From the event

  • Press briefing by NATO Spokesman, James Appathurai and IMS Public Information Advisor, Colonel Brett Boudreau

14 May 2008

Weekly press briefing

by the NATO Spokesman, James Appathurai with Colonel Brett Boudreau, Public Information Advisor for the International Military Staff

James Appathurai: Thank you for all for coming all the way up here but it's been a bit of  a NATO day, you've had Kazakhs and Estonians and now you have a couple of Canadians up here at the front which is from the, from the sublime to the ridiculous I suppose. We have a special treat which… who … which is Colonel Brett Boudreau, who is Colonel Brett Boudreau who we all know speaks for the Chairman of the Military Committee, speaks for the Military Committee and has offered to come and update you on the discussions that are taking place in the Military Committee in the Chiefs of Staff, at Chiefs of Staff level, so let me turn right over to Brett.

Colonel Brett Boudreau: Thank you James… [hit the micro, we don't hear for a couple of seconds] I'm here to, to give you a short update and to take any questions you might have on the sessions. It's a pretty intensive two days of discussions on the Chiefs of Defence level. … it's the first of three such meetings that will take place in this… this type of format over the course of the year. There are seven different sessions or formats with either NATO CHODs and/or… in our various partnerships formats so a pretty, … a pretty eclectic collection of, of Chiefs of Defence, up to sixty we expect over the course of today and tomorrow. As such this is the largest gathering … in the… in the NATO alliance of Chiefs of Defence … including representation by General Bentégeat (Henri), the EU Military Committee Chairman. It's the first time that we've had the non-NATO troop-contributing nations participate at Chiefs of Defence level in both the ISAF and KFOR formats … and it's our first meeting for the Chief of Defence since the Bucharest summit as well, so a lot of “firsts” if you will. This morning was … – if you heard the Chairman of the Military Committee give you a short update – … was an operational focus with … with both the… in ISAF and KFOR formats were also then followed on with the Chiefs of Defence about the other NATO missions.

The discussion on Afghanistan - if you’re interested in a bit of the colour if you will - the discussion was about two hours long. Seventeen nations spoke … spoke to the issue the EU … Chairman as well as General Bentéjat, the two Supreme … the two Strategic Commanders. We started with a brief from SACEUR who painted an overall picture of the … of the situation in Afghanistan. A lot of talk about the… the ways and means and the speed in which we are helping to extend the Afghan government’s authority across the country. And developing the structures necessary to maintain security and it was re-stated that of the about 400 districts in Afghanistan … about 70% of the security incidents … take place in just … 10% of those districts. In summary, the Chiefs of Defence discussed the … the need to close the gap between what we need and what we have. Those reinforcement that work to deliver the civilian effort … needs to occur more rapidly, more consistently and we look forward to the work of the UN SRSG in this regard.  It was reinforced that Afghanistan, and the work there needs to be put into a regional context particularly goes back to… Pakistan. Counter narcotics was discussed. It was emphasized that COMISAF and the forces in Afghanistan are working within the, the limits of the … operational plan. … in this regard the consensus certainly was that the scourge of the drug… of the drug trade is directly linked to the insurgency and certainly this warrants careful consideration and further work in this regard. The non-NATO troop contributing nations expressed real genuine satisfaction at being able to participate in the discussions for the first time and in fact participate in the decision shaping of the mission. With respect to Kosovo: again this was previewed by an assessment by SACEUR of the situation in Kosovo. It’s a significant operation on our … on our part with a substantial deployment of forces. It’s at a critical point of course coming shortly after the Serbian elections and barely a month or so before the Kosovo constitution comes into effect. I know that about fourteen nations made interventions … at the meeting, including the EU Military Committee chair and the Strategic Commander … and as well a number of the partner nations … spoke to the issue of KFOR. Overall, certainly the situation as we had described or noted is generally calm although tense in the North. We are satisfied with the force levels we have in place in Kosovo at this juncture … and satisfied with the arrangements that are in place with respect to reserves in the event those are needed. The Chiefs of Defence were seized of the requirement for the UNMIK and EULEX mission to effect a orderly and timely transition between … their… their duties and responsibilities particularly in the field of policing and certainly we’ll look to that … with interest to see that it happens as seamlessly as possible.

For the remainder of the day today and tomorrow … the Chiefs of Defence will look at the … take-aways, if you will, from the Bucharest Summit. … We've got partners in today we've got Mediterranean dialogue tomorrow, we have the Ukraine Chief of Defence tomorrow and Russian Chief of Defence Baluyevskyi as well. … So, lots on the go next couple of days and that's really all I have but I'll take questions certainly perhaps after …

James Appathurai: No, no

Colonel Brett Boudreau: … after you James?

