NATO – delivering security in the 21st century

Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Chatham House, London

  • Last updated: 08 Apr. 2013 12:47

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Doctor Lewis,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here at Chatham House. This august institution has become a by-word for free and open debate. It is full of history, yet focused on the future. For nearly nine decades, speakers from around the globe have come to Chatham House to discuss their vision for shaping international affairs. So I can think of no better place to set out my vision for the future of NATO.

These days, it’s not easy to be an optimist. Indeed, we appear to be surrounded by professional pessimists. In the newspapers. On our television screens. In the blogs.

We see speculation that the euro could unravel and Europe could break up. Fears that the world is slowly but surely passing Europe by. And that as Europe looks inwards, our neighbours are turning away, and North America is looking elsewhere for friends and partners.

We see turmoil and uncertainty across the Middle East and North Africa. We witness the emergence of new powers -- economically, politically, and militarily. And we hear many commentators predict the decline of the West as we know it.

Undoubtedly we live in a time of momentous shifts, in a world that is increasingly unpredictable, complex and interlinked. But I strongly disagree with the vision of doom and gloom.

Europe and North America still have tremendous resources, resolve, and ideas. And when we work together, there is no greater force for positive change.

But we do have to answer the fundamental questions. How can the Trans-Atlantic community keep its global power of attraction and influence? And as the world shifts, how do we embrace that shift and help shape it?

My message today is that NATO will be a key part of the answer. In this time of uncertainty, a strong NATO is a source of confidence. It is an essential contributor to wider international security and stability. It means we can face today’s challenges from a position of strength.

For over sixty years, NATO has guaranteed the security and stability that have allowed this continent to flourish. We are an Alliance of 28 democracies. A unique forum for transatlantic dialogue – and transatlantic action. We can launch and sustain complex joint operations in a way that no one else can. We can work effectively with partners in a way that no one else can. And at our recent summit in Chicago, we took important steps to make sure this Alliance can deal with security challenges despite the economic challenges, and remain fit for the future.

At a time of global risks and threats, delivering security must be a cooperative effort. And this means NATO must continue to strengthen its connection with other countries and organisations around the globe.

Our partners have been key to NATO’s success over the past two decades. Much has been already achieved and we have reason to be proud. Militaries around the world aspire to our standards and the ability of our forces to work together. Importantly, we can integrate other nations’ contributions into complex multinational operations like no other organisation.

From Afghanistan to the Balkans, and last year over Libya, our partners have played a vital role in the operational outcome and the political legitimacy of our missions. They have made NATO stronger and kept the world safer. So it is as important for NATO to invest in strong partnerships as it is to invest in modern military hardware, and in flexible forces.

Partnership is not a choice between staying at home or going global. It is not peripheral to our business – it is part of NATO’s core business. In almost all areas, we need effective partnerships to be successful. To manage crises. To defend against emerging security challenges. And to promote stability.

We cannot deal with today’s security challenges from a purely European perspective. What matters is being engaged wherever our security matters. That means here in Europe. Across the Euro-Atlantic area. And around the globe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

First and foremost, we must finish our unfinished business here in Europe.

Alongside the European Union’s enlargement, NATO’s Open Door policy has already transformed this continent fundamentally, and permanently.

Throughout Central and Eastern Europe, NATO membership has been a powerful incentive for reform. Countries aspiring to membership have restructured their armed forces and brought them under democratic control. They have enhanced accountability and transparency. And strengthened the rule of law.

At the same time, the prospect of NATO membership gave confidence to investors. Which in turn led to economic drive, development and dynamism. And it is no coincidence that those countries who have joined NATO over the past thirteen years have also joined the European Union, or are preparing to do so.

10 years ago, I was Prime Minister of Denmark when my country held the presidency of the European Union. That year, at the Copenhagen and Prague Summits, we invited new members to join the European Union, and NATO. These were bold steps towards a Europe whole, free and at peace.

But that journey is not yet complete. Both we, and our partners, still have some way to go. On this journey, there are no shortcuts. And NATO’s door does not open automatically just because you stand in front of it.

Membership of our Alliance requires hard work and political commitment. It takes a solid track record of reform and responsibility. And it needs new resolve to settle old disputes. Our commitment to keep our door open has to be matched by our partners’ commitment to do what it takes to go through that door when the time is right. Because it contributes to the security of the North-Atlantic area. And it opens the prospect of a better future for all of us.

