Updated: 02-Jun-2006 NATO Speeches


1 June 2006

Video background briefing

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Video interview
Audio file

Hello, my name is Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. I'm the NATO Secretary General. And I thank you for tuning into the June briefing on what is happening here at NATO. NATO will soon be holding an important ministerial meeting. And let me start with what is most in the headlines you're reading nowadays. And that's Afghanistan. Two events have been taking place in Afghanistan at the same time.

First NATO troops have been moving into the southern part of the country in large numbers: about 6,000 strong to help establish the control of the Afghan government over that part of that territory and to allow reconstruction and development to take place there as well.

At the same time as you have heard and seen, there has been a certain upsurge in violence. We saw a riot in Kabul, the capital. We saw road side bombs explode. And unfortunately, we also saw the killing of aid workers. I do not think it is entirely a coincidence. NATO troops are moving with Afghan forces, forces from the Afghan national army into what has been until now I would call ungoverned space. In fact, the Afghans are in some cases going where there has never been central government control of any kind.

And it's true and it's clear that there are many who will resist. There are many who will try to spoil this process and starting reconstruction and nation building. And indeed there are Taliban and there will be Taliban. But part of the violence will also certainly be caused by people who traffic in narcotics and other criminals. So what I can tell you is that this violence is coming as no surprise because there are people who want to spoil this process.

NATO forces coming there are sufficient in numbers. They have the capabilities. And they have what we call the rules of engagement which is in fact what they can do and what they can't do. And those rules of engagement are robust. And NATO Forces will be able to react in a robust way if the spoilers are coming in and try to destroy this process of nation building. NATO will watch the situation very carefully and will adjust if and when necessary.

I mentioned the riots at the end of May and I think they show also a more general level of frustration among the Afghan people that their lives are not getting better. And let me be very clear about the situation. There is no military solution alone to the problems of Afghanistan. Roads must be built. People need jobs and schools and hospitals. They need good governance. And they need more in general better lives. And they have a right to all of this. And NATO is creating the conditions for reconstruction and development to take place.

It is to a large extent up to others, first of course, the Afghan government and the Afghan people itself. But also up to the United Nations, the European Union, the G8 which is the group of the richest industrial nations. It's up to the major donor countries of Afghanistan to deliver now the critical second part as well. And the second part is reconstruction. The second part is nation building.

NATO defence ministers will discuss all these points at an important meeting in early June here in Brussels, at NATO headquarters from which I speak to you. And for the first time, we'll hold a defence ministers' meeting in the format of ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force where not only NATO Allies are participating but also many of our partners. We have invited the defence ministers of our partner nations. And we've also invited and that's a first, the Afghan Defence Minister Wardak. He'll also come to Brussels. And I think we'll have an important discussion with him on Afghanistan.

Of course, ministers will also be discussing other important issues at the meeting on operations. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, we're looking at the further enlargement of the operation in Afghanistan. We look at Kosovo in the Western Balkans. You know that on Kosovo there are important status talks going on. What will be the future status of the province under the lead of the former... under the leadership of the former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari.

We'll, I think, start to look ahead and to see what kind of security presence would there be in Kosovo if hopefully the status talks would have a successful end. And we have to address the question: "What could or should be a NATO role? Should there be a NATO role? And if yes, what should be that NATO role in that Kosovo after status talks?"

Ministers... defence ministers of NATO will discuss Darfur . You know we're giving support to Darfur. We are ferrying in and out through an airlift African Union Forces in and out of Darfur. We are training the military leadership of the African Union. We'll have to look at the longer horizon here as well because we have decided to extend our support to the African Union. And we're ready to help the United Nations as well when, in Darfur, the successful African Union mission will be taken over by the United Nations.

We'll have to look at the NATO summit heads of State and government will have in Riga, in Latvia, at the end of November. This meeting is an important building block in the preparation for this summit in Riga. We'll look at the NATO Response Force. You know the quick reaction force of NATO. We would like to see it fully operational as we call it, up and running you can say in normal speak, at the Summit in Riga. And with that NATO Response Force we will have a very important live exercise in the Cape Verde Islands at the end of June. And NRF provides will critical capabilities including the important point of strategic airlift.

We'll also meet with Ukrainian Defence Minister Hrytsenko in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. There's not a new government in Ukraine yet. It's important that new government will be formed. But NATO's engagement with Ukraine will remain firm and will help Ukraine to meet its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

Finally, the European Atlantic Partnership Council, the meeting with all NATO's partners. We look, of course, at our operations and missions in which so many partners participate. Coming back to Afghanistan again, you'll see 37 nations, countries participating in Afghanistan, NATO and non-NATO alike.

In other words, that ministerial meeting will be a very important one where we prepare this Summit in Riga and discuss our operations and missions. Hope to see you next month. This was it for June. Thank you very much for your attention.

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