Updated: 29-Nov-2006 NATO Speeches

Riga, Latvia

28 Nov. 2006

Press conference

by NATO Spokesman, James Appathurai

28-29 Nov. 2006 - NATO
NATO Riga Summit
28 Nov. 2006 - NATO Photo icon
Audio file of the press conference
28 Nov. 2006 - NATO Photo icon
High resolution photos

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming. For those of you whom I do not know, my name is James Appathurai. I'm the NATO Spokesman.

Let me begin, on behalf of the Secretary General, by thanking the people of Riga for hosting us here. We know, because we have been organizing events like this in the past, how difficult it can be for a host community and we thank you for your patience and your forbearance for the inconveniences that a NATO summit can bring on. But clearly it is of great symbolic importance that we are here together as a group of 26 countries, and it certainly will be, I think, a positive event.

What you see here at this summit is a 21st century NATO. That is, projecting stability with military operations on three continents, recently four continents, 55,000 troops deployed in various operations and missions, including beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. You see strong partnerships through Europe and beyond Europe a well, and forces increasingly designed for force projection, to project stability, again, beyond where necessary at the Euro-Atlantic area.

Today, and tomorrow, tonight and tomorrow, our Heads of State and Government will focus on enhancing those operations, deepening our political engagement within Europe and beyond it, and enhancing our military capabilities. And what I'll try to do is give you a snapshot of what will be discussed, where we can see clearly where we're going, where there are still some discussions that need to be had around the table, and then I'll be happy to take your questions for as long as possible.

Tonight's dinner will focus first and foremost on operations, and beginning with Afghanistan, NATO's number one priority.

I know that certainly in my own country, Canada, but I think in many populations, many countries, there are questions as to whether or not five years on, after the international community engaged in Afghanistan, there has been progress? Are we succeeding?

I think the general indicators, and it's worth, five years on, taking a step back and looking, are very positive. You will see, for example, of course, that the progress in democracy is quite clear. There has been an election with nine million voters. There is a parliament, a president, regional councils. There is progress in terms of the economy, which has doubled; per capita incomes have doubled. There is the number of children in school has gone up by six times to six million, of which two million are girls. The number of people in higher education has gone up by ten times. The number of people with access to health care in the last five years has gone up by ten times as well from 9 percent to about 77 percent.

I could go on, but you get the picture. The solution for Afghanistan is reconstruction and development. Our security forces are there to help provide the conditions for that in support of the Afghan authorities. And what we are seeing is reconstruction and development is working. I think that's the message, certainly, that we would want to convey to our populations.

I might add, and this will be made available to you in the press in a CD that we have made available to you. The polling data that we have seen for Afghanistan also shows very strong continued public support for the presence of international security forces. Up around 70 percent.

So even five years on we are in support of the Afghan government, but supported by the Afghan people and I think that's an important thing to note.

Now, where can we do better as an international community?

Certainly in NATO much of the discussion tonight I expect to focus on three areas: One is on what we call caveats, the restrictions—I see the pens moving—the restrictions that national governments have placed on the use of their forces in theatre.

Caveats have two effects. One, is they restrict the flexibility that an operational commander, the operational commander has to use his forces where he needs them and when he needs them. So they have a direct operational impact. They also, of course, raise questions about solidarity. And as a result the Secretary General has been pushing very hard, and many Allied leaders have been pushing very hard, to reduce as much as possible the caveats that governments are putting on the use of their forces.

What we have seen over the past few weeks, certainly over the past few days, and even in the past few hours, is progress in reducing caveats. General Jones referred to that, I believe, earlier today in his speeches.

I can tell you that the Secretary General will tonight wish to confirm with the 26 Heads of State and Government that in emergency situations any NATO Ally will come to the support of any other NATO Ally in Afghanistan, no matter what the geographic area. He will expect to confirm that this evening, and we have made further progress on reducing other caveats as well. Again, I refer you to what General Jones said earlier today at the German Marshall Fund Conference.

The second area where I expect the discussion to go tonight will be on the broader international effort for supporting Afghanistan. As I mentioned, NATO's forces and the forces of our partners under NATO command, can clear the ground for reconstruction and development. But there are many other pieces to the puzzle.

Reconstruction and development is the second major piece of the puzzle and the Secretary General will want to see, and will discuss with the Heads of State and Government, ensuring that Afghanistan is on the political radar, not just in Brussels in NATO Headquarters, but also in other international fora; the United Nations, the G8, the European Union. And in that regard, certainly NATO welcomes the decision by the European Union to step up what is already substantial support in Afghanistan by sending a fact-finding mission to see what the EU could do more in terms of training of the police.

But there will be, I'm quite sure, a discussion tonight, of the broad international effort to bring together all the necessary economic, political and military tools to step up our support as an international community for Afghanistan, to reinforce the success that we have already had.

I think that's that.

Two other operational issues may well come up. One is Kosovo. You know that President Ahtisaari will, relatively soon, in the coming weeks and months, present to the Contact Group and through the Contact Group, to the United Nations, his proposals for a future status resolution for Kosovo. NATO will stay the course, NATO will play a role through this process, including in the immediate post-status period.

Heads of State and Government may wish to discuss not only the operation in Kosovo, but the broader approach to the Western Balkans and we can come back to that if you will.