James Appathurai: No, no, let's do this directly.

Colonel Brett Boudreau: OK, I'm happy to take your questions. Paul?

Paul: Yeah Brett … there has been some talk, … complaints even about the … length of the tour of duty that soldiers do from some countries in Afghanistan, that it's too short and that soldiers just basically get their feet on the ground and then they're turning around and coming back again. Was there a discussion of that at the meeting today and any possibilities of … to look for a longer tour of duty for some countries? 

Colonel Brett Boudreau: Sorry. (tap out the micro) Let me start again.

It has been the subject of … It was not the subject of specific discussion today but it has been the subject of discussion at our regular meetings of the Military Committee in permanent session i.e. those military representatives who work on behalf of the Chiefs of Defence. … This is really … a ... a national issue with all sorts of… all sorts of personnel and related issues … as a consequence of, of the length of time that each individual nation believes is right for their own circumstances to deploy their forces in the theatre. And some nations for, for their own reasons have decided that … it makes …  operational sense for them to keep their forces in the theatre for a longer period of time, it does vary, it varies widely, varies from as best I can determine from three months to fifteen months… and obviously there would be some advantages to soldiers being in theatre, in a location, for a longer period of time … but again that is a national decision and it was not the subject of  specific discussion today.

(Several people apparently would like to ask questions at the same time)

James Appathurai: Sorry first (laugh) you and then, then Marc

Ben Nemo DPA.  Talking about Afghanistan and… and the follow-on from Bucharest, was there anything concrete said about, for example, the French offer for a battalion for RC East or from Polish heli… helicopters, were there any actual… more details on… on those kind of proposals or indeed new force contributions generally? Did that come up?

Colonel Brett Boudreau: Well, the discussions today were not … were not really a force generation conference although I do, I do know that some of the nations certainly speak to the fact of their contributions … and that's to be expected … there was significant discussion about the … the requirement for additional forces to close the gap between what it is we have and what it is we need and it was reinforced again that OMLTs, those operational mentor and liaison teams remain the top priority for fill … we’re at about thirty four … fifty four …  fielded, so again the emphasis placed in those meetings was for nations to step up to the plate where they can to fill those and the other shortfalls in the statement of requirements. But it was … it was not a… an opportunity for nations to… to make … an offer of new contributions and that thing.

James Appathurai: Mark?

Mark: … General Henault said earlier on, Brett, he referred in fact to the … the discussions about the … command arrangements in RC South. And he made reference to SACEUR's comments I think last week in the Defense Committee in Washington and that there was now a recommendation of some kind by COMISAF … although it hadn’t actually got to the point where it is being formally discussed in the Military Committee. Could you just give us a breakdown as to where exactly that recommendation is at the moment and what … you know, what it talks about, please?

To the second question on Kosovo … you said in your introduction that the … the Chiefs were "seized of the need" for … an orderly UNMIK handover. Given that there is no actual forma… formal mandate … setting out that … handover as yet, what … could you just explain a little bit what you mean by they were "seized of the need"?

Colonel Brett Boudreau: Thank you for those questions. With respect with the command and control arrangements you have very probably seen in … or reported yourself on discussions about the command and control arrangements in, in ISAF, … it was discussed … certainly today or raised by… by SACEUR and discussed by a number of nations. … the Military Committee … has not received a… a formal proposal, if you will, from the… from  COMISAF, the theatre Commander … and …  and SACEUR. … in that … we have… you know, we're aware of their view that unity of command … that is to say … in the case of the South they both made their position clear that their preference would be for an American Commander to command the South. … I do believe that it will be the subject of discussion at an upcoming Military Committee meeting in permanent session, if not at the broader Chiefs of Staff session. So in that sense we expect the discussion to… to take place soon …   It's an issue that obviously … there are at this point three nations particularly in the South, the Netherlands, UK and Canada, who've made arrangements and have a very very effective … arrangement respecting command of forces in the South, so … presumably … nations will have a view on how it is those forces are configured and commanded, certainly it’s within the remit of SACEUR to… to… … conduct  and organize … the operations in a way that he best sees fit. … although certainly the nations who contribute those forces also have a point of view. So I do expect that there’s certainly no decisions made today but the Military Committee and the Chiefs of Defence were… were advised and told of the … of the view from the field and SACEUR. So I expect those discussions will take place … soon.