A more open and stable Europe has already brought many benefits to the wider Euro-Atlantic area. Including to Russia. I know that’s not necessarily how it’s seen in Moscow. But the fact is that Russia’s trade with NATO’s new members has soared. And our Open Door policy has, in effect, helped provide Russia with a strategic setting it has always wanted. Stability on its western borders.

Still, Russian misperceptions about NATO’s Open Door policy persist. As do many other myths about the Alliance. We must work to overcome this. To help Russia understand that it can build security together with us, not against us.

NATO’s security and Russia’s security are intertwined. That is why our stated goal is to forge a true strategic partnership. A partnership based on mutual confidence, transparency and predictability. Where we work together constructively in the many areas where we have a common interest, such as Afghanistan. And where we can also address the outstanding issues that still divide us.

The Alliance is not a threat to Russia. And we do not believe Russia is a threat to us. So once and for all, let’s stop looking at each other through the prism of the past. Let’s look instead for opportunities to work closer together in the future.

And a major opportunity for such cooperation is missile defence. It has the potential to be a real game changer – for the better. We must redouble our efforts to make that change, because the threat of missile proliferation is grave, and growing, and it knows no borders.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As I have outlined, NATO’s partnerships start at home, in the Trans-Atlantic area, and in our close neighbourhood. But they cannot stop there. Our economy is globalised. Our security is globalised. And if we are to protect our populations effectively, our approach to security has to be globalised too.

This is why cooperative security is fundamental to the Alliance’s way of doing business. It means NATO must be able, and willing, to engage politically and militarily with other nations, wherever they may be, and with other international organisations, such as the United Nations and the European Union.

Just a few weeks ago I visited Australia, where Prime Minister Julia Gillard and I signed a Joint Political Declaration. And this is significant: because although we may live on different sides of the world, NATO and Australia are on the same side when it comes to security. We share common values. We share the same determination to develop common approaches to common challenges. And our joint declaration lays out how we will do this. It is the first of its kind. But I am confident it won’t be the last. Because many other nations are also working closely with NATO to address common challenges.

In Afghanistan, for instance, Australia is part of a NATO-led coalition of 50 nations, the largest in recent history. Our partners come from all five continents. Because we all want to ensure that Afghanistan will not again provide a safe haven for terrorists who threaten our nations.

Our combat mission will be completed by the end of 2014. But we know that we won’t get a holiday from history afterwards. We will remain engaged in training the Afghan security forces. And we will continue to face many other, complex security challenges. So we must build on the practical experience of working with our partners in order to work even more closely together in the future.

Let there be no doubt. This is not about replacing our existing partnerships. It is not about expanding our foot-print into other parts of the world. Nor is it about NATO assuming global responsibilities.

This is about NATO assuming a global perspective. Playing its part globally, and strengthening our ability to act in concert with our partners around the globe.

Today, we hold regular consultations with all our partners on security issues of common interest. I would like to see those consultations become much more frequent, focused and substance-driven. I believe there is considerable scope for developing clusters of willing and able Allies and partners ready to cooperate in specific areas.

I see these clusters being flexible enough to accommodate different groups of partners, yet focused enough to deliver concrete results. And I am thinking of areas such as training and education, emerging security challenges, and Smart Defence.

Today, many partner countries take the opportunities NATO offers to participate in our military education, training and exercises. But this is largely on an ad-hoc basis. I would like to see a much more structured approach. And the broadest possible range of nations being involved in such activities.

One example is cooperation among special forces. This offers considerable potential to learn more, and do more, both for NATO, and for partners. We must build on the lessons that we learnt together in action in Afghanistan. So we can boost our ability to act together in the future.

Dealing with emerging security challenges is another area where we could do more together. Issues such as maritime security, energy security, and cyber security are complex. And to confront them successfully demands a high degree of consultation, coordination, and cooperation. Taking maritime security as an example, I believe there would be huge benefit from Allied and partner navies working more closely together in specific aspects, such as counter-piracy.

The third area for cluster cooperation is Smart Defence. There is scope not just for NATO and partner nations, but also for NATO and the European Union to work more closely together on multinational capability projects. We can both learn from each other’s initiatives. And the cluster approach will help to focus our efforts and get the most out of our resources.

As well as expanding the range of issues where we cooperate, we must also expand the range of nations with whom we engage. Take China, for example. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It is playing an increasingly important global role. And as an organisation which is driven by the UN Charter of Principles, NATO needs to better understand China and define areas where we can work together to guarantee peace and stability. This is why I believe we need to hold a more active dialogue with China.