Finally, I do not know, but it is quite possible, as NATO has forces... limited forces deployed in support of the African Union if the situation in Darfur may well come up again, but we will know that tonight.

That is the first operational pillar. The second pillar is NATO's outreach, its political outreach beyond the Alliance. You will see in tomorrow's communiqué a clear and strong signal on the future of NATO's enlargement process.

One thing is quite clear, there is no enlargement fatigue in this Alliance. The enlargement process will move forward. I cannot tell you what the exact language will be. There will be no specific invitations in today's, or tomorrow's communiqué, but I am also quite sure that the countries aspiring to and working for NATO membership will be very encouraged by what they see in the communiqué tomorrow. It will give them strong encouragement.

There is a separate discussion on partnership, and NATO has relations with all the countries across Europe, through the Caucasus and into Central Asia through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

NATO governments will want to find a more focused way, a more nuanced way, a more flexible way, to work with the countries in the EAPC. For example, countries like Sweden or Finland that contribute so much to NATO's operations may wish, and there may be a way to find a more focused way, a more direct way to work with them, and do different things with countries in different parts of the Euro-Atlantic area who simply want a different and more targeted partnership approach with NATO. So that too will be dealt with in the communiqué.

There will also be language on how NATO will deepen its political and practical relations with countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. Countries like Australia or New Zealand, that work with us; Japan that is present in Afghanistan through the G8, or South Korea that has expressed an interest in working more closely with NATO.

There will be language in the communiqué as to how we do this. No new structures. No new heavy mechanisms, but a deeper political dialogue, more regular practical cooperation as well.

NATO obviously is dealing with global threats and the Alliance is interested in, and I think our partners are interested in engaging also with what we call global partners as well.

Let me turn to capabilities. We will need, as an Alliance, to continue to get better at projecting our forces and sustaining them for modern operations. Afghanistan certainly has been a stretch for many of our forces that had been designed 12 years ago for the Cold War. Now to project them halfway around the world and sustain them halfway around the world, and to adapt them to deal with the kinds of crises that they deal with now, is a major endeavour, as all of you know who cover defence issues. Making major changes to military force structures and the way in which we think about using them, is a long-term process by any standards.

A major component of our military capability transformation is the NATO Response Force. You all know that NATO has been working for a few years now to create this capability. Up to 25,000 forces with a land element and air element and a naval element, tailored and tailorable for the full range of contingencies that the Alliance might face, deployable from 5 to 30 days, sustainable for... to stand alone, for a significant period of time, either to deal with the problem on its own or to prepare the ground for a larger or different supplemental force.

We have already achieved the initial operating capability of the NATO Response Force. It has been tested. We have used elements of it, for example, in support of humanitarian operations in Pakistan and also in the United States during Hurricane Katrina. But we have been working to put more flesh on the bones and declare a full operational capability, meaning that the NRF would be fully fit and resourced to do the full range of missions that it is designed to do.

We are still working on it. The yardsticks have moved very far, and continue to move even as we speak. My understanding is that really significant progress has been made. It is not for me to make the final call. That will be up to General Jones, so I will leave that discussion. But what I can tell you is there has been a lot of progress until now, and we are still aiming and hopeful to be able to declare full operational capability tomorrow.

You will have seen, if you were here yesterday, the... well, you had the opportunity to go and see the C17 aircraft that was in at the airport as a symbol of the initiative by 15 countries, NATO countries, and 1 partner country, to purchase together 3 C17 aircraft, potentially more, to give to the Alliance the capability to deploy in these wide body strategic aircraft forces over long distances, point-to-point and it provides to NATO a capacity which we sorely need, which is long-range strategic airlift. It meets the requirement of modern operations. Instead of, for example, smaller aircraft you will have seen... if you followed the support that NATO provided to the Pakistani government after the earthquake, we sent most of it by C130 aircraft, Hercules aircraft. They had to make multiple stops, could only carry a limited amount of cargo. A C17, as I say, takes you point-to-point and takes a lot. It would have equal value in Afghanistan as well. This is a very important step for us. It complements other arrangements that we have. The Strategic Airlift Interim Solution, an arrangement that we have through the German government with the Russians and the Ukrainians. It is a symbol of the kind of transformation that we need to make and are starting to make with the C17.

We will have progress made on better cooperation between the special operations forces of NATO countries. We will be moving towards giving NATO the capability to do air-to-ground surveillance, not just air-to-air surveillance, as we have with the AWACs and you will have seen, I believe, today, the signature of a Theatre Missile Defence. NATO is moving forward to provide to its forces, I believe by 2010, as an initial operation capability, missile defences for deployed forces. So again, adapting NATO's military capabilities to do what needs to be done in the future.

So overall this is quick snapshot of all the initiatives that are on the table. The Secretary General will give a press conference tomorrow, I believe at 12:20. The dinner tonight will go relatively late. I hope to be able to give you an update as to what happened there either late tonight or tomorrow morning. I will see if I can do that. But let me stop here and see... Again, thank you all for coming, and see if I can answer any of your questions.

Well, there's plenty. Let's just start and go back. And I'll move down this side.

Q: Jimmy, I wonder, is the energy security in the agenda and if yes, is the yesterday's paper of Senator Lugar a good basis for discussion?

