Updated: 14-Dec-2006 NATO Speeches


14 Dec. 2006

Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
and Filip Vujanović, President of Montenegro
Chairman of the Tripresidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina
following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council
and the signing ceremony of the Framework Document
for the accession of Montenegro to the Partnership for Peace Programme

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia join NATO Partnership for Peace
Joint press conference

De Hoop Scheffer:  Good morning, once again, it is a pleasure to turn next to the President of Montenegro after he signed a few moments ago the framework document marking Montenegro's entry in the Partnership for Peace. 

And as one of the ambassadors said a moment ago, Montenegro entered the Partnership for Peace which has everything to do with stability and security in the region, in the Western Balkans.  And the European Partnership Council says everything about the direction Montenegro wants to go that is for Euro-Atlantic integration.

So I think I'm not exaggerating when I say that for the young democracy Montenegro, an old basin but a young democracy, Montenegro, this marks a real historic event. It opens the whole range of possibilities, the toolbox which is I think a good word for this of intensified and intensifying cooperation between Montenegro and NATO. And NATO, the NATO international staff, I myself the Secretary General, will do everything we can to assist Montenegro in preparing the Individual Partnership Action Plan and the necessary steps involved in that.

This important occasion also marks a great stimulus for Montenegro to continue the necessary and basic reforms. Defence reform, defence restructuring, bringing the defence structures, armed forces under full democratic control.  And here again, NATO will assist wherever possible.

So it is up to me to whole-heartedly congratulate the president and Montenegro with this very important step. 

And it's with pleasure, Mister President.

Vujanović: I would like to speak my native language. (With interpretation) Dear Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen, I share the opinion of Secretary General that this is a really historical moment for Montenegro. This is a day of confirmation of all activities that we undertake in the field of military reforms and we really did a lot. This is a day on which we assumed a high responsibility to continue the path that we've already taken.

The Montenegro will continue to implement its reforms in highly responsible and accountable way in order to become the EU and NATO member now with a great impetus and acknowledgement by becoming a part of the Partnership for Peace. We've had of us to draft the presentation document, while Secretary General offered his wholehearted support. We also have had  of us all the activities under the Presentation Document to be implemented by Montenegro in order to become a NATO member.

This membership in the PFP is also further impetus for our economic reference, which are aimed at ensuring a higher living standard of our citizens and better economic conditions for performing business operations. 

We are proud that last year Montenegro was a leader in the region with regard to the level of foreign direct investments and on the third place, immediately after the Czech Republic and Estonia. 

I'm sure that we will continue with such economic develop and therefore I highly appreciate and I'm highly grateful to Mister Secretary General and all NATO members because they decided in regard to invite us to join the Partnership for Peace which has been finalised today by signing the framework document.

Montenegro and its citizens will be highly pleased to have Mr. Secretary General of NATO as our guest in Montenegro who can then... might have a direct insight and be personally assured of all serious activities that have been undertaken so far by Montenegro.

Questions and answers

Q:  Montenegro is committed to become a full member country of NATO.  This is a first step toward this goal.

And once our country meets the criteria requirements to become... to join... to become a NATO member country are the individual achievements going to be judged?  Or will she have to wait for other countries in the region to fulfil that (INAUDIBLE) in order to become a NATO member country.

De Hoop Scheffer:  The road to NATO membership is a performance based process. So you can never say it will happen then or then because it's dependent on performance. But another basic principle is that each and every individual country that includes, of course, Montenegro will be judged on its individual merits. So there's no such thing as a group approach.  

Q:  from the Associated Press.  You said that this is a performance based criteria, but these countries that you're inducting today are all members of the former Yugoslavia which, itself, had a unique position being a de facto member of NATO in the 1950s through the Balkan Pact would that somewhat influence the speed with which this process can be achieved?

De Hoop Scheffer:  I've never realized that the former Yugoslavia was a "de facto" member of NATO.  That is new to me quite honestly.  But I can repeat what I answered to your colleague that my opinion is... and it is one of the central elements of the visit of the president here that for the Western Balkans there's only one recipe for lasting security and stability which is EuroAtlantic integration.  There, I think, the president and I fully agree.  The road along which that happened is also clear for NATO.  I mean, I'm not speaking about the European Union. 

For NATO that there is performance-based process which has taken a very important step I think and into the right direction by the signature by the President of the Partnership for Peace framework document.  That is not to say that there will not "long and winding road" as spoke John Lennon.  It reveals my generation that's it's a "long and winding road" to NATO membership and that it's performance based. 

But at a certain stage a step has to be set.  And that is what we have done this morning.  And as the president was saying it's now preparing the presentation document for the Individual Partnership Action Plan, will assist, will help.  And then the process with take its course.  But I mean, when I say EuroAtlantic integration I mean what I say.

Q:  Follow-up...  quick follow-up question.  Can you just give a ball park figure?  If everything goes well and all these performance criteria are fulfilled, how long would they have to wait within the Partnership for Peace?  Two, four, five years?

De Hoop Scheffer:  This question has a built-in contradiction because you ask me for a ball park figure and at the same time it's performance based.  That is impossible to say.  That is impossible to say.  I can't say that.  The only thing I can say is that it's a "long and winding road", that a lot of things will have to happen in the different reforms.  President spoke about this himself.  You'll hear me never.... not only... not this morning, but never give any ball park, any month or year in which such a thing could happen because that would be in contravention... in contradiction with the fact that this is a performance-based process.

Thanks so much.  Once again, congratulations, Mister President.


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