NATO: Ready, Robust, Rebalanced – NATO Secretary General at the Carnegie Europe, 19 Sep 2013 – 2/2


PRESENTATOR: Thank you very much Secretary
General for a very broad and wide canvass and for indeed suggesting a few answers for
the future of NATO. Now I would like to ask you and the audience
to get your questions ready, and before I take them let me ask you two questions myself:
one on Libya because you started, sorry, on Syria, because you started with Syria; and
the second one on the future of NATO. We have just learned in the Syria case, and
you mentioned it in your speech, that it’s the credible threat of force that brings movement
into a diplomatic situation. Now it looks like the mandate that we will
get out of the UN Security Council will not include such a credible threat, again because
some members of the Security Council won’t allow this to be included. Now what is the disarmament mandate for Syria
worth without such a robust mandate? Is it worth anything? ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secretary General,
NATO): First of all, let us focus on the good news, and the good news is that for the first
time during this terrible crisis the US and Russia have reached an agreement that now
forms a framework for the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. That is a huge step forward. It remains to be seen exactly how the UN Security
Council resolution will look but I think it’s essential for keeping momentum in the diplomatic
and political process that the military option is still on the table, and I think irrespective
of the outcome of the deliberations in the UN Security Council the military option will
still be on the table. PRESENTATOR: All right, that’s a very clear
statement. Thank you very much for that. Now on the future of NATO, in your speech
you mention political will, political commitment quite a lot, a number of times, and that you
want more political commitment on the European side and that we need to develop and strengthen
our own political will to be robust and rebalanced and ready. Now, let me ask this in a very simple way:
where do you see that prime resource of political will in Europe, to generate the political
will, where is it coming from? Europeans don’t feel particularly threatened,
they don’t feel particularly affected by the US pivot if there is such a thing, where are
the sources of political will that you can identify that will get us where you want to
get us? ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Again, let me start
with the good news. We saw in 2011 the Europeans step up to the
plate and take on responsibility in Libya. After the adoption of a historic UN Security
Council resolution to protect the Libyan population against attacks from its own government the
Europeans actually took the lead of the Libya operation. Having said that we all know that it couldn’t
have been carried out successfully without significant support and input from the Americans,
but for the first time the Europeans delivered the majority of assets for such an operation,
so it’s an example that despite economic austerity the Europeans are ready to take more responsibility. But having said that I share your concerns
and I think the Europeans should be aware of the strategic consequences of what we’re
witnessing right now. The fact is that if the current trend continues,
if we see continued declining defence budgets, then one day the Europeans will not be able
to participate in international crisis management as we saw it in Libya, and the vacuum Europe
leaves behind will be filled by the other powers in the world, for instance the emerging
powers that actually invest more and more in defence and security, and eventually it
means that Europe will lose influence on the international scene. Very often we in Europe praise ourselves of
being standard bearers of basic fundamental principles like individual liberty, democracy,
rule of law, human rights, and if we are sincere about promoting those values and defending
those values, we also need the capabilities to actually underpin the soft power with some
hard power. That’s my clear position. So that’s why I’m concerned about the declining
defence budgets in Europe. PRESENTATOR: So ultimately it’s our values
that will produce the political will because we can’t just neglect our values for too long
before losing ourselves, is that what you’re saying? ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah, exactly, and
that’s why I started with the positive example of Libya because I think many people felt
that fundamental principles were at stake and we had a responsibility to act once the
UN Security Council had adopted that historic resolution. So when it comes to fundamental principles
I think people realize we have to do something. PRESENTATOR: Excellent. Thank you very much. I think we start with questions now from all
sides of the room. This gentleman was clearly the very first
one, and then this lady there in the middle, and then this lady over here, and then we
take a second round after that. Please. DAMIEN DEGEORGES (Arctic Policy and Economic
Forum): Dr. Damien Degeorges, founder of the Arctic Policy and Economic Forum. A delegation of NATO Parliamentary Assembly
visited recently Greenland and Denmark to discuss Arctic issues and the assembly subcommittee
on defence will write a report on NATO’s role in securing the High North, how do you perceive
the evolution of NATO engagement in the region? Thank you. PRESENTATOR: Thank you very much. The lady here in the middle, please. ALEXANDRA MAYER-HOHDAHL (German Press Agency
DPA): Good morning. Is this working? Yeah. Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl with the German Press
Agency DPA. You talked about NATO being important for