APPATHURAI: I have to admit that I haven't read Senator Lugar's paper since I just arrived two hours ago. But what I can tell you is yes, energy security will be on the agenda. I expect it to appear in the communiqué as you... Well, those of you who don't read every day's NATO's founding charter might not know, but even in NATO's basic founding documents, including the Strategic Concept, the protection of energy flows is a basic task for the Alliance, and it is enshrined in NATO's basic documents. So energy security certainly is a relevant topic for NATO and it will appear in the communiqué.

Q: (inaudible)... Latvian Herald. What's your opinion on Latvian investment in the development of NATO and especially in transitions of the Alliance? Thank you.

APPATHURAI: I think it's safe to say that Latvia, like the other six countries that joined when Latvia joined, have all made an enormous contribution to NATO operations, but also to NATO discussions at the Alliance, forming the political opinions and the decisions that are taken.

I know that Latvia has worked carefully with its Baltic countries to do what makes sense, and that is to engage in partnerships, to maximize the resources developed towards naval capabilities, air defence capabilities, and that's the right way to go.

For countries that are small, Latvia and I think the other two Baltic nations, absolutely have also shown that they can punch above their weight by selecting carefully where to invest, investing together and really having an impact as a result. Mark?

Q: Mark John from Reuters. James, are there any more details you can give us on the caveats that are being dropped at this stage? Would they, for example, mean that NATO had more ability to send troops into the south?

APPATHURAI: The key caveat, I think, for political and military reasons, has certainly got to be focused on the ability to support other Allies during emergencies. That is what the Secretary General will want to confirm tonight; that that restriction does not exist, that each Ally will come to support the other, wherever necessary when there is a true emergency that needs to be faced. If that's in the south, in the north, in the west or in the east.

We have seen, of course, incidents in all regions of the country. Much more, of course, concentrated in the south, but we should not make this a north-south issue because Afghanistan is not safe... fully safe, in any region. And any Ally could, at one point or another, call on the others for help. I think that's the one area where the Secretary General will certainly want to press.

But what we have heard from General Jones is other caveats as well. I believe he said 15 percent of the caveats, the operational caveats he has seen already lifted in the past few days, which he said is equivalent to generating 2,000 more troops to be in the hands of the commander. And I can tell you the discussions are still ongoing.

It is not, to me, just to preface any questions that might come afterwards, it is not for me to identify the individual countries. That is up to them to do.

Q: Yes, Raymond Lloyd, the editor of the Parity Democrat Westminster. On global partners, four major democracies outside the NATO area—Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa—all of which sent troops to fight Europe's freedom in World War II are now engaged in cooperation with NATO.

Is NATO hoping for cooperation with a fifth major democracy, one which sent 20,000 troops to Europe in 1944, 1,200 of whom lie dead in Italy, namely Brazil? For example, cooperation in Afghanistan?

And second, at least five of the 26 NATO countries—Canada, France, Germany, Norway and the U.S.—now have, or have recently had women generals and admirals. In NATO encouraging other member countries to train and promote women so that Euro-Atlantic Alliance can benefit from the ability and courage of half our population to take part in the defence of peace and democracy?

APPATHURAI: Thank you for those questions. In terms of Brazil I have never heard Brazil indicate any particular interest in contributing to NATO operations. I'm quite sure the Alliance would have a very open mind to that.

And it is, of course, up to NATO nations to decide how they wish to structure their armed forces, and that includes, of course, the proportion of women or the way in which they encourage women to participate in it. I certainly support the sentiment, but NATO does not have any role, direct or indirect, in how individual NATO nations do their personnel selection.

I think we're going over here to Laurent.

Q: Jamie, s'agissant de ce groupe de contact, apparemment le Secrétaire général est d'accord avec le président Chirac sur la nécessité de le créer. Est-ce que ça veut dire que d'autres pays et notamment les États-unis ont donné leur accord et surtout dans l'esprit du Secrétaire général, ce groupe de contact doit comprendre les pays de la région... y compris l'Iran bien entendu?

APPATHURAI: Oui, je viens d'en discuter avec le Secrétaire général évidemment, c'est une idée...cette idée de groupe de contact, c'est une idée qui a circulé depuis quelques semaines, quelques mois et le Secrétaire général est effectivement complètement d'accord avec le Président Chirac que ce soit une bonne idée.

Les détails....y compris les pays qui en feront partie, je n'ai rien entendu de discussion qui dépasse cette idée de groupe de contact. Le Secrétaire général ne m'a pas indiqué sa position sur l'Iran alors je ne sais pas. Je ne pense pas que nous sommes a l'étape de discuter des pays membres, en plus ce n'est pas une discussion qui a déjà eu lieu autour de la table de l'OTAN. C'est possible que ce soit discuté même ce soir, le Président Chirac pourrait éventuellement le mentionner mais, avant cette discussion je ne pourrais pas dire que les autres nations sont d'accord ou pas.

Q: Yes, James, on enlargement, President Bush just said that in 2008 new invitations would be delivered to those countries that would be ready. What is the mood among other member states? Will the year 2008 appear in the communiqué as a date for invitation for Croatia, Albania and Macedonia?