In respect to Kosovo, just to note that again … with the … with the transition to … Kosovar authorities for responsibility for… for Kosovo. … The NATO Chiefs of Defence … taking stock on the deployment of their forces, they're some sixteen thousand or so forces throughout Kosovo … just looking… to see that … that the transition of responsibilities to Kosovar authorities and from UNMIK to other agencies and organizations proceeds as seamlessly as possible so that … KFOR can in fact conduct its duties … in, in the areas that it is entitled and, and responsible for.

(Micro changes hands)

Colonel Brett Boudreau: … It was … confirmed at the Military Committee today and I understand at the NAC as well that the French battalion of about seven hundred and again battalions can vary in size from nation to nation and depending on what type of battalion it is but it was confirmed that … the deployment of about seven hundred French soldiers to the East was taking place. They didn’t specify the… the exact time so I’ll have to leave that to the French authorities to specify. But they did indicate that in fact, as was stated in Bucharest, … those … those forces in fact are being deployed.

Question: Are being deployed?

Colonel Brett Boudreau: Are being deployed.

Intervention: No.

Colonel Brett Boudreau: Are being deployed. I don't know the specifics of, … of, you know which units, which percentage of seven hundred is actually … physically deploying or deployed, I would just note that … that the… French offer was for an additional seven hundred forces to the East. I don't know the specific dates of their deployment though.

New intervention: Question plus générale. Dans le cadre de la lutte anti-terroriste et je sais que les Américains ont été demandeurs sur la force AFRICOM. Je ne sais pas si ça a été discuté ou, ou pas. Est-ce que vous avez effleuré la question de l'AFRICOM …enfin, du projet de l'AFRICOM, c'est-à-dire de la présence dans l'Afrique subsaharienne?

Colonel Brett Boudreau: The focus of discussions today really was … on ISAF and KFOR as our two major operations comprising some… seventy thousand troops really deployed almost between the … between the two. … the other operational, other operations that we’re involved in… be it … Iraq, OAE, the counter terrorist mission in the Mediterranean and the potential support to … to AU was touched on briefly but that was not discussed substantively. … it may come up tomorrow … perhaps … when we have discussions with our partners who … who may be more particularly interested in that aspect.

James Appathurai: … If I can jump in, just because there was some discussion in the NAC today, on the subject as well. … The 15th of June will obviously be an important moment in Kosovo because authorities will transfer from the UN to Kosovo institutions as the Constitution comes into force. KFOR's mandate will not change, its authorities will not change … unless the Security Council is to decide otherwise. There is also a discussion … within NATO under way, this is in military circles of course, …to take into account the changing situation on the ground with the possibility of some new tasks … for … for KFOR. As I say these are … discussions are taking place now in military circles, it would then come to the North Atlantic Council for discussion and any possible decision … and that is where we stand.

Colonel Brett Boudreau: I'll just add and just reinforce what James has said to… to indicate that in fact the … the advice is currently being prepared by the international military staff that works at the other side of the building here and we expect that very shortly they'll be dispatched to the nations for their consideration and their consensus agreement, … and obviously we are… we are … conscious of the … of the timelines and view this as that we are going to get this work done as quickly as possible so that the North Atlantic Council can make the decisions … on the advice that’s preferred. 

New intervention: … Concernant le dialogue méditerranéen demain, est-ce qu'il y a un ordre du jour bien précis, est-ce qu'on peut savoir plus sur les dossiers qui seront posés?

Colonel Brett Boudreau: Thank you, there is a… actually … about an hour, an hour and a half, I believe, scheduled for the Mediterranean dialogue countries. There are seven of those nations. … Generally speaking for the Med dialogue countries we provide an overview of NATO operations with specific focus on OAE which is generally the area of real interest for those countries although as well provide an overview of the other operations because some do contribute to our operations particularly in Kosovo and in Afghanistan … and as well to … to give those nations an opportunity to discuss with other NATO Chiefs of Defence the ways and means by which they can improve interoperability, and potentially access training and other, and other activities that are run by NATO and the Military Committee in particular. So, really it's a, it's an opportunity, more so than a fixed agenda of a specific number of issues and activities, other than operations generally speaking.    

(designing people in the crowd) Sir, and then…

New intervention: … (inaudible because without micro)

New intervention: … Sorry, Bouke Beersma, ANP.  On the transition from UNMIK to EULEX I understand the… today’s meeting was not so satisfied about the way things are going up to now and the deadline of June 15th … coming close. … can you tell us a bit about that and can you also, could you also confirm that the Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer is meeting with Ban Ki-moon next week to discuss this issue?

