Updated: 15-Sep-2005 NATO Speeches


14 Sep . 2005

News conference

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary General will make an opening statement, then we have time for some questions.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you know this morning's discussion focused on operations. Afghanistan, of course, figured prominently. And of course, as we could already read in newspapers, we discussed the relationship between ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom; the need for more synergy where everybody very much agreed, which is, of course, a relevant question as ISAF expands into the south of Afghanistan and as the allies will discuss a revised operational plan later this fall.

So what I can tell you is that there is a shared view among NATO Defence Ministers that we need a greater synergy between the two missions; ISAF on the one hand, and Operation Enduring Freedom on the other. They must coordinate more closely. And they must therefore, make the appropriate arrangements for this greater synergy.

With those principles in mind, and with the consensus that this synergy is necessary, we, as I said, continue our discussions on the details, for instance, of the command arrangements necessary for this greater synergy. But let me underline we have a shared way forward here.

There was, of course, a wider discussion on Afghanistan and it was underlined that what is important is, first of all, Afghan ownership when we discuss Afghanistan. President Karzai, as you know, has mentioned, and this was strongly supported by the Defence Ministers around the table, the holding of an international conference early next year to chart out, I stress again, under Afghan ownership, the way forward by the international community in support of the Afghan government, not only now, but also in the future.

So Afghan lead and Afghan ownership are here the key words, but also, which was underlined by many Ministers, that this is a team effort. The United Nations, the European Union, the G8, the major donor nations, must all play their part alongside NATO. NATO and ISAF can impossibly(sic) take responsibility for all aspects of Afghanistan's development and this... the need for international cooperation I will discuss just next week with the Secretary General of the United Nations and what we also certainly do need is close NATO-EU coordination on this matter. And as I said, that also goes for the G8.

In other words, this should be a team effort. Under Afghan leadership, that's the difference between the Bonn process which comes, as you know, formally to an end, the Petersburg process, as the elections for the Parliament and the provincial councils will take place on next Sunday.

Continuing with operations Ministers also discussed Kosovo and the very sensitive political period, which Kosovo is entering with the report of Ambassador Kai Eide imminent, and a possible... a possible... we don't know yet of course, that's up to others to decide, start or the beginning of status talks.

You know that KFOR is restructuring to be more mobile, more flexible and more visible on the ground. And I think I can conclude that Ministers' discussion today left not a shimmer of doubt about NATO's resolve to continue to help keep the peace and to create the security and stability which is absolutely necessary to bring the different elements of the process I mentioned forward.

We discussed, of course, as well, in the framework of our operations and missions NATO's training mission in Iraq. Soon we will formally open the training academy for the NATO training mission near Baghdad and we will continue to train 1,500 Iraqi officers, both inside, as you know, and outside the country. But this Ar Rustimiyah facility, as it's called, the Training, Education and Doctrine Centre, will play an important part in the NATO training mission in Iraq.

And if I mention Iraq, no need to mention the horrible pictures of violence we saw yesterday and again today, which is, of course, a grim reminder of the challenges in that country, but it also underlines the fact, and that is what the Iraqi government keeps making clear to me, and to us and to NATO, that they need, as soon as possible, as many properly trained and equipped forces as they can have, for obvious reasons I do not need to dwell on. So NATO is playing its part there with its training mission.

Ministers also discussed terrorism, and as you saw we had a moment of silence for all the victims of terrorism, of which we have tragically seen so many recent examples. By the way we'll do that again when we meet in a few moments with the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, because as you know, it's not only shortly after the anniversary of 9/11, but certainly also the anniversary of Beslan, so we found it very much appropriate to have this one minute silence in the presence of Russian Defence Minister Ivanov as well.

We discussed also terrorism in the framework of new technologies. You know that in Istanbul there was a decision on a list of subjects on new technologies in different fields and more lead nations stepped forward. It goes from the protection of large-body aircraft, to harbour protection, to improvised explosive devices, defence against mortar attacks, precision drop. Modern technologies which we need in the fight against terrorism and where NATO is playing a very practical part, apart, of course, from Afghanistan, which is, in fact, an operation which prevent that country to become an exporter of terrorism again. And let me also mention our Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean, which is also an anti-terrorist operation.

In other words, I think it was a very fruitful morning. Yesterday the longer term, the transformation, and this morning... and the NRF, and this morning, the focus on our operations. I think we had an excellent discussion. No decisions... no decisions made, of course, because this is not a formal meeting, but I think Ministers mapped out a way forward for their permanent representatives in Brussels and for me, to take a number of decisions which are on our agenda.

Let me leave it here. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: First question, Mark.

Q: Mark John from Reuters. On the command arrangements in Afghanistan, during the talks do countries simply restate their positions, as we've known them for some time now, or were there any developments in these positions which lead you to be more optimistic about an agreement on this illusive final formula for the command arrangements?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well, I'm optimistic in the sense that there was, let's say, a restatement, but in a ministerial meeting it has, of course, a special value, that as ISAF expands there is the need for this synergy.

Now your question, of course, is how is this synergy going to take shape. That is a discussion we're going to have in the framework, as I said, of the revised op plan, of course we have to find, as you rightly say, the command arrangements which reflect this greater synergy between the two operations. We... Ministers did not discuss this in detail, as I say because the revised op plan prepared by the military authorities will be discussed in Brussels in October and certainly then the command arrangements will be an important subject to discuss. But the foundation, the basis for the greater synergy is there, and if you ask me I say in that respect I'm optimistic.

Q: A question in French, Secretary General.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: S'il vous plaƮt.

Q: (Interpretation) I think all this is quite confused, this question of the joint command. Yesterday we had a feeling that you yourself, and Mr. Rumsfeld were in favour of a single command as soon as possible. Now we have the feeling that France, Germany, Spain stated that they were rather opposed to this idea and the question was swept away. American diplomats just said that there's no question of joint command during Stage 3. What does this mean?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well, it's not been swept away. As I said a moment ago, Ministers discussed the problem of synergies and without a command structure there can't be any synergy, that's clear. Because at this point in time, as you know, we have ISAF and we have OEF.

The complete agreement is on synergy and Ministers also agree that on the basis of their plan that we discussed all this. And you are saying that yesterday I said something else. Yesterday I said there were options for the command, and I said there was one option for the double-hatting, this is one option that can be discussed. Others can also be discussed, but this is on the table and the common point between Ministers is synergy. (Interpretation Ends)

...make anything from nothing. (Interpretation Ends) We have not made any decision on the command structure, but what we need is an agreement on the synergy in order to have a decision in October on the command structure. So that is not on the table.

But I know for sure that after the discussion we had this morning we will be in a position to make a decision, because ISAF is going to expand, is it not, next year?

And it is the... what is linked to this expansion is synergy. But without a command structure there can't be any synergy.

MODERATOR: Madame, vous avez des commentaires?



Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup. Danke schoen.

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