27 Oct 2008

Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
and the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana

JAMES APPATHURAI (Spokesperson, NATO): Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary General and the Secretary General will each make brief opening statements then we'll have time for questions.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General, NATO): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome. We just finished the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with the Political and Security Committee of the European Union. Let me start by telling you that the High Representative Secretary General, Javier Solana, and I had a bilateral meeting preceding that NAC-PSC meeting where we discussed a number of subjects as relevant to the European Union as they are to NATO. You'll not be surprised what those subjects were. They were Afghanistan and Kosovo, the NATO operations. We discussed piracy. We discussed the general state of play of the relationship between NATO and the European Union. You know that in the meeting we discussed Bosnia-Herzegovina, and more specifically that was on the agenda and the situation there, where there is, apart from positive developments, certainly concern about the political rhetoric we're hearing, concern about what has been said by some politicians in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

You know what the division of labour is, the EUFOR, for which the High Representative without any doubt will speak. There is an important NATO presence. Major General Wightman briefed his colleagues on the NAC and the PSC on the present state of play. I do think, and my Number Two, Ambassador Bisogniero, will go to Sarajevo soon to take the temperature of the water, that the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina of course is secure and stable, but that the political rhetoric leads to concern, we have to address and we will certainly address. That is what I can tell you by way of introduction. Over to, Javier.

JAVIER SOLANA (EU High Representative): Thank you very much, Jaap. As the Secretary General has said, we had a good formal meeting between the NAC and the PSC on Bosnia-Herzegovina, as you know. Let me say a couple of words about that. I subscribe to what the Secretary General has just said. There are some news which are good coming from Bosnia-Herzegovina, from the European Union point of view, the signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement is a very important development. But we are concerned, as the Secretary General has said, on the rhetoric which is going up, the rhetoric cannot contribute to the objective of getting Bosnia-Herzegovina more engaged with the European Union and therefore also with the Euro Atlantic institutions through NATO. I want to send that clear message to the leaders that it's necessary that they keep on working together, stabilizing the country, moving on the reforms that have to be done, and that will be the only way in which they can join the institution that they claim they want to join. So then the measure of the success will be based on performance, and that is a very important thing that I would like to say today publicly.

Now as far as EUFOR is concerned, you know that EUFOR is there, is going to be continued to be working with the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. We have to see how the evolution can be, and as you know we had a meeting of ministers of defence of the European Union in October, and the furthest discussion about the evolution of EUFOR has started, but no decision has been taken. Next month, in November, we'll have another meeting of the General Affairs Council together with Ministers of Defence, the European Union will continue this debate.

Let me also say that in the first part of the meeting, bilateral meeting with the Secretary General, we had a very good exchange of ideas about the most important issues in which we are interested and engaged. And I think and I'd like to say that the cooperation between NATO and the European Union continues to be virtually substantive where we are together; being Afghanistan, being Kosovo, being Somalia and the waters of Somalia, we will also cooperate. Therefore, I'd like to say and underline that we continue to have a solid and fluent relationship in trying to see how we can stabilize parts of the world in which we are working together. Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Questions. Think we had there and then there.

UNIDENTIFIED: Question for the Secretary General. Could you... Sorry, could you just give us the latest state of play on the NATO anti-piracy patrols off the Somali coast? Have there been any new developments recently in that?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me start by echoing what the Secretary General High Representative has said a moment ago on the cooperation. I think it is very important what is happening in the framework of the European Union and in the final preparatory stage of the ESDP mission. I think that's a positive development. We are in touch about calibrating our presence. It's also important that NATO defence ministers were able to take a decision in Budapest. The present state of play is that one ship, one NATO ship, just finished escorting a ship which was bringing in supplies for the Burundi, Burundise Battalion for AMISOM in Somalia. That, if I'm well-informed, ship is on its way and will dock on the 28th of October, James? If I'm correct? Escorting a WFP ship that we have ships available to do that in the near future. I say again, until the ESDP mission will start. But you see at the moment a naval presence, a NATO naval presence of two ships in the Gulf of Aden involved in general anti-piracy tasks, responsibilities, and at the same time you see the WFP escort going on, and on top of this, as I said, there was a ship escorting a vessel for AMISOM into Mogadishu port. So the operation is moving well, and the contacts we're having with the European Union as well. So I think I can give you a positive answer in this regard.