There are other important countries too, such as India, with whom we should increase our dialogue and seek opportunities for cooperation.

To do all this, we need an alliance that is globally aware. Globally connected. And globally capable. That is my vision for NATO.

Ladies and gentlemen,

NATO’s partnerships play a key part in meeting the security concerns of today and tomorrow – be they local, regional, or global. The range of our partnerships reflects the world we live in. And the challenges we face.

But there is one partnership that stands out above all others. For its importance. Its uniqueness. And its value to all Allies. That is the transatlantic partnership.

The transatlantic bond lies at the very heart of NATO. It represents our common belief in freedom, democracy and the rule of law. And it provides shared leadership between North America and Europe.

Some see the United States’ pivot to Asia-Pacific as the end of this unique partnership. They are wrong. The security of America and Europe is indivisible. We are stronger, and safer, when we work together. And that is why NATO remains the indispensable Alliance.

It is around this essential transatlantic bond that we can -- and we must -- strengthen our partnerships. In Europe. With Russia. And around the globe. Because in the twenty-first century, we are all connected, whether we want it or not. Our positive connection and continued engagement with partners is a cure for pessimism. A cause for optimism. And the key for the security we all seek.

Thank you.

[MODERATOR DR PATRICIA LEWIS]: I want to open up the floor but before I do so, I'm allowed a question I think from the chair. So my question is why is it so long after the Cold War we're still struggling with this relationship between NATO and Russia, and why the missile defence issue has been such a hard sell, and where can you take it now beyond all of this history that's gone on since the end of the Cold War? How do you see changing that dialogue, you mentioned that we need to, but how, how we are actually going to dot that?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secretary General of NATO): The brief answer is that it's because of old-fashioned Cold War thinking leftovers from the Cold War and we have to get rid of that. And there may be old-fashioned thinking on both sides. But I hope the Kremlin leadership will realize that it's better for Russia to focus on real threats instead of investing so many political efforts and maybe also money in offensive measures against an artificial enemy; an enemy that doesn't exist. Because NATO is not an enemy of Russia.

I think it's better for Russia to cooperate with the West, with European Union to promote economic development, with NATO to provide overall Euro-Atlantic security which in turn will also facilitate a positive investment climate. It is of mutual benefit to Russia and NATO countries to cooperate.

When it comes… And let me add to this, a very positive experience… Soon after I took office as secretary general, I visited Moscow, participated in a radio show, probably with a relatively young audience. The radio host asks a question, made a poll, so to speak, among regular listeners: do you consider NATO a friend or an enemy? Sixty-two percent answered a friend. That's positive.

MODERATOR: So it's the next generation.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: That's my point. I think the next generation will probably have a more global western-oriented outlook. I hope so.

Now your specific question about missile defence. The Russians have requested what they call assurances or guarantees that our system is not directed against Russia. They claim that they have not received such assurances and this is the reason why we have not yet reached an agreement.

But I have three points to make. Firstly, we have explained to the Russians and we have had experts on both sides to meet. We have explained to the Russians that our system is not designed to attack Russia or undermine Russian deterrence policies. So technically it's not designed to threaten Russia.

Secondly, politically of course we don’t have any intention to attack Russia. Actually 15 years ago we signed a joint document called The Founding Act. In that Founding Act, Russia and NATO declared that we will not use force against each other. We stay committed to that declaration; I hope the Russians do the same. We are prepared to reiterate that political commitment.

And thirdly we have suggested that the best way for Russia to see with their own eyes that our system is not directed against Russia would be to engage in practical cooperation. In concrete terms, we have suggested the establishment of two jointly staffed centres that could create a framework for exchange of data, preparation of joint exercises, the elaboration of joint threat analyses, etc., so they could see with their own eyes that our system is not directed against Russia.

Well so far we have not reached a conclusion. The dialogue will continue and I hope at a certain stage we will reach an agreement.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

Okay, I'm going to open up the floor now. When the microphone comes to you, please can you state your name, and keep your comment or question brief. I see somebody here on the right.

