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NATO Foreign Ministers' Meetings, 2 - 3 December 2008

Final communiqué, Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Foreign Ministers held at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, 3 December 2008, NATO Press Release (2008)153.

See also: Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer after the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Ministers session, 2 December 2008

  1. Founded on the enduring principle of the indivisibility of Allied security, NATO remains the essential forum for security consultations among the Allies of Europe and North America and the transatlantic framework for strong collective defence of our populations, territory and forces, the core purpose of our Alliance and its most important security task. Today, we reaffirmed our cohesion, solidarity and commitment to the common vision and shared democratic values of the Washington Treaty, which reflects the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. We agreed today on actions that, while enhancing our ability to maintain our core purpose, will also more effectively enable us to meet emerging challenges, and add momentum to implementation of the decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in April of this year. We also gave further direction on work to be completed before the Alliance’s 60th Anniversary Summit in Strasbourg and Kehl in April 2009.
  2. NATO’s ongoing enlargement process has been a historic success in advancing the vision of a Europe that is whole and free, united in peace, democracy and common values. At our Summit next year, we aim to welcome Albania and Croatia as new members of the Alliance and we are pleased to be joined today by our colleagues from these two countries, who associate themselves with this Communiqué. In a manner consistent with the principles of the United Nations Charter, NATO’s door remains open to all European democracies willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, in accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty.
  3. Today we reaffirm our commitment to a common vision of how to meet existing security challenges in ways which contribute to lasting peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area. We underscore that the existing structures – NATO, the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe – based on common values, continue to provide every opportunity for countries to engage substantively on Euro-Atlantic security with a broad acquis, established over decades, that includes respect for human rights, territorial integrity, the sovereignty of all states, without dividing lines, and the requirement to fulfil international commitments and agreements. Within this framework, Allies are open to dialogue within the OSCE on security perceptions and how to respond to new threats, and seek the widest possible cooperation among participating states to promote a common Euro-Atlantic space of security and stability. The common aim should be to improve implementation of existing commitments and to continue to improve existing institutions and instruments so as to effectively promote our values and Euro-Atlantic security.
  4. We pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the many men and women from Allied and other nations who are involved in NATO’s operations and missions. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have died or been injured during the course of their duties.
  5. NATO reaffirms its long-term commitment to supporting the Government of Afghanistan in building a stable and democratic Afghanistan, respectful of human rights, capable of securing itself, and at peace with its neighbours. Recognising that our security is closely bound to Afghanistan’s, we affirm that the UN-mandated NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) remains our key priority. We condemn the deliberate tactics and actions by insurgents in complete disregard for human life. We deplore all civilian casualties. ISAF continues to take all possible measures to protect civilians and has reinforced its efforts in this regard. Despite the actions of extremists and terrorists which continue to threaten the Afghan people, our forces, and stability in the region as a whole, we have, with Afghanistan and our partners, made progress in realising the strategic vision set out at the Bucharest Summit, through implementing the four principles of our Comprehensive Strategic Political-Military Plan:
    • A Firm and Shared Commitment among Allies: We remain determined to provide ISAF with the forces, resources, and flexibility to ensure the mission’s success. Since the Summit, we have augmented ISAF’s contribution to Afghanistan with troops and equipment, and we welcome the strong and growing support from ISAF partner nations. The Presidential and Provincial elections scheduled for 2009 and the Parliamentary and District elections scheduled to follow in 2010 will be important milestones for the democratic development of Afghanistan. ISAF will support the Afghan Government’s efforts to secure the election process, including through temporary deployment of additional forces.
    • Support for Enhanced Afghan Leadership and Responsibility: Significant progress has been made in the development of the Afghan National Security Forces. They have assumed lead security responsibility for Kabul City, increasingly taken the lead on security operations, and begun to extend their reach across the country. We are committed to supporting expansion of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and to providing necessary resources, including additional Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams. We are also exploring how the ANA Trust Fund could facilitate this expansion. We similarly support greater efforts by Allied nations and partners, in coordination with United States and European Union programmes and missions, to accelerate development of the Afghan National Police.
    • A Comprehensive, Civilian-Military Approach by the International Community: Recognising that there is no purely military solution, NATO also stands ready to support Afghan-led efforts to achieve a political resolution to the conflict. ISAF will support the Afghan Government in extending its authority across the country and reaching out to all its citizens to enable good governance and development, building on the Afghan National Development Strategy, and the commitments of the Afghanistan Compact and the Paris Conference. In this respect, we encourage the Afghan Government to continue investing in good governance. We underscore our strong support for the leading role of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) continue to play a significant role in promoting good governance, capacity building, reconstruction and development. We will work to further enhance PRTs’ unity of effort and will continue to strengthen linkages between PRT activities and the Afghan Government’s good governance and community engagement goals.
    • Increased Cooperation with Afghanistan’s Neighbours, especially Pakistan: As a contribution to promoting regional peace and stability, we welcome the improving relationship between Kabul and Islamabad, and recent military action Pakistan has taken against extremists along its frontier with Afghanistan. We welcome closer NATO-ISAF/Afghan/Pakistani coordination through the Tri-Partite Commission and other fora, and will take steps to improve border security, including exploring the establishment of more Border Coordination Centres and other possible joint initiatives. NATO is open to closer military-to-military cooperation and an enhanced high-level political dialogue with Pakistan. We will continue our enhanced dialogue with Central Asian Partners and Afghanistan in support of regional cooperation and a stable Afghanistan, while encouraging their active contribution, including through finalising transit arrangements of Central Asian countries with the Alliance.
