Informal NATO-Russia Council meeting at the level of Defence Ministers
Press conference with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer after the Informal Meeting of the NATO-Russia Council
13-14 Oct. 2004
Informal Meeting of Defence Ministers
13 Oct. 2004
Audio file of thePress conference .MP3/3764Kb
13 Oct. 2004
High resolution photos of the Press conference
NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Good morning to all of you, we just concluded a working meeting of NATO-Russian defence ministers. It was primarily an informal meeting but we have convened briefly for a formal session to approve an important work program of cooperation in the area of defence reform for 2005.
As always is the case with Minister Sergei Ivanov it was lively, it was constructive and it was concrete. Ministers spoke about common security challenges of course facing NATO and the Russian Federation and of course there's no need for me to explain why terrorism and the fight against terrorism is on the top of our list following the tragic events in Beslan and elsewhere.
In general, we want to be able to have forces, the Russian Federation and NATO, that can act together when NRC nations agree to do so. And that is why ministers discussed the operational aspects of our cooperation.
You know we have had successful common exercises, one around Kaliningrad, not too long ago two weeks ago we had what we call a tabletop exercise on a combined joint peacekeeping operation between Russia and NATO; tabletop so in theory not in practice. Another example, we are hoping to see soon Russia supporting NATO's counterterrorist maritime operation, the so-called Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean.
And what ministers also discussed and agreed is to accelerate the work on enhancing interoperability of the forces. That goes of course for interoperability in general and that also goes... is of course an important element when we discuss peacekeeping operations.
Ministers also gave directions for a future work on defence reform. You can expect this work to focus next year on force structures and capabilities, on logistics, on management of human and financial resources, reform of defence industries as well as on retraining of retired military personnel.
Current examples of military cooperation, this and next week NATO's school in Oberammergau in Germany is organising the first interoperability course at the Moscow General Staff Academy and NATO warships are paying a friendship visit to St. Petersburg so you see all kinds of practical cooperation. I think we're improving in expanding and enlarging the ways in which we cooperate in a practical way.
I end where I started; it goes without saying of course, that the fight against terrorism after the horrors of Beslan is on the top of our agenda. It was good meeting, it was lively, it was constructive and I'm open to take your questions.
Q: Léon Bruneau, Agence France-Presse. Could you be a little bit more precise as to what kind of support Russia would bring to Operation Active Endeavour? I mean, what is envisioned, can you give us some details on that?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well it would mean that Russian ships would sail with the NATO ships, as you know, already in the Mediterranean in the framework of Operation Active Endeavour so that the Russian Navy would support this operation.
I've made myself abundantly clear apparently. No, I haven't...
Q: ...talking about terrorism, President Putin said that now Russia is ready attack in a preventive way any place. Did you talk about this new Russian doctrine?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: No we did not discuss doctrines at all.
Q: I suppose you know... my name is (inaudible). I suppose the news recently between Romania and Ukraine (inaudible) difficult moments because of Bystroye canal(?). What do you think about this?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well nothing, nothing specific I must say because this is I think not a NATO subject. It is of course something of which I hope it can be solved. I've of course heard about it, spoken about it, read about it but it's not a NATO subject and not a NATO problem. So as the NATO Secretary General it is not something I'm involved in.
But I hope of course that the problem will be, can be solved. But it's not a NATO affair.
Q: Secretary General, Paul Ames from Associated Press. With regard to Operation Active Endeavour, where do things stand now with the idea that was floated at one point whether to expand that operation into the Black Sea as well?
JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well the Operation Active Endeavour is at the moment as you know in the Mediterranean. There are not concrete plans at this moment to expand the area of operation of Active Endeavour.
Q: Dan Dombey, Financial Times. Secretary General, a semi-NATO question if I may. The United States' Department of State (inaudible) registered anxiety about developments in Russia recently. Secretary of State Powell made a speech... relative comments... relatively recently registering that anxiety. Has there been any qualitative change in the NATO-Russia Council? Has there been any kind of change in the atmospherics at all from the last time that you met at the defence ministers' level?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: No I have not seen a change atmospherics. We have been as I said focusing very much on the concrete forms of cooperation which we see in the NATO-Russia Council; expanding those concrete forms of cooperation as I have given you the examples this morning.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I am (inaudible) from Free Romania. Did you discuss about the terrorism export or the black market of guns and weapons (inaudible) in the former Soviet Union countries or regions like Transnistria?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: No we did not, we did not discuss that. I'm familiar from a previous capacity with the problems in Transnistria but here again like the question on the canal(?) this is not let's say a NATO issue. I sincerely hope that a solution will be found for the Transnistria problem but it is not something which is on the NATO agenda. So it's not something to comment upon as a NATO Secretary General.
Q: (inaudible) from Reuters. Secretary General could you just give us a few more details on the proposed accord for Operation Active Endeavour. How many ships will be joining the NATO Forces there? How many Russian personnel does that involve? When will the ships actually arrive there? And I understand also that NATO and Russia together are working on an action plan for other areas of counter-terrorism. When will we see the (inaudible) of this action plan?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well by the action plan... the action is there. I have given you in my introduction--at least I've tried to do so--the concrete examples. On Active Endeavour I do not know details yet about ship or ships and let's say the ships' complements. This is something I do not know yet but I mean the principle has been agreed upon.
Q: George (inaudible) TV. Are there any specific forms of cooperation with the Russian Federation during the fight of the terrorist threat?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well as I said in answering a previous question, there is the action plan and I gave you a number of examples. That is also, to give you another example, there's also a visit soon to NATO to discuss defence against suicide bombing. I mean, we have a lot of concrete projects and examples as I gave to you in my introduction on which we work together and it was of course... it is a very important topic. And it was an important topic this morning.
MODERATOR: Last question.
Q: Secretary General, (ROMANIAN).
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: As I said in answering another question there is no official position of NATO. I hope that this problem will be solved between Ukraine and Romania but the fact that a country becomes a NATO member like Romania doesn't automatically involve that the problems arising with other countries are immediately in the NATO domain.
So, but of course, I mean if I have a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Geoana for instance, I mean he keeps me... he keeps me posted on the situation but I mean the NATO position is that there is no NATO position because it's not a NATO affair. It's not something which is on the NATO agenda.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.