defending values. I have a question for you about public perception:
are you worried at all that people may say well NATO didn’t or couldn’t intervene in
Syria? How are you defending values if you couldn’t
even go into a country where chemical weapons were being deployed? Thank you. PRESENTATOR: Thank you very much. And then we have lady in red here in the middle,
on the other side. Thank you. THERESA FALLON (European Institute of Asian
Studies): Hello, Theresa Fallon, European Institute of Asian Studies. This is another question about fundamental
values. You mentioned about Japan for example in April
when you were there to talk about the partnership agreement and signed the agreement with Japan. It really skidded over regional tensions. China wasn’t even mentioned, and this idea
of a democracy, all of these issues in the region, NATO pretty much said we’ll do everything,
like cyber, issues like that, and then immediately afterwards a person flew to Beijing to brief
the Chinese about what happened in Japan. So this kind of leads to questions about where
NATO support really is. I understand there are tectonic changes in
the international scene but how does NATO see future relations with China? And you mentioned in your speech you want
to deepen and broaden your partnerships, how do you expect to do that in Asia? Thank you very much. PRESENTATOR: Thank you very much. And if you allow I’ll take another one. Yes please. And then we go on to answers after this. Q: Yes, Brooks (inaudible). Two quick questions. Russia and Damascus say they have proof that
the rebels carried the chemical attack in August and it wouldn’t be the first time that
rebels in a conflict have killed their own people for propaganda purposes as we have
seen countless times in Afghanistan, so how open are you to the idea that the rebels may
have done this? And second, on cyber defence, how do you expect
to boost NATO’s cyber defence capabilities to provide assistance to an individual ally
that might come under attack when the NAC, the North Atlantic Council, is opposed to
using common funding to do this? Thank you. PRESENTATOR: Thank you very much. That’s a wide array. NATO in the Arctic, the inability or ability
of NATO to do something in Syria, then the questions did the rebels actually commit the…
did they launch the attack that we’re talking about, cyber defence, and then Japanese-China
relations. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes indeed. Thank you very much. First on the High North, clearly climate change
and melting ice in the North will of course have implications, strategic implications. I mean when new sea routes are opened, when
we get easier access to resources in that part of the world, there will potentially
of course also be a risk of more tensions. However, I do believe that countries in that
region will do all they can to address these challenges peacefully and through negotiations
among other bodies. They do have the Arctic Council as a framework
for search peaceful resolutions of different problems, questions and challenges, but as
regards to NATO I can assure you that we have no intention to increase our presence in the
High North or to militarize the High North. But on the other hand, we have several allies,
neighbouring or even parts of their territories situated in what we call the High North, and
obviously our allies would expect NATO to execute a collective defence in all parts
of NATO territory, including the High North. So I don’t see any difference between NATO
territory in the High North and NATO territory elsewhere: our collective defence covers all
NATO territory. Now, on Syria, I made the strong point that
the credible threat of using military force facilitated the diplomatic and political process
that eventually led to the American-Russia agreement in Geneva on elimination of Syrian
chemical weapons. But don’t make any mistake, when it comes
to the long term solution to the conflict in Syria there’s no military solution, we
need a political settlement, and that’s basically also why there’s no call on NATO to intervene
in Syria. But very often I get this question: people
ask me you conducted a very successful operation in Libya so why couldn’t you do the same in
Syria? But let me remind you that Libya and Syria
are two very different cases. In Libya we operated on the basis of a clear
United Nations mandate. In Libya we got active support from partners
in the region. None of these conditions are fulfilled when
it comes to Syria. But on top of that I think any foreign military
intervention in Syria could have unpredictable regional repercussions, and this is a reason
why we need a political solution to the conflict in Syria. But we should clearly distinguish between
the long term solution to the conflict in Syria and the specific response to the use
of chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons is a crime, it
is a violation of international law, and that’s why it needs a firm international response
to prevent such attacks from happening again. That’s why right from the outset I have been
in favour of a firm military response and that threat of using military force has now
facilitated a political and diplomatic process that can lead to the elimination of chemical
weapons in Syria, and that is of course a desirable outcome of this. So this is the reason why each and every case
must be judged based on the specific circumstances, and there is no military response to all problems
in the world. So that’s why Libya and Syria are two different
situations. Now, on China and Asia. First on China, you pointed to one very specific
thing, namely that NATO actually has a dialogue with China. Yes, we do, occasionally we have an exchange