Q: Musa Sur (?) … Channel, (inaudible). Basically I want to ask about the new world order and security. Mr. Lavrov has declared that the outcome in Syria will determine the new world order. Does that refrain NATO to interfere in Syria? And the other question is President Bashar al-Assad regrets for shooting down the Turkish jet so he is trying to defuse the tension with NATO and Turkey. What is your comment on that? Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: On the latter, I do believe that the fact that NATO has expressed a very strong solidarity with Turkey has also had an impact in Damascus and may be the reason why President al-Assad so strongly has expressed his regrets for this unacceptable act.

On Syria as such, let me stress that NATO has no intention to intervene militarily in Syria. We have expressed our solidarity with Turkey; Turkey is an Ally; Turkey has been impacted by what is going on in Syria; so it's normal we have expressed our solidarity. But NATO has no intention to intervene militarily because we do believe that the right way forward in Syria is a political solution, for many different reasons; it would be too complicated to go through all that, but that's the bottom line.

In that respect, I appreciate that the contact, or the action group meeting that took place in Geneva last weekend made some steps forward; not many, not far, but some steps forward. And I hope the international community as a whole will send a unified and strong message to the political leadership in Damascus to initiate a transition to democracy. That's the clear message from that Geneva meeting. And I think, and let me speak very openly about it, I think Russia taking into account Russia's position in Damascus and in Syria, that Russia has a special role to play to live up to her international obligations and facilitate such a transition to democracy that will accommodate the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.

MODERATOR: Thank you. I'm going to turn to Benoît Gomez. He is going to use his opportunity to give us questions from the Twitter stream from the live channel.

Benoît.

BENOÎT GOMEZ (Chatham House): Thank you. Benoit Gomez from Chatham House. I am also a Young Atlantist member, so I would like to thank you for coming to the Young Atlantist Summit in Chicago last May.

So I selected two questions from Twitter; one to bring you back to Syria. You said that NATO didn't have any intention to intervene militarily there but has NATO considered scenarios for any form of military intervention in Syria even though it's not its intention? And the second one is from Malcom Savage, a member of Chatham House: how can NATO best contribute to further progress in multilateral nuclear disarmament? Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: As we have no intention to intervene militarily in Syria, we have not prepared scenarios for such interventions that we are not considering. That goes without saying. But of course we follow the situation closely, not least because one of our Allies, Turkey, is a neighbour of Syria and of course also in the wake of the shooting down of a Turkish aircraft, it's quite natural that NATO follows the situation closely.

Now on multilateral nuclear disarmament, we adopted a document when we met at the NATO Summit in Chicago in May, a so-called defence and deterrence posture review. In that review of our nuclear posture, we reaffirm the commitment to work in the direction of a world without nuclear weapons. That's not breaking news because most of the world's nations subscribe to that vision. Already in 1970, when they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and it is at the core of that treaty to work towards a world without nuclear weapons. So that's one point.

But secondly, we have also stated in this document that as long as nuclear weapons exist in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. So we are not naïve, we have a very realistic approach to this. But we have also indicated that we are prepared to take steps in the direction of further reductions in the number of tactical nuclear weapons if – and there is a big if here – if it can take place in a balanced way; and with that, I hint at the Russian stockpiles of tactical nuclear weapons. Because the fact is that NATO nuclear nations have reduced the number of nuclear weapons substantially since the end of the Cold War. But that has not been reciprocated by the Russians. So we have to ensure full transparency and make sure that further reductions – and we are in favour of that – that further reductions take place in a balanced manner.

MODERATOR: You are referring there to the United States’ tactical nuclear weapons in Europe vis-à-vis the Russian tactical nuclear weapons.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes.

MODERATOR: Okay. Just a clarification. I have two questions here, and along the row as well. Thank you.

Q: Yes, Tony Baptiste, a member here. You quite rightly emphasized the nature of the transatlantic call about the need to for NATO to be able to respond to security challenges anywhere around the world. But a lot of these challenges nowadays come up quite quick. And do you have any plans or thoughts about how NATO might be in a position to respond more rapidly to these sort of challenges around the rest of the world, particularly I don’t know when you were taking about SF coordination whether that was part of it, or whether a more of a standing force structure would be required.

MODERATOR: And if you could pass the microphone along, I'm going to group the questions together in interest of time. Thank you.

Q: Hello, John (inaudible), a member of Chatham House. Secretary, in your remarks you outline significant scope for further collaboration between NATO and the European Union in a multinational conflict. Now looking specifically at post-conflict reconstruction and development, many commentators have argued that the forging of NATO's hard power with the European Union's soft power would be a very potent combination. What are your thoughts, and what's the roadmap in this area?