Brett Boudreau: … What I would say on the issue is that … the forces of KFOR that … that are stationed there, and those that we have in reserve, should the need arise, we’re satisfied, the Chiefs of Defence are satisfied that … those are … those are sufficient. … and we're conscious of the fact that … on the 15th of June … things will change in Kosovo with respect to the division of responsibilities and as such KFOR stands ready to… and prepared to support Kosovar authorities … in implementing the provisions of the Ahtissari agreement. So, … in that sense … we … as I have expressed earlier we look forward to … UNMIK and EULEX … completing their activities and making their transition as seamlessly as possible … and certainly … we're all, we're all part of the same group and team that’s looking to see that… take place as efficiently as possible. I will just… perhaps James will take the speaker with respect to the SecGen.

James Appathurai:  yes, I can confirm that, for the moment the planning… there is planning for the Secretary General to go to the UN headquarters next week … and meet with UN Secretary General Ban. There are a number of issues which they can discuss and, I’m sure, will discuss. One of those will certainly be Kosovo … I think Colonel Boudreau has … has sketched it out for you. We, as KFOR, we as NATO, want to ensure that there are: a) sufficient forces in place, not just military forces in place, to provide for security, but that means not just military security but also law and order; that those forces should be present where they need to be present; that the relationships between the various parties on the ground are clear; … so that when incidents happen, … the … to use the military expression, the … “the order of battle”: who does what / when? … is … is well established. This is a transition period, … it’s a transition period for Kosovo, it’s a transition period for UNMIK and a transition period for EULEX. … it is not a transition period for KFOR. … but we have an interest ensuring that… in ensuring that transitions take place. So that we can continue to play our role, within our mandates and authorities. … and that others can play their roles within their mandates and authorities, and… … discussions between the two Secretaries General on this subject only make sense with this kind of transition coming up… Sir…

New question: Russian news agency NOVOSTI: (name inaudible)… … could you … tell us … what be the main topics during the NRC council? Thank you.

Colonel Brett Boudreau: Thank you. The NRC council is generally the last session we have of the … Chiefs of Defence Staff meeting … and that will in fact … be preceded by … the NATO Ukraine Council in Chiefs of Staff Session. So in fact, tomorrow afternoon we’ll look at those … those … issues. General Henault is scheduled to have a bilateral discussion with General Baluyevskyi tomorrow before the meeting. … on the agenda, is the… is the 2008 work plan, the series of activities that NATO and Russia … have agreed to undertake over the course of the year. … we’ll assess how that is going, assess whether or not there need to be any modifications or changes to that. … but the… the forum, … if that is a forum for… for Russia, … and for nations to bring to the table … any issues they would like to bring to the table. … and as such, it’s difficult to predict … what exactly those might be; … because it is … it is … really … a forum for an exchange of views and opinions. So, at this point on the agenda, is the… is the overall review, stocktaking if you will of the work plan, … and … and we’ll see what … we’ll see what transpires tomorrow.

James Appathurai: Yes please…

Question: For James is it ok ?

James Appathurai: Yes please.

Question: It is about the incidents in Macedonia during the election campaign. What is your comment please and is your (inaudible: role?)…

James Appathurai: I’ll come to that…. I’ll come to that….

Question: Ah! OK.

James Appathurai: If you don’t mind. Sorry, we’ll just finish with Brett and let him go…

Participant: Sure, thanks.

James Appathurai: … and then I’ll touch on a few issues and that’s one of them…

Participant: Sure, thanks.

James Appathurai: ... Anyone… any more questions?

New voice: C’est tout?

James Appathurai: for … the Military Committee?...

New voice: OK?

Military participant: Thank you all. I’ll just sit here.

James Appathurai: Yeah.

Military participant: If you don’t mind.

James Appathurai: Yeah yeah you’re very welcome. … mmm… Colleagues let me touch on three issues then and I’ll be happy to take your questions on anything and one of them would very happily be that. … there are… yeah… three issues I want to raise…

One is … Mr. Popal - and to be honest I left his la… his first name behind, but I’ll get it for you - who is the Head of the Independent Directorate for Local Governance in Afghanistan, spoke to the NAC this morning. Actually he spoke to all the ISAF nations … this morning. .. This is a … very senior position with very direct … with a very direct relationship with president Karzai … He meets with President Karzai three times a week. … Every … I think it’s every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday for a couple of hours… Because President Karzai has given him and his directorate the assignment to obviously foster local governance. What does this mean? … And I’m going to quote for him, because unfortunately he had to go to a PRT conference. In essence his belief is – this is what he said at the table – the prome… the problem of Afghanistan is not a strong enemy, it is weak government. Especially at the local level. And he was very clear that while military operations are necessary to provide for transition … they are not sufficient, there has to be effective governance. … And his job is to foster local governance. He has a five year plan in place, …, national programmes being executed in the provinces to foster governance. One of those … one of the tracks he is following is simply replacing … less effective governors - less effective for a variety of reasons i.e.: lack of training or corruption or other reasons – with more effective governors. He has already led the process that has replaced twelve governors. … So he has had … quite a lot of … mmm… he has already achieved quite a lot in terms of results, and he examines the governors for their management skills, for their loyalty to the constitution, the lack of corruption, their effectiveness in communications, and if he feels… and if the president feels that improvements should be made, they are made. So this has already been a very influential process. Second he spoke to the pr… the… the PRTs. … And what he said on the … PRTs was interesting. And I’m not necessarily just selling the NATO line here, I think it is worth passing on his views which will be discussed including today in Maastricht at the PRT conference because he is on his way there now.