of views, and I don’t think that is in contradiction with our desire to defend and protect basic
democratic values. Very often you will have to engage in a dialogue
with counterparts that don’t necessarily share your worldview and I do believe that we have
an interest in a dialogue with China. Let me remind you that NATO operates on the
basis of United Nations mandates in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, counter piracy, you mention it,
all our operations are based on United Nations mandates. With four out of the five permanent members
of the Security Council we do have special relations. Three of them are of course allies, the US,
the UK, France, and with the fourth, Russia, we have a special partnership within the NATO-Russia
Council, but with the fifth, China, we don’t have a structured dialogue, and I think we
have an interest in a dialogue with China, taking into account that we adhere to the
fundamental principles of the UN Charter. So that’s why we have a dialogue with China
but at the same time we have developed and are developing closer ties with what I would
call like-minded partners in the Asia-Pacific region: we have signed an agreement with Australia,
we have signed agreements with Japan, I was the very first NATO secretary general to visit
South Korea some months ago. We have these partnerships with what we call
partners across the globe because they contribute in a valuable way to our operations and because
we believe that in today’s world we need partnerships to accomplish our security missions. I would like to stress this doesn’t mean that
NATO will be present in Asia but we will engage with Asia, with individual nations in Asia,
and I wouldn’t exclude that we can develop similar partnerships with other countries,
like-minded countries, in the Asia-Pacific region. Personally I think there would also be a potential
in strengthening and structuring our dialogue with India. Finally, returning to Syria, I think it’s
quite clear that a variety of sources point to the Syrian regime as responsible for the
horrendous chemical weapon attack on the 21st of August. The missiles were launched from areas controlled
by the government, it doesn’t make sense for the opposition to attack their own people
with chemical weapons in areas they already control, and furthermore we don’t think the
opposition has at its disposal means to carry out a chemical weapons attack of that scope
and scale. So based on the information I have I have
no doubt that the Syrian regime is responsible for that chemical weapons attack. And finally on cyber, we are currently considering
how NATO could possibly assist allies that come under cyber attack. You ask me specifically could we imagine NATO
owned and NATO commonly funded assets to be used to assist individual allies that come
under attack. Let me remind you that it’s not necessarily
the only way to assist allies. When we’re speaking about conventional attacks
and conventional threats we would usually deploy national assets to help an ally. Let me take the deployment of Patriot missiles
to Turkey as an example. Three allies agreed to deploy Patriot missiles
to Turkey to augment Turkey’s air defence and they are put under a NATO command and
control. They are not NATO owned and they are not NATO
commonly funded assets, they are national assets. And similarly you could imagine within the
cyber world that national assets come to assist an ally that come under attack upon request. PRESENTATOR: Thank you Secretary General. What happens when you combine a super performing
21st century military alliance with super performing 21st century think tankers is that
people can ask questions via Twitter. We’ve asked them to send in their stuff and
actually I’ve selected two of these questions from the Twitter feed that we’ve received
and they actually fit with issues that you have raised. One comes from a student here in Brussels,
Thomas Ocrastadina (sp.), who is raising the EU issue that you have also raised, and his
question is: “Could proper EU defence ever exist outside NATO?” And so that question goes to you on this case,
especially of course since the US is pivoting away, NATO relies very heavily on the US,
so can the EU replace NATO, can it ever exist outside NATO? What’s your take on that? ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I do believe that the
two organizations should work together in a complementary way. I do believe it would be a waste of resources
to duplicate and have so to speak an independent EU defence organization in parallel with a
similar NATO defence structure. I think that would be duplication, it would
be a waste of resources. Twenty-two nations are members of both organizations
and they only have one set of military forces and one set of taxpayers, so I think the way
to ensure effective defence is clearly a kind of division of labour so that within the EU
common defence and security policy you could initiate specific operations where EU countries
possibly assisted by partners conduct operations, as they do already in Africa, in Bosnia as
another example, and NATO will conduct operations in other theatres. In some theatres we will operate alongside
each other as we do in Afghanistan, there’s an EU police mission and of course ISAF, in
Kosovo we have KFOR, we have EULEX. So there is a variety of cooperation patterns,
but personally I think it would be a waste of resources to build a parallel EU structure
with headquarters and command and control systems, and you mention it, I mean we have
that system already in NATO. So I think a majority of NATO allies and also
EU members states would say let’s use the systems we already have. PRESENTATOR: All right, I think that answers
that question sufficiently. Now there’s something else, you mentioned