  6. The robust, UN-mandated NATO-led KFOR presence will remain in Kosovo on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. Throughout Kosovo, NATO and KFOR will continue to work with the authorities and, bearing in mind its operational mandate, KFOR will cooperate with and assist the UN, the EU and other international actors, as appropriate, to support the development of a stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo. The prompt deployment of the European Union’s Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) throughout all of Kosovo is an urgent priority, and in this context we note the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of a statement by its Presidency in support of the reconfiguration of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). We strongly encourage the Kosovo authorities and Serbia to cooperate fully with all relevant actors during and after the period of transfer of authority. We expect all parties concerned in Kosovo to help prevent violence. We attach importance to close coordination among all relevant international actors, as well as with the Kosovo authorities. We welcome the continuing efforts of these authorities and expect them to implement fully their commitment to standards, especially those related to the rule of law and regarding the protection of ethnic minorities and communities, as well as the protection of historical and religious sites, and to combating crime and corruption. NATO stands ready to play its part in the implementation of future security arrangements and, in the framework of NATO’s new tasks, continues to work towards the standing down of the Kosovo Protection Corps and the establishment of the Kosovo Security Force on the basis of our voluntary trust funds.
  7. We reiterate the Alliance’s commitment to support the Government and people of Iraq and to assist with the development of Iraqi Security Forces. We have responded positively to a request by Prime Minister Al-Maliki to continue the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) and expand the mission in several areas, including navy and air force leadership training, police training, border security, defence reform, defence institution building, and small arms and light weapons accountability. NATO is also working with the Government of Iraq on a structured cooperation framework to develop the Alliance’s long-term relationship with Iraq.
  8. Our experience in Afghanistan and Kosovo shows that today’s security challenges require a comprehensive approach by the international community, combining civil and military measures and coordination. Effective implementation of a comprehensive approach requires the cooperation and contribution of all major actors in a shared sense of openness and determination. It is essential for all international actors to act in a concerted effort that takes into account their respective strengths and mandates. In line with the Action Plan agreed at Bucharest, work is underway to improve NATO’s own contribution to such a comprehensive approach, including through a more coherent application of its crisis management instruments and efforts to associate its military capabilities with civilian means. As part of the Action Plan, we are developing ways to improve the planning and conduct of ongoing and future operations, wherever appropriate, as well as ensuring adequate use of lessons learned, including in training, education and exercises. We are also strengthening our ability to work effectively with partner countries, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and local authorities, enhancing synergy at all levels. We have taken note of a progress report and look forward to further concrete results by the time of the next Summit. We have shared the main thrust of our work with major international actors in order to benefit from their views and input.
  9. More than a decade of cooperation between NATO and the United Nations, especially in the Balkans and Afghanistan, has demonstrated the value of effective and efficient coordination between the two organisations. We are determined to further develop our cooperation in a structured manner, in order to be better able to address the threats and challenges to which the international community is called upon to respond. The Joint UN-NATO Declaration, which the two Secretaries General signed in September 2008, is a major step forward in this direction. It also reaffirms our willingness to provide, within our respective mandates and capabilities, assistance to regional and sub-regional organisations, as requested and as appropriate.
  10. As demonstrated by NATO’s rapid deployment of Operation Allied Provider, we are greatly preoccupied by the rising incidence of piracy off the Horn of Africa and are committed to assist in fighting this scourge, in full respect of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. Accordingly, in response to requests by the Secretary General of the United Nations, NATO and individual Allied nations’ naval forces are providing a deterrent presence and are escorting World Food Programme-chartered vessels carrying humanitarian aid to Somalia. NATO naval forces have also provided a maritime security presence and escorted African Union-chartered vessels carrying logistical supplies for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). We welcome the EU’s upcoming ATALANTA operation. As more actors engage in these important efforts, it is essential to ensure complementarity among them. NATO stands ready to consider further requests for the use of Alliance naval assets to combat piracy in this region.
  11. In addition to counter-piracy-related assistance, NATO is committed to assist the African Union (AU) and its peacekeeping and stability operations in other ways as well. We continue to coordinate airlift support to AMISOM. We are also providing capacity-building support to the AU’s long-term peacekeeping capabilities, in particular the African Standby Force, at the request of the AU. We are prepared to consider further requests to support the AU, including for regional maritime capacity building.
  12. As noted at Bucharest, NATO-EU relations cover a wide range of issues of common interest relating to security, defence and crisis management, including the fight against terrorism, the development of coherent and mutually reinforcing military capabilities, and civil emergency planning. NATO and the EU also share common values and strategic interests, and will continue to work side by side in key crisis management operations, and will avoid unnecessary duplication in a mutual spirit of transparency while respecting the autonomy of each organisation. Since Bucharest, various initiatives have been taken as part of the continuing effort to improve the NATO-EU strategic partnership, as agreed by our two organisations. NATO recognises the importance of a stronger and more capable European defence, and welcomes the EU’s efforts to strengthen its capabilities and its capacity to address common security challenges that both NATO and the EU face today. These developments have significant implications and relevance for the Alliance as a whole, which is why NATO stands ready to support and work with the EU in such mutually reinforcing efforts, recognising the ongoing concerns of Allies. Non-EU Allies have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to these efforts. In this context, we continue to believe it important that all possible efforts should be made by all those involved in these endeavours, and also to render possible the fullest involvement of non-EU Allies.
