by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Bucharest, Romania
Mr. Presidents, Excellencies, Ministers, Distinguished Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is always a great pleasure to speak to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Like most of you, I am a politician. I had the privilege of being a parliamentarian for more than thirty years. I recognize some familiar faces in the audience.
Colleagues I have known for many years. And many new faces. All together, we have more than 50 delegations from Allied and partner countries across the world.
We Parliamentarians often face difficult choices. One of the hardest is whether to send our young men and women in uniform to dangerous and often far-away places.
In fact, my first security decision as Prime Minister was to deploy Danish soldiers to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. It was a difficult decision. But it was the right one.
Our host country made a similar choice. Even before becoming an Ally, Romania contributed troops to our ISAF operation in Afghanistan – a coalition whose members now include one quarter of the world’s countries.
Today, Romania continues to deploy nearly 2,000 ISAF soldiers, many of whom act as trainers and mentors while embedded with the Afghan National Army. In this and many other ways, Romania has been an exemplary Ally.
Such choices are never easy. Earlier this year, NATO decided to implement the mandate of the United Nations Security Council to protect civilians in Libya. We had a lively debate among the Allies. But we took the decision in just 6 days – and it was the right decision.
You may have seen some of the comments from Libyans on NATO’s Facebook page expressing appreciation for our operation in that country. Among others, Farid Ahmed wrote, “We Libyans threw Qadhafi into the dustbin of history. Tripoli is celebrating. Thank you NATO”.
NATO and our partners helped ensure the end of Qadhafi’s rule. The Libya operation showed that when the cause is just – when the legal base is strong – and when the regional support is clear, NATO is still the indispensable alliance.
We conducted Operation Unified Protector successfully against the backdrop of the global financial crisis. That crisis is unlikely to go away by the time we meet at the Chicago summit in May next year. Our economies and our security are intimately linked. Huge deficits and growing debt make countries vulnerable.
For that reason, sound fiscal policies are also sound security policies. Both require that we get the most out of what we spend on defence and security.
So today I would like to give you my ideas about how we can maintain an Alliance that provides the best security for a cost we can afford – despite these hard economic times. To do that, we need to focus on three issues. Capabilities, Connectivity, and Commitment.
First, Capabilities. For more than a generation, we have recognized the need to improve burden sharing between members. But during that same period, we have seen that, while Europe still has powerful militaries, the gap between the United States and the Allies has grown ever larger.
In Libya, European Allies and Canada, together with our partners, provided most of the assets. But the success of our operation depended on capabilities that only the United States could offer. Drones, surveillance and intelligence assets. All Allies need these critical capabilities. But most do not have the means to gain them.
In my view, the way forward lies not in spending more, but in spending better. The idea is simple: Prioritise the capabilities we need the most. Specialise in what we do best. And seek multinational solutions to common problems. This is shared defence. It is efficient defence. I call it Smart Defence. And it is the key to improving our capabilities and distributing the defence burden more fairly.
In a sense, prioritization, specialization, and multinational cooperation have always been at the heart of the Alliance’s mission. Let me give you some examples.
Allied air forces now police the air space of our Baltic members. So instead of spending large amounts of money on expensive aircraft, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been able to focus on more deployable troops for Afghanistan.
In this case, Allies prioritised, they specialised, and they did so through a process of careful and coordinated consultation. They chose Smart Defence.
Another good example is strategic airlift. Ten Allies, including Romania, and two partners have together bought three C17 transport planes. Alone, they could not have afforded even one.
And in 2004, in Denmark, we decided to phase out our independent submarine fleet. This was not an easy decision. But it was the right one. And we were able to focus our investment in other capabilities that we needed, and that the Alliance needed.
Let me be clear. ‘Smart Defence’ can only work if it is done together. It is not an excuse for decreasing defence budgets. Because that’s not burden ‘sharing’. That’s burden ‘shedding’.
At the end of the day, we have to decide if we want to work together to lower costs. If we do, then Smart Defence will give us the best capabilities at the best value for the best price. And that’s our choice: Smart Defence, or less defence. And if you think security is expensive, remember – it’s cheaper than insecurity.
La deuxième priorité de l’OTAN est d’être mieux « connectée ». Connectée à ses partenaires. Connectée aux nouveaux acteurs sur la scène de la sécurité. Et connectée à la communauté internationale.
Ces efforts sont déjà en cours. Depuis des années, l’OTAN bâtit des relations dans le domaine de la sécurité avec différents pays de la Méditerranée, du Proche‑Orient et de la région du Golfe. De ce fait, lorsque le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU a donné mandat de protéger les civils en Libye, l’OTAN n’a pas dû partir de zéro pour construire des relations régionales. Au contraire, l’opération Unified Protector a bénéficié, dès le tout début, du soutien politique et opérationnel de nos partenaires de la région.
L’Alliance doit également développer ses relations avec d’autres pays intéressés, où qu’ils se situent sur la carte du monde. Avec l’Afghanistan, où nous devons renforcer notre partenariat à long terme. Avec nos partenaires mondiaux qui sont l’Australie, le Japon, la Nouvelle‑Zélande et la Corée du Sud. Avec des pays émergents clés. Et nous continuerons de promouvoir l’intégration euro‑atlantique des pays des Balkans occidentaux et plus à l’Est.
Et, bien entendu, l’Alliance devrait avoir un partenariat authentique et stratégique avec la Russie. La Russie et l’OTAN travaillent déjà ensemble sur de nombreuses questions, dont l’Afghanistan, la lutte contre le terrorisme et la lutte contre la piraterie. Et je me réjouis à la perspective d’un avenir où nous coopérerons davantage encore pour faire face à des défis communs tels que la prolifération des missiles.
Finally, NATO must be committed.
Committed to the enduring values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Committed to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. And committed to solidarity and consensus through consultation and debate.
This must be an Alliance where North America and Europe are bound together in mutual security. An Alliance whose values we embrace. An Alliance that is the cornerstone not only of transatlantic security, but of global security.
Capabilities, Connectivity, and Commitment. Three features that are essential to keeping the Alliance indispensable. And three features that we must enhance when we meet for our Summit in Chicago next May.
Let me share with you my key goals for that Summit.
In Chicago, we should agree a strategic plan with Afghanistan for our partnership that will last through 2014 and beyond.
We should endorse a package of capability improvements that all Allies need.
We should declare an interim operational capability for a NATO territorial missile defence system – and I hope we can also take forward cooperation with Russia on missile defence.
We should reaffirm the Alliance’s commitment to the Euro-Atlantic integration of our partners on this continent. And we should also send a strong signal to countries in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the Gulf that we continue to share an interest in the region’s stability and security.
And I hope that by Chicago, a new and democratic Libya will be among our partners.
These goals are ambitious but realistic. I hope that you share them. And that you will support them.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If we are to preserve our security, our Allies must be more capable, our Partners must be better connected, and the Alliance must remain committed to its values, its principles and its goals. We must ensure that NATO remains the indispensable Alliance for the years to come. And together, I know we will succeed.
When I began, I spoke of making difficult decisions. We all face tough choices in the months ahead. Choices about cuts and capabilities. But I ask that you remember people like Farid Ahmed, who wrote on NATO’s Facebook page. Because they know security is precious and freedom is priceles.