And on PfP some diplomats, some even on the record, like Foreign Minister of Slovenia, are saying that they expect a green light for the membership of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro in PfP from this summit. So what can you tell us about those two issues?  

APPATHURAI: The date 2008 will indeed appear in the communiqué. The communiqué is not yet agreed, but I expect it to appear in the communiqué, as a possible date for a future summit. So I think there already there is a certain amount of progress because until now that had not yet been confirmed.

As to the question of invitations, you, I think, hit the key clause and that is countries that meet NATO's standards. In other words, enlargement remains a performance-based process and NATO has always said that its door will remain open to countries that meet NATO standards. There will be, I expect, a confirmation that there will be a further summit in 2008, but that's as far as I can go now.

Q: (inaudible)...

APPATHURAI: Oh sorry, PfP. That question, the question of PfP for Serbia, for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, I at this point do not know if a decision one way or the other to change the NATO... agreed NATO position has been... Let me start again. At this point, no decision has been taken to change the agreed NATO position, which is, until now, no Partnership for Peace for these two... well, certainly those two countries principally. We will see how the discussion evolves tonight and tomorrow and then the Secretary General will update you again on... at his press conference at 12:20.

Q: (inaudible)... Deutsche Welle German Radio. Will be discussed also the possibility to build own army for Kosovo? And the second question, is it important for NATO to have a clear status for Kosovo?

APPATHURAI: The question of what security institutions Kosovo might have in a post-status environment is for President Ahtisaari, and through him the Contact Group, and the UN, to determine. So I do not know if it will be discussed, but certainly the location for that decision rests not here, in Riga, but with President Ahtisaari.

I think all NATO nations would like to see a clear resolution of the status talks. That would be the best way forward. I know the European Union has certainly made similar statements.

Q: Nick Fiorenza. A couple of quick questions. Will Sweden and Finland be invited to possibly participate in future rotations of the NATO Response Force?

Second question, when will the C-17 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) be signed?

APPATHURAI: As to the first question and to the second question, I can't say I know the answers to those questions. So, the C-17 MOU, I have no idea. We'll have to check with Marshall. And as to the participation of partners in the NATO Response Force, in future, I believe that question needs to be addressed to General Jones, or to his successor General Craddock.

Q: Could you please tell, when will the Intensified Dialogue between NATO and Azerbaijan start? And how do you see the solution of the conflicts in South Caucasus region and especially in Nagorno-Karabakh. Thank you.

APPATHURAI: In the Nagorno-Karabakh NATO, of course, supports the efforts, in particular by the OSCE to play an important role there. The Alliance does not have a lead role, and does not intend to try to take a lead role, but certainly supports the efforts of other international parties.

The Alliance has always supported the territorial integrity of all the countries in the Caucasus and in Central Asia, and intends to continue to stick very firmly to that position.

In terms of Intensified Dialogue, you're saying Intensified Dialogue with Azerbaijan? Has that not already begun? No? Okay.

It has not been requested and therefore, for the moment, is not an issue.

Thank you.

Q: (inaudible)... Germany. It is a special situation in the Baltic Sea. Half of the borders are not NATO governments. Is there any special program for cooperation with the non-NATO governments around the Baltic Sea?

APPATHURAI: I'm not sure I understand the question, I'm sorry.

Q: The Baltic Sea, around the Baltic Sea are a lot of non-NATO governments, and so is it any program, special program for the Baltic Sea, for this region, for cooperation with the non-NATO governments around the Baltic Sea?

APPATHURAI: Well, I'm not aware of any NATO programs for around the Baltic Sea. I mean, NATO has, of course, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, so it has bilateral arrangements with every country in Europe, and I know the Baltic countries look very carefully at their relations with other countries on the Baltic Sea, but I am not aware of any specific programs with those countries.

Q: (inaudible)... Mediamax News Agency, Armenia. Is it possible during the NATO summit will be discussed the relations with partner countries, because my country started to realize the IPAP (Individual Partnership Action Plan) one year ago, but the border between NATO and Armenia remains closed as Turkey keeps its border with Armenia closed for the last 40 years.

We saw all the interest the protests of Armenia's integration into Alliance. Do you see any possibility to improve of the existing situation?

APPATHURAI: Thank you. Certainly I'm not aware that Armenia is working towards integration with NATO, but our cooperation with Armenia, through the Individual Partnership Action Plan is excellent. Armenia is a very active member and that is certainly to the great satisfaction of NATO.

But border issues and the bilateral issues between the two countries are for the two countries themselves to solve and certainly NATO would not get engaged in that discussion.

Q: In earlier conferences you emphasized the Mediterranean Dialogue. Now you haven't mentioned it at all. And what happened to the initiative you were supposed to announce regarding a training facility for the Mediterranean Dialogue countries?

APPATHURAI: Excuse me for the oversight. The Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative are very important to NATO. I can tell you that there will be progress in terms of deeper training cooperation between NATO and the countries in the Mediterranean Dialogue and ICI. The exact mechanics of that you will see tomorrow in the communiqué, but there certainly will be a new initiative to deepen training cooperation between our countries. Between NATO and those countries.