the upcoming NATO summit next year, and out there obviously there are people who sent
in their questions who have very different ideas as to what should be on the agenda there. For them threats sound very different from
the threats that we usually talk about. Iveta Cherneva, who’s a security and defence
analyst, writes: “Will climate change, international finance and energy security be part of the
agenda for the next NATO summit?” A nice indicator as to what people out there
also see as potential threats that maybe NATO should be dealing with. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah, implicitly it
will of course. I mean the financial crisis has an impact
on defence budgets as I’ve already said, so there is a direct link between the investment
in military capabilities and our financial capabilities. That’s also why I have launched the concept
of smart defence, that of course we can’t expect, we can’t expect a lot more money for
defence in the near future, so we have to make the most out of what we do have, and
the way to make more efficient use of resources is to go for collective solutions to achieve
synergies by helping each other specialize and prioritize, all under the headline smart
defence, and I have already mentioned climate change as a factor that of course also have
security or strategic implications when it comes to security, and energy security, is
all over. So these issues will not be put in the agenda
as specific items on the agenda, but implicitly they will of course have an impact on our
deliberations. PRESENTATOR: All right. Thank you very much. Let me add another one, very quick one from
myself. You mentioned the NATO response force in your
speech, now most of us looking at NATO and looking at European defence think that of
course this is one relatively big disappointment and that it has never really functioned and
worked the way that we envisioned it to work. Do you think that this NRF tool that we’ve
given ourselves can ever amount to something? ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Indeed, it will be
revitalized. It was invented some years ago, and you’re
right, so far it hasn’t played a strong role, but there is one specific reason why the NATO
Response Force hasn’t been prominently placed in the eyes of the public, and that is we
have been so engaged in Afghanistan that our allies and our partners didn’t feel a strong
need for exercise this, but we exercise on a daily basis in real time and real world
in Afghanistan. But my point is that as we draw down in Afghanistan
we will have to step up joint exercises, training and education to maintain and further develop
the ability we have developed in Afghanistan to work and operate together. That’s why the NATO Response Force will get
a more prominent role in the coming years. PRESENTATOR: All right, excellent. Thank you very much. Two more questions. This gentleman over here and then to this
side, Terry please. Q: (Inaudible) Dutch NSA (inaudible) radio. You mentioned the need to invest more by European
members to share the burden. You probably have heard about the Dutch government
deciding to invest in 37 new Joint Strike Fighters, you’ve heard about that or…? Yeah. An enormous burden: 4.5 billion Euros. Apparently the Dutch government is willing
to take that burden. My question to you is what kind of coordination
is there in Europe with sharing this burden. Is the Netherlands the only country investing
so much? Are there other countries that have a more
cheap free ride? Could you comment on that? PRESENTATOR: All right, excellent. And then on this side here. I think we’ll probably add another question,
but Terry goes next. Q: Thank you. Hello Mr. Secretary General, you say that
you believe the Syrian regime was responsible and you also say that you believe anyone who
uses chemical weapons should be held accountable. Do you really think that taking away the weapons
so it can’t happen again is sufficient for holding the regime accountable for what you
and most others believe has already happened? What should happen next in that process? And also a question on European defence. Yesterday we heard at JFC Brunssum that allies
and partners are operating nearly seamlessly now and that Steadfast Jazz will simply reinforce
that, but if what has happened in Afghanistan and also the Libyan operation pointed out
very specific shortfalls in European spending, if these very specific exercises haven’t convinced
the Europeans they need to spend more on their capabilities, what do you expect will do it? Thanks. PRESENTATOR: All right, excellent. And then this gentleman at the aisle there,
that’s the final question I’m going to take. Q (Kuwait News Agency KUNA): (Inaudible) from
the Kuwait News Agency KUNA. Mr. Secretary General, do you think there
should be a time limit set for the finding and destruction of the chemical weapons in
Syria? I ask because Mr. Bashar al-Assad today in
a TV interview said it will take one year and cost one billion dollars, and this should
be paid by the US. And my second question is on your proposal
to boost regional cooperation with organization like the Gulf Cooperation and the Arab League,
have you any concrete proposals on this? Thank you. PRESENTATOR: Thank you very much. Again, a number of Syria questions but also
the coordination on defence burdens, the shortfall in exercises that became obvious, and a time
limit for the removal of these chemical weapons in Syria. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah, first on holding
those responsible accountable, basically of course, or eventually I would say, it is also
a question of international law and using the international legal system in that respect. There’s no doubt that chemical weapons have
