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NATO: Defence Minister's Meeting: Secretary General's Statement, 97-12-02

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DEFENCE MINISTERS' MEETING
ON 2ND DECEMBER 1997

POINTS FOR SECRETARY GENERAL'S STATEMENT TO THE PRESS

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

* We have just finished a very successful meeting of Defence Ministers. I am very pleased with the results. We have come together as an Alliance and made a big step forward in three areas which have been at the core of NATO's agenda for the past months.

* first, we have charted the way ahead on Bosnia.

* second, we have reached a landmark agreement on a new command structure.

* and third, we are moving resolutely ahead with NATO enlargement. We have defined the cost of enlargement. We now have clear estimates agreed by all Allies.

* Let me say a few words on these topics.

* First topic, Bosnia. We reviewed the twelve-month point of SFOR's mission.

* All Ministers underscored the outstanding job SFOR is doing, often in arduous and demanding situations.

* As a result, the entities continue to be largely in compliance with the military provisions of Dayton.

* SFOR has provided vital support since Sintra, to key civil implementation issues such as the municipal and RS Assembly elections and restructuring of the media and police.

* But we recognize that much more still has to be achieved before the peace can be truly self-sustaining.

* Ministers support SFOR continuing at broadly its present force levels for the rest of the mandate.

* The North Atlantic Council will consult with non-NATO contributors to SFOR before any final decision is taken in this regard.

* We also had a wide-ranging discussion of NATO's role beyond SFOR. We had an initial exchange of views on the possibility of a follow-on force to consolidate the peace implementation process after June next year.

* We have tasked the North Atlantic Council to develop political-military guidance for the NATO Military Authorities to consider a range of options for a possible NATO follow-on force after the end of SFOR's mandate.

* This work will be taken forward in the light of the Peace Implementation Conference in Bonn on 10th December and the meeting of Foreign Ministers in the North Atlantic Council on 16th December.

* I should stress that no decisions have been taken today on a follow-on force. We will need to look clearly at the mission, size and Allied contributions, including civil implementation, and a robust police capability, before any final decisions are made.

* On our second topic the command structure, it is my pleasure to report that yesterday and today the Chiefs of Defence had very positive meetings. They have reached a historic agreement on the new NATO Command Structure, approved by all 16 Allies.

* I congratulate General Naumann and the Military Committee for their months of hard work.

* Our new command structure will be militarily effective and functional and will considerably streamline the number of headquarters - from 65 to 20. It will fully support enlargement and greater involvement by Partners and will be more cost-effective. It will also support ESDI. We will now start work on the implementation of the new structure.

* I would like to salute the agreement between Greece and Turkey which took place yesterday. It is a historic breakthrough overcoming differences that go back almost forty years. It will make NATO more effective in the Eastern Aegean, a region of key strategic significance for all Allies.

* I would also like to thank Spain and the United Kingdom for the very hard work they have done in the last few days and hours to solve one issue that, as you know, had a direct bearing on the new command structure. These discussions have progressed positively. Although they continue, with hopefully a solution very soon, all Allies today have agreed the new command structure.

* All Allies welcome France's intention to continue to be involved in the work on the adaptation of the Alliance's structures.

* Last but not least, I warmly welcome the intention of my country Spain to join the integrated structure of NATO in the very near future.

* On the third topic, enlargement, the accession talks have been successfully completed and protocols of accession will be signed by the Alliance Foreign Ministers at NATO on 16 December.

* Today we reviewed an assessment of the military capabilities of the three invitees.

* This assessment will lead to Target Force Goals for all three which we will approve at our next meeting of Defence Ministers.

* Let me conclude with the costs of NATO enlargement - another piece of good news.

* NATO has done very extensive work over the past few months.

* We now have agreed that the direct costs of enlargement for NATO's common-funded budgets are estimated to be around $1.5 billion over 10 years.

* These estimates are based on a solid military analysis of minimum military requirements carried out by our military authorities.

* They include just under $1.3 billion for infrastructure spread across a 10 year period; and annual operation and maintenance costs, rising to just under $20 million a year by 2005;

* It has long been my view that the costs of enlargement will be manageable. These cost estimates demonstrate that this is indeed the case.

* So this has been a truly excellent and landmark meeting for the Alliance.

* It has carried our Madrid agenda for the new NATO another significant step forward.

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