Q: (inaudible) James. If you could clear up my little bit of confusion. There was a report that the Secretary General has told that he hopes by 2008 there'll be much advancement in Afghanistan so that they can think of some exit strategy while I've been hearing that this conference will be about the commitment, a long-haul commitment to Afghanistan by NATO. How do those two statements stand together?

APPATHURAI: I think they stand together well and of course, it's the great joy of any spokesman to clarify what a Secretary General has said. Please don't print that.

There should be absolutely no doubt, and this you can print because it's true, there should be absolutely no doubt of NATO's long-term commitment to Afghanistan. That is not just for two years. We are there for the long haul. This is NATO's number one priority. We understand as an Alliance that this will only work if there is long-term engagement, because there are major challenges that need to be addressed, so let us be clear, NATO is there for the long haul.

But, and this is what the Secretary General was hinting at, one of our main purposes in Afghanistan is to help Afghanistan become a normal country like Japan or like Canada, where the government can provide for the security of its own territory. And that means training and equipping the Afghan National Army. It means, training and equipping, even though NATO doesn't do it, the Afghan National Police.

What we can already see is Afghan battalions, kandaks, as they're called, deployed all over the country. They're being trained increasingly quickly. NATO will work to do more in support of training, what's already been done very well by the United States and others, and we will start to provide equipment also to the Afghan National Army.

They are fighting alongside NATO forces. What you can see, now, for example, in Operation Eagle, Oqab, which is taking place all around the country, is that it is Afghan-led and truly Afghan-led with NATO forces in support. Sometimes, of course, stepping forward when their capabilities are requirement.

So what we want to see, and we will start to see that come on-line more and more in the coming year or two years, is the Afghans taking the lead. And that is exactly how it should be.

But no one should doubt or have the idea that this means NATO is stepping back. It is not stepping back. On the contrary we're stepping up our efforts in Afghanistan. Thanks.

Q: Has any of the participants raised any suggestions on how the two-day-old cease-fire on Gaza could be assisted by NATO in any way?

APPATHURAI: That has certainly not yet come up because the meeting hasn't yet started, but I don't frankly anticipate any discussion tonight of a role for the Alliance in the Gaza Strip or in supporting the cease-fire. I could be wrong, and I'll tell you tomorrow if I am, but I don't expect that discussion, no.

Q: Three quick question from Ukraine. Could you name the countries which will get clear single of NATO joining at Riga Summit?

Second one is, could you confirm that your Parliamentary Assembly in Quebec, it was allowed a two-year deadline for Ukraine to define its position to join NATO.

And the last one, what are the prospects of a NATO-Ukraine cargo planes cooperation (inaudible)... about the C-17?

APPATHURAI: Thank you for those questions. They're good. Certainly I would wait to see what the communiqué says because it's still under negotiation in terms of countries to join in the signal that will be given, but let me stress no country will be issued an invitation at this summit to join the Alliance. There will simply be a message of encouragement and I think a clear one, as we look forward to future summits.

In terms of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, I can't speak for them. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, while very supportive of the Alliance, and very important to NATO, is not a NATO body, and I wouldn't want to speak for them. I think it is, of course, important for any country to define its own desires, its own direction, but NATO as an organization firmly believes that this is for Ukraine to do. NATO will continue to support the reform, aspirations and the aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration that Ukraine sets for itself, and that policy will not change.

The third question was...

Q: About the (inaudible)... cooperation.

APPATHURAI: Oh yes! The cooperation that NATO has with Ukraine, but also with Russian companies through our Strategic Airlift Interim Solution has been very positive, and we've drawn on it very heavily. It has been a very reliable source of wide-body strategic airlift for the Alliance. And it will certainly continue into the future. Not, I imagine, indefinitely, but certainly in the coming period. And NATO has nothing but positive reviews about this. It complements the C-17 initiative. The first C-17 aircraft is expected to come on line only late next year. And that will only be one plane. NATO has significant strategic airlift requirements and I'm sure all the help that we can get will be very welcome.

Q: I have two questions, please. The first one concerns Italy. Recently the Minister of... the Foreign Minister proposed an international conference on the future of Afghanistan. Given that the Secretary General has agreed, welcomed Chirac's proposal for a contact group which seems to me is a very similar proposal to the one made by D'Alema, I'd like to know if Mr. Scheffer has discussed with member states D'Alema's proposal, and whether... and what he thinks of it, first of all?

The second question concerns the caveats. When you talk about in emergency situations do you mean in extreme situations? Meaning when lives of the troops are at risk? Or do you also mean other situations that can be described as emergency, but not extreme?

APPATHURAI: Thank you, I am not aware, frankly, of a formal discussion in NATO about the Italian proposal. Of course, there has not yet been a formal discussion within NATO of the idea of a contact group either. These ideas are all relatively new, relatively fresh. If President Chirac brings up the question of the contact group tonight, as he may well do, then I think that will be the first opportunity for Heads of State and Government and for the Secretary General in a formal setting to have a discussion on how, if they do choose to do it, the allies wish to bring higher level and dedicated political attention to the Afghanistan issue.

I can tell you that in principle the Secretary General does support the idea of doing precisely that, of putting more structured and focused high-level international political attention on Afghanistan to marshal more effectively the resources that are necessary to support the overall effort in Afghanistan.

Extreme situations, I'm not sure if it's up to me to define what exactly an extreme situation is.

