Updated: 13-Sep-2005 NATO Speeches


13 Sep . 2005

Joint Press Point

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the German Defence Minister, Peter Struck

MODERATOR: The Secretary General and the Minister of Defence will each make brief opening statements. Then we'll have time for a few questions. Secretary General.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Of course, I'll start by thanking Minister Struck, Peter, and the German government, for hosting us here so well, and for this important meeting of NATO Defence Ministers. (Interpretation) Thank you very much, Peter, we appreciate that greatly. (Interpretation Ends)

...congratulate the German government and people on the 50th anniversary of Germany's membership in NATO. Having said that, we know that Germany is one of the biggest troop contributors, if we look at NATO's operations and missions. And through NATO Germany is helping to bring peace and security to people who need, be it in Afghanistan, be it in Kosovo. So Germany, in other words, has become a real contributor to peace, and I think that's a good thing to say.

Now I know much of you, of course, will be focused here in events that will take in this country in just a few days. That is what we've not discussed, of course, as you can imagine. Although I know the Defence Ministers have to spend their time from time to time on the day-to-day affairs, but this afternoon we had the chance to take a longer view, and Peter Struck kicked off, by the way, our debate.

It's an informal meeting, as you know, so this is not a meeting where NATO takes decisions. So Ministers took the opportunity to look into the future, to try to answer the question, what is this Alliance going to do in 10, 15 years? How do we see NATO's operations and missions evolve?

Because decisions which have to be taken in formal meetings will help to make that vision concrete.

So what we did do was having as open and as political decision discussion as possible. After all Defence Ministers are not technicians. They are politicians. And they should give me as Secretary General of NATO and my people in Brussels, strategic guidance. Where do we go? What is the political impulse they can give in such a meeting for me to be able to do my work properly?

In other words, Ministers discussed the question what will the security environment look like? How do you strike the right balance between the most likely peace support operations? And the need to be able to still do the full range of missions, including at the top end of the military spectrum, which... and that's also very much what NATO is about.

And of course, they exchanged views on the kind of forces. What kind of forces does NATO need to make that concept work?

So no decisions, but political discussions, a chance, of course, for all(?) together, and we'll certainly have more of them in the future.

Ministers, of course, having discussed the broad picture, turned also to more prosaic matters, including the NATO Response Force and money.

On the NATO Response Force they discussed, we discussed, the preparations to see that the NATO Response Force, which is our most important tool of transformation, of change in other words, can reach what we call its full operational capability by October 2006. So that's in slightly over a year.

And when I talk money, you know, that this is an interesting subject for Defence Ministers, but certainly for Finance Ministers as well, in national governments, so we had a good look at how NATO pays for things. In essence today, if NATO nations contribute forces they pay for their use. We call that "costs lie where they fall."

This works for the most part, but it can discourage nations from contributing and it can also seem a double burden. In other words, we looked today at how to share the financial burdens with more solidarity, and in particular, what we could, in the future, do more in common funding, financing it together, than what we have done up to now.

Things we use for all our operations: be it hospitals, be it logistics, be it setting up, be it setting up headquarters, be it the airlift we need for operations, including the short-term airlift we might need for NRF deployments.

Of course, what I add is what I always add, and perhaps some of you will say, here he is again, our dear Secretary General--don't know if he's dear or not--but it's also a matter of defence spending and defence spending in the Alliance across the board is too low, but it certainly is also a matter of deciding where, when and on what issues to spend our money.

Finally, I also have seen the poll of the German Marshall Fund and I know that there is a lot to be done in increasing public support for defence spending. And that means that we have, indeed, and that was also mentioned by Ministers, we have indeed, as NATO, to do lots of public diplomacy, to explain why we are in Afghanistan. Why is the German Bundeswehr making such a big contribution in Afghanistan, far away from home, unthinkable ten years ago. Why is that?

That is, of course, to support President Karzai's government, to bring security and stability to that country, but also because the challenges we're facing in Afghanistan, to prevent that country from becoming a black hole again from which terrorism is exported. We see that women who have no rights at all under the Taliban and the Taliban boots, can live there freely; so that millions of Afghans are registered for the president... or the parliamentary elections in a few days. I mean, defence cannot... that's the lesson preserved on the cheap.

In other words, and in brief, it was a good discussion, it was a political discussion. It was not a discussion which is going to lead to decisions, but I think the guidance was clear and let me finish where I started.

It is good to be in Berlin. It's good to enjoy your hospitality, Peter, and it's good that NATO meets here after these very important 50 years for Germany and for NATO.

Thank you so much.

PETER STRUCK (German Minister of Defence): (Interpretation) Thank you very much, Jaap. Let me just add a few short remarks.

From Berlin we will send out the signal that transformation is not just a technical and military issue, but also a political issue for the importance of the Alliance.

