Updated: 22-Sep-2006 NATO Speeches

New York

21 Sept 2006

Press conference

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer after the meeting of Foreign Ministers in New York

Audio file
High resolution photos

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): A very good afternoon to you, ladies and gentlemen.

The Foreign Ministers of NATO just finished their meeting upstairs, which, as you know, was not a formal meeting, so there were no formal decisions taken, but it was a meeting set up to seek, as far as I'm concerned, ministerial guidance for the preparation of the NATO Summit in Riga at the end of November. And of course, another subject was... which was prominently discussed was Afghanistan, NATO's most important operation.

Let me start there, with Afghanistan. The Ministers welcomed the progress which has been made on force generation. I refer to the press conference SACEUR General Jones gave yesterday in Washington. Allies are stepping up to the plate, so I'm not unhappy about that. At the same time, I think we need more progress so I'll keep saying that Allies should step up to the plate.

There was a second notion, which I should mention, which was important, in a meeting when we speak about Afghanistan and that is the clear sense that the development effort and the development cooperation effort must be stepped up; that NATO can do what it does and what it does successfully, in creating a climate of stability and security in which... which is a precondition for development, nation building and reconstruction, but the other side of the coin should also get attention and more attention, because you will have no long-lasting stability without development.

And that also relates to the very important problem of narcotics. It is absolutely necessary that high-level political attention from the government of Afghanistan, but also from the international community, is brought to bear to see how we can most effectively and efficiently fight this scourge.

You know, by the way, let me add that NATO does not have a prime responsibility in the counternarcotics sphere.

What was also discussed, of course, is the importance of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. I spoke to the Pakistani Foreign Minister here in New York two days ago. We both agreed how important... that is, it was also something mentioned by Ministers.

The second element I would like to mention--and then I come to the Riga agenda, the NATO Summit--that is the question on future NATO enlargement and the signal the Allies might want to give in Riga for the nations in the western Balkans who have the Membership Action Plan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Croatia and Albania. No decision on the signal. The impression I have is that NATO, of course, will reaffirm... the Allies, will of course reaffirm their open door. I'm sure the signal will be forward leaning in that direction, but certainly where also was mentioned, the need for continued performance by those nations who are aspiring NATO membership.

In relation to the three nations who have Membership Action Plan there was also a discussion on the Balkans more in general, that relates to Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and their position vis-à-vis NATO. You might know that Montenegro has formally requested the Partnership for Peace, and you also know that as far as Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina is concerned there is the ICTY, the tribunal and The Hague conditionality, which still... which still applies.

It is clear that there is a sentiment in the Alliance that it is also important--in a positive sense I'm saying this--to keep Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro as close as possible in the political sense to NATO.

No decisions on Partnership for Peace in this regard because, as you know, it depends on the ICTY conditionality.

But it's... I found it interesting to note that many Ministers mentioned, and took as a subject of their intervention, also, there was some Balkans more in general.

I mention two other issues in closing. One is you know Ministers reconfirmed that the North Atlantic Council took the decision to grant Intensified Dialogue for Georgia. That means that NATO and Georgia, and it's the right choice of wording, will work very close together and will have a more Intensified Dialogue between the one and the other.

Responsibilities come with that Intensified Dialogue. You know that as far as Georgia is concerned the Alliance fully respect Georgia's territorial integrity, and I say in the same sentence, it is of great importance that a peaceful solution is found and that all parties strive and try for that peaceful solution, where it concerns the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In other words, Intensified Dialogue also means for the one and for the other, intensified scrutiny and I reaffirm my plea that it is important that a peaceful solution will be found.

Finally, on Darfur, I had a meeting with the President of Congo (Brazzaville) just before the NATO Foreign Ministers' Meeting. This morning I briefly spoke to President Konare of the African Union Commission. You know the decision of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union has taken yesterday here in New York. The president of Congo (Brazzaville), also President of the African Union, has asked NATO for continued support. We are giving, and you know what kind of support that is, that is strategic airlift for the forces of the AMIS, of the African Union force, and that is capacity building in more normal speak. That is training.

And I have promised and told the president of Congo (Brazzaville),  president of the African Union I should say, that I'll take this forward to the table in Brussels and that I'll certainly be further in touch with the African Union to see that NATO can do anything what the African Union might wish in support for this very important mission in these very difficult circumstances in Darfur.

In conclusion, NATO ministers had a good practical meeting, not set up, as I said, to take decisions. That is what I have to tell you. I'm ready to take your questions now.

There's a mike coming at him.

Q: Thank you. Secretary General, Elise Labott with CNN. Could you expand a little bit on Darfur on the discussions and whether you think... the president has said he would allow for an expanded African Union force, but not a UN force. Do you... how do you think NATO can help in this regard in terms of beefing up the African Union force? As you know, it doesn't have money, it doesn't have capability and if they were to augment this force it would certainly need a lot of NATO help to be a formidable force on the ground.

