Updated: 30-Oct-2006 NATO Speeches


8 June 2005

Closing news conference

by the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

8 June 2006 - NATO HQ
Defence Ministers Meetings
Audio file of the closing news conference

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer: Once again, good afternoon. Let me briefly tell you about the ministerial meeting in the EAPC framework.

Of course, Ministers focused on operational cooperation between the allies and the partners and discussed how can we make it more effective, make it better. As I said this morning, today more than 35, I think, 36 in total, countries are in Afghanistan in NATO ISAF and I think that is the best proof I can give you that our operational cooperation is a reality. Afghanistan is a case in point, but it goes, of course, for other operations as well. And that it is paying off in a form of increased international security.

I mention Afghanistan . I could also mention Operation Active Endeavour. It has been open to partners since the Istanbul Summit, and like Ukraine , and as you know Russia soon, more partners are looking at signing up. There's also an interest, I'll give you one example, in the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue, nations' partners for this Operation Active Endeavour.

Now what we discussed today was ways to further improve the capability of the forces of those partners who want more NATO support, using the mechanisms we have put in place precisely for this purpose. And that's what we will do.

Of course, we also discussed Riga because any summit that takes forward NATO's transformation inevitably affects our partners as well. And we focused today, as Defence Ministers do, on the practical effects and benefits for our operational cooperation.

And that is in brief what I can tell you about the meeting. And let me finish by saying that I think we saw another reconfirmation of the clear value of the EAPC and we will continue to make it stronger even if we reach out to new partners as well.

Thank you so much.

Q: Secretary General, a question on... not on the EAPC, but a question on this idea of creating a training centre, possibly in the Middle East, in Jordan some people are saying. Some countries are very reluctant at the idea and so I would like to know if... I mean, how you see things evolving. I mean, are you going to personally push for this idea of creating a centre in the Middle East , or will you try to accommodate things and find some sort of compromise with maybe bringing officers, you know, to the NATO schools and things like that? What is your personal view on this...

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well sometimes... you're right. I mean, your question is to the point. Sometimes a Secretary General accommodates, and sometimes he pushes. As far as the training centre is concerned, and the details, you're right, the details are being discussed, I'm very much in favour of having a training centre, which is the working title. I mean, I don't know where we will end up.

We do that, of course, let me stress that, in cooperation with our partners. We're not coming there and say well, here we are. But it is still in the early stages. You're right in saying that it has been debated between allies, but in preparation for this ministerial meeting.

I can tell you that we managed... I managed, we managed, to have a consensual document which was at the basis of our discussions on the training initiative, as I would like to call it this morning. Where it will be, what it exactly will be, it's difficult to say. The only thing I can say is and I can tell you is that this is one of the areas where NATO is very strong. We have a huge experience and I can tell you, because I say we're not coming in to impose ourselves, that there is a lot of interest in the region, in the broader Middle East , in this.

And then, of course, you have to discuss the modalities, how you exactly are going to set it up, but I'm... after today's meetings I'm in a positive mood. And if you ask me for my opinion I think it's a valuable idea, provided that we do this in coordination and consultation with our partners. Otherwise, it doesn't make much sense, I think.

Q: Monsieur le Secrétaire général (INAUDIBLE)


Q: Bonjour Monsieur, le journal arabe (INAUDIBLE). Je voudrais vous demander si dans... ce centre sera ouvert à tous les pays arabes, disons membres du Dialogue méditerranéen mais aussi de la région du Golfe. Et de manière générale, concernant l'Afghanistan, est-ce que vous ne croyez pas quand on voit la situation, la nature des opérations menées par les gens des Talibans, c'est un peu l'irakisation de l'Afghanistan. Est-ce que vous n'êtes pas inquiet de... que vous vous trouvez dans des situations suffisamment complexes dans ce pays comme l'est les forces américaines, les forces de l'Alliance en Irak?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Non, je ne crois pas. Pour commencer avec l'Afghanistan comme je l'ai dit il y a quatre heures pendant la conférence de presse avec le ministre Wardak de la Défense de l'Afghanistan, je ne crois pas que c'est juste de faire une comparaison entre l'Irak et l'Afghanistan. Ce n'est pas le cas. L'OTAN entre le Sud de l'Afghanistan avec double la force, le niveau des forces qu'avant. Alors, l'OTAN entre d'une façon robuste avec des "rules of engagement" qui sont robustes.

Bien sûr, les Talibans, mais pas seulement les Talibans, les gens qui trafiquent les stupéfiants, les criminels "normaux", ils sont en train de tester l'OTAN. On est en train d'entrer. On est en train de nous tester. Et on a vu déjà que les Anglais, les Canadiens, les Hollandais ont réagi d'une façon robuste. Alors, il faut éviter l'impression que l'OTAN est là sans être dans une position d'être robuste. On a, vous avez raison, on a bien sûr vu plus d'activités des Talibans qu'avant dans un certain sens. On l'a vu toujours pendant le printemps. Mais maintenant, l'OTAN entre. Et c'est un argument pour les gens qui ne veulent pas la démocratisation, qui ne veulent pas que le "standard of living" des Afghans s'améliore, pour tester l'OTAN. Ils n'auront pas de succès. Ils n'auront pas le succès.