The question of what the role of NATO will be in 10 to 15 years is something that Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has taken up.

Also after what Federal Chancellor Schroeder has said during his speech in Munich, I would like to say something on two points.

First of all, on NRF, the NATO Response Force, we're on the right way here. We assume that we'll reach FOC in 2006 and I would like to say something on common funding.

Germany believes that first of all we should follow the principle of "costs lie where they fall." So each nation base its share in certain operations. But we know that nations... certain nations will not be able to do that in certain missions, and so we are willing to help other nations, particularly during the exercise on the Cape Verde islands, and we will participate in the discussion on the funding of NATO operations, and I think we will reach an acceptable result for all those involved. (Interpretation Ends)

MODERATOR: I think we have time for questions. Paul.

Q: Paul Ames from the Associated Press. Minister Struck, you've made clear in the past few days that you're against the merger of ISAF with Operation Enduring Freedom. Would you be prepared to accept the situation where there are two separate forces, but under a single NATO command?

STRUCK: No, you know we have the discussion, we have one roof and we have two, what are (SPEAKING IN German)...

MODERATOR: Pillars, pillars.


STRUCK: Two pillars we have in ISAF, that's our position. We didn't discuss this.

Q: Mark John from Reuters. I know the discussion on Afghanistan is not until tomorrow, but Secretary...


Q: Secretary Rumsfeld has suggested that NATO take on more tasks in Afghanistan, including counterterrorism, and I wanted to know what the German position is on NATO taking on counterterrorism tasking at that.

STRUCK: Yes, you know, we are engaged in the fight against terrorism in the EF Mission with special forces.

Q: General Secretary, you've said that the guidance was clear, but we haven't got the clue of what was said inside. Could you enlighten us about the tenor of the discussions, especially dealing with financing, common financing on operations?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I've tried to give you a few hints though. But I'm not going to quote from the discussion. But what I can tell you--and let me add to what Minister Struck was saying--of course, it's not an easy discussion, I agree. "Costs lie where they fall" vis-à-vis common funding. But there is a certain understanding, as I also hear from Minister Struck, that when we go into an operation together, and let me quote one example which was given, and for that operation a headquarters being set up by a nation, which is going to be used after rotations like in Afghanistan and in ISAF. We're not there for six months. We're there for a few more years, I think.

Why not see... have a discussion on common funding? Should every nation have its own specific and separate logistic footprint? Can we in the long run... I'm asking questions because they have not all been answered. Can we in the long run have more AWACS type of the pooling of resources that certain nations say, or can we do that nation-wide perhaps, on airlift. You know, there is an initiative going on on airlift.

What about sealift? What about air-to-air refuelling? All discussions going on in NATO where this discussion on what does every nation pay for itself, and I think that's a very important notion as also addressed by Minister Struck.

And if we go into more crisis response operations, and that was very new 10, 12, 15 years ago, and there will be more, I'm afraid, Afghanistans and Kosovos where we do things... or Darfurs, for that matter, where we assist the African Union, that we should address these questions.

And I think there is a common understanding--let me a bit more concrete--and a common understanding... there was as common understanding this afternoon that these are the key questions and that what I've just said about "costs lie where they fall", more common funding, I think it will be supported in the Alliance.

How we are going to work this out, of course, is another matter. Let's not forget, you know this, and Secretary Rumsfeld referred to this, although we have not taken absolutely formal decision yet, that it is almost certain that we're going to have a summit on transformation at the end of next year. It's a U.S. proposal, you know the formalities, the 26 have to agree, consulting capitals.

What we have discussed here, as politicians, not as technicians, as politicians, that is exactly what we should agree upon in the framework of the comprehensive political guidance. Abracadabra, for your readers, but it is what NATO is all about and how NATO does its force planning.

Now I sat in the meeting, I can give you a quote of myself. Did we discuss comprehensively... or that it should be comprehensive, it should be political and it should contain guidance. That's what we're working for.

MODERATOR: Last question.

Q: (inaudible)... Radio. Mr. de Hoop Scheffer... yeah...

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Where are you?

MODERATOR: Way in the back.

Q: Here in the back.

MODERATOR: The other side.

Q: Just in the back here.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Yes, thank you.

Q: You talked about strategic guidance. Will that lead into a new strategic and political concept of NATO, what started here in Berlin? Do you think that there has to be a new paper where all this is written down?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: No, I do not think so, because the comprehensive political guidance, which is something we got as homework, Defence Ministers, Foreign Ministers, me, from our Heads of State and Government. It's, as we say in our jargon, a tasking, in other words, it's homework we have got from our Heads of State and Government.

As I said, if it's comprehensive political and it contains guidance it should indeed provide the answers for the changed security environment in which the Alliance is operating at the moment. And I think that under those circumstances there's no need to reopen the debate on this strategic concept.

Vielen Dank, Danke schoen.

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