been used, there’s no doubt that the use of chemical weapons is a crime, a violation of
international law, and I think it should be dealt with within an international legal system. While I still do believe the threat of taking
military action has facilitated a diplomatic and political process and that options should
still be on the table to maintain a momentum in that diplomatic and political process. Now, on timelines, I think we have seen quite
ambitious timelines outlined in the framework agreement that was agreed between the Americans
and the Russians in Geneva, and I think we should stick to the timelines that have been
agreed between the two parties. Now, on defence investments, first of all
let me stress that it is a national decision how and when individual allies will invest
in military capabilities, including renewal of the fleet of fighter aircrafts, that’s
the first thing. Secondly you ask me whether there is a coordination
within NATO and the answer is yes, we do have what we call a NATO defence planning process
within which allies try to coordinate in certain way that overall we do have the right capabilities
to address future challenges. When it comes to the acquisition of fighter
aircrafts or other kinds of military equipment, it would of course be a good idea if nations
pursue joint acquisitions and collective solutions. Again, it’s a national decision, but let me
point to at least one example from the past that I know very well because my own country
Denmark participated in that. In the 70s, four NATO allies acquired F-16
fighter aircrafts in a joint project: Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and later
by the way Portugal joined that consortium. And I think, if I remember correctly, we purchased
348 F-16, and you can imagine that we achieved a lot of synergies. Like in private households you get a rebate
if you buy in big quantities, and so obviously there is good economies in pursuing such joint
acquisition of expensive military equipment. And it’s not only about acquisition because
afterwards we also joined efforts when it came to maintenance, training, education,
and on a couple of occasions also deployment of these F-16s. So there are a lot of synergies to achieve
through joint acquisition of for instance fighter aircraft, but having said all that,
it’s a national decision. Now are the Europeans convinced that they
should invest more in critical military capabilities? Based on the discussions I have heard among
political leaders in European capitals I think there is a growing awareness that based on
the lessons learned, not only from Libya but also from other operations, that we need more
investments in critical military capabilities to fill the gaps. Of course the challenge right now is that
all governments in Europe are under pressure, under budgetary pressure, and as a politician
I know very well what is the challenge. I mean when you are force to cut your budgets
across the board, including welfare programs, education programs, health programs, it’s
almost political suicide to suggest that the minister of defence should be exempted from
that exercise. That is the political reality we’re all faced
with now. Nevertheless I have seen examples, positive
examples recently, I have visited allies, I have spoken with their parliamentarians,
that’s now always an integrated part of my programs that I meet parliamentarians, and
I have discussed with them, and in a number of parliaments in allied nations we have now
seen broad political agreements that they will gradually increase their defence spending,
that they will gradually move towards the NATO 2% benchmark. You know, we have a benchmark according to
which individual allies should strive for reaching a level of defence investment equivalent
to 2% of GDP. Only a very few live up to that, and it’s
not a legal obligation, it’s a political goal, it’s a political commitment. But the good news that I have now seen a number
of examples that in parliaments a broad coalition of parties have agreed to gradually move towards
that goal. At least there is an attempt to reverse the
trend, and let me mention one example which is outstanding I think. A few years ago Estonia suffered severely
from the economic crisis; nevertheless Estonia has succeeded in achieving the 2% goal. It’s a shining example. It’s a question of priority. You can, if you have the political will, and
I see that political will in a number of allied nations. PRESENTATOR: Can I interrupt very briefly
here. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah. PRESENTATOR: Because we’re all burning to
learn who these examples are. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah. PRESENTATOR: Can you give us names or is that
impossible at this stage? ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I could but I think
it’s for them to publish their intentions. PRESENTATOR: Okay. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: But I have the list,
yes. (Laughs) But I’m also used to protect classified information,
but I think… PRESENTATOR: Note to self: we have to find
that list. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Actually I think some
of them would be happy to publish it themselves, but again as I told you politically it is
a bit of a sensitive issue because if you with one hand cut in welfare programs and
with the other hand increase defence investments you may be faced with domestic political problems. So it’s not always highlighted, but I have
noted it in my book, that’s the good news. Finally about partnerships we have some ideas,
my vision would be to see partners well integrated in our smart defence and connected forces
initiatives. I mean connected forces for instance, to connect