  13. Today’s information environment underlines the need for appropriate, timely, accurate and responsive communication with local and international audiences in relation to NATO’s policies and engagement in international operations. We welcome the progress made in enhancing NATO’s strategic communications capability, as demonstrated by the rapid response Media Operations Centre as well as NATO’s television channel on the internet. We underscore our commitment to support further improvement of our strategic communications by the time of our 2009 Summit.
  14. We condemn in the strongest terms the attacks in Mumbai last week and express our sincerest sympathy to the victims and their families.
  15. We reiterate our condemnation of all acts of terrorism, irrespective of its motivations or manifestations. We are determined to fight against terrorism individually and collectively as long as necessary in accordance with international law and principles of the United Nations Charter. The Alliance continues to provide an essential transatlantic dimension to the response against terrorism and we remain committed to the full implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions related to terrorism. We unequivocally condemn all terrorist acts as unjustifiable and criminal and deplore tactics such as suicide bombing and hostage taking, as well as the recruitment of the young and disadvantaged towards these ends. We also condemn terrorist abuse of freedoms inherent to democratic societies to spread hatred and incite violence. With the resolve to protect our populations, territories, infrastructure and forces against terrorist attacks, Allies will continue to develop their national capabilities in this important area, and to strengthen the Alliance’s ability to share information and intelligence on terrorism. Operation Active Endeavour, our maritime operation in the Mediterranean, continues to make a valuable contribution to the fight against terrorism. We remain committed to further enhancing our dialogue and cooperation with our partners in this important area, including in the framework of the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism.
  16. We look forward to welcoming Albania and Croatia as new members of the Alliance, which will strengthen security for all in the Euro-Atlantic area. Albania and Croatia have already accomplished important reforms and are making significant contributions to our security. As they soon join us in the Alliance’s continuous transformation and reform process, we encourage Albania and Croatia to continue making progress on reform before completion of their ongoing Membership Action Plan (MAP) work and after accession in order to enhance their contribution to the Alliance. We commend the July 2008 signature of the Accession Protocols and look forward to the completion of the ratification process. Our aim is to welcome the two new members into our Alliance at our next Summit.
  17. We reiterate the agreement of Heads of State and Government at the Bucharest Summit to extend an invitation to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 1 as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached within the framework of the UN and urge intensified efforts towards that goal. At the same time, we will continue to support and assist the reform efforts of the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
  18. We reaffirm all elements of the decisions regarding Ukraine and Georgia taken by our Heads of State and Government in Bucharest. Both countries have made progress, yet both have significant work left to do. Therefore, we have decided to provide further assistance to both countries in implementing needed reforms as they progress towards NATO membership.
  19. Through a performance based process NATO will maximise its advice, assistance, and support for their reform efforts in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission and NATO-Georgia Commission, which have a central role to play in supervising the process set in hand at the Bucharest Summit. In this context, we have decided to amend the NATO-Ukraine Charter on a Distinctive Partnership together with our Ukrainian partners to reflect this central role of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, as is already the case in the NATO-Georgia Commission. We have also decided to reinforce the NATO information and liaison offices in Kyiv and Tbilisi. Finally, without prejudice to further decisions which must be taken about MAP, we have agreed that under the NATO-Georgia Commission and NATO-Ukraine Commission, Annual National Programmes will be developed to help Georgia and Ukraine advance their reforms, which will be annually reviewed by the Allies.
  20. We welcome the progress made by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro in their cooperation with the Alliance and the development of ambitious Individual Partnership Action Plans with both countries. We expect both countries to maintain the momentum in implementing these Action Plans and note positively their intention to enhance integration through regional cooperation initiatives. We welcome the start of an Intensified Dialogue with both countries on the full range of political, military, financial, and security issues relating to their aspirations to membership, without prejudice to any eventual Alliance decision. Without prejudice to our future decision on Montenegro’s request to participate in the MAP, we welcome Montenegro’s interest to progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
  21. Despite progress in some areas, we are concerned by the deterioration in the political climate in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past few months, which puts at risk the constitutional structure of the country as well as its Euro-Atlantic integration prospects. We encourage all political leaders in the country to take a more responsible stance and urge early implementation of recent agreements, such as on defence property. We are deeply concerned by irresponsible political rhetoric and actions that weaken the Bosnian state and call into question the existence of its entities, including the break up of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, all of which could have profound implications. The 8 November 2008 political agreement between some Bosnian leaders is a welcome sign of dialogue. We urge all political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to implement concrete changes consistent with the Peace Implementation Council’s requirements for closure of the Office of the High Representative. NATO continues to remain vigilant and will closely monitor the political developments. We deem it important that the international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina take account of the political and security situation. NATO remains committed to continuing to support Operation EUFOR-ALTHEA through the Berlin Plus arrangements. As such, we attach utmost importance to efficient cooperation and consultations between the EU and NATO and non-EU Allies.
  22. In light of the new Serbian Government’s stated commitment to Euro-Atlantic values and partnership, NATO continues to support Serbia's integration into the Euro-Atlantic community of nations. We welcome Serbia’s desire to pursue further practical cooperation with NATO, including through full use of Partnership for Peace (PfP). The recent signature of the Agreement with NATO on the Security of Information represents an important step in this regard. We stand ready to further develop our partnership, in particular through elaboration of an Individual Partnership Action Plan in accordance with the PfP principles of inclusiveness and self-differentiation. All NATO partnership opportunities for political consultation and practical cooperation remain open to Serbia. We call upon Serbia to influence the parties concerned in Kosovo to abstain from violence.
