''NATO in the New Global Security Era''

Speech by NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow at the NATO-Jordan Public Diplomacy Conference in Amman, Jordan

  • Last updated: 21 Jun. 2012 19:33

Your Royal Highness Prince Faisal,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for that kind introduction.  And let me extend a sincere word of thanks as well to the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Institute of Diplomacy, and the Jordanian Armed Forces for organising this conference with the support of NATO.

My main message to you today is to underline the need for greater international engagement to address the complex security challenges that all of our nations face.  I want to discuss why NATO and Jordan are natural partners in promoting that kind of international engagement and how we can further deepen what is already a very solid partnership between us.

Over the past few decades, NATO has adapted to the new, global security challenges of the 21st century – terrorism, failing states, proliferation and cyber crime.  The Alliance has turned into a very flexible security instrument -- an instrument at the service of our own 28 member nations, but also, and increasingly, at the service of the wider international community as well.   

This time last year, NATO led a complex, multinational air and sea operation to protect the people of Libya from the brutal attacks by their own leader.  We acted in response to a call by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the League of Arab States, and then a resolution by the United Nations Security Council.  But we also had broad political and military support by many of our partner countries, in particular here in this region.  And that support – including by Jordan – was instrumental to our success.

The events in Libya last year showed just how much the security of countries across the Mediterranean region is now linked to the security of NATO.  But it also showed how much we can achieve together if we act with determination and persistence to do what is right.

For NATO, Jordan’s active role in our Libya operation was most welcome -- but it was really no surprise.  For many years, your country has shown a robust commitment to peace and stability in your own region and beyond, and a profound understanding of the merits of building security by working together with other nations and organisations.

We in NATO experienced this strong engagement by Jordan for the first time back in the 1990s, when your country joined us in our effort to bring peace and stability to the Balkans region.  But more recently, of course, Jordan has also been a key part of our UN-mandated mission to bring stability to Afghanistan, and to ensure that that country will never again be a safe haven for terrorists threatening our nations.

We discussed Afghanistan together with Jordan and our many other partners in this mission at our NATO Summit in Chicago last month.  We discussed the successful transition of our security responsibilities, and the aim of Afghan forces being in charge country-wide by the end of 2014.  But we also made it clear that we will continue to support Afghanistan after that date, with a new mission focused on training and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces.  And with its specific cultural awareness and expertise, Jordan’s participation will be vital in that continuing effort.

In the Balkans, Afghanistan, and then Libya last year, our military forces have worked together very effectively.  His Majesty King Abdullah himself has repeatedly emphasised the importance of boosting the interoperability of our forces still further, in order to enhance our ability to act.  And we in NATO also view interoperability and military-to-military cooperation more broadly, as a key element of our partnership with Jordan. 

That partnership is grounded in the Mediterranean Dialogue process which NATO launched almost twenty years ago.  Jordan has been an active participant in the Dialogue almost right from the beginning.  Your country has clearly recognised the merits of working with an established political-military structure that connects North America and Europe.  And Jordan has made excellent use of the many opportunities for dialogue and cooperation that have been on offer through the Mediterranean Dialogue process.

Today, Jordan and NATO work together on the basis of an ambitious Individual Cooperation Programme.  It includes a wide range of areas for political consultation and practical cooperation -- from border security, through civil emergency planning, to military education and training, public diplomacy, and the fight against terrorism.  And we very much appreciate the seriousness of the Jordanian authorities in pursuing this broad partnership agenda with NATO.  

We welcome the designation last year of the Jordan Armed Forces Peacekeeping Operations Training Centre and the Jordan Language Institute as part of our NATO network of Training and Education Centres.  And if -- as we anticipate -- Jordan becomes the first of our six Mediterranean Dialogue partners to join NATO’s Planning And Review Process, we will be even better able to identify and prepare forces for multinational training, exercises and operations.

At the same time, the political dialogue between NATO and Jordan has intensified as well.  There have been more frequent consultations, at different levels, and on a wider range of issues.  His Majesty King Abdullah II has taken a strong personal interest in our partnership, and met several times with the Secretary General and the NATO Council.

There are many political and military issues on our partnership agenda.  But it also includes cooperation in several areas which are perhaps less visible.  We have, for example, set up several Trust Funds to help with the destruction of unexploded munitions and missiles.  That kind of practical cooperation has immediate, concrete benefits for the people of this country, and it is crucial in demonstrating the value of our partnership to the wider public.

Our meeting today is a joint public diplomacy event, and that is no coincidence.  At the political level and among our militaries, there may be broad agreement about the need for NATO and Jordan to cooperate.  But there are still widespread misperceptions among our publics, in all our nations -- about the new security risks and threats, and about the urgent need for much closer international cooperation.

At NATO we spend a lot of time to dispel those misperceptions, and to make the case for cooperative security.  But there is a clear role for our partner countries, as well, to explain the merits of partnership with NATO.  Of course, building public support for closer cooperation with the Alliance is primarily a challenge for policy-makers.  But it is a challenge which everyone gathered here today – diplomats, academics, journalists, students – can also help to meet.  And I hope that you will do your part in this effort.

Jordan is a powerful stabilising influence in a tough neighbourhood.  It has played a constructive role in promoting political dialogue and peaceful solutions to the profound challenges here in this region, including through the Middle East Peace Process.  And as it continues that strong engagement, your country will continue to have the full support of NATO Allies.

At a time of unprecedented change throughout the Arab world, NATO is committed to strengthening and developing partnership relations with countries with whom we face common security challenges and share the same goals for peace, security and stability.  NATO supports the aspirations of the people of the region for democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law – values which have underpinned the Alliance for over six decades.
 
But is not just throughout the Arab world that we are seeing unprecedented change. Globalisation has brought significant change for the whole world. It has helped to increase prosperity. It has helped to increase the free movements of goods, people, and ideas. But it has also increased our vulnerability. Today, events in one country or region can have massive repercussions around the world. Today’s security challenges are global. And they demand global solutions.

Risks and threats like terrorism, proliferation, piracy and cyber crime know no borders – and they tend to reinforce each other too.  To meet these challenges and to defeat them will require a new level of international consultation and cooperation.

That is why NATO is looking to deepen and broaden its partnerships across the Mediterranean, and throughout the Middle East and the Gulf region.  But we are equally determined to build closer links with other interested nations and organisations, wherever they may be on the map. 

For over 60 years, NATO has been the global gold standard in security cooperation. We want to strengthen that role still further. We want to do a better job of sharing our enormous experience and expertise with our partners, to enhance our training and exercising with our partners, but also to learn from them - - all with the aim of strengthening our joint capacity to deal with the security challenges of the 21st century. And I am sure that Jordan will be part of that effort.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have come here to thank Jordan for its strong commitment to provide stability and security well beyond its own borders, including by cooperating with NATO.  And I have come to underline the considerable scope for deepening Jordan’s partnership with NATO still further.

Just like the 28 member nations of NATO, Jordan has fully understood that, in this new century, the only way to achieve greater security is through greater engagement -- right across borders, cultures and religions.  And I believe that bodes very well indeed for the future of our partnership.

Thank you.