A: That he has been promoting, and is… getting success in promoting a new approach. And that is that he wants to ensure that the PRTs are not seen as detached from the government and delivering services that the government should be seen to be participating in the delivery of; because that undermines the authority of the government. So now, … he has been promoting a new process which is beginning whereby the people themselves promote or propose projects for the PRTs, these are approved by President Karzai or by the central government, and then implemented by the PRTs. So the PRTs, who have the resources, do the implementation; the priorities are set at the local level, approved at the national level and executed by the provincial reconstruction teams. So there is already a fundamental change in approach being implemented now, … which... which is starting to have an effect. … He also interestingly said that he thinks the PRTs need to be very proactive in looking at signs of impending conflict and … he believes that extreme poverty is an indicator for where there is the potential for spoilers that the Taleban or al Qaida to have an effect. So for him, the development work that they do, is very very important from a clear security … point of view. … He has created a new counter narcotics department in the IDLG, which focuses basically on development and alternative livelihood. But he is very focused on … for example Musa Qala, when Musa Qala fell to Afghan forces, when the Taleban was driven out, he… Mr. Popal, with the IDLG, was in there the next day with … with funding, with projects, with programmes. … Afghan funding, Afghan programmes and Afghan projects … to provide alternative livelihood. So … that  mmm… (sound of sheet of paper that is turned) that is .. what I wanted to say on Mr. Popal and if you have colleagues who are in Maastricht they can head down to the PRT conference.

Second thing, and these two things will be quick. … One is a briefing we got today, in the NAC, on a number of issues, but … one of them was on Pakistan, and …, I pass it on to you because it is of concern. According to the statistics that we have, … in NATO, the activity levels of extremists, violent activity of extremists, in RC East is up significantly over the same period last year. It is almost now in April … reaching the levels… the highest level it reached in all of 2007 and that was in late summer; there is real concern in NATO, that this is at least in part due to … agreements that have been struck with militants on the other side of the border, which are not being sufficiently effective in stopping cross-border activity. And which may be; and we have real concerns that they may be leading to higher level of extremist and militant activity inside Afghanistan.

... That’s the second point, third point is precisely on the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, NATO is concerned and condemns… concerned about and condemns … the recent series of violent incidents that have taken place in the country since the official launch of the election campaign. And of particular concern are incidents in the North West of the country, and the shooting I think it was yesterday or the day before yesterday … attack … attacks on party head quarters. … NATO allies expect free, fair and violence-free elections, … and hope that steps will be taken by all parties … to … stop the violence that we have seen during this election period. That’s all I wanted to say to start and I’m happy to take any questions that you may have. Please.

New question: James, just a couple of things following up the… the meeting with Secretary General Ban, have you actually got a date for that yet? And… and roughly what’s on the agenda apart from Kosovo, and I assume Afghanistan might get mentioned. And… and secondly on the Pakistan thing you said that there were concerns that the… the rise in violence was at least pa… in part due to deals struck with the militant on the other side of the border. Is that meals… deals struck between the Taleban and militants or between the Pakistan side and the militants? Who is involved in those deals?

James Appathurai: … The Secretary General is scheduled to go to meet with UN Secretary General Ban, … a week tomorrow. Which day? Thurs….

Female voice: Inaudible.

James Appathurai: Wednesday? Thursday.

Female voice: inaudible.

James Appathurai: Thursday.

Unknown male voice 1: 3 seconds.

James Appathurai: Err...

Unknown male voice 2: Le micro.

James Appathurai: Oh excuse me… il est… il est allumé.

