2 Oct. 2008

Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1 Mr. Branko Crvenkovski

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO SPOKESMAN):  Ladies and Gentlemen, the Secretary General and the President will each make opening statements; and we'll have time for questions.  Secretary General.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (NATO Secretary General):  Good afternoon.  It is, as always, a pleasure to meet President Crvenkovski as a regular guest in NATO headquarters, as I consider myself a regular guest in Skopje. 

We discussed a number of elements.  Let me start by saying that we, of course, highly appreciate your ISAF contribution, Mister President.  Every time I go to Afghanistan I see your soldiers doing very important things in Kabul and elsewhere.

The second element we discussed was, of course, the relationship, the fact that the decision in Bucharest, of course, stands.  But that does not mean that the 10th cycle as we call it of the Membership Action Plan is not running.    That includes different elements. You know about MAP including the necessary reforms.

And the third element, of course, we discussed was the Bucharest decision and the name issue.  Now, if I say anything about the name issue, you should realize that NATO is not involved in these discussions, doesn't have a role, doesn't seek a role in these discussions. 

But as I said to the president, in our conversation, it is important and relevant for the Allies and for me as Secretary General that hopefully there will be a solution to the name issue soon.  Because you know my strong conviction, the EuroAtlantic integration of all nations in the region is (inaudible) but the recipe for a secure and stable Western Balkans region. 

And that is the reason that I sincerely hope that a solution for the name issue can be found and will be found.  And again, the Bucharest decision stands.  That will not change.  That will not change.  And you know what the Allies decided there.  And I can understand that it was a disappointment; but it is also a fact of life that there was a decision in Bucharest which is the basis for NATO on which to act.

I can only say that I have hoped, Mister President, addressing you directly, that it will be possible.  And I understand from you that there will be another discussion with Mr. Nimetz in New York very soon that a solution can be found.  Because I think that it will be positive for your nation.  And it will be very positive for NATO as well.  Thank you very much.

BRANKO CRVENKOVSKI (President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1):  (TRANSLATION THROUGHOUT) Dear ladies and gentlemen, once again, good afternoon on my side. 

In the discussions with the Secretary General, I once again confirmed the fact that regardless of the disappointment we had at the Bucharest Summit, we remain firmly determined to take the position we deserve and that's a full-fledge of membership in NATO. 

So there are no doubts in that regard; there are no changes in regard to the priorities.  We are determined to become a NATO member. 

And this is not a determination nominally by the State institutions and the political parts in the country, but what is most important by the majority of the citizens who continually support the future NATO membership of the country. 

For the decision at the Bucharest Summit, there was only one reason: that was the position of Greece.  And this was also expressed also in the conclusions from the summit.  And as a result, it is quite understandable that this issue was one of the main issues at our today's meeting.

As the Secretary General mentioned, NATO is not involved in that issue.  But NATO is involved in the consequences from that decision in Bucharest.  Because as a result one country that fulfilled all the necessary criteria to become a member didn't get the invitation.

And I informed the Secretary General about the process of negotiations in New York and meetings that will follow in New York and the hope that this issue will be resolved very soon. 

I want to repeat, once again, that the Republic of Macedonia is for a fair and reasonable compromise solution that will not go against the national identity and the cultural identity of the country. 

Obviously, the name issue is not something that lies only on our hands, but this is something that lies in the Council with the Greeks, where that they will also show a flexibility and constructive approach.  Because if we'll all do that, we will...  I'm sure, that we'll come up with a positive solution. 

NATO also plays a very important role in the stability of the region that we... Macedonia is part of.  And in that regard, regardless that Macedonia is not a full-fledged member of the NATO Alliance, I can say that the Alliance can always count on Macedonian contribution wherever and whenever it is necessary.

Thank you. 


Q:  I would like to know if the violence during the elections in June could have any kind of consequence on the invitation... the NATO invitation for Macedonia, for both of you.  Thank you. 

CRVENKOVSKI:  First of all, I want to say that there is no person in Macedonia that hasn't been disappointed with the way the elections were carried out in June.  And this is a fact.

Those... that time for elections are not proper for a candidate country both for a NATO membership and EU membership. 

 And I'm sure NATO's Alliance and also all its members follow the developments in the country. 

Right now, there are no other conditions that we need to fulfill in order to become a NATO member, apart from the name issue.

But we shouldn't forget that after the presenting of the invitation for a membership, also a period of ratification in the NATO member countries will follow. 

And we, in Macedonia, should do our best not to give any reason for any of the NATO member countries to doubt the membership of our country in NATO.

SCHEFFER:  I can echo the President's words.  Of course, we were very disappointed as I said also publicly when that happened.  I know, by the way, the President as somebody... and he just basically said it that he was disappointed as well, who without any doubt plays a leading role, and will play a leading role in redress such irregularities. 

And one of the important elements of the reform process is of course electoral reform.  Let's not that stand in the way.  And the President and I discussed it, let it not that stand in the way of further progress on the road to membership. 

And on the road to membership and the name issue, let me say that despite who said what in Bucharest, NATO operates on the principle of consensus and that is a principle we'll never compromise on and do realize that the Bucharest Summit decision is as it is.  That might have been a disappointment.  But it is as it is.  And that is the reason that I hope indeed that a solution for the name issue will be found soon.

APPATHURAI:  Two questions and that's it.  Here and here.

Q:  One of the conditions are (sic) also political dialogue and political climate, so are you concerned about the cohabitation in Macedonia?  There are quite big differences between the President and Prime Minister regarding the name issue also.

SCHEFFER:  Well, I keep usually far away in answering questions who's living with whom, if you're talking about "cohabitation" (pronounced in French) or cohabitation (pronounced in English). 

I'll, of course, more seriously... I'll as NATO Secretary General... I will not enter the internal politics.  I'll never do that, not an ally and not a respected partner nation.  What is important is that any nation aspiring NATO membership and I could say aspiring European Union membership because that's also the case should have a normal political culture where you have your debates in Parliament, but you have a normal political culture.  But who's in coalition with whom and who's in the opposition, I'll not comment because that it is not up to me to do. 

APPATHURAI:  Last question. 

Q:  Yes, Mister Secretary General, the first question.  Have you received a letter of complaint by an Albanian opposition party in Macedonia regarding the law 1) (INAUDIBLE) which is in the Ohrid Agreement, apparently for no respect of that law, because you are a guarantee of that agreement? So do you have a comment on that?

And the second question, if I may, I know that it's not the best place and time but:  "How will you qualify the ratification for the protocol for Albania and Croatia by United States and two other countries?  How speedy this process can go until the next summit?"  Thank you.

SCHEFFER:  To start with the last part, I of course sincerely hope that all 26 NATO Allies will be in a position to ratify the process for Albania and Croatia before the NATO Summit which will be held in the spring of next year.  And I make appeals on all the Allies to do that on time and in time because I know that in many nations, including my own, I must say, the Netherlands, the ratification process can be... can take a long time.  But I appeal not only on my countrymen, but all the other NATO Allies as well to make that possible.

On your first question, no, I have not received that letter.  I cannot deny I have heard about it.  But I've not received it.  And I am not going to comment on it as we speak.

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