From the event

  • Press briefing by NATO Spokesman, James Appathurai Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning Jiřί Šedivý

11 June 2008

Press briefing

by NATO Spokesman James Appathurai and Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning
Jiřί Šedivý

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Great to see you. We have our usual pre-ministerial briefing and we have the privilege for the second time, I think it is... 

JIŘI ŠEDIVÝ (Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning): Second, yes.

APPATHURAI: have Ambassador Šedivý, who is the Assistant Secretary General for Defence Planning and Policy and is the mastermind of the ministerial, or this ministerial anyway.

So let me, without further ado, hand the floor over to him. I think we will do it on background. Background. Senior NATO official.

ŠEDIVÝ: Thank you. Thank you very much, James, and good afternoon. Still don't know whether friends or colleagues, we'll see.


ŠEDIVÝ: But anyway, a great pleasure to brief you. I think it's a little bit too strong to speaking about me as... about a mastermind. We are in the hands of nations and we are just serving the nations, and I would like to lead you briefly through the sequence of meetings and then we will have time for your questions, and perhaps even some of my answers.

So I would like to touch upon the key issues that I expect Ministers are going to address in the series of meetings, because it's not just a defence ministerial meeting, it's a meeting consisting of a series of meetings in various formats.

And you will recall that this event takes place once a year, usually in June, and that the meetings are formal ones; formal ones with decisions to be taken in a number of areas. And let me also stress that this will be the first ministerial meeting since the Bucharest Summit and it will therefore be, I believe, a good opportunity to review progress on the decisions taken at Bucharest by Heads of State and Government concerning our operations, in particular Afghanistan and Kosovo and the Alliance's defence transformation agenda.

And last, but not least, this will also be the first of a series of meetings leading to the 2009 summit, meetings of ministerial defence, ministerial meetings between Budapest Summit... sorry Bucharest Summit and Strasbourg-Kehl Summit. It should be also therefore seen in conjunction with the subsequent meetings as building blocks towards the summit.

So the Defence Ministers meetings will start tomorrow afternoon with a meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group at 25, because France does not participate, and Ministers will have the opportunity to exchange views on the status of nuclear forces and relevant training exercises, undertake consultations in the area of nuclear policy and also reflect on the developing nature of deterrents in the 21st Century.

And the same format, 25 Ministers, will then meet in the Defence Planning Committee format which brings together the allies who participate in NATO's force planning process, and Ministers are expected to approve the 2008 NATO force goals, comprehensive report.

Now following these meetings Ministers will meet with non-NATO nations contributing to KFOR and this will be an important, and I believe also, a timely session to address issues of common concern only a few days ahead of the entry into force of the constitution in Pristina next Monday. And I expect Ministers to reiterate NATO's long-term commitment to peace and security in Kosovo and, indeed, exchange views on how to ensure that KFOR continues to bring security and stability to Kosovo over this sensitive and, indeed, challenging period.

And in this regard they will surely discuss the way forward for the international community as such.

Now, tomorrow evening, allied Ministers will have a working dinner during which they will discuss Afghanistan and Kosovo. As for Kosovo they are expected to assess the latest developments on the ground and examine the challenges that lie ahead in the coming weeks, particularly regarding the uncertainty surrounding the international police presence and specifically the impact that this will have on KFOR.

On Afghanistan the meeting will be an occasion for Ministers to review decisions taken in Bucharest, in particular the implementation of the comprehensive strategic political-military plan. And also I expect Ministers to focus on the need to ensure that ISAF has the right capabilities and the flexibility to use them to meet the current challenging situation on the ground.

And I also expect them to discuss the need for continued support to the Afghan National Security Forces and for the coordination of international efforts.

On Friday morning Ministers will start the day with a meeting to take up the issue of defence transformation and there will be a number of practical issues. It will be, I think, the longest meeting, two hours discussion, on and about a number of practical issues, and I would mention current security changes, indeed, and emerging threats and I believe that, more concretely, Ministers will assess efforts to improve strategic and intra-theatre lift and especially mission capability helicopters.