Unknown male voice 2: non parce que … c’est le traducteur qui m’a fait signe il est faible… (inaudible)

James Appathurai: Ah, faible… faible… ca c’est très possible parce que je suis trop à… à gauche…  il est prévu… he is forseen to go next Thursday, …, to … to New York, … to meet with the UN Secretary General Ban as well as other meetings but, the… obviously the highlight of the trip will be that one, … you can expect certainly Kosovo, … and Afghanistan to be on the agenda. I don’t know of any other issues, but I know those two are on the… on the agenda. ... The agreement… I think there are a number of agreements ... there are… are under discussion, have been under discussion, have been implemented, until now. I am not in a position to say that these are exclusively responsible for a rise in extremist activity; … but I can say that there is a significant rise in extre… in extremist activity over the same period of last year and that there is concern within NATO that the agreements that have been entered into or that are being entered into may be, at least in part … responsible for that.

Question: (inaudible)

James Appathurai: Well, you have a number of agreements between parties, within…  between for example Taleban within that area but also between the government and … the Taleban.

Question: … James, just to follow up on that (inaudible)

James Appathurai: Yeah.

Question:  do I need a mic or …

James Appathurai: No, I’ll repeat the question.

Question: OK. (inaudible)

James Appathurai: Well, nothing is preventing them from being effective, and they are effective. … but we shouldn’t overestimate what … these border posts can do. They are for coordination of activity, between ISAF, the Afghans, and the Pakistanis; this is a very, very difficult … region, geographically, to stem. And I think, what is important to understand is that the issue of cross-border support, wherever you draw the line of the border, is not simply … an issue of sealing off the borders. … It can never work… in Pakistan and Afghanistan… between Pakistan and Afghanistan; that you just build a wall, … and everything piles up on one side or the other. Stemming cross-border support for what happens inside Afghanistan means ensuring that militants and extremists do not get safe havens in which to rest, regroup, reconstitute, and then use these safe havens as launching pads for attacks across the border. So this is not a question of the actual line as much as it is dealing with … safe havens … further on, behind … behind the border itself… Please.

New question: (inaudible)

James Appathurai: It should work.

Question: … mmm. On the … elections incidents in Macedonia. What could be the consequences on NATO … Macedonia’s NATO aspiration and the possibility to get this invitation … by next year? … and secondly is the NATO aware of the latest … developments between Greece and Macedonia the … physical violence and physical threats on Macedonian citizens at Greek border and incident with the Macedonian airplane that was returned from … the Greek sky? Thank you.

James Appathurai: I don’t think we need at present to talk about consequences for membership aspirations; that’s not the issue. … Though we do… NATO does, as it has always done, … held aspirant countries to the highest democratic standards, … and we continue to do that. And certainly hope, as the Secretary General has said … in previous … during previous election periods; that those standards will be met and they include of course first and foremost the safe and secure environment for elections in which to… to… to go forward. So this is… This is … an important issue. … NATO is aware … of course … of… of incidents such as the Macedonian airplane, … incid… Macedonian airlines or Air Trent (?) – I can’t remember what its called…

Question: (inaudible)

James Appathurai: Air Transport… … airline … issue, but this is a bilateral issue … and we … of course are aware but not engaging in this issue. … I think Paul was next.

Paul: Yeah, James, just… just coming back to Afghanistan, to be absolutely sure, you… the agreements that you are talking about… are these agreements which the Pakistanis authorities have had with various tribal … tribal leaders up in that area… they’re… they are the ones that you think are leading to the… this … increase in… in , in incidents; and…

James Appathurai: Yes

Paul: Do you have any figures? Percentages, or in absolute figures for the… the number of … attacks you’ve had in this region? Or the increase since last year?

James Appathurai: The increase is over 50%. It’s 50% more than what we had seen at the same period last year. And as I say, very close to the August 07 peak from last year. Which is … significantly higher than … than … close to the August 07 peak. And yes, I would say the principal concern is - I say concern, I am not directly attributing to it because I couldn’t - but the concern is that deal being struck by… between the Pakistani government and extremist groups in … the tribal areas may be allowing them, the extremists, to have save havens, rest, reconstitute, and then move across the border.

New question: (inaudible) a follow up of all regions? (inaudible)

James Appathurai: Yeah. Well I have said …

Question: (inaudible)

James Appathurai: RC east, that’s where our statistics are for regional ca… the… the… regional area East.

Paul: Do you have the absolute number of the … incidents.

James Appathurai: Yeah but I’ll keep that to myself. Yeah.

Question: what time period was that?

James Appathurai: It’s for April.

New question: ... James, I have … questions on the cyber defence centre. But … one question is: what’s the American attitude towards this cyber defence centre. And why the United States just participates in this programme as observer? The second question is … if there is a cyber attack on one member of the Alliance in the future, can it be a reason for the Alliance to invoke article 5? Thank you.

