well we have not planned higher level meetings. We have the Council in Permanent Session, as it's called, which convened this morning. It is clear of course that once again on the basis of the terrible things which happened in London last- which happened in London yesterday, the Council in Permanent Session which discusses on a regular basis the terrorism and what NATO can do against terrorism will go on to discuss this and they do that of course upon instructions of their capitals.

And we do discuss, indeed may I give you two examples, we do discuss indeed how we can better fight and how we can better recognize improvised explosive devices, what NATO can do in the sphere of chemical biological and other weapons of mass destruction.

I mean that is very much on our agenda and that is what ambassadors discuss on a permanent basis and what we are discussing and should discuss as I said during my introduction with other international organizations as well.

APPATHURAI: I think that's all the questions we have.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Thank you very much.

Thank you.
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