Q: Yeah, I asked about the difference because Italian forces already, as I understand, go outside of their sphere of action, in extreme situations, and in that case, as the regulation goes, extreme situations are defined as situations where lives of troops are at risk.

APPATHURAI: Well, indeed, and as I say this has to be a minimum standard for NATO allies. The Secretary General will certainly want to confirm that around the table with all 26, but he certainly expects that that already is, as you quite rightly point out, something to which allies can and should subscribe to.

Q: On the caveats, who is going to determine that an emergency exists? Is that the commander or will he have to come back to the national governments? First question.

Second question, will there be any discussion here on mechanisms for mission financing?

APPATHURAI: Yes, in terms of who determines the deployment of forces, of course the force commander and the nations have important roles to play and that's the current standard. Nothing has changed. Nothing is done with national forces in any NATO theatre where the capital is not aware. That is quite clear. NATO has no directive power. It is an Alliance that brings together NATO nations, so both the commander and the capital would have a very important role.

Did you have a second?

Q: Financing.

APPATHURAI: Oh financing. Yes, I do expect it to come up. For those of you who don't follow the arcania of NATO every day, there is a discussion, particularly in the context of the NATO Response Force to broaden the criteria, the eligibility criteria for common funding to include short-notice deployments of the NATO Response Force, the idea being that we don't want it to be a bit of a reverse lottery where if you happen to be called on when you happen to be contributing to the NRF in the rotation schedule it ends up costing you, whereas the NATO nation that comes in the next six-month rotation where you aren't called on doesn't pay anything, or doesn't have any costs incurred. We want to share the burdens more fairly, not least to encourage countries to contribute to further rotations.

We have had a lot of discussion of this in NATO Headquarters. There has been a lot of progress in working out the fine details. I expect it, indeed, to be discussed, if not by Heads of State and Government then quite possibly by the Defence Ministers, who are also here tonight with their chiefs.

Q: Will the Summit, will it discuss the situation in Iraq and expanding the NATO mission in Iraq, and where is the Middle East issue on the Summit agenda? Thanks.

APPATHURAI: Thank you. The Middle East issue is not really on the NATO Summit agenda because in general NATO does not play a lead role in the Middle East situation. NATO, of course, has our Mediterranean Dialogue, has our ICI (Istanbul Cooperation Initiative), but the Alliance does not try to play a role in mediating or participating in the Middle East peace process.

I do not know if Iraq will come up. NATO has a training mission there, as you know, training about 1,500 officers per year. That training is being envisioned that... there is a plan to broaden that training also to include non-commissioned officers, for example, basic officer training. But in general you can assume that the NATO mission, while potentially expanding somewhat, the training mission, will not expand dramatically, and I do not expect, to be frank, the situation in Iraq to be a main topic of conversation today.

Q: (inaudible)... Poland. You mentioned it, but very briefly. I will be also brief, but I will be very happy if you will tell me a few words about this signing of the contract for the NATO ballistic missile defence system. What contract and a few words about the system. Cost, feasibility. Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Thank you. The missile defence contract that was signed today relates to Theatre Missile Defence. In other words, not to a Europe-wide or NATO-wide strategic missile defence system. That is not what's on the agenda. What is on the agenda is systems to protect our deployed forces when they're out in operations, against missile attack.

The purpose... this contract was signed with industry, with the transatlantic consortium that has been selected to move forward now in the design, development and implementation phase. It is a project that will begin with an initial contract of, I believe, €6 million that will then move on to several... do we know the maximum amount on this? Designed, as Robert points out, to move towards to develop the test bed. The idea is to develop a test bed for these technologies.

The initial contract will be, I believe, for €6 million. I'll have to get back to you on the total amount.

Q: (inaudible) magazine, Germany. In some weeks ago it was heard that some member countries wanted German troops also in the south of Afghanistan. It was refused by the German government. Do you think the wish will be brought stronger to (inaudible)... on the summit?

And second question, you mentioned the need of safe energy supply will be in the committee. Do you think there will also be a discussion of environment protection, because climate changes could also affect the security of the community? Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Thank you. In terms of German forces, the Secretary General has been very clear, particularly that Germany should not be singled out for pressure, that Germany has 2,700 troops in the north. They're doing a very important job and that they... he is not requesting a major shift to the mandate of German forces, nor is he specifically targeting German troops. He has spoken extensively to Chancellor Merkel. I think they truly do have a meeting of minds on the role of German forces in Afghanistan.

My understanding, from what I've seen of reports of what Chancellor Merkel has said, is that she too can certainly subscribe to the basic philosophy that in extremis, in emergency situations, German troops, too, can be moved outside of their main mandate, their main mission, which is in the north, to support other forces. And I think that's certainly a very welcome decision.

The environment is only, I have to say, of a limited focus of attention of the Alliance. We have a committee, and indeed a group of NATO staff that work on science issues related to security. And they, of course, have looked at and continue to look at environmental impacts on security, and I myself have seen the reports.

But in general this is something that is left particularly to those organizations who can play a more direct role in environmental security, and to individual nations who have these discussions, frankly, in other fora. NATO does not take a principal role here.

Though I recognize what you say, and that it is, in fact, something that has potential impact on security issues. For example, water security and those other areas.