James Appathurai: … thank you. First I know that the United States is a strong supporter of the … new centre. … and that is why they are sending an observer. The… the way in which these centres work is… not everybody contributes to all of them.  They are … created by a group of nations, funded by a group of nations, it is not formally a NATO headquarters, ... to which all 26 need to… to contribute; but the US, I know is very much a strong supporter in this. The US of course invest heavily in cyber defence probably as much as many countries if not more… And … and has provided support to other countries when they have come under … cyber attack including, by the way, to Estonia when they came under cyber attack so, I don’t think anybody should doubt the US has … a) the capabilities; b) interest in this issue, because they are both substantial.  Article 5 is what the Allies determine it to be … at the time of any potential incident. … the, the, the language in the charter is very clear on armed attack from abroad … is the key phrase… … and … I don’t think the drafters of the Washington Treaty imagined that an airliner being flown into the World Trade Centre would fall under that category. But clearly, unanimously, the Allies did feel that. So it’s constructively ambiguous language … I think what we have seen … what we have seen in Estonia makes it clear that at the very least a cyber attack can very quickly become an issue of national security. … and that is why NATO has supported the establishment of this centre and why it has been launched here. Because cyber attacks can cripple a society as much as a military attack and a more… let’s put it this way: a more traditional military attack … can. … So all this to say: I wouldn’t want to forecast … the future. But certainly at the very least you can say that cyber defence is a security issue which is why it’s … found a home, not the only home but a home here. Thank you (you’re next?)

New question: … yeah James, I just want you to clarify just a bit about this PRT thing.

James Appathurai: Yeah.

New question: I don’t report much on PRTs, but I don’t see the significance in… in shifting who prioritizes what they are going to do. Is this for just to eliminate elements of government corruption involvement or is it… does it have a security aspect there if… i.e. if the locals decide what needs to be built, they’re less susceptible… their buildings are less susceptible to being bombed or what? Or am I completely off track? I just want to understand what’s there.

James Appathurai: It… sorry, it’s about governance, sorry if I wasn’t clear. … Mr. Popal’s … mission is of course to foster local governance but also to foster … the presence of the federal government, the national government, into the provincial and the local at district and the local levels. And, what has happened, I think for very very natural reasons, is first, when … the Taleban was toppled, the international community but first and foremost the Afghans, focused where they had to focus, which was on creating national institutions starting in Kabul. And the nations, … sorry, the ISAF contributing nations, have established provincial reconstruction teams in the regions that have been carrying out good development work; but which has been seen according to Mr. Popal, but I think everybody has this concern, which has the risk of being seen not to reflect the desires of the people in the community. Or, necessarily to reflect the priorities of the federal government which was focused on other issues and allowing the PRTs to carry on development work. What Mr. Popal is proposing, and I think, is implementing, is the idea that we should allow the local people to express their views in a structural way, and have those priorities … carried out. You know in… instead of having the Canadian PRT, let’s say, come in, have our CIDA expert say they really need a bridge here, and they need a well and they need a school, … you get the locals to say: hey, you know what, we don’t really need a well; what we really need is two schools, and a … bridge. This all gets put on a list, it’s not automatic, it goes to the federal government, the federal government says yeah, actually these things make sense; PRT could you please carry it out? And that links up all the three parties together and it shows people that their voices are being heard. That’s his… that’s his aim, and… sorry just to finish… it shows them that the federal government is the one who is overseeing this whole process and that the NATO PRTs are the delivery mechanism and not the deciders. And that’s very important for local governance. … You, then you, then you.

New question: inaudible

James Appathurai: I’ll repeat the question.

Question: James, les deux déclarations… Est-ce que tu as des déclarations du NAC sur l’Afghanistan / Pakistan et sur la Macédoine… des déclarations du porte-parole du Secrétaire Général?

James Appathurai: C’est… ce n’était … ni l’un ni l’autre n’étaient des déclarations du NAC. Tous les deux, c’était le porte parole qui… ben le ce, euh… ce qui se passe en AYRM euh… c’est le porte parole de l’OTAN, ben c’est aussi le porte parole de l’OTAN qui vous donne … un … un… a taste… de ce qui a été discuté au NAC. Merci. … I think we are over here and then over here.

New question: (inaudible)

James Appathurai: Aah, I didn’t translate the question.

Question: (inaudible)

James Appathurai: Sorry, I forgot to translate the question after I promised to, but it’s ok. (laughs). Go ahead.