APPATHURAI: Next question.

UNIDENTIFIED: [Serbian daily, Novi Sad] For both, question, the fact is that Serbia is not on the track towards the NATO, and it's a unique country in the region, that it's not on the track towards the NATO. How much it can affect the situation in Bosnia and also how much can affect the European integration path of Serbia?

And for Mr. Solana, the question what do you think and do you support the negotiation process between Belgrade and UNMIK about six points which is also connected in the negotiation process for EULEX between Brussels and Belgrade? Thank you.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Okay, you go first.

SOLANA: I support the negotiation between UNMIK and Belgrade which we will like very much that these negotiations will come to an end soon. What we cannot do is to link everything to the finalization of that process. I think there are three or four elements of our cooperation that should move, that should move in a parallel direction and a parallel mode.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me answer that Serbia is, as you know in the Partnership for Peace, so that we have our relationship with Serbia. I spoke to President Tadic in Evian not that long ago. Serbia will have to decide itself at what pace it wants to go. One cannot say that on every element on Kosovo, Serbia and the NATO allies see eye-to-eye, but that I do not see that as a major problem. We both want to develop our relationship, and at what pace and to what extent Serbia will want to move closer to NATO, it is up to the authorities in Belgrade to decide. But the relationships are good despite the differences of opinion we have, we're working on them, and let me say, echoing Javier Solana, that also for NATO in its present responsibility and continuum responsibility, I should say, in the KFOR framework, what happens in this dialogue on the six-points plan is of course as relevant for NATO and for KFOR as it is for the European Union and for EULEX.

APPATHURAI: Two questions here.

UNIDENTIFIED: [Koha Ditore] Question for Secretary General of NATO about division of labour in Kosovo. Is it clear to you what KFOR can do in north of Kosovo because KFOR is at the moment almost the only player there, in field of security, and the fact that EULEX is not deployed yet in the entire Kosovo, is this making the job of NATO more difficult?

And for Mr. Solana, when do you expect that EULEX will finally be deployed according to plan in Kosovo?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I think it's good that I go first here. KFOR is in Kosovo, KFOR's all over Kosovo. KFOR will continue to do what it is doing in the framework of its mandate as you know based on 1244. We are of course in touch, not only the High Representative and I, but EU and NATO more in general about the deployment of EULEX. Mr. Solana will have his word to say about that. KFOR has its mandate, KFOR is not as you know a first responder, but I'm quite sure that we'll work out a system where there is no gap between KFOR and EULEX as EULEX further deploys in Kosovo.

SOLANA: I think that the answer to your question is December.

UNIDENTIFIED: One question on Macedonia1 for both of you. You met the prime minister a few days ago and also the president of Macedonia. After your meetings with the prime minister, none of you have wished to give statements. I would like to know if you have been briefed on the incidents in Greece on Macedonian people in Greece by the prime minister. What did you tell him, Mr. Solana? And what is your impression on the negotiation process on the name issue?

SOLANA: That issue took place time back, you remember. I saw the prime minister at that time, more or less (inaudible), and we discussed that and we... I made the statement which I referred to it. Nothing new to be said. (Inaudible.)

UNIDENTIFIED: You made a statement? You made a public statement?

SOLANA: At that time, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED: And the incidents that happened two weeks ago?

SOLANA: That today, the new incidents which I have not made any statement, I made a statement, I don't remember exactly the date, but it was the date that I met with the prime minister.

APPATHURAI: Okay, next question.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: And I did not and will not make a statement on that incident.

UNIDENTIFIED: Okay, my question is for Mr. Solana. You referred that you had discussion with Secretary General about the (?) Summit(?) this morning. Can you explain about it? What decision has been made about that?

SOLANA: Well, no decision. It was a discussion, to put up today were ideas about how the situation evolved. As you know we're cooperating with ISAF through the mission, the police mission that we have on the ground which is moving up in numbers, and that is the type of discussion we've had. We have to look together to the future. There will be an election in 2009, important events are going to take place, and we would like to have as much as possible a common approach and we do it.

APPATHURAI: That's all we have time for, I'm afraid.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Thank you very much.

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