our forces to make sure that they maintain and develop their ability to work and operate
together. That’s very important, not just for allies,
but also for partners. PRESENTATOR: I have a question on perceptions
of NATO in other parts of the planet. You mentioned NATO not being a global policeman
but that NATO needs to develop its awareness of the rest of the world, and China of course
it’s the big strategic question of the day. Now we at Carnegie conduct a series of video
conferences between NATO headquarters and our office in Beijing, and then we bring in
Chinese scholars, Europeanists, defence scholars, some of them actually with a NATO specialization,
and they know a lot about NATO, they know about documents and questions and political
issues of the day, and then you have these wonderful discussions. And then something strange happens in these
discussions. After about an hour when you think everything’s
wonderful and you’ve really done a great effort, then all of these people, and they’re the
cream of the crop on the Chinese side, will completely subscribe to the idea that NATO
is just another building block in the idea of Western encirclement of China. We’re out there to get them, it’s big conspiracy,
and NATO is one element in this. And they believe that. I mean you press them on this, I mean you
want to pull your hair out after that nice discussion, and then you get that kind of
message. What’s your message for these people? ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: That’s… First of all that it demonstrates the need
for dialogue and exchange of views so that misperceptions can be avoided, and that’s
of course a very important part of our dialogue with the Chinese. And secondly it is my clear view that in today’s
world we need to strengthen what we call cooperative security. We want a China that plays a constructive
role in upholding international peace and security, we have the same goal, and our only
intention is to engage in that dialogue with China and ensure that we can complement each
other in upholding international peace and security. And finally I think it’s also important to
tell the Chinese that in a number of areas we do have common security interests. One issue of course is maritime security,
particularly when it comes to counter piracy. Also the Chinese are very much dependent on
a global trade, free sea lanes, and actually we cooperate with the Chinese when it comes
to counter piracy. PRESENTATOR: Very good. I think we take another round of questions. I’m waiting for your hands. There’s one, the lady here, no it’s not a
lady, this is a gentleman, I’m sorry. And there’s somebody all the way in the back,
and then we have Ambassador Purini (sp.), and then we’ll see where we are with those. We might want to take another one. So it’s this gentleman here first. Q: Thank you. Good morning Secretary General. How do you want to stabilize a region as large
as Northern Africa and the Sahara region where al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb seems to be
getting stronger and find places to hide and illicit arms are spreading? Is the support of non-democratic governments
like Morocco an answer for this? PRESENTATOR: Thank you very much. And then there’s another question all the
way in the back. Yes please. Q: Yeah, good morning. First of all three days ago the Turkish Air
Force shut down a Syrian helicopter at the border after the helicopter violated the Turkish
air space. I just wonder how does NATO evaluate this
action taken from Turkey? PRESENTATOR: All right. Another one, and Ambassador Purini (sp.) all
the way here in the front, another question. Ambassador Antonio Puri Purini (Italy): Yes,
Secretary General, about nine hours ago NBC released an interview of the Iranian president. Mr. Rouhani said: “We’ve never pursued or
sought a nuclear weapon, we’ll never do so”. What’s your comment on this? PRESENTATOR: All right, and it think this
leaves us space for another question. I saw a few arms up there. I think this gentleman on the side there,
yes. VINCENT HUBIN (United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs): Thank you. Good morning, my name is Vincent Hubin, I’m
representing the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in
Brussels. I have a question on Afghanistan. We are increasingly concerned that the security
situation is deteriorating in many parts of the country, that we have more and more casualties
among women and children in particular due to explosive remnants of war and unexploded
ordinance, but we’re also increasingly concerned about the humanitarian access in the country
and what will happen as the troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan. I would like that if you could share your
views on engagement with the Afghan authorities and what the prospects are with regards to
how we deliver humanitarian aid and how we reach the people affected and how we deal
with unexploded ordinance and other remnants of war. Thank you. PRESENTATOR: Thank you very much. That’s the first reference to Afghanistan
I guess and this is an interesting development. Stabilization of the area, Syria, Iran, and
then Afghanistan. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes, first on North
Africa, yes developments are a matter of concern. As I indicated in my introduction this morning,
I think one possible way forward when we’re speaking about NATO is to develop within NATO
a capacity to help partners and individual nations to develop their own capacity to deal
with security challenges. I mentioned Libya as an example, and obviously
the security situation in Libya is a matter of concern, and the Libyan authorities have
requested our assistance to develop their security sector. We have right now an expert team in Libya