They will review the implementation of the NATO Response Force concept and they are expected to provide further impetus to the development of the Alliance ground surveillance system.

Then Ministers will gather with their Russian colleague, Minister Serdyukov, for a formal meeting of the NATO-Russia Council and in the NATO-Russia Council the Defence Ministers will have an opportunity to talk about defence and military cooperation, including continuing cooperation in Afghanistan and Russia's support to Operation Active Endeavour, as well as international security issues.

And I also expect frank discussion on some critical issues such as missile defence, CFE, or the Balkans.

And finally, Ministers will have a session of the NATO-Ukraine Commission which will be an opportunity to focus on the development of NATO-Ukraine defence and security relations in the period of intensive engagement, as it was defined in Bucharest, or launched in Bucharest, and indeed, they will review ongoing Ukrainian support for NATO operations.

So it's, I believe, quite a busy agenda ahead of Ministers. Six meetings in total, and a number of important issues to be addressed. And this by way of background and now I'm ready to answer your questions.

APPATHURAI: Identify yourselves. Thanks.

Q:(Inaudible)... could you tell us something more on the missile defence, what exactly will be discussed and what can we expect actually? Thank you very much.

ŠEDIVÝ: Okay, are we going to call it more or one by one?

APPATHURAI: Let's do it one by one.

ŠEDIVÝ: One by one. Okay, missile defence. First of all, we are two months after Bucharest, so there will be... we should not expect any decision to be made on this issue. And I believe that the Ministers will be informed about the expected technical and political, military works that are now being done based on the Bucharest Summit decisions, or language. And indeed, they will be also presented with a sort of a road map of activities between now and the next summit, next year's summit in April 2009, where, according to the Bucharest communiqué the options for possible bolting on between the third pillar of the U.S. system and NATO, NATO's own system, should be reviewed before any further political decision. So no big decision expected.


Q:Chris Dickson, European Diplomacy Defence. My first question was just that there's something I missed there. Just after talking about the strategic lift you said there was going to be the review of the concept of the... sorry, I missed what you said.

APPATHURAI: Strategic lift...

Q:Strategic lift and then straight after that you said on one of the... oh sorry, NRF.

My other question is about Macedonia. I was wondering what the prospects of Macedonia are if they miss... if they don't resolve the name issue in time for the ratification of the amended treaty to include the other two? Does that mean that the timetable is going to be pushed way into the future, or is there any thought being given to that?

I can't... I find it difficult to imagine the whole process being relaunched just for the one country afterward.

ŠEDIVÝ: As far as I know I'm sure this question is not being... or at least not addressed in the expected agenda. But indeed may come up. And here again, I would refer to what was agreed in Bucharest. So it's now bilateral issue between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Greece and indeed, we can imagine that if we don't have... if they don't have agreement that it could have impact on further schedule. But...

APPATHURAI: Did you have a follow-up...

Q:Concerning the strategic air lift do you expect some progress concerning the C-17 issue?

ŠEDIVÝ: Actually we are now in a final, I would say, phase when there will be a next step done in terms of a Memorandum of Understanding. Not at the meeting, not at the meeting, but indeed it will be discussed and it will be a review of where we stand. Concerning the air lift issues, perhaps more substantive debate will be now about helicopters because we are delivering quite a substantive review of tasks concerning the helicopter initiative.

Q:When do you expect the formal decision to launch the acquisition of C-17s and with how many countries?

ŠEDIVÝ: I mean, we expect that we can have further development or further steps around this summer perhaps.

Q:À propos des C-17 justement, j'ai lu dans la presse spécialisée que l'OTAN avait déjà "earmark", je crois que c'est comme ça qu'on dit, 700 millions de dollars pour l'achat de deux C-17.  Donc, il semble que ça soit beaucoup plus avancé que vous ne le disiez.  Où est-ce que c'est par pure précaution?