  23. We acknowledge Serbia’s recent capture and extradition of the war crimes indictee Radovan Karadžic' and urge Serbia to continue its efforts, in particular to capture and extradite fugitive Ratko Mladic' and other remaining fugitives. We continue to expect Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and will closely monitor their respective efforts in this regard.
  24. While we continue to believe in the importance for Euro-Atlantic security of relations between NATO and Russia that are based on constructive dialogue – including on issues that divide the Alliance and Russia – and cooperation, recent Russian actions and statements have seriously diminished our confidence in Moscow’s continuing commitment to the founding values and principles of the NATO-Russia relations. Following Russia’s disproportionate military actions during the conflict with Georgia in August, we determined that there could be no business as usual in our relations with Russia. Russia’s subsequent recognition of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia, which we condemn and call upon Russia to reverse, contravenes the OSCE principles on which the security of Europe is based and the United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Georgia’s territorial integrity which Russia endorsed. We reaffirm our adherence to these values and principles and call on Russia to demonstrate its own commitment to them. We call upon Russia to refrain from confrontational statements, including assertions of a sphere of influence, and from threats to the security of Allies and Partners, such as the one concerning the possible deployment of short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad region. We also call upon Russia to implement fully the commitments agreed with Georgia, as mediated by the EU on 12 August and 8 September 2008.2 In the context of Georgia, we view Russia’s withdrawal from the areas it has committed to leave as an essential step and welcome the steps taken thus far to implement those commitments, while underscoring the importance of full access by international monitors and reminding Russia of its responsibility in terms of security and order. We express our support for the constructive exchanges between all the parties involved in the Geneva international discussions aimed at making progress rapidly on pending issues related to security and humanitarian matters. We urge Russia, as well as all other relevant actors, to continue to engage constructively in the resolution of these outstanding issues as the Geneva talks go forward.
  25. The NATO-Russia partnership was conceived as a strategic element in fostering security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Dialogue and cooperation remain important for our joint ability to meet effectively common security threats and challenges. We have not conducted business as usual in the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) since August. In a partnership based on common values, the lack of a shared commitment to those values must naturally cause the relationship and the scope for cooperative action to suffer. That is reflected in the limited scope of our current practical cooperation. Taking this into account, we have agreed on a measured and phased approach: we have mandated the Secretary General to re-engage with Russia at the political level; agreed to informal discussions in the NRC; and requested the Secretary General to report back to us prior to any decision to engage Russia formally in the NRC.
  26. NATO’s policy of outreach through partnerships, dialogue and cooperation is an essential part of the Alliance's purpose and tasks. The Alliance's partnerships across the globe have an enduring value, contributing to stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond. We value highly the contributions that our partners are making to NATO's missions and operations.
  27. We remain committed to substantive political discussions and effective cooperation within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and Partnership for Peace, based on shared values and principles. NATO expects all Partners to fulfil their commitments to these values and principles. We encourage and will continue to support further defence and other reforms, including in the strategically important regions of the Caucasus and Central Asia. We are looking forward to the EAPC Security Forum to be held in Kazakhstan in June 2009.
  28. We met yesterday with our seven Mediterranean partners to review the significant progress in the Mediterranean Dialogue process since our last meeting in 2007, and discuss other issues of common interest. We look forward to building on this progress and further deepening our relationship through political dialogue and practical cooperation, including in the context of the NATO Training Cooperation Initiative and through the use of trust fund mechanisms, such as those with Jordan. We consider peace and stability in the Mediterranean region as essential to our own security. We welcome the offer of the Spanish Government to host the next Mediterranean Dialogue Ministerial meeting in Spring 2009.
  29. We are pleased with the response by the four Gulf countries participating in our Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), including to the NATO Training Cooperation Initiative, and are determined to further intensify our cooperation in this and other areas. The current deployment of NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 in the Gulf region and the exercises it is undertaking with ICI partners demonstrate our mutual interest in developing our ability to operate together.
  30. We are also pleased with the growing interest in many countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area in developing closer relations with NATO. Many of these countries support our operations, are involved in practical cooperation with the Alliance in key areas such as education and training, and engage in regular consultations with NATO on issues such as the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. We are interested in NATO’s engagement with partners across the globe and further developing our political dialogue and practical cooperation with these countries in areas of common interest.
  31. NATO’s transformation is a continual process which demands constant political attention and active management by the Allies. We must ensure the provision of forces to allow the Alliance to conduct its full range of missions, including collective defence and crisis response operations, as envisaged in NATO’s Strategic Concept and Comprehensive Political Guidance. As an Alliance, we are committed to develop policies and capabilities to deal with emerging challenges and threats, taking into account regional and national considerations, and to address the immediate security concerns of all Allies. To that end, we welcome the decision taken on increasing political targets for deployability of land forces. In addition, the Alliance will continue efforts to be able to deploy the NATO Response Force by providing the necessary forces. The Alliance will, through NATO’s evolving defence planning process, further develop the capabilities required to conduct the full range of our missions and to remedy specific shortfalls. We will work particularly at improving strategic lift, enhancing the availability of mission-capable helicopters, and further strengthening our cyber defence. We remain committed to the development of a comprehensive policy for preventing the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and enhancing Alliance chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence.