to explore the possibilities further and I think that’s one way in which we can contribute
to stabilizing the situation in North Africa that we can help individual nations in the
region to develop and strengthen their own security sector. On the helicopter incident, the Turks have
informed NATO about that incident and according to that piece of information the helicopter
had violated Turkish air space and that’s why the Turkish authorities reacted as they
did, and I have no reason to doubt the information we have received from Turkey. On Iran, I have been very encouraged by recent
statements and indications from the new Iranian leadership, notably of course the president. I hope it will open a possibility for a political
and diplomatic solution to the dispute on the Iranian nuclear program. I think it’s also in Iran’s self-interest
to engage constructively with the international community, and if what we have seen from the
new Iranian president is an indication of a desire to engage in a more positive way
with the international community I could only welcome it. On Afghanistan, first of all, yes we have
seen a number of spectacular attacks, and of course they are a matter of concern in
particular because the targets very often have been civilians in Afghanistan. In that respect let me stress that numerous
United Nations reports show that the Taliban and other enemies of Afghanistan are responsible
for a huge majority of civilian casualties and fatalities in Afghanistan. We have really done a lot to minimize civilian
casualties caused by our actions in Afghanistan. Having said that, and realizing that we have
seen and we will see a number of spectacular attacks in Afghanistan, I also have to add
that according to our statistics we have seen a decline in the number of attacks in recent
weeks compared to the same period last year. Furthermore we are witnessing an increasing
capability of the Afghan security forces to address the security challenges in Afghanistan. Of course, you ask the same question as many
people would ask what will happen when we complete our ISAF combat mission by the end
of next year, and the answer is that in the meantime we have built up a very strong Afghan
security force, and while there’s still a lot to do, we have seen a strengthened capability
of the Afghan security forces and they have addressed recent security incidents in a very
professional manner, so I’m confident that they will be able to take full responsibility
for the security by the end of next year when we complete our ISAF mission. When it comes to excessive munitions and unexploded
munitions and remnants, etc., I think that’s one of the issues we should address within
our future partnership framework. It’s our intention, if the Afghans agree,
to engage in a long term partnership with Afghanistan similar to other partnerships
we have developed during recent years. And within those partnerships we were also
able to assist individual nations with the demolition of excessive munitions, remnants,
etc. So that’s at least one possibility that we
can engage in a cooperation with the Afghan authorities in that respect. PRESENTATOR: We all understand that you are
a professional optimist on Afghanistan, obviously. Often the security community finds it a bit
hard to believe that we are actually really on the kind of track for a self-sustained
security situation, but I don’t want to dwell on this too much because it’s a tricky issue
and it’s not our main subject today. I would like to ask you a final question before
we actually conclude here today. You’re from Denmark obviously but you’ve also
visited, as the first NATO secretary general, Ireland, which is a neutral country that takes
pride in its neutrality but is also agonizing over its neutrality. What is going to happen first: Ireland joining
NATO or Denmark joining the European defence policy? ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: (Laughs) It’s a difficult
question but I think there’s a fair chance that Denmark would join the European… the
EU defence policy first based on what I have learned in both countries. Yes, I think there is a fair chance. The fact is that actually there is a broad
political agreement in the Danish parliament that the Danish exception from the EU defence
policy is absurd and it is damaging for Danish interests, and hadn’t it been for the euro
crisis I think that question would have been put to a referendum long ago. But you also have to understand that the whole
euro crisis casts a shadow over many EU questions, so it’s very difficult for a government to
put any EU question to a referendum right now, and I think that, that’s my analysis,
that’s the basic reason why it hasn’t been done already, because there is a clear sense
in Denmark that Denmark should participate fully. Let me remind you that Denmark for quite some
years has pursued a very activistic foreign and security policy. Denmark is a very active contributor to many
international military operations and obviously it’s absurd that the only kind of military
operations that Denmark can’t contribute to are the EU-led operations. So I’m sure one day that exception will be
removed, but it requires a referendum. PRESENTATOR: Fantastic. Thank you very much for ending on a note of
hope and optimism. Thanks again for joining us at Carnegie for
the discussion about the future of NATO and European security. Good luck for the time in the run up to the
new summit and for the projects, the big projects that you’ve taken on as your own homework,
and we hope to see you again at Carnegie Europe at some point in the future. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Thank you. PRESENTATOR: Thank you very much.

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