Et la deuxième question, ça porte sur la Turquie.  Est-ce que vous pouvez nous en dire un peu plus sur les difficultés actuelles au Kosovo en raison du différend entre la Turquie et certains pays au sein de l'OTAN et l'Union européenne? Qu'est-ce que ça a comme conséquence pratique aujourd'hui?  Qu'est-ce que ça peut avoir comme conséquence à terme?  Et en Afghanistan, apparemment, la question se pose aussi, en principe, mais dans les faits ne semble pas avoir les mêmes conséquences.  Pourriez-vous nous expliquer la différence entre l'Afghanistan et le Kosovo sur le terrain?

ŠEDIVÝ: Okay, so on C-17, again, I can hardly add anything more than I have just done. We are... we will have... there will be a base in Hungary and so on and so forth, so the development more or less as expected.

Concerning Turkey the question exactly was...

APPATHURAI: Tu peux répéter la question, s'il te plaît?

Q:La Turquie, la question c'était: "Jusqu'à quel point ça peut affecter effectivement les opérations de l'OTAN ou la coordination entre l'OTAN et d'autres choses, d'autres forces?  Et quelle est la différence dans ce domaine entre ce qui va se passer au Kosovo et ce qui se passe déjà en Afghanistan?  C'est-à-dire qu'apparemment en Afghanistan, les commandants locaux de l'OTAN passent un accord avec la force de police de l'Union européenne, région par région, pour régler le problème, c'est-à-dire comme vous savez mieux que moi, en cas d'urgence, d'attaque, l'OTAN ne va pas laisser massacrer les policiers de l'Union européenne sans réagir en principe.  En même temps, ceci... ceci est un problème politique parce qu'il n'y a pas d'accord et que même on dit de sources américaines qu'on ne veut pas entendre parler de ce problème.  Donc, je veux savoir concrètement ce qui va être... ce qui est discuté sur ce qui se passe en Afghanistan.  Et quelle est la différence entre ce qui se passe sur le terrain en Afghanistan avec région par région des accords et le Kosovo?  Pourquoi, est-ce qu'au Kosovo, on ne peut pas faire la même chose pour contourner, si je peux me permettre, l'obstacle?

ŠEDIVÝ: I'm very sorry, but I can't tell you concretely what will be discussed. It depends on the Defence Ministers first. Second remark, I wouldn't narrow down the whole situation just, you know, pointing out Turkey. It's more complex and pointing out to Turkey as the main source of certain difficulties, I mean, that would not be fair.

Concerning situation in Kosovo, we are there. We are there with a robust military presence. We have our mandate. We are deployed throughout the whole territory of Kosovo , KFOR acts impartial manner and I think that for the moment that's all I can say.

And again, the question concerning Afghanistan, I think it's perhaps a little bit too much overstated. I really do not know exactly what to answer to that question. I don't know whether James here...

APPATHURAI: Our approach is quite clear. NATO, you heard me say this before, will not offer any less support and protection to European officials than the Alliance would to any other representatives of the international community in Afghanistan. And you're quite right. I don't know if it's region by region, but certainly nations have established relationships as necessary with European officials in Afghanistan to provide for their protection. And as Jiři has quite rightly pointed out, let us not put the cart before the horse when it comes to Kosovo. The Ambassadors and the Ministers are discussing and will discuss exactly the arrangements for NATO, including its relations with other international organizations beyond the 15th of June in the coming days.

I think Paul was next, then Mark.

Q:Yes, Paul Ames for the Associated Press. First of all, I was a little bit surprised when you were going through the issues which are going to be raised with the Russian Minister, that you didn't mention Georgia, given that the Secretary General has himself raised concerns about this quite forcefully several times.

Do you expect the Secretary General to raise this issue and in what terms do you think he's going to be putting forward his concerns there?

And on Afghanistan do you expect any concrete decision, do you expect any concrete discussion on which NATO members are going to be replacing the U.S. marines who are due to come out towards the end of the year?

ŠEDIVÝ: Okay, on the second question, I believe there will be discussion about that, but again, I can't prejudge that discussion. And on the question of Georgia, I believe that it will be definitely raised within the NATO-Russia Council by Russia, by Russia itself, and I'm not aware actually whether Secretary General himself intends to open that issue.