Thank you.  

DE HOOP SCHEFFER I'll not involve myself in the discuss AMIS-UN, because that is not... that is not something where a decision-making process where NATO is involved.

What I can tell you is that I think, but here again, the ball of court... the ball is in the court of the African Union, but the African Union was very clear by its president, by initiating this discussion with me this morning. I think that NATO should answer positively and favourably two requests coming from the side of the African Union. And you know that does not imply a NATO force on the ground in Darfur, to avoid any misunderstanding. But I do think that NATO, on the basis of its huge experience, can, and let me use the word enable, can enable an AMIS force, which will now be continued to the end of the year according to yesterday's decision, to do its work, it's very important work, better in this... under these dramatic circumstances.

That is what it is. And I promised the president of the African Union that I, as Secretary General, will do everything I can, with the Allies, to see that NATO can respond positively to these kinds of requests. And certainly can continue to do what we are doing, as I mentioned before.

Q: Sylvie Lanteaume from AFP. You said that you are not satisfied by the troop commitments from the Allies in Afghanistan. What do you miss to address the resurgence of Talibans there?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER I'm relatively satisfied, because I see Allies stepping up to the plate as far as force generation is concerned. We have seen very positive moves from Warsaw, by Poland, by Romania. I know other Allies, whom I not mention now, are in the political process to see if they can contribute.

So you can't say that I'm not satisfied. But I think in general, as far as force generation is concerned, a NATO Secretary General should never be entirely happy because that will make Allies sit back and relax, and that is what I do not like to see, because it is NATO's first priority, it's our most important operation, and it is absolutely necessary that... that we do what we promised to do in filling the requirements we have for the force.

Q: (inaudible)...

DE HOOP SCHEFFER Well, that is not addressing press conferences by telling you exactly what I'm doing, but that is by trying to convince the Allies to participate.

But I say again, the developments I've seen over the past days are positive developments and that was also what General Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander, echoed... in fact, I'm his echo, because he started, said yesterday in the Pentagon in Washington; that he is, let's say, relatively... relatively satisfied by what's happening at the moment. But I add more can be done and more should be done.

MODERATOR : Two questions here and here.

Q: Thomas Nehls, I'm with the German public radio, ADR. I missed the press conference yesterday, so I may ask you about those impressions at those two mandates in Afghanistan, the Enduring Freedom one and the ISAF one more and more seem to be mixed or combined also. Whose task is it to fight Taliban exactly? I recall it's still the Enduring Freedom task, and more and more ISAF troops do fight.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER Your assumption is wrong. The assumption underlying your question is the wrong one, because they were... they are, and they will be, two separate distinct missions. One is ISAF, on the basis of a mandate by the Security Council of the United Nations; the other is Operation Enduring Freedom.

If you read the ISAF mandate, you'll see, as we saw in Operation Medusa in Panjwayi, west of Kandahar, that it is fully within the ISAF mandate what happened there as far as fighting--there's no other word for it--fighting is concerned against the positions of the Taliban, which threatened to cut the supply lines of the U.K., the Dutch and the Canadian contingents in the south. It is fully within the mandate. And we'll... we'll perhaps see more of this. I do not know. It's fully within the mandate of ISAF.

Then you have Operation Enduring Freedom, as I say, which has as its principal task, counterinsurgency, which ISAF has not. ISAF is creating this climate for reconstruction and development. You also will know that we have set up a command structure which, I say this in military terms, deconflicts... avoids conflict between the two missions by setting up a special command structure.

I've always said, and I keep saying it, and I think this is politically important, that ISAF and OEF are two separate distinct missions and that's the way it will stay.

Also, when at a certain moment ISAF will go into what we call Phase 4, and that means in the east of Afghanistan, at a certain stage.

MODERATOR : Jonathan.

Q: I thank you. Secretary General, Jonathan Marcus, BBC. Two questions on Afghanistan. Now you say a clear sense... you have a clear sense that the development effort must be stepped up. How far is it falling short of what is needed? Can you give us some assessment of the scale of the problem you face?

And the second question, this phrase, the importance of the border with Pakistan, it's a remarkably bland way of stating it, if you forgive me, it's a little euphemistic. You have a NATO force engaged in Afghanistan. There are supposed to be significant elements coming across the border, fighting and engaging that NATO force, inflicting casualties on it. What more needs to be done and by whom, to satisfy you that that border is getting the attention it deserves?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER Well, let me start with the last part of the question. I referred to my conversation with the Pakistani Foreign Minister a few days ago. It is important, first of all, that there is a good NATO-Afghanistan relationship. I consider this important.

