From the event

Justus Lipsius

25 Feb. 2008

Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and EU High Representative Javier Solana

JAVIER SOLANA (High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union): Good morning. Let me, once again, publicly welcome the Secretary of NATO, my dear friend Jaap, to this building once again. Let me tell you that we had a very good and long meeting fundamentally about Kosovo. The two of us and our two teams followed and analysed together the situation and the cooperation between NATO and the European Union, today and in the future as long as our missions are deployed on the ground.

Now we have concerns and we have shared our concerns about the north and we have shown also our hope that everybody will act responsibly in the coming period of time so that the cooperation between international actors which are on the ground can be constructive and positive to the stability of the region. That has been always the aim of NATO and the aim of the European Union, as you know very well. It was very well explained last Monday by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union and during the week in Ljubljana by the Ministers of Defence.

So the corporation is, as you can imagine, solid and we're going to continue working in that direction.

Now we've commented also on the situation in Belgrade and I'd like to say very clearly that for us good and solid relations with Belgrade is fundamental. Belgrade has an offer to negotiate with the European Union the manner in which the relationship can be deeper to the SAA, and through other mechanisms that can be put forward. Now it's important for that that the situation calms down and everybody acts responsibly.

Now let me also say that we have spoken, the two of us and our teams, about Afghanistan. We have discussed the situation in Afghanistan and how the cooperation between NATO and the European Union, now that we have the mission practically deployed on the ground in Afghanistan, how it can be done in an effective matter. Afghanistan for NATO and for us is a very important theatre and we are going to continue working very closely.

Now, then we have had to—later on in the morning—a formal meeting with NATO on Bosnia and Herzegovina. As you know Bosnia-Herzegovina, we have an institutional arrangement. The force is a force of the European Union and Berlin Plus and as you know we do practically monthly a review of the situation.

There are two agreements which I think are important. One on the EUFOR, the force which are deployed. We don't want to take any decision today about the drawing down of the force. I think we want just to wait until we analyze in detail the situation in the region before we take such a decision. So EUFOR is there; it's acting very forcefully, in a very good manner. And the cooperation therefore through the scheme of Berlin Plus is very solid.

Now the second thing that we are going to discuss in the coming days is the future of the OHR. The International Representative, as you know, is in doubt when the mission has to be transferred into the European Union mission. I think, again, we are going to see how the situation evolves in the region. And in particular, how the reform of the police is moving forward in Bosnia and Herzegovina. You know that we have initialed in Bosnia-Herzegovina the SAA and it has not been signed until the (inaudible)  reforms had finished, in particular the reforms of police.

But in any case, the relationship is very solid, very good, and in Lubljana, earlier in the week, the Deputy SACEUR, the operational commander of the force was there also and he reported to the Ministers of Defence of the European Union. Today we have discussed at the NAC level.

Jaap, thank you very much, and just keep on.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (NATO Secretary General): Thanks for the hospitality, thanks Javier. Travelling beasts, as Javier Solana and I are, forced by our responsibilities, it is good to have the opportunity from time to time, apart from frequent telephone calls, to have a fundamental and serious bilateral meeting and that is what we had this morning which started before the formal meeting and ended it a moment ago.

I can, to a great extent echo, Dr. Solana's words in the sense that Kosovo, of course, where KFOR is present, you know on the basis of Resolution 1244, KFOR will stay there. KFOR has the role to secure Kosovo and protect all citizens of Kosovo, wherever they are across Kosovo, majority and minority alike. We also, of course, see the European Union coming in and a third important partner, of course, in Kosovo is UNMIK. It was good that we had the opportunity to go into some depth and into some length as well, Dr. Solana and I, to discuss Kosovo, because by definition, NATO-EU cooperation in Kosovo is of great importance, although of course the two organizations each have their own responsibilities.

The same is true for Afghanistan. You might know that I took all the 26 NATO investors to Afghanistan last week where we also spoke at length and had a briefing about the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan which is coming very well off the ground. You know that in Afghanistan we should, we NATO should do more in training the Afghan National Army. We're lagging behind there; that's one of the holes I would like to see filled. And we're very happy and glad that the European Union Police Mission, under the able leadership of Mr. Schultz is coming off the ground. They are training the trainers, and I think we have the arrangements in place to work together there as well, given the fact that also a number of NATO allies are very much involved in police training. So Afghanistan was the second important topic.