APPATHURAI: I don't know whether he intends to open it, but the context is slightly different in the NRC, let's be clear. He's the NRC chairman. He's the chairman of the 27, not the NATO Secretary General stricto senso in that context, so he... at most he would put it on the table, but as Jiři said I'll be very, very surprised if it were not to come up, certainly from more than one nation.

ŠEDIVÝ: We can expect that it will be in the list of issues that Russia will put on the table.

APPATHURAI: Mark from Reuters.


Q:Mark John from Reuters. You mentioned the uncertainty of the International Police mission in Kosovo and the possible impact on the NATO KFOR. Is there already a discussion in the Alliance about contingency planning in case this uncertainty continues? Or do you expect discussion about various plans, actions, that KFOR should be taking if this uncertainty remains?

And the second is just a follow up really to Pascal's question. Could you therefore give us an update of where the discussions are on the revised OPLAN for KFOR and the new tasks it wants to take on? Is it... is there a deal on that? If not, what are the sticking points?

ŠEDIVÝ: Okay, on KFOR, OPLAN discussions are going on and as they are going on it would not be appropriate to tell you anything more about that. Not to speak about some of the outstanding issues. And on the first part of your questions, again, I can only repeat what I said before when we touched on our presence in Kosovo and the situation in Kosovo is such we simply have our mandate, we have robust presence there and the command of soldiers. The troops, they know what's to do, so that's all I can tell you at this moment.

APPATHURAI: Maybe to Chris and then Brooks.

Q:Chris Dickson from EDD. It's a follow-up to Mark's question really on Kosovo and on the contingency planning.

If I could just ask a bit more precisely, is NATO involved in the discussions between the UN and the EU at all? I mean, do they have people there? Are they involved, or are they just hands-off.

And secondly, you say the mandate is there, and you know your roles, but my understanding is that there are some extra new tasks, the new tasks coming in and can you give us any information on which new tasks have been agreed and what the developments are on those?

ŠEDIVÝ: I mean, concerning new tasks, again, the debate is still on so I can't give you any information because nothing is agreed. Before everything is agreed this is the principle on which we operate here. And whether we communicate between UN and EU, I mean, indeed, Secretary General communicates with the EU, with High Representative Solana. He is in permanent, I would say, now the most permanent or very often, very frequent touch with Ban Ki-moon, so yes, we communicate with them about the situation.


Q:Brooks Tigner, Jane's Defense. Two different subjects, if I may. Coming back to the strategic airlift initiatives, if I understood you correctly you said (inaudible)... summit, so what are the outstanding issues (inaudible)....

APPATHURAI: Oh microphone.

Q:There isn't really much workshare... there isn't much workshare to talk about. This is just a straightforward purchase, but there are costs, cost implications here. In particular, I'm thinking about the level of protection that they will want to put on each of these aircraft. Denmark already pulled out because it became too expensive. I'm wondering if this is still a contention among the allies existing.

And secondly... so yes, what's the state of play there. And secondly on AGS, I mean, we've been close to a decision on AGS for more than 15 years now and the program keeps getting pared down and down and down. What's there to discuss now? It's a fairly paltry $1.5 billion budget, four platforms and largely U.S. radar technology. There's nothing to share out anymore, so what's... what's holding us up?

ŠEDIVÝ: Yes.  On AGS, there are talks on cost shares, indeed more detailed now. There are talks on... or talks, let's say, still not negotiations, concerning the location of the main operational base, and also there is a discussion concerning, I would say the follow-on funding arrangement for the support and military manpower costs once the system is on.

Our goal still is to achieve the initial operational capability by 2012, so it's the current status and concerning the strategic airlift capability, C-17, I must admit it, I'm not very well oriented in the details of the current debate. I'm sorry for that.

APPATHURAI: If I might just add though, that while it's true that some U.S. outlets have reported two, the NATO target is still three to four, so that has not changed. That... the U.S. reporting was simply not correct.

I think we have two Ukrainian questions here, or just one.

Q:(Inaudible)... Interfax Ukraine. What can the outcome from NATO-Ukraine Commission and can we take a look at this even like some kind of step on the way to December ministerial?