MODERATOR: Okay, and then one more question on this side. I'll move to the other side. Thank you.

Q: Hello. So you've talked about the importance of NATO's…

MODERATOR: Please say who you are.

Q: Oh, I'm Lucie Fougère (?), student at King's College and member of Chatham House. You've talked about the importance of NATO's partnership with international organizations. My question is on the relationship between the U.N. and NATO. Some people have emphasized a growing political role of NATO and the fact that NATO's growing political role could represent, could maybe clash with the U.N.'s interests in the U.S. … U.N.'s political role and I was wondering what your thoughts were on that issue. Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: First, on our ability to respond rapidly to emerging security challenges, also more classical security challenges, that's at the core of ongoing reform efforts within NATO. And we need to transform our armed forces from being too stationary to be more deployable. We have made significant progress in that direction; and actually I do believe that our operation in Afghanistan has helped facilitate that transformation process because all NATO Allies have deployed troops in Afghanistan and through that, they have been in the process of transforming their national armed forced into more deployable forces.

Furthermore, I do believe that the current economic crisis could also be used as an opportunity to actually get more security and more value for money by transforming more static structures into more mobile, flexible armed forces.

And a very concrete example of this is the establishment of the NATO Response Force, NRF, and it will be given more prominence in the coming years because the United States have decided as part of their restructuring of their presence in Europe to actually contribute in a more significant way, and on a regular basis, to the NATO Response Force. And by that we will also improve the connectivity between European military and the U.S. military; make sure that we can actually work together, what we call interoperability.

So we do all we can to be able to respond quickly to security threats, including new security threats like missile threats, cyber threats, etc.

Now on the European Union, I know that it's a very popular notion that we could have a kind of division of labour between the European Union and NATO so the European Union could represent soft power, and NATO, the hard stuff, hard power. It's not in my opinion, not that simple. I think the two go hand in hand so to speak. I strongly believe in soft-power instruments but I do believe that if we are to make soft-power instruments work effectively, we have to be able to support them by using hard-power instruments occasionally.

But having said that, taking current economic circumstances into consideration, I think it's hard to imagine the European Union implements what is in the Lisbon Treaty on so-called structured cooperation within defence because that would take quite some heavy defence investments among E.U. member states. And I think it's essential during this time of economic austerity to avoid duplication and competition and make sure that the European Union and NATO work together in a complementary way.

So that's how I see it. I have done a lot, and I will continue to do a lot to really improve the relationship and partnership between the European Union and NATO. But I think we owe it to our taxpayers to make sure that we do not… waste resources by pursuing the same programmess and capabilities in both organizations but help each other to avoid duplication.

Now finally on the United Nations and NATO, we have seen an increasingly positive relationship between the United Nations and NATO during recent years. And I would point to our Libya operation as an excellent example. The U.N. Security Council adopts an historic resolution to protect the civilian population of Libya. NATO Allies decided that the best way they could implement as members of the United Nations, they have an obligation to implement the U.N. Security Council resolution. They decided that the best way to do it would be through NATO. So NATO operated on the basis of a very clear United Nations mandate and we accomplished that operation within seven months. Our current operation in Afghanistan takes place on the basis of United Nations mandate. Our presence in Kosovo is based on a United Nations mandate. And we conduct counter-piracy operations along the coast of Somalia again based on a United Nations mandate.

So NATO operates on the basis of the principles of the U.N. Charter, and this is also a reason why I argued in favour of having a dialogue with all members of... all permanent members but actually all members of the U.N. Security Council.

MODERATOR: I am very conscious of the time. I have one, two, three, four questions that I've seen before and I'm going to stick with those for now and see how we're doing. Please.

Q: (Inaudible). I was a bit surprised that you should pass over cyber security so easily because surely we have now got enough information to understand that you don’t know whether you are going to be cyber-attacked or not. And this surely means that in particular the whole missile defence business is all those bits and pieces out there are going to be vulnerable to cyber attack. And my understanding is that the American Missile Defence Agency has not been studying the matter of missile defence cyber vulnerability. I say this after having had answers to evidently difficult questions at the RUSI Missile Defence Conference last month… no two months ago now.

MODERATOR: Yes, six weeks ago.