Question: (inaudible) wants to know about this … in case NATO had any inclination to get it all in a political way in Pakistan and … you had the remark that this is internal, an internal (inaudible, covered by coughs) you know what has been going on…

James Appathurai: Hm hm

Question: (inaudible) and now…

James Appathurai: Yeah

Question: The government is falling apart so…

James Appathurai: Yeah

Question: Even if there is an agreement… on this RC (?) period. Who is going to implement that? And … it seems that US forces are taking the lead to the political … is it not to the NATO soldiers to … that it is the responsibility of the NATO to go back and do something about it because soldiers are dying because of non interference in the political process.

James Appathurai: … the question was … should NATO get engaged politically in what’s going on inside Pakistan because the lack of a government or an effective government… to repeat the question… is having security implications for NATO soldiers inside Afghanistan. It is precisely because of our concern of the effects of what’s going on inside Pakistan on our soldiers, and by the way on security … for Afghans and Afghanistan, that I raised this issue, this concern that we have about the rise in security incidents in RC East. The Secretary General…  this Secretary General was the first ever to establish a political relationship with the Pakistani government. … he fully intends … to follow up on that. We have, of course, a tripartite relationship which is principally military, … and that continues, without… without in any way being diminished. The Secretary General will … I think as soon as possible, go to Islamabad and … and take up or take forward … the political relationship that he has already started to establish with the Pakistani government. … but NATO is certainly not the principal political actor when it comes to engaging … with Islamabad … the bottom line is Pakistan’s internal activities are Pakistan’s internal activities, but we have, as you quite rightfully pointed, as NATO, a profound interest ensuring that what happens inside Pakistan does not negatively affect security inside Afghanistan. So you will certainly see the Secretary General engage … at the political level. Oh sorry, yeah?

Question:  You say that NATO is not a political … that we all agree.

James Appathurai: Nnn…

Question: … but NATO decisions are first made political decisions and then they are implemented by NATO. So maybe NATO can go ahead just and (phone?) … the people who are making the political decisions?

James Appathurai: … well… I certainly said that NATO’s not the first political … interlocutor and I think NATO, I mean NATO is a political-military body, you’re quite right with this. It’s first and foremost a political body with … with a military … vocation …  I… I don’t know what to say  … beyond what I have said. Sorry. … Paul.

Paul: Yeah… you partly answered my question, the question I was going to ask which is basically… you mentioned this problem, you’ve highlighted this problem, but more precisely what is NATO going to do about it? First in terms of diplomatic demarches with the Pakistanis, I mean, are you telling the Pakistanis to stop making these agreements and … to finish these agreements with the … with the tribal leaders in these areas. … and… how are you going to do that? … when is the Sec… Secretary General going to go to Islamabad? And secondly and militarily, we have been told repeatedly that the RC East is something of a model of the way to make improvements and that this model should be … perhaps copied in… in the southern region. Now you are saying that violence is going up there as well in RC East. I mean… are there … is this a reason to change tactics also in the eastern region and … to look again at that model that you have there?

James Appathurai: … to answer the second question first…  the fact that insurgent activity is … is increasing quite possibly as a result of … what’s happening across the border, does not in any way diminish the effectiveness of what RC East is doing. I have to say everything that I have heard says that RC East is indeed having enormous success … in the way in which they conduct the comprehensive approach to … building security in the east. That is military activity, reconstruction and development supporting governance. … they do it very very well. … and the fact that there is a spike in insurgent or extremist activity for… for other reasons does in no way diminish the effectiveness of what they are doing. In fact, the fact that they are being so effective in the face of … more … cross border support is … is a testimony to how well they are doing. … Have no doubt that the concerns that NATO-ISAF has over … this increase in activity levels has been communicated to the Pakistanis, will continue to be communicated to the Pakistanis. We do not want – let me be very clear – we do not want and do not intend to engage in the internal … political activities of Pakistan. But we have every right to and will convey our concerns about what is happening inside of Afghanistan … to the extent that we are concerned that it may… might stem from across the border. This will have to be the last one I take, I’m afraid.

New question:  James, je voudrai savoir, est-ce que lors de… est-ce que tu peux me dire si lors de … la réunion de demain avec le general Baluyevskyi vous avez l’intention de… de soulever la question des conflits… (the question is cut and another voice is taking over in the middle of a sentence. Part of the record is missing.)

New voice: … throughout the history of the Alliance, the military obeys the political leadership … that is … a question for them to answer. You would have to direct the question there Sir.

Another new voice: Sir.

New question in English: (inaudible, then cut straight with the voice of a new participant)

James Appathurai: … va soulever… j’ai aussi entendu d’autres soucis au sujet des patrouilles aériennes … le Général aura, si je comprends bien, une conférence de presse lui-même à la fin de la journée. Alors on pourra vous en dire plus. Mais je ne sais pas qu’est-ce qui est sur l’agenda, je suis désolé.

  1. Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.