ŠEDIVÝ: Yes. Yes. Indeed. Thank you very much. First of all, there are two joint reports that will be submitted to the Ministers and it's a joint statement and it's sort of a road map or a description of roles for the joint working group on defence reform. It's NATO-Ukraine joint working group. And actually this road map describes exactly the activities between now and the first assessment of progress that should be... that should come, that should be conducted at the foreign ministerial meeting in December this year, 2008.

It will be also good opportunity for the Defence Minister to report... for Ukrainian Defence Minister to report about the current status of defence transformation and security sector reform. There will be also a signature of Memorandum of Understanding SHAPE, Hungary and Ukraine, and it's, I think it's data sharing...


ŠEDIVÝ: ...information sharing scheme. And it's, again, it's... there was a main step done or achieved in Bucharest two months ago, so now between Bucharest or between now and December '08 we should not expect any further decisions. It will be, above all, a very intensive role, intensified engagement, a number of tasks and indeed I believe very close monitoring of progress on the part of allies and allies as such.


Q:National News Agency of Ukraine, (inaudible).... Do you expect Ministers will discuss whatever development of the Ukraine contribution to the NATO-led operations, in particular, may be some support in airlift issues concerning NRF?

And the second question, do you expect Minister Serdyukov will inform you about the content of the proposals concerning new structure of the Euro-Atlantic security. (Inaudible)... by President Medvedev in Berlin and in generally speaking have the Russian side informed you about that issue somehow? Thank you.

ŠEDIVÝ: Yes, yes. The second part of the question you should ask your Minister whether he will (inaudible).. from Ukraine. or the Ukrainian Minister for... sorry. I don't know. I don't know. But I believe definitely that the contribution of Ukraine to NATO operations will be discussed and the Ukraine actually contributes... is the only partner that is contributing to all of NATO missions and operations. The same goes for Ukrainians' offer to contribute to NATO Response Force, which is just being processed, so... And we are also talking now in detail about phasing of that contribution, about assessment and all other activities that are related to this important step in our mutual cooperation.

APPATHURAI: Sticking with...

Q:(Inaudible)... ITAR-TASS News Agency Russia. A few follow-ups. So first of all about airlift. A few years ago the issue of strategic airlift was discussed in connection with possibility to cooperate in this issue with Russia or Ukraine, who have quite impressive possibilities in the strategic airlift. Is this cooperation considered now, is it discussed somehow in the contact between NATO countries and NATO and Russia?

And my second question, it's clarification of the question of my Ukrainian colleague about this new Russian proposal for the Euro-Atlantic security system.  So have Russia already explained in the NATO-Russia Council or in written form this vision to the NATO secretariat or to the NATO ambassadors?

ŠEDIVÝ: Okay, so that European... sort of over actually European security treaty or agreement that was mentioned, or proposed by President Medvedev in, I think it was in Berlin in a speech last week. Last week, yes. We didn't have a NATO-Russia Council between that speech and now so we... there was no formal proposal or no formal attempt by Russia, or as far as I know, there was also no formal note or memo sent by Russia with this proposal.

And concerning the strategic lift questions, definitely with the Ukraine we are already starting further technical possibilities and assessing the proposal and Ukraine has indeed very much to offer. And in the same issue in relationship with Russia we don't talk about this. We have other areas of, I would say positive cooperation not... so that I don't speak only in terms of certain controversial points, and it's... and I believe this will be also addressed during NATO-Russia Council meeting, theatre missile defence, countering of terrorist threats to civil aviation, logistics, indeed, and last, but not least, naval cooperation, especially in the area of rescue operations.

APPATHURAI: Let's go here, here and here. We've got about ten minutes, folks, twelve.

Q:Just a reasonably technical question, actually. James, perhaps James will be able to deal with it...

ŠEDIVÝ: He's the technical guy here.


Q:...just to (inaudible)... timings of... I'm just interested when the meetings start, we might have some press briefings, will the OPLAN for Kosovo be approved? Or like in a dinner or with (inaudible)....

ŠEDIVÝ: I really don't know.