Q: So that's one question. The other is how is NATO going to fit with the new American strategy which seems to be largely CIA-led intelligence and attack by gun. This is something which is quite difficult for… a grouping like NATO to control and command, I would have thought. There are difficulties there. The extent to which the United States is now setting up bases throughout Africa is going to be quite a new venture for United States as a member of NATO I would have thought.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We have to move along so please. Thank you.

Q: Robert Woodthorpe Browne, bureau member, Liberal International, head of International Relations, Liberal Democrats, and a council member of Chatham House. You alluded to - without using the words - how to R2P, Responsibility to Protect. Is NATO interested in becoming proactive in this? Because obviously R2P is something that should be going on in Syria at present and quite clearly is not.

MODERATOR: Behind you. Yes. Two rows behind.

Q: Arthur Harvey from Cambridge. You indirectly mentioned the fact that NATO is the most powerful organization endowed with the most powerful military prowess that was ever known to man but yet it took us 10 years to find Osama bin Laden and to have him killed. And who knows how long the war in Afghanistan will take. Do we really invest on as you mentioned military hardware, forgetting the fact that the enemy often uses non-conventional military weapons and therefore we are barking [up ] the wrong tree by so-doing.

MODERATOR: Thank you. (Inaudible) Asymmetric Warfare. And there was a question at the back.

Q: Mike (inaudible), I'm partner with Bain & Company and a member of Chatham House. It's just building on the other speakers here, I think perhaps the issue is the supreme military strength that the NATO members bring; you know that was you know probably the most successful in history countering a kinetic threat from the group of Soviet forces in Germany. Now state actors are using you know non-kinetic means, asymmetric means. And what are your thoughts not just within NATO, but with the broader security architecture, we think about a broader spectrum definition of security, if you think about the citizens of NATO nations today, we're dealing with not… we're dealing with state actors, that are using economic means to one would argue artificially inflate energy prices and we are dealing with state actors which some analysts will say are artificially managing their currencies, which is having an impact on the wages of citizens in the NATO nations. And you've highlighted, and a couple of speakers have highlighted cyber warfare. We all depend… we've all got mobile phones today; we all depend on energy networks and telecommunications networks. And there are state actors, including some members of NATO that have now admitted that they're using cyber warfare. And as we look in the 21st century in these broader spectrum threats, what are your perspectives on the architecture for that?

MODERATOR: Thank you. And as I'm being very kind today, I'm going to just go to the last speaker here. Just one. Thank you. He's promised me to keep it very short.

Q: Yes. Hello, Nicolas Garratt (?) Standard Chartered Bank. Just a quick question. You alluded to at the very end of your speech that NATO had a part to play in supporting the American pivot throughout the Pacific. Just roughly what conventional political role would that be?

MODERATOR: Thank you. Anders.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes. I think I can combine some of the questions in one answer. Because the first question related to cyber security and it also connects with the whole question about asymmetric warfare. We are very focused on cyber security. Actually we do give… strengths in the cyber security at the very highest priority. Just to mention some examples, we have taken steps to strengthen the protection of our own systems in NATO. I think the latest statistics indicate that we are attacked 100 times a day, so you can imagine that there is a great, a strong interest out there in what NATO is doing. So we have to protect our systems more effectively and we have taken a number of steps in that direction.

As you will recall, five years ago, Estonia, one of our Allies, was attacked. We have… so it's not just theory, it's a reality. We have established a so-called Centre of Excellence which is located in Tallinn. This Centre of Excellence provides information, facilitates the sharing of experience and best practice. And we have established a unit that can help Allies that are attacked, that are cyber-attacked, if they don’t have the capacity themselves to counter such attacks. So we have actually taken a number of steps to improve our cyber security and we will continue on that path.

On the use of drones, if I understand you correctly, my answer to that is quite short because from a legal point of view I don’t see any difference between using an unmanned aircraft and a manned aircraft. It is actually from a legal point of view exactly the same thing. So the use of … the fact that a number of Allies use unmanned aircraft does not constitute a problem for NATO. Let me add to that that actually we try to promote the use of drones to improve gathering of information and intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance; and the use of drones actually helped us to conduct what I would call a precision campaign in Libya with the aim to minimize the number of civilian casualties and minimize collateral damage. And I do believe that it is widely recognized that we succeeded in that respect. Now…

MODERATOR: I think that you will find Anders that there is quite a lot of controversy about that in this country and also the use of drones generally in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, and it's a big ethical discussion here. I just want to throw that…

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Uh… yes, I am aware of that.