  32. Ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to Allies’ forces, territory, and populations. Missile defence forms part of a broader response to counter this threat. We therefore recognise the substantial contribution to the protection of Allies from long-range ballistic missiles to be provided by the planned deployment of European-based United States missile defence assets. As tasked at the Bucharest Summit, we are exploring ways to link this capability with current NATO missile defence efforts as a way to ensure that it would be an integral part of any future NATO-wide missile defence architecture. Bearing in mind the principle of indivisibility of Allied security as well as NATO solidarity, Allies took note of progress on the development of options for a comprehensive missile defence architecture to extend coverage to all European Allied territory and populations not otherwise covered by the United States system for review at our 2009 Summit to inform any future political decision. As all options include the planned deployment of European-based United States missile defence assets, we note as a relevant development the signature of agreements by the Czech Republic and the Republic of Poland with the United States regarding those assets. As Defence Ministers did at their Budapest Ministerial in October 2008, we also noted today the plan to complete the analysis of options for a comprehensive missile defence architecture by the Defence Ministerial in Krakow in February 2009. A report on these options will be presented to Heads of State and Government for review at their next Summit. We continue to support the work underway to strengthen missile defence cooperation between Russia and NATO, and remain committed to maximum transparency and reciprocal confidence building measures to allay any concerns, as stated at the Bucharest Summit. We also encourage Russia to take advantage of United States missile defence cooperation proposals and we remain ready to explore the potential for linking United States, NATO and Russian missile defence systems at an appropriate time.
  33. We reaffirm that arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation will continue to make an important contribution to peace, security and stability, as part of a broader response to security issues. We have noted the implementation report on raising NATO’s profile in this field. The report displays a broad range of activities being undertaken, including continuing efforts in preventing the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the destruction of excess small arms and light weapons and surplus munitions. We aim at achieving a higher level of public awareness of NATO’s contribution in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. The Council in Permanent Session will keep these issues under active review.
  34. We place the highest value on the CFE Treaty regime with all its elements. We underscore the strategic importance of the CFE Treaty, including its flank regime, as a cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic Security. We reiterate the endorsement by Heads of State and Government at the Bucharest Summit of the statement of the North Atlantic Council of 28 March 2008. We reaffirm the Alliance’s commitment to the CFE Treaty regime, as expressed in the Alliance’s position contained in paragraph 42 of the 2006 Riga Summit Declaration, the final statement by Allies at the CFE Extraordinary Conference in Vienna and Alliance statements reflecting subsequent developments. We are deeply concerned that, for nearly a full year, since 12 December 2007, Russia has continued its unilateral “suspension” of its legal obligations under the CFE Treaty. Furthermore, Russia’s actions in Georgia have called into question its commitment to the fundamental OSCE principles on which stability and security in Europe are based: principles which underpin the CFE Treaty. These actions run counter to our common objective of preserving the long-term viability of the CFE regime and we call upon Russia to resume its implementation without further delay. Because of our commitment to cooperative security and fulfilment of international agreements as well as the importance we attach to the confidence that results from military transparency and predictability, we have continued fully to implement the Treaty despite Russia’s “suspension”. However, the current situation, where NATO CFE Allies implement the Treaty while Russia does not, cannot last indefinitely. Over a year ago, we offered a set of constructive and forward-looking proposals for parallel actions on key issues, including steps by NATO Allies on ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty and by Russia on outstanding commitments related to Georgia and the Republic of Moldova. We continue to believe that these proposals address all of Russia’s stated concerns. We urge Russia to work cooperatively with us and other concerned CFE States Parties to reach agreement on the basis of the parallel actions package so that together we can preserve the benefits of this landmark regime.
  35. We remain concerned with the persistence of regional conflicts in the South Caucasus and the Republic of Moldova. We continue to support the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova. Peaceful conflict resolution founded on these principles has gained increased relevance for overall stability in the region. We will further support efforts to this aim, and stand ready to enter into consultations with these countries on matters of regional concern. We will also support these countries in their efforts to make full use of the mechanisms for conflict prevention and peaceful conflict resolution.
  36. We commend the initiatives to strengthen cooperation, security and stability in the Black Sea region and will continue to support the regional efforts to this end.
  37. In line with the Bucharest Summit report on NATO’s role in energy security, the Alliance has continued to consult on the most immediate risks in the field of energy security, as part of our concerns over the risk of disruption of the flow of vital resources. In Bucharest, Allies identified principles which govern NATO’s approach in the field of energy security, and outlined options and recommendations for further activities. The Alliance has accordingly started a process of implementation of activities in the five areas identified in the report, including through dialogue and practical cooperation on a case-by-case basis with its partners, relevant international organisations and the private sector, with a view to promoting energy security in those areas in which NATO can add value. We note the progress achieved and look forward to a consolidated report on the subject of energy security for consideration at the 2009 Summit.
  38. We are determined to give new impetus to the reform of NATO Headquarters. Our aim is to make the work of the Headquarters more effective, responsive, transparent and resource-efficient to support our consensual decision making. We welcome the work set in train by the Secretary General in response to the request of our Heads of State and Government in Bucharest, and note the substantial discussion in subsequent Defence Ministers’ meetings in London and Budapest. We look forward to the Secretary General reporting to the next meeting of Defence Ministers, as well as to our next meeting, on progress in this work and with further proposals to contribute to the Alliance’s ability to conduct the full range of its operations and missions and to meet today’s security challenges.
  39. At our meeting today we have reviewed progress in implementing the Bucharest Summit decisions, discussed the key security challenges facing the Alliance, and agreed on measures to enhance Alliance operations. We have set the stage for a successful 60th Anniversary Summit next year where our Heads of State and Government will adopt a Declaration on Alliance Security which will articulate the Alliance’s vision of its role in meeting the evolving challenges of the 21st century and maintaining the ability to perform the full range of its missions, collectively defending our security at home and contributing to stability abroad.

Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer after the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Ministers session, 2 December 2008

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, let me give you an overview, a compte-rendu, of the meetings we have had today.

As you know, we started our discussions with two meetings today and the first one was a luncheon with our Mediterranean Dialogue partners, which should be seen, in my opinion, as a reflection of the developing political track of the Mediterranean Dialogue. We have a practical track as you know, we have a political track. This was the third meeting at Foreign Ministers level, along with two already held by Defence Ministers, and I must commend, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit for being one of the driving forces in having these meetings on a regular basis.

What did we discuss? Of course, the security situation in the region. You know as well that NATO does not have a direct responsibility there, but nevertheless. Minister Tzipi Livni and Minister Aboul Gheit offered their insights into the Annapolis process in particular, as did a number of NATO Ministers, including Secretary Rice at her last Mediterranean Dialogue, and for that matter, her last NATO meeting.

As I said, this is not directly a NATO issue, but I think the lunch provided us with a very useful opportunity for an exchange of views between countries deeply engaged in the Middle East peace process, the success of which, it goes without saying, is of great interest to us all.

I can tell you that the second issue, which was also widely discussed around the Mediterranean Dialogue table, was the issue of piracy. And if we read today's press reports pirates are getting bolder and bolder and it was in other words very important that we discuss it. Piracy of interest to any country. Sending ships through the Suez Canal and of course, very relevant and interesting for Egypt itself.

I think Ministers share the view that we need a much more comprehensive international approach to this problem, which is not exclusively a Gulf of Aden problem, by the way. It happens, unfortunately, elsewhere as well. And that comprehensive international approach, I underline that, should be led by the Security Council of the United Nations. This is certainly not something for NATO to lead. The UN Security Council should lead this process. And specifically, were mentioned the legal complications of the issue of piracy. That is a challenge facing the entire international community and I think that there is homework to do for all of us under the leadership, I say it again, of the United Nations.

Of course, there was an exchange of views on the state of play of the Mediterranean Dialogue itself and Ministers very much agreed, and quite rightly so, that the practical dimension has reached a new level.

We have now over 800 areas of practical cooperation, possible within the framework of the MD, covering military cooperation, public diplomacy, civil emergency planning and six out of the seven Mediterranean Dialogue nations have reached a Security of Information Agreement with NATO, allowing, as you know, for more interoperability.

Our partners in the Mediterranean Dialogue have participated in our operations, including Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean. And we even have military attachés from Mediterranean Dialogue countries at our military headquarters in Mons, SHAPE.

So I think it's safe to say that the Mediterranean Dialogue is now clearly demonstrating its value as a forum for political discussion and as a framework for practical cooperation. And I think it's fair to say that Ministers agreed to further explore both aspects to the fullest.

We then began our meeting at 28. Twenty-eight, the current 26 NATO members and our so-called invitees, Albania and Croatia. Let me say, mentioning Albania and Croatia that I sincerely hope that they will be full members, they can be full members by next April’s summit in Strasbourg and Kehl. I'm saying this because I hope that the ratification process in the NATO nations' allies which have not done so up till now, will proceed speedily.