APPATHURAI: No, short version is this, and we'll put out a formal programme today, because it has been shifting, very frankly, because of Ministers' comings and goings.

The Secretary General will give a press conference after the KFOR meeting, which will be at around 19:20, 19:40? Nineteen-forty. That'll be the first press briefing because we don't obviously speak after the NPG and DPC.

I will give, according to my current planning, a briefing after the first NAC on Friday morning, which is the second NAC, because it'll have the dinner and then the dinner and then the only meeting at 26, which will be on Friday morning. So around 10:20, 10:30? Ten-thirty, I'll give a brief.

Then the Secretary General will give a briefing after the NATO-Russia Council where he will speak on both the NAC meetings and the NRC and the timing for that is 12...

UNIDENTIFIED: (Inaudible)....

APPATHURAI: Twelve-thirty. Okay, yes. Twelve-thirty-ish. And then he will, of course, do a briefing with Minister Yekhanu... I can't pronounce it.


APPATHURAI: Yes, thank you, the Ukrainian Defence Minister, when it's all over around 2:00, 2:15.

As to OPLAN issues, I cannot predict anything more than to say they will likely discuss it, if there's no agreement before then at the meeting itself.


APPATHURAI: Well, the NPG starts...

ŠEDIVÝ: I think at 15:00.

APPATHURAI: Yes, that's what I thought. Around 15:00. We'll put all of this out today so you'll get it all...

ŠEDIVÝ: And on Friday it will be 8:30.

APPATHURAI: Yes, it's 8:30.

ŠEDIVÝ: The first meeting 8:30. Yes.

Q:(Inaudible)... some kind of (inaudible).

APPATHURAI: Yes, yes, we'll put out the programme today and you'll have it. Actually I think we're going down this side.

Q:Yes, (inaudible)... from AP (inaudible). On Afghanistan I wanted to ask, do you expect any countries to say more things on caveats, on offering more resources? Italy announced an intention to remove caveats. Is there any formal announcement that might be taken in the next two days?

And also on the Medvedev proposal, so do you expect it to be discussed? Do you expect to see anything at the NRC or... or not? Thanks.

ŠEDIVÝ: Thank you. Thank you very much. I don't know about the Medvedev proposal. I don't know. It's a very fresh issue. It's very vague... it's a very vague proposal. It's was just one paragraph in quite a long speech. So it really depends on Minister Serdyukov, whether he is going to put it on the table, or not.

And your question about... as far as I know we don't have any formal notification that some of the Ministers are going to announce what you mentioned, lifting caveats or further contribution. It could happen. Indeed. It could happen.

But we should remember that actually there was a very robust round of statements to this end in Bucharest and what I would perhaps rather bet on would be taking stock on what we have now or what was the increase in contributions and/or decrease in caveats between Bucharest and now. And now, yes. That, I think, that's more probable.

Q:(Inaudible).... Are these new tasks for KFOR going to be approved for sure by the Ministers of Defence? There are countries in the mission that don't support independence of Kosovo. Are these new tasks going to respect this point of view? Thank you.

ŠEDIVÝ: Same answer.

APPATHURAI: Yeah. It's impossible to predict when they will agree. By which, I mean, the nations will agree on any revisions to the OPLAN, so let's let that discussion go. Let us be clear, of course, that any changes will be made by consensus. So anything that NATO does will respect the positions of all 26 member states.

We have two here.

Q:Koshima(?) from (inaudible) newspaper, Japanese newspaper. Two weeks ago in Dublin the cluster bomb... cluster munitions ban treaty was adopted by almost 100 countries, including some member states of NATO. Is there any change that Defence Ministers will discuss on this?

ŠEDIVÝ: I must tell you I'm not aware of... I mean, chances are always about everything, but it is... I think it's now being... this situation is being assessed by NATO military authorities, so I think that before we have this, let's say, military technical assessment I wouldn't expect that the Defence Ministers discuss that.

Q:Dieter Eberling, from DPA, the German Press Agency. A couple of brief ones. Just to confirm, you have not yet received any... this famous letter from Ban Ki-moon, which allegedly is somewhere in the mail and lines out what he thinks the future should bring for UNMIK and EULEX. You're not... Okay.