MODERATOR: Yes.

(Laughter)

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: … but I just indicate that I'm not concerned.

MODERATOR: Okay! That’s good.

(Laughter)

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: … but in particular as regards to Afghanistan, let me stress that as far as NATO is concerned, and ISAF, our mandate is restricted to Afghanistan. ISAF does not operate beyond Afghanistan.

ODERATOR: That's true…

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: And I speak on behalf of NATO.

MODERATOR: Right! Good.

(Laughter)

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Now on the responsibility to protect, I was asked whether one could imagine NATO take a more proactive stance on that, and then you referred to my statement on Syria; that we have no intention to intervene in Syria. Let me stress that such decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis. Because the one example is not like the other. And there is a clear difference between Libya and Syria, though what we're witnessing in Syria are just as outrageous and horrendous as what we saw in Libya. In that respect there is no difference. But seen from a NATO perspective, there is the very clear difference that in Libya, we had a very clear United Nations mandate, and we got active support from countries in the region. None of these conditions are fulfilled as regards Syria. There is no call from the region; there is no call from the international community on … for NATO action. Furthermore, there is no unified opposition in Syria; it's split, and substantial parts of the opposition in Syria are against a foreign military intervention. And you have to take all these elements into consideration, including of course an assessment whether a military intervention would lead to anything good. And my conclusion is that when it comes to Syria, a political solution is the best way forward. But to facilitate such a political solution, we need a unified and strong message from the international community, including from Russia and China.

Now on the asymmetric warfare, I have already touched upon it. It's a very interesting question, and it deserves a much longer answer than time permits. But we are very much aware of that. And of course we are ready to respond in a flexible manner also to address asymmetric warfare. And one concrete example, just to mention one example, is the so-called improvised explosive devices I think better known as roadside bombs, but actually it's broader than that, they are not that expensive but they can cause a lot of damage. And of course we have to adapt to that and counter such asymmetric warfare and we have initiated projects, also multinational projects within NATO to improve our ability to counter such attacks.

You also mentioned economic, let's call it economic warfare, and that's of course a very interesting issue that goes well beyond my position as secretary general of NATO, but let me just make one point. Economy and security are interlinked not only because of defence budgets and economics related to defence budgets, but also because countries that are indebted, running huge deficits, become more vulnerable than economically-sound economies or countries. So sound fiscal policies are also sound security policies. It's very clear that if you are broke, you can't be safe. And if you're broke, you will be dependent on other international actors, to put it quite bluntly. So we have to get the fiscal house in order if we are to strengthen our security. And that's why, as a politician, I realize that in the very near future, we will not get more… much more money for defence because also the security sector must contribute to getting finances right. That is a prerequisite for strengthening our security in the future.

And… now I can't read my own writing here. The very last question was about… Oh yes! The U.S., as I understand it, the U.S. pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, let me stress that I fully understand that the U.S. strategy… I welcome the U.S. strategy because I do believe that it's in the interest of the whole Allance that the U.S. engage in the Asia-Pacific region, taking into account the rise of emerging powers. Not because we consider them a threat, but because based on our experience in Europe, we do believe that cooperative security, the establishment of partnerships and alliances contribute to security. Actually NATO is the prime example. During more than 60 years, we have been the guarantor of peace and stability in Europe and North America. And to think that experience could also be transferred to other parts of the world, the important thing for me is that the U.S. pivot to Asia will not take place at the expense of the transatlantic relationship. And the Americans have clearly stated that, and they have also demonstrated practical examples that it will not take place at the expense of the transatlantic relationship, including a heavy U.S. contribution to the NATO-based missile defence system which is an example of continued American commitment to European security.

So it's very hard for you to force me into the pessimistic corner…

(Laughter)

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: … I'm quite optimistic about the future of our Alliance. I see the transatlantic relationship as the bedrock of Euro-Atlantic security and NATO as a clear response to many of today's challenges and tomorrow's challenges.

MODERATOR: Secretary General Rasmussen, thank you so much for your frankness, the generosity of the time that you have given us. We’ve gone over time. We really appreciate it. I can hear there are many more questions from our audience. We, clearly, the whole day with you I think to really get into it but we haven't got time, unfortunately. And I want to thank you very much for coming to Chatham House. I'd like to thank everybody here today and everybody who is watching online, I think it's been an extremely interesting session and we much appreciate it and we'd like to show our appreciation the usual manner.

(Applause)