What is, of course, important as well, and it's a point which I also made with the Pakistani Foreign Minister, is that all parties do everything they can, and you know, it is very complicated and difficult terrain there. That border is as less... what's the right word?


DE HOOP SCHEFFER Porous, as it can be, because indeed it affects, as you rightly say, of course, it negatively affects the NATO operations.

In other words, the Pakistani Minister and I did agree that we do need very intense military to military contact, but also political contacts. And I think those political contacts are good. I had a good conversation with the Pakistani Foreign Minister.

You know that NATO and Pakistan certainly came closer to each other when NATO launched this huge humanitarian operation after the earthquake.

In other words, I also discussed this with the Pakistani Foreign Minister, as I do discuss this with President Karzai on the Afghan side, because you're right in saying it affects, of course, the ISAF operations, the NATO ISAF operations in the south.

What did I mean by my perhaps a bit repetitive point on development cooperation? We do need, and there was an intervention by more than one Minister on this issue, we do need, I think more clearly to see the total picture in Afghanistan. On the arguments that there is no military solution for Afghanistan. NATO can, in the military sense, create a climate for reconstruction and development. Without security no development. But the opposite is also true. Without development you will never have long-lasting security.

In other words, I've given you the example that I think much more high level political attention is needed in the narcotics. That goes for the activities of Provincial Reconstruction Team as well. What is the development cooperation picture?

And I think we all agreed on the Compact in January in London, I think... and I'm also speaking to NATO Allies, and speaking to myself here, we do need to see more clearly what is the integrated picture, on the civilian side, and on the military side. And that is... that is a point... I'm not only making at this press conference was the point many Ministers in the meeting room made as well.

Q: (inaudible)... from TV21 Pristina. Did you discuss the matters of post-status presence of NATO in Kosovo?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER We did... we did not in this meeting. I attended the Contact Group yesterday at Ministerial level, where of course the process was extensively discussed. It was not discussed this morning. What I can tell you, but there is no news I'm making, is that KFOR will be out there in Kosovo, in force in the sense that KFOR will have the maneuver capability, the capability, which is so important at the moment, when the status talks in the Martti Ahtisaari-led process are going on.

It is certainly important, and that's a remark I made yesterday in the Contact Group, I can tell you, it's certainly important that if a settlement on status is reached that there is a discussion about NATO's role in that post-status period, like there is an important discussion going on what the responsibilities of the European Union should be. But it was not... it was not concretely discussed in the meeting this morning.

Q: Andrew Gray from Reuters. I wonder if you could talk a little bit more specifically about what you still need in Afghanistan? You've said Allies are stepping up to the plate, but more needs to be done.

What is it you need? Is it more troops on the ground? Is it more flexibility in terms of how those troops are used? What particularly is still lacking?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER What is important is... and then you're not discussing troops, is that nations do more than they have done to lift the caveats. In normal speak, the limitations they impose on their forces about what they can and what they cannot do. And any military commander will be better than I can, able to tell you how important it is that they really can... that's... that's one example I could give you.

A second example is what the military call enablers and then you must think about helicopters and C-130 Hercules. That is still... that is still one of my ambitions. That's not to say, let me make myself clear, that on the basis of what we have we cannot do what we have to do. But we can always do better with more forces.

MODERATOR : I think we only have time for one more. (inaudible)...


MODERATOR : Thank you.

Q: Sir, a couple of days ago you held a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and out of that meeting Mr. Lavrov told the media that during your upcoming visit to Moscow he's going to raise a couple of questions. One of them is the reconfiguration of the NATO forces in Europe, and another one, the U.S. plans to deploy some elements of the missile defence system in Eastern Europe. So I'm just wondering what's your stance on these two issues and what your answers are going to be?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER My stance on this is that I'm very much looking forward to going to Moscow. That I had a very good conversation with Foreign Minister Lavrov. That there, of course, we more or less prepared what we are going to discuss when I'm in Moscow, and I hope to see President Putin and Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov.

He mentioned publicly those subjects. I should add though, that I do not know about any reconfiguration of NATO forces in Europe. I do not know because I don't know of any plans to reconfigure NATO forces in Europe. We briefly touched on missile defence. You know that NATO and Russia together, we are working together on what is called Theatre Missile Defence.

I noticed that Minister Lavrov also mentioned missile defence more in general. You know that on that subject there is no NATO position so it's a bit difficult for me as a NATO Secretary General to comment on missile defence.

But I take his point that this is an important subject, which will certainly be raised in Moscow, if I understand Minister Lavrov correctly, from the Russian side, and I'll see in what way and how it is raised and how I should respond to that.

MODERATOR : I'm afraid that's all we have time for.

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