Address at
the North
Atlantic Council

26 April 1996


by his Majesty the King of Spain

Mr. Chairman,
Your Excellencies,

I should like first of all to thank the Dean of the Council and you yourself, Mr. Secretary General, for your kind words of welcome on my first visit to NATO Headquarters.

It does, indeed, give me great satisfaction to meet the North Atlantic Council, the supreme body of the Alliance, and to do so at a time that is especially interesting and promising in the life of the Organisation.

Throughout its almost 50 years of existence, the Atlantic Alliance has contributed to guarantee peace in Europe. It has thereby not only played a decisive role in preserving the territorial integrity, the political independence and the security of the Member States - thus fulfilling the objectives of the Treaty of Washington -, but has also fostered the transformation undergone by our Continent in recent years.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Europe of confrontation and cold war has given way to a new climate of cooperation in which all European States are participating. The sight of Russian and Polish, Hungarian and Ukrainian soldiers working side by side with the Allies to keep the peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina constitutes the most evident proof of the depth of the change that has taken place.

The Alliance has resolutely faced up to this new situation. The process of renewal undertaken at the start of the nineties, that Spain has always supported, reflects the firm intention to adjust the political and military structures of the Alliance to meet the challenges that lie ahead. But at the same time it shows the will of all the Allies to preserve the tenets of the Washington Treaty and the Organisation set up by it.

For Spain the transatlantic link constitutes the first of these tenets, that any process of renewal must strengthen. As stated in the "New Transatlantic Agenda" adopted in Madrid last December, the ties which bind our people are as strong today as they have been for the past half century. And that is not only because Europe's security continues to be closely linked to that of the countries of North America but, above all, because the European and North American democracies share the same heritage and civilisation, something which makes of the Alliance a true community of values.

The necessary adaptation of the Alliance's structures is the logical consequence of its taking on new types of missions, of the requests for its enlargement to the East, and of the Allies' wish to promote the consolidation of a genuine European Security and Defence Identity.

Mr. Chairman,

Without neglecting their collective defence, the Allied countries have rightly shouldered their responsibility in the prevention and management of conflicts that break out in Europe.

The implementation of the Peace Plan for Bosnia-Herzegovina through IFOR proves beyond any doubt the irreplaceable role that NATO is able to play, as it effectively combines the North American and European efforts. In this respect, I should once again like to pay my most sincere tribute from here to all those men and women who, first within UNPROFOR and later in the IFOR framework, have devoted their efforts, sometimes at the very high cost of their lives, to achieving a lasting peace in the former Yugoslavia.

It is with profound emotion and respect that I honour the memory of those people, including many compatriots, who have perished in such a noble endeavour.

With a view to solving these conflicts, and to achieving greater stability and security for the whole Continent, Spain supports the idea that the Alliance must continue to act in a coordinated way with all the other organisations responsible for security matters. Through an appropriate network of relationships between the Alliance, the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe, it will be possible to set up a new and strong system of cooperative security in Europe.

From this standpoint, the Alliance's support for the development of a European Security and Defence Identity represents, in Spain's view, the recognition of the fact that Europeans can and should take on a greater responsibility for their common security and defence. It also means the logical acknowledgement of the fact that the process of European integration will remain incomplete as long as it does not include the defence aspects.

However, as Spain has underlined, the development of the European Security and Defence Identity must be conducted in such a way that this greater European participation in the collective defence leads also to the strengthening of the transatlantic link. At the same time, and in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of resources, my country has stressed the importance of finalising the Alliance's provisions which are necessary to implement the concept of "separable but not separate forces".

Nevertheless, the transformation of the Alliance must not be limited to its internal aspects. We must be ready to contribute to Europe's security and stability as a whole by unreservedly backing the process of democratisation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Therefore, Spain supports the process of enlargement of the Alliance that will lead to the consolidation in these countries of the supreme values of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law upheld by the Alliance.

I am convinced that all the Allies wish to advance in this process in such a way that the proposed objectives are achieved without creating new divisions in Europe. Through the effort and dedication on the part of us all, we shall be able to attain this ambitious goal.

Mr. Chairman,

Ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Alliance has resolutely upheld its determination to establish a special and firm relationship with Russia, which should be consistent with the great importance of this country and its much needed contribution to European security, and which would contribute to the consolidation of its political and economic reforms and anchor it firmly in the European framework.

I believe that all the Allies are rightly united in our resolve to achieve close cooperation with Russia, and ultimatly to establish a common security space in Europe. In this, as in the other challenges facing us, Spain will do its utmost towards achieving the best possible results.

The Alliance must also project its stability towards the regions to the South of our Continent. From its own geographical position, to obvious factors of potential instability in certain countries of our Southern periphery are a cause of special concern for Spain.

Spain is firmly convinced that Europe's peace, security and stability are closely linked to the stability of the Mediterranean region as a whole and to the establishment of strong and deep relations of dialogue and cooperation among all the riparian States.

My country has always felt that the Alliance, which plays a key role in European security, should also make its own contribution to the attainment of this objective. This was behind the initiative that it submitted at the beginning of 194 and which received the backing of the Allies at the Brussels Summit. I am sure that the dialogue initiated at that time with some of those countries will very effectively complement the efforts promoted by the European Union through the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership recently established at Barcelona.

Ever since, ten years ago, the Spanish people expressed their will to remain in this Organisation, my country has loyally and generously contributed to the political and defensive tasks of the Alliance. The Coordination Agreements concluded between our military authorities have provided the suitable framework for Spain's contribution to the common Allied defence. The presence of Spanish naval units in the Adriatic, the action of our fighter aircraft in the skies over Bosnia, and the untiring efforts of the Spanish brigade within IFOR testify to Spain's will to contribute, as effectively as possible, to the new missions of the Alliance.

Mr. Chairman,

Today the Alliance faces new and complex challenges. In order to meet them, Spain believes that we must reaffirm the permanent aspects of our relationship and proceed to adjust its instruments to the new realities. Only in this way it will be possible to use to the best advantage the opportunity offered by the historic transformation taking place in Europe to establish in our Continent a new order of peace and progress, based on dialogue and cooperation among all its peoples.

To this end, Mr. Secretary General, we trust in your clear leadership and rely on the resolute will of all the Allies, European and North American alike. Spain will also do everything within its power to keep the Alliance acting as an effective instrument for peace and prosperity.

Thank you very much.

 [ Go to Speeches Menu ]  [ Go to Homepage ]