Sur le centre d'information, de l'entraînement "Working Title" comme je vous ai dit, en principe, si je dis Moyen-Orient élargi, en principe, je crois que dans les consultations avec nos partenaires, c'est lié au Dialogue méditerranéen et l'Initiative de la Coopération d'Istanbul. Mais les détails, quoi exactement, où, comme j'ai dit à votre collègue, c'était... c'est déjà trop tôt de l'indiquer. Mais je peux vous dire, le dire en français aussi, que les réactions de la région, les réactions de nos partenaires sont très positives.

Q: I wanted to ask: "How much will the decision to incre ase the troops in Afghanistan affect KFOR?" How long will NATO manage to keep 17,000 troops in Kosovo if you are doubling your forces in Afghanistan ?

And second question, regarding the communiqué. It's said here that the arrest of Karadzic and Mladic remains the key obstacle to consideration for accession to PfP, but it doesn't say for which countries. Montenegro is now independent state, and Carla del Ponte confirmed that Montenegro is fully cooperating, so do you envisage that Montenegro can join PfP before Serbia ?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well, let me... that's a lot of questions, but it's Koha Ditore, so I'll answer them one by one.

First, NATO's doubling of the number of forces in Afghanistan will not affect KFOR, of course not.

Second, how long is KFOR going to stay on the present force levels? For as long as necessary.

Point number three, as far as the region is concerned, we discussed, you and I many times before that unfortunately for Serbia and for Bosnia-Herzegovina, there is this hurdle of Karadzic and Mladic. As far as Montenegro is concerned, that is a question of recognition by all the allies. It's a bit of a same situation as it is in the EU, as you know. Recognition of Montenegro as an independent state by all the allies. Formal recognition. We have accepted the referendum free and fair, the result of the referendum.

Then you have the formal point, I should make, that the Partnership for Peace founding documents give priority to OSCE membership before PfP. That means that Montenegro, which has already applied for the OSCE, either by decision of the Permanent Council in Vienna of the OSCE, or by a decision of the OSCE Council at ministerial level--I don't know when(?) the Permanent Council can do that--should be admitted at the 56th member of the OSCE.

If that has happened, and if we have seen the legal, if that's correct English, disentanglement of the state union between Serbia and Montenegro , I presume that Montenegro could enter the PfP, but there are still a number of legal and other points to make before that can happen.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Two last questions. There and there.

Q: General Secretary, (inaudible)... Serbian Daily (inaudible)... About Mr. Mladic, did you and will you offer, if you did not do yet, some kind of help to Serbia to arrest Mladic and after Karadzic also to Bosnia and Herzegovina? And did the Serbian government ask this help from NATO to arrest Mladic?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: The answer to the second part of your question is no. The answer to the first part of your question is also no. The Serbian authorities are more than capable, if there would be the political will, more than capable of delivering Mr. Mladic.

And they know, and I say this with regret, I don't like what I'm saying now, and they know that as long as that doesn't happen they can't enter the PfP. And I would like to see them--I've said this before publicly as well--rather tomorrow morning than tomorrow afternoon in the PfP, because I think we need a closer cooperation with Serbia . It's an important nation. But I think we should not offer help in this regard, and I think they don't need it.

APPATHURAI: Last question, Nick.

Q: Nick Fiorenza, Jane's Defence Weekly. Could you give us some idea of the discussions this morning about the strategic airlift and more particularly the reaction to the U.S. proposal to offer the C-17?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well, it's... on strategic airlift that is one of the problems we're facing, as you know. In all our operations there's always a lack of strategic lift. Tactical lift, the C-130, Hercules equivalent, is okay, but strategic lift.

There are a number of proposals on the table. There's a British paper which has been tabled in NATO and the European Union on strategic lift. There is also an initiative, not so much by the U.S. as well as endorsed by Secretary Rumsfeld, to see if it would not be possible that the Alliance, but I think rather a number of allies, like we... like a number of allies do that in the AWACS configuration, could together find a formula of organizing lift by buying X or Y number of flying hours.

That's the proposition on the table. It is not a NATO proposal as such, and I think that nations, the nations who would see this as a positive development would take this forward. I support that initiative personally, which doesn't make it a formal NATO initiative, and along these lines Ministers discussed it, but we have not finished this discussion yet.

What is necessary is that NATO improves its performance on strategic lift because that is rather poor and I would like to see that improve a lot.

But this is hopefully one of the things they'll discuss further, and we'll discuss further, between now and the Riga Summit.
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