APPATHURAI: We're not an addressee as far as we know.

Q:Okay. So you're not saying anything about the OPLAN and the Kosovo security force. Has that been found? A compromise formula for the Turkish problem with the formal EU-NATO communication? And since you seem so relaxed about the forthcoming departure of the U.S. marines in Afghanistan, is there any reason for that, because behind the scenes someone has already generously offered a couple of... two battalions or something like that without us knowing it, because usually the normal ritual is at least the Secretary General and SACEUR are making fervent appeals to allies to pull up their socks and get their act together, and it seems to play no role at all.

Total figure of ISAF seems to be 51,000 and something currently. Could you just tell me where it comes from and could we do some OMLT counting again, or...


ŠEDIVÝ: Okay, so...

APPATHURAI: Has that been a couple, (inaudible)... eight.

ŠEDIVÝ: (Inaudible)....

APPATHURAI: (Inaudible) questions, yeah.


Q:Okay, Turkey, has there been a compromise on this cooperation issue with EU and NATO? And Kosovo?

ŠEDIVÝ: The same answer. Same answer. But with the caveat, my caveat that I wouldn't call it just a Turkish problem.

Q:Okay, any further troop contributions in the pipeline for Afghanistan or...? Why is nobody worried about the marines?

ŠEDIVÝ: First of all, if you look at the level of engagement of allies and partners in Afghanistan you would notice there is a steady increase in troops. There is a steady increase in the number of OMLTs, although we still have a shortfall in that area.

And you should also remember that the American offer was limited in time. It was, as far as I remember, it was clear from the very beginning.

Now I can't now go through all the contributions because they are coming. They are coming as we speak almost, I would say. So it's... we are counting regularly these increases, but I mean, it's very technical, a very technical issue. But I mean, you should also keep in mind that we have now... or NATO nations have in all operations something like 65,000 troops in all operations. In NATO operations we have about 65,000 troops. And we are... and this is quite well within the ambition of the usability, deployability and so on and so forth of forces.

So we are deploying almost maximum we can, so you cannot expect sort of a revolution or radical or regular increases.

Q:But I mean, so, just to make it clear, so with all these contributions coming in as we speak, does that mean that there is no need to worry about replacement of the American troops, for example?

ŠEDIVÝ: I'm not aware now about this debate, exactly this debate, about the replacement. I don't know (inaudible)... James?

APPATHURAI: Well I think the short version is public force generation... you may not see force generation, but it doesn't mean it's not happening. We have shortfalls. They are well-identified shortfalls. You are aware of those shortfalls. And the Secretary General and the Supreme Allied Commander are pushing, not just now, but also for the future to meet them.

And I am very confident that this will come up at the ministerial meeting. Not least the issue of the marine expeditionary unit.

We have time for one more short one.

ŠEDIVÝ: But one thing perhaps, on this. I mean, we should really keep in mind that there are 40 nations now in ISAF operation, 26 allies and 14 partners. And it means that you've got really the changes in numbers and the shifts, it's going really continually because those various nations and partners are, indeed, rotating, are indeed increasing here, increasing there. Are indeed, you know, changing their core configuration of caveats, of forces, of foci of activities and so on and so forth. So it's very complex operation, so we cannot get a simple answer to your question.

APPATHURAI: Brooks, last one, short one.

Q:Questions are usually short. Strategic lift, coming back to your discussion about Ukraine. You said you're starting with Ukraine for their technical possibilities. NATO already leases, I believe, freighter Antonovs to shuttle back and forth of Afghanistan. So when you say technical possibilities, could you clarify? Do you mean technological, in terms of technical, or do you mean further contractual... contractual possibilities?

ŠEDIVÝ: With the caveat, because I'm not a hundred percent sure about it, but I think that actually strategic airlift is part of the menu of the list of Ukraine's for NATO Response Force. I should... with caveat that I should check this, yes? It's a different thing than leasing, leasing those capabilities from other sources, yes?

APPATHURAI: Robert can call it up. Folks, thank you for coming. Thank you for your time.