Now this meeting, also an opportunity for Ministers to discuss, of course, Georgia and Ukraine, and the bottom line in this discussion is the following: Both countries have made progress, but both have significant work left to do. And I think I can say that allies agreed on two key points.

First, that all elements, I repeat all elements, of the decisions regarding Ukraine and Georgia, taken by the NATO Heads of State and Government in Bucharest still stand. All elements. And that includes very much that they will one day be members. If they so wish, of course, and important to add, when they meet NATO standards.

And secondly, that NATO will provide further assistance to both countries, in implementing needed reforms as they progress, the countries, towards NATO membership.

What does it mean? It means that NATO will maximize, strengthen if you wish, its advice and assistance for those reform efforts in the frameworks of the NATO-Ukraine Commission and the NATO-Georgia Commission.

And in this context we will, together with our Ukrainian partners, of course, amend the charter of the NATO-Ukraine Council to reflect the central role of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, as is already played by the NATO-Georgia Commission.

We've also decided to reinforce the NATO information and liaison offices in Kiev and Tbilisi. And finally, without prejudice to any further decisions on MAP, on the Membership Action Plan, we'll develop, or they'll develop, rather, with our assistance, so-called annual national programmes to help them advance their reforms.

In other words, we're going to beef up the NATO-Ukraine Commission, beef up the NATO-Georgia Commission and maximize our assistance.

And as you know, we'll have an opportunity to further discuss this tomorrow with both Georgia and Ukraine when we meet in the framework of the two commissions.

So that's point number one. Point number two, this afternoon was that we discussed NATO's relations with Russia. And here too I think it's important to note that allies agreed on what I would qualify as a conditional and graduated re-engagement with Russia.

What does that mean? That means that I as a Secretary General of NATO have been mandated by the Foreign Ministers, as I see fit, and of course, if the other party would agree, to see what political contacts will be possible, can be possible, could be established between me and the Russian side, in the framework of this conditional and graduated re-engagement.

And the second element is that the NATO-Russia Council will meet on an informal basis, I underline, on an informal basis. That means the NATO-Russia Council, the NATO allies with Russia, at 27 as we call it, to re-engage and to have discussions on the issues on which we agree, but I also would like to add the issues on which we disagree.

Because don't interpret my words wrongly, please. This graduated re-engagement does certainly not mean that we do now suddenly agree with the Russians on the disproportionate use of force in August in the Caucasus. On the recognition, illegal recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On the fact that the Russians are still taking positions they should not take in that area.

It does certainly not mean that we consider it acceptable that we hear voices from Moscow we thought we would not hear anymore on a possible station of the Iskander missiles near Lithuania or on threatening and targeting our staunch NATO ally Poland with missiles.

It does certainly not mean that we agree. We fundamentally disagree. But we will try to re-engage and see that we can restart an informal and I underline the word informal, discussion in the NATO-Russia Council.

You know what the background of this is? The background of this is of course that in August NATO Foreign Ministers agreed that we could not have business as usual with Russia. I do not think you can qualify what I've just said, this graduated re-engagement, as business as usual, but as I've said many times before, and as Ministers agreed, no business as usual does certainly not mean no business at all. Because also since August we have had areas on which we have cooperated with Russia, and I could mention Afghanistan and I could mention the fight against the scourge of terrorism.

So in other words, this is what Ministers, Foreign Ministers decided on our relationship with Russia.

After all, Russia is an important player. Russia is an important player on many dossiers, which are also on the NATO agenda. So the catchphrase is a conditional and graduated re-engagement and the mandate given to me as the Secretary General of NATO.

This was the essence of our discussion today. Tomorrow, as you know, we'll discuss operations. Afghanistan, certainly. Kosovo. I would not be surprised if piracy would come back as a subject tomorrow, and then we have the NATO-Georgia and the NATO-Ukraine Commissions.

This is what I have to say. I'm open to your questions and your comments.

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Let's go here.

Q: My name is Evert(ph), Dutch Reform Daily. I've read that NATO is discussing a potential longer-term role in the anti-piracy mission. Is there no wish that NATO could operate a bit more active or proactive against the pirate?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: NATO, I can tell you, based on the news today, is operating extremely proactively. James Appathurai told me a moment ago that there were five attempts to hijack a ship today and that those five attempts were adequately treated by representatives of the NATO navies present in the area. There was, by the way, as you know also, an attempt to hijack a civilian cruiseliner with a 1,000 passengers onboard.

So we are very proactive. We are very happy, as you know, with the ESDP mission which is going to start in the early days of December, so basically very soon indeed. Because I like to see the NATO and European Union operating in a complementary fashion. NATO at the same time, because this is not, of course, a problem exclusively in the Gulf of Aden, is indeed, as you say, studying its longer-term role and its longer-term responsibilities, but the NATO mission in this area will end as soon as the European Union will come in with a quite massive force, I can tell you.

But there's a lot of water on this globe, as you know, so I'm quite sure that this issue will be on the NATO agenda for some time to come as well.

Q: (Inaudible...) National News Agency of Ukraine. Secretary General, what is going to happen with the MAP for Georgia and for Ukraine so that will it be cancelled, will it be postponed, or will we find some other forms of cooperation?

