Updated: 19-Dec-2005 NATO Speeches


14 Dec. 2005

Video interview with Kai Eide,
Permanent Representative of Norway to NATO


Video interview

Q: Welcome Ambassador Eide, you are the Permanent Representative of Norway at NATO Headquarters in Brussels . With Norway in the lead, NATO has started a new trust fund project, how would you sum up the main aim and features of this trust fund project?

KAI EIDE (ambassador of Norway ): When... when countries carry out defense reform which is a very complex and a very demanding process, it's always so that you have to reduce the size of your armed forces to make it more adaptable to the kind of challenges we face today.

It's something that we all go through and that Serbia-Montenegro has to go through it now which means they have to reduce their armed forces. And we have to help those who will no longer be in the army, in the armed forces to settle into new jobs and to find a new livelihood for themselves and their families. And that's really the objective of this project.

Q: And why is Norway doing this in particular?

KAI EIDE: We do this because we have a long tradition of cooperation with Belgrade . We are in the lead. We are a so-called contact point country vis-à-vis the authorities of Serbia-Montenegro. And we feel committed to this and we're dedicated to bringing this forward. And we want to see defense reform in Serbia- Montenegro. They want to see it themselves. I met new defence minister there yesterday. And he, himself is very dedicated. He's also very interested in this project. And we believe we have to contribute to see to it that they can go through this very difficult process in a successful way. They have a high unemployment rate. It is not easy for those who have to leave the armed forces to find new jobs. Therefore, we also have to help them to find new livelihood in the private sector. So we aim at about 1,850 military personnel and their families in the first two years period from now on and then; perhaps 5,000 over the next five years.

It's a project which will cost around 5.9 million Euros out of which Norway will cover one and a half million. It's a big project. It's in fact the biggest trust fund that I think NATO has ever been involved in. It shows also the commitment we have to working very, very closely with the authorities in Belgrade , under their leadership, to try to bring this project forward.

Q: And why initiate the project as a NATO trust fund?

KAI EIDE: We have initiated from NATO trust funds relating to defense reforms with a number of countries. but themn more on how to restructure their armed forces and make the forces more modern. But we also have to take care of the other part of all those who have to leave the armed forces. It is an important part of the defence reform process as such. And we think that after having consulted the authorities in Belgrade that we should pay attention to this. But they are doing a lot themselves through something called the Prisma Project. And we try to assist them and build upon that. And on their own experience, their own initiative, their own desires, and to help them have a balanced reform... defense reform process take place in their country.

Q: You talk about... Who are these individuals? And what criteria are used to identified them?

EIDE: We believe that we have to aim at those who will have more difficulties than others in finding new positions in the civilian sectors. These are, for instance, people who only have education within the military field, people who are of a certain age who are not so young anymore. They cannot easily find new jobs. People who, perhaps, have not earned pension rights, will have not pension, who have problems with regard to housing. And also people who are the only wage-earners in their family. These are the most vulnerable. And these have to be our priorities and that's the aim of our project.

Q: What do you think the project will achieve?

EIDE: I do hope that the project will give those people who are included in it a new training, new possibilities and assistance in order to start a new career in the civilian life. And that is our objective. And we know that its's something that each and different country going through a defence reform has to do. But it's quite obvious that countries with a higher unemployment rate have more difficulty than others.

My country had to go through the same process. It's been painful. We had to do it because we could not sustain this big armed forces structures that all of us had in the old times.

We're facing completely different challenges. So we all have to go through it. For those who are in a more difficult economic situation, it is more complex. But there's one common denominator for all of us: We simply have to do it, because in the end we will not be able to afford such a big armed forces structure as we have today.

Q: You asked IOM to be executive agent in this project, why IOM?

EIDE: Well, it's the first time that we do that. And normally we have used NATO agencies to do that, agencies who have expertise in what is the more technical part of reforming the armed forces and making them more adaptable to today's challenges. These other part, our own agencies do not have any experience. We have then chosen the IOM because they do have experience. They have experience from Bosnia . They have experience from Croatia and have in fact contributed to bring quite a large number, I think around 20,000 personnel into the civilian sector. So they know how to do it. They have experience. And we have the motivation and want to assist. So here we come together: IOM, the authorities in Serbia- Montenegro and the NATO countries and NATO partner countries because we will not do this alone. I'm sure there are many partner countries who, also, would like to contribute to this. Already a number of countries are coming forward with contribution. So we have a good hope that we'll be able to fulfill the requirements of the project and get it underway very quickly.

Q: Ambassador, in your opinion, what is the relevance to the ongoing defence reform efforts in Serbia-Montenegro?

EIDE: As I said, there are two aspects of defence reform. It's making the forces that you maintain more professionnal, more able to participating, meeting the current challenges, the future challenges. And the other is the responsibility that we have in each and every country to see to it that those who cannot continue in the armed forces have a way to go and have a future.

Both are equally important. And let me say, what we also want tocome out of this, of course, is to see Serbia-Montenegro participate, with us also, in the international operations where NATO is involved and where NATO and partners are involved. Serbia-Montenegro is already participating in some international peacekeeping operations in Africa because we would like to see Serbia-Montenegro as a member of the Partner for Peace, as a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. And we certainly would like to see the new and modernised forces of Serbia-Montenegro participate with us in operations where we are and to help us meet the challenges of the new international and difficult international realities.

Q: Ambassador Kai Eide, thank you very much for your time.

EIDE: Thank you, thank you very much.

International Organization for Migration

Go to Homepage Go to Index Back to NATO Homepage