Q: James, (inaudible)... Netherlands. I would like to come back to this question of caveats. You say that the leaders this evening will agree to come to each other's case in case of emergency, but at the same time you seem to say that this is obvious, that they should... these troops should come to the help when the lives of soldiers are in danger.

So, I would like to understand then, what's completely new about this commitment?

APPATHURAI: What the Secretary General will do tonight, I expect, is to confirm what should be, and I believe is, and he believes is, indeed, already the standard. But he wants... he will want to confirm that around the table tonight. And that is, that, as I say, in emergency situations each ally will come to the support of any other regardless of the geographic area. Is it new? I suppose not. Should it be reconfirmed at all times? At all times it is a good thing to reconfirm that basic commitment of solidarity to each other.

Is there a second question? Or that was it? Okay, good. Thanks.

Q: Sorry, I missed the press conference, and I have a question about the training initiative in the Middle East. On Friday the Secretary General said it will be in the NATO Defense College in Rome. President Bush spoke today about the same initiative. Do you have some detail? Will this initiative... I mean, the training will be in Rome now? Or as we heard some months before, it was suggested to be in Amman?

APPATHURAI: As an initial step, as first step, with no prejudice to any further steps, what I expect the communiqué to confirm, but it is not yet confirmed, is indeed that the Alliance will offer its expertise, for example, in defence reform, and other forms of trading cooperation to interested countries of the region, with a place... sorry, with a module in the NATO Defense College in Rome. That will be, I believe, the focus of the initial phase.

Now, as to whether a second phase takes place with a presence for NATO in the region, that is not yet on the agenda.

Q: Very short follow-up. Does it mean that there is no internal consensus yet among the NATO allies about the location of this initiative?

APPATHURAI: Well there is certainly consensus, and that is as a first step, as an initial step, the focus in terms of an actual facility of our activity should be at the NATO Defence College. Now as to whether a next step is taken, and that is to put a facility or establish a facility in cooperation with a regional government somewhere in the region, that is for a further discussion to take place. But the first discussion has been taken, it has been agreed, and there is certainly consensus to do it, as I say, as an initial step, with no prejudice to a second one in this way.

Q: Georgian Service Radio Liberty. Georgia have received Intensified Dialogue at the end of September, but United States, Baltic countries, Poland and Czech strongly support Georgia to be part of NATO. Does it mean that our next summit Georgia could be invited, as a Membership Action Plan member and then as member of NATO? Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Well, it is not obviously for me to look into the future too far. What...  NATO's position is quite clear. Is that Intensified Dialogue with Georgia has just been established, as you quite rightly pointed out. It is working very well. We have already started down the track of having, indeed, an Intensified Dialogue. And working more closely together on reform.

NATO nations want to invest in that. That is the necessary next step. As to what will happen at the 2008 summit, well, if I'm still around I'll meet you there and I'll let you know.

Jonathan, and...

Q: Yes, sorry to come back to this vexed issue of caveats, I mean, after all, we've had summits of expansions and major transformation. This one is essentially about getting the resources that are needed in Afghanistan. It's something that other levels of government in the Alliance have failed to do, so it's had to go to the leaders of the Alliance.

Other than this blinding revelation that in extremis NATO forces will come to the aid of their comrades, which I would have thought would have been self-evident anyway, how much further at the end of this Summit do you expect to be towards giving the NATO commanders in Afghanistan the resources that they need to do their job?

APPATHURAI: Thank you. I can... as I already mentioned we have seen progress beyond this basic commitment to solidarity, which I agree with you is absolutely primordial, in terms of reducing the number of caveats. Of the 50 main caveats that General Jones has identified he has already come on the record to say that those are being reduced and that has freed up, in his estimation, another 2,000 troops to the commander to use as he sees fit. We have also seen, in the past few days, some progress in terms of further contributions of forces to the overall NATO operation. It is not for me at this moment to go into details of what those are, but I hope that NATO nations will confirm it themselves, or that the Secretary General will do it tomorrow.

But I can tell you the yardsticks have moved even in the past few days and hours on both fronts.

Q: On Afghanistan, could you just be a little bit more specific about what exactly by 2008 you would hope to have shifted to the Afghan security forces, how much security work?

And secondly, if I may, on a different issues, in your discussions with your Latvian hosts, have they happened to mention whether or not Mr. Putin will be choosing tomorrow to make his first visit to Latvia since independence, and if that is the case, would you welcome that happy coincidence?

APPATHURAI: I think the first point to make is we shouldn't get too focused on 2008 as a date. It was an indication. An indication that in the coming years we would wish, as an Alliance, to have been in a position to help the Afghans do more for themselves.

Now what doe that mean? Certainly it means more deployed forces. It means better-equipped deployed forces. It means forces that are better trained. And in very practical terms, it means forces that can take the fight, when a fight needs to be taken, with as little support from international forces as possible. And everybody should want that as a goal. And the Afghans certainly want it very much.

We are enhancing our training, enhancing our equipping, so I certainly expect that we will continue to see progress. What I want to stress is don't get too hung up on 2008. That was certainly... it was an indication, but not a hard and fast timeline with a specific schedule attached to it.

I have no information on President Putin's birthday plans.

