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Press briefing on Libya by NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu, joined by NATO Military Committee Chairman Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola and Commander of Operation Unified Protector , Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard (Opening remarks)

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

31 Mar. 2011

Press briefing

Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson): Good afternoon – welcome here in Brussels and hello to colleagues joining us by video teleconference from Naples.

I expect you’ve seen the statement that the Secretary General issued earlier. It’s short so I will read it for those of you who haven’t:

“On Thursday morning at 0600 GMT, NATO took sole command of international air operations over Libya. The Alliance has the assets in place to conduct its tasks under Operation Unified Protector – the arms embargo, no-fly zone and actions to protect civilians and civilian centres. In line with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, NATO’s focus is on protecting civilians and civilian-populated areas against the threat of attack.“

The Secretary General is in Stockholm today. You will find his speech on the NATO website as soon as he delivers it this afternoon. I expect he will express strong appreciation for the decision of the Swedish government to make a significant contribution to our UN-mandated operation for Libya.

Obviously, we can’t prejudge the debate in the Swedish parliament later hold this week on the pledge. What is clear is that Sweden is a valued and long-standing partner in our missions -- from Afghanistan to the Balkans. And NATO will do its utmost to involve all partners in reaching all decisions concerning our operations for Libya – as we do in all operations.

In fact, yesterday, the North Atlantic Council – the ambassadors of all 28 Allies – informed our partners about what we are doing in support of the United Nations resolution. We invited the nations that are part of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and other partners around the globe. I can tell you it was a big room, and the room was full.

And on Tuesday, the Secretary General took part in the London conference, together with leaders and foreign ministers from over forty nations and organisations. The conference sent a strong and clear message – the whole world is committed to protect the people of Libya. As the chair’s statement noted, participants – including regional states – welcomed NATO’s contribution in agreeing to take command and control of all military operations to enforce the UN resolutions. And it also made clear that the North Atlantic Council, meeting alongside its coalition partners, will provide the executive political direction to NATO operations.

At the end of this briefing I will give you an update on how we’re planning to help you do your job in covering these operations. And we will be joined in less than half an hour by Lieutenant General Charlie Bouchard, Commander of Operation Unified Protector. But first I will pass the floor to Admiral Giampaolo di Paola, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

Adm. Giampaolo di Paola (Chairman of the NATO Military Committee): Good afternoon, please allow me to start by thanking you all for attending this briefing.

Over the past week we have seen NATO gradually taking over responsibility of operations in Libya.

Today we can announce that NATO has full responsibility of Operation Unified Protector – which includes the arms embargo, the no-fly zone and actions to protect civilians.

This decision followed a constructive debate among NATO political and military authorities and has been taken by the Alliance in a remarkable short lap of time.

NATO is playing its role as part of the broad international effort to uphold UNSCR 1970 and 1973 in protecting civilians and civilian populated areas in Libya, from attacks or threat of attacks.

We have directed Supreme Allied Commander Europe, admiral Stavridis to launch the operation without any gaps while the transfer of assets is ongoing. All military activities are led from Naples by General Charles Bouchard.

NATO’s mission includes not only armed forces of NATO countries but also contributions from partners. We consider regional support as fundamental, in line with the principles and core tasks highlighted in NATO’s new Strategic Concept.

NATO is operating strictly whiten the framework of Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

I want to be clear. The focus of our mission is to protect the civilian population. We know that this is a challenging endeavor and the situation on the ground is complex. We are also aware that there is no purely military solution to the crisis.

NATO is not engaged in Libya to decide the future of the Libyan people. That is up to Libyans themselves. We are helping enforce the will of the International Community to protect them from attacks so that they can start shaping and deciding of their future, at hat better future for them and their community.

Now, I will be happy to take your questions, if any.



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