And the second part of the question, what is the added value of those annual national programmes if we compare them with annual target plans existing already?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: On your first question, the answer is MAP has not ceased to exist in the conclusions today. There was no decision taken on MAP by the Foreign Ministers, but you cannot say that MAP has evaporated. MAP is still there, as you'll see in the communiqué text, if it's agreed to tomorrow. And on...

APPATHURAI: (Inaudible...).

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Pardon? Pardon?

APPATHURAI: When... when it's agreed.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Yes, that is... I'm not a native English speaker and I'm always confusing if and when. When it is agreed tomorrow morning... thank you, James, never too old to learn. On your second part of your questions, we are simply, in the case of Ukraine, going to give the NATO-Ukraine Commission an even more central role and beef up what we had with Ukraine as you quite rightly say in the framework of your Ukraine's annual target programme. But we'll beef it up.

Q: Yes, Secretary General, Jonathan Marcus of the BBC. With regard to Russia, I mean, given the list of things that the Russians have done that you and NATO governments disapprove of, just how concerned should the Russians be at your decision to conditionally and in a graduated way re-engage with them. It doesn't sound to me like they should be particularly concerned at all.

And secondly, if there is so much agreement on how to engage Ukraine and Georgia, why is it that the communiqué has gone through so many drafts and it seems is not going to be able to be released today?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me first make a formal remark, the communiqué as usual, will be released tomorrow. But given the fact that this was discussed this afternoon I've given you already something of the communiqué, so that's my formal answer.

On the first part of your question. I'm not that interested if Russia is concerned or not. That is not how international politics works. I'm interested in re-engaging, albeit in an informal way, and discussing the many issues on which we disagree. And that was the conclusion of that meeting.

But if Moscow is concerned or not concerned that is not so relevant, I think. As I'm... it's a bit more needed to have me concerned. Let's, under the let's say, in the lines as I use them in my introductory remarks, let's see where we land and let's see where we get.

You're right that communiqués usually have a number of revs, revisions. It's not the first time, by the way, that I see many revisions in the five years I'm here, but I'm very happy with the fact that on this issue, which as you know did not go uncontested in Bucharest, Ministers have found a very constructive and positive agreement, and that we should realize in this regard, and that's also the basis of what Ministers discussed today, that the train left the station in Bucharest, in the framework of the decisions by the heads there, that they will become NATO members and that train will move on. It does not stop.

Q: (Inaudible...), Georgian TV company. Somehow I want to continue the previous question and I would like to ask you, in Bucharest you do not support Georgia's bid getting MAP and after that...

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Excuse me, you do not...

Q: You do not support Georgia's aspiration getting MAP and it encourage somehow Russia to launch aggression against Georgia. And how do you think, what kind of signal will be today's decision for Russia and will they continue their aggressive policy towards Georgia and keep their policy or what kind of signal it will be?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I think it's not that relevant. I say, not in self-depreciation, it's not that relevant what I think and what I support or what I do not support. It is crystal clear that the allies have restated, again, because they have reconfirmed all the elements, I repeat, all the elements of the Bucharest decision. That must be a message for Georgia which can simply not be misinterpreted. Neither for Ukraine by the way. Cannot be misinterpreted.

And I think it will not be misinterpreted, certainly not by me and by the allies, but I have the impression that it will not be misinterpreted by Moscow as well. That's why I said in answer to your colleagues question, an important decision was taken in Bucharest. The train left the station and that train is moving on.

At the same time I say to our aspirant nations, Georgia and Ukraine, that this is a performance based process. NATO enlargement is not a concession by NATO allies. NATO enlargement should also be in the interests of the NATO allies. I mean, that's how foreign policy works.

But I think the signal given this afternoon is fairly clear.

APPATHURAI: We have time for two, here and there.

Q: Mark John from Reuters. Secretary General, when you say there are no decisions taken on MAP today, just to clarify, does that mean that MAP remains a precondition towards membership or not?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: As I answered to your Ukrainian colleague, MAP has not evaporated this afternoon, so MAP is still on the cards... in the cards, I should say.

APPATHURAI: Thank you. The last question is there.

Q: James Blitz, Financial Times. On the issue of the NATO-Russia relationship, can you today still exclude the possibility that President Medvedev will be invited to Strasbourg/Kehl? Can you still say this is something that will definitely not happen. It's too graduated a process.

And secondly, on military contacts, Secretary of State Rice was yesterday saying she did not want to see any resumption of that because of the situation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. What are the prospects for that?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: On the second part of your question, I do think that we now first will take the political angle and that angle will be discussed, as I said, in the informal meetings of the NATO-Russia Council. So let's, under the heading first things first, restart in an informal way our engagement with Russia, right? That's point number one.

Point number two, as things stand, as we speak, the intention of the allies is that the 60th anniversary of NATO in April next year in Strasbourg and Kehl will be a family affair. And that means that it will be a family affair in the sense that's the 26, I hope 28 NATO allies will meet there and no decisions have been taken on any invitations for other leaders as we speak. And I'll stick to the principle that it will be a family affair.

APPATHURAI: That's all we have time for.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Thank you so much. See you tomorrow, hopefully.

Source: NATO, www.nato.int.

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