Q: How do you see NATO relationship with Russia in future?

APPATHURAI: With Russia? In future? Ooh, how much time do you have? We have, as an Alliance, a very profound and well-structured relationship with the Russian Federation. Through the NATO-Russia Council, NATO nations sit around the table as 27 equal states. We have a program of cooperation in terms of cooperative air support where we share a picture, shared picture of airspace. For example, that has moved quite a bit forward, where a Russian ship has sailed, for a limited period, with NATO forces in the Mediterranean, where we have a joint project to train counternarcotics officials in Afghanistan, in neighbouring countries, where we have discussions on the terrorist threats, where we have discussions on cooperation when it comes to Theatre Missile Defence. So it is a very profound and well-structured, as I said, relationship. But it's also an active relationship and it will continue to be that way.

We have had, for example, quite open discussions where not all of the 27 countries necessarily agreed  on issues like Georgia. Sometimes where they do agree, for example, during the crisis in Ukraine recently. So it... it is a good relationship. It is a vital strategic bridge across Europe. All the 27 countries recognize that this is a relationship that has to work, that is working.

Can it work better? Yes, it can work better, and we're certainly working to do that.

Q: Francesco (inaudible)... press agency, Italy. Two questions. The first is related to Afghanistan and Lebanon in some ways. A few time ago appear on many newspaper, international newspaper, a kind of possibility that European countries will define in Lebanon a kind of exit strategy to Afghanistan. For example, especially because they in May... they signed the paper for the enlargement for the north and south of Afghanistan and in the paper was written that NATO will have to request many things, as they did. For example, as General Jones ask many times, SecGen ask many times, and really, really few countries responded to that request.

There is now, there is still a danger that European countries will be run... withdraw their troops from Afghanistan using the excuse of Lebanon. This is the first question.

And the second one is on special forces. SecGen in Cape Verde talk about the idea to create the NATO special forces, especially related to NRF. And then President Bush confirmed today. If you can give us some details about that. Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Sure. I don't see any ally trying to use Lebanon as an exit strategy for Afghanistan. On the contrary, I think what you will see here is a reconfirmation of the commitment of allies to Afghanistan. Indeed, they want to step up training, step up equipping and step up the high level political attention to it. You can see that in the proposals that the Secretary General and President Chirac... well, that President Chirac has put forward with the Secretary General's support, with the Italian proposal to hold a conference I don't see less interest, I see more interest. I see more engagement, both politically and militarily in Afghanistan.

In terms of special operations forces, this Summit will see an initiative to promote cooperation between special operations forces within the Alliance. And that, for special operations forces, as you know, is something quite special. They don't often work together in a multinational way. But to share best practices, to be able to train and work together, is something that has been put on the agenda, and agreed amongst NATO nations, so it's a very good thing.

And of course, the NATO Response Force has a special operations forces element to it and that will have to be continually resourced as the NRF goes forward.

Q: On Afghanistan, General Jones this afternoon in a discussion urged the member countries to tackle the narcotic or the drug problem, which he described, if I might quote, "the single most dangerous cancer in the whole Afghanistan situation".

My question is, why has NATO done so little over the past five years to tackle this problem, allowing the drug production to double since 2001, and the money that's been generated by it?

And secondly, is this an individual position the general is holding or can we actually expect some bold initiatives on this?

APPATHURAI: NATO is playing, and has in its operational plan, quite a long list of areas in which it can support Afghan counternarcotics efforts, and I will give you a few. One is to provide intelligence, one is to provide training. I mentioned already including with the Russians. One is to provide in extremis support. In other words, if Afghan counternarcotics officials get in trouble NATO forces can come in support to them, for example, medical evacuation, can provide transport to them.

NATO does not have in its mandate to play a lead role in the counternarcotics effort. There is... the U.K. has within the G8 a lead role to play, but most of all the Afghans do. And that is absolutely primordial.

General Jones, of course, is absolutely right, that the narcotics economy threatens to (A), fund the Taliban, and (B), corrupt the government. And that is an issue for any country, as we have seen in so many other places around the world.

We have also seen that in places like... well, in Southeast Asia or in Latin America, it is a long, long-term effort to tackle it. And the most effective way to do that is, of course, the authorities of the country to do it, with support from the international community.

As I say, NATO has a supporting role, it does not have a lead role. All NATO nations, all the Heads of State and Government here, I know, agree with General Jones that it must be tackled, but I do believe that NATO will stay, for the foreseeable future, in the role that it has, in the supporting role, rather than taking a lead role in the counternarcotics effort. That's for the Afghans first, and for other international organizations to take.

I have time for one more question, and I believe that gentleman has been waiting for quite a while.

Q: Thank you. The Secretary General mentioned this morning that he hoped, expected, I forget that exactly wording, that it would be possible to have a new strategic concept for NATO in place by the next summit. Will that be reflected in this communiqué, that hope? You're looking at future roles and missions and NATO forces.

APPATHURAI: The... I know the Secretary General mentioned that in his speech and I think the Secretary General believes that now as we approach, it's been seven years since the last Strategic Concept. The international security environment has changed, continues to change quite dramatically. The Comprehensive Political Guidance, which, in a sense, updates or builds on the 1999 Strategic guidance, offers a snapshot. 


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