Point number three, and that relates to the NATO Bucharest Summit, the meeting devoted to Bosnia-Herzegovina is of course also related to a discussion in NATO. Apart from the state of play, Bosnia-Herzegovina having the Partnership for Peace, the state of play in EUFOR and NATO having headquarters in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I draw the circle a bit wider. You know that at the Bucharest Summit there are three nations having Membership Action Plan knocking on NATO's door, but you also know that the allies want to look at the region in a more general way, in the run up to Bucharest and during Bucharest.

So what is also discussed of course is what's apart from the possibility of invitations, mark my words, the possibility of invitations, we are not there yet. It is important how NATO is going to relate to the region more in general, including the NATO relationship with Serbia. I hope that in the region, and more specifically I end where I started on Kosovo, we could do without unhelpful rhetoric coming from certain places but this is important in the framework of NATO relationship with the region at the whole. Let me stop here.


Q: Has there been many in the (inaudible) region?

Q: (inaudible)...

Q: Mark John from Reuters. Russia's Medvedev is in Belgrade today for a trip aimed at reinforcing ties between Moscow and Belgrade. What concrete steps can the EU and NATO do at this stage to go about repairing the relationship with Serbia and strengthening ties in the coming weeks?

SOLANA: Well as I said in my first intervention our wish is to have a fluid relationship with Serbia. Election took place in Serbia; we would like very much as we offered not long ago, the possibility of getting closer to the European Union. That continues to be our aim. We don't think that a stable Balkans will not be possible without Serbia having a stable and solid relationship with the European Union. Anything that can be done we will do it, but as I said before is it's important that the other partner also is ready.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me add that the same goes, of course, for NATO. We have a Partnership for Peace relationship. I talked about unhelpful rhetoric, but Serbia is a very important player in the region and I can understand, I'll be the first one to understand, frustrations in Serbia. But let's look ahead please. And I'm open, as NATO's Secretary General, with the allies, to see how we can use and utilize to the maximum extent possible the fact that we have a Partnership for Peace relationship with Serbia.

Q: (Inaudible), Belgrade. Here I am. For Mr. Solana: if we are agreed that Kosovo is a unique case, why in that case Serbia couldn't be a unique case for European integration in the means that you could offer something more than the other countries in European integration? And for Mr. Scheffer: you speak about rhetoric useless, but what about cooperation on the ground in this week's with Serbian army about north part of Kosovo and all Kosovo as well?

Thank you.

SOLANA: You know very well what is the scheme that we have for all the country in the Balkans, which is a scheme that's well-defined through the stabilization and association process. I don't think that we have to get out of that channel. Now what can tell you that the speed at which you travel that channel, it may be different, it has not to be the same for everybody. Now, I think I say enough to understand really what is the offer.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me answer you that the relationship between the KFOR and the Serbian Armed Force is an excellent relationship. I have great respect for the Serbian Chief of Defence General Ponos. There is also many direct communication possible between KFOR in Pristina and elsewhere and the Serb Armed Forces. So I think that cooperation and communication is as good as it could be and as good, I hasten to add, as it should be. I'm, of course, also in frequent touch, like my friend Javier Solana, with our interlocutors in Serbia.

MODERATOR: Okay. I'll give the floor now to Maria, and that will be the last question (inaudible).

Q: Yes, Maria Ramirez(?) from El Mundo. A question to both: how worried are you about the partition of Kosovo? And particularly to the High Representative, what kind of signal since the withdrawal of the staff of the EU in Mitrovica? Thanks.

SOLANA: The second part - can you be more clear, the second question?

Q: About the withdrawal of the EU personnel in Mitrovica.

SOLANA: Now, let me start by the two questions. Now, we are not in principle worried. I think that we have to follow it very in detail the situation and produce the analysis, in particular with the UNMIK. You know UNMIK has a responsibility as an international presence for the moment. We are beginning to deploy but still the responsibility is with UNMIK, which is there, and KFOR, which is there.

Now, I like to say that for us our mission, that was agreed by the member states of the European Union is a mission that we covered the whole territory of Kosovo, and that which I would like to say, no other thing can be said, thank you.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: And so is KFOR. KFOR is covering the whole territory of Kosovo as Dr. Solana said a moment ago, the relevance for KFOR is that we have the Kosovo Police Force, we have UNMIK and we have KFOR. KFOR's not a police force, as you know, so I can echo the Secretary General's words. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you very much.

SOLANA: Thank you very much.