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Press briefing on Libya by Oana Lungescu, the NATO Spokesperson and Colonel Roland Lavoie, Operation "Unified Protector" military spokesperson

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

30 Aug. 2011

Press briefing on Libya

by Oana Lungescu, the NATO Spokesperson and Colonel Roland Lavoie, Operation "Unified Protector" military spokesperson

Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson): Good afternoon. Welcome to everyone in Brussels, in Naples and all who are following this press conference on the internet – especially those of you who I know are watching us in Libya. I am joined by Colonel Roland Lavoie, the military spokesperson of Operation Unified Protector, who will shortly give us an operational update briefly.

The NATO mission is important, it has been effective, and it’s still necessary – in order to protect civilians. As long as threats remain, there’s still a job to be done. And we will get that job done. The mission will continue, in full compliance with the United Nations mandate for as long as it’s needed – but not a day longer. It looks as if we are nearly there, but we’re not there yet.

In the last week, we’ve seen vivid reminders of where the threats are coming from. We’ve all seen the grim pictures from Tripoli and the allegations of mass graves, executed prisoners, and a hospital full of dead patients. We’ve seen more reports of how the regime has been using mosques, schools and marketplaces as shields for its weapons.

We must make sure that those threats are gone, and they are gone for good -- until civilians and cities in Libya are safe. So that the Libyan people can build a new future, based on democracy, reconciliation, and the rule of law.

Once NATO’s job is done, it is for others to take over the lead in supporting Libya.
We expect the United Nations to take the leading role, and we have already seen that it is doing so. NATO could support upon request. Last week as you know, the North Atlantic Council agreed that any possible future supporting role for NATO must satisy three criteria: a demonstrable need, a sound legal basis and wide regional support. But I must stress that no decision has been taken and the focus for now remains very much on getting the job done under the current mandate of the United Nations Security Council.

The Secretary General will travel to Paris on Thursday, September 1 to take part in a senior level meeting on Libya. As you know he has already taken part in the Contact Group meetings in Doha, London, Rome and Istanbul. This will be an opportunity to further coordinate international support for the people of Libya, as they finally begin to hold their future in their own hands.

One last point I’d like to mention – which is not connected in any way with our Libya operations. There was a mid-air collision this morning between an L39 Lithuanian military plane and a French mirage jet during a training flight out of the Zokniai Air base in northern Lithuania. Both Lithuanian pilots ejected successfully and walked away from the site of the crash without serious injury. Their plane crashed in a rural area and there has been no damage to private property. The French military jet was lightly damaged, but was able to land. The incident is under investigation. The NATO air policing mission over the Baltic States continues.

Now over to Roland in Naples for the Libya operational briefing.

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