Sept. 19, 1996

Speech by the Secretary General

"NATO: Shaping Up for the Future"

NATO is in good shape. In Bosnia, most obviously, it has demonstrated its fitness by putting together a unique force that is moving the country towards an achievable peace. The enlargement of the Alliance is well on track. And even the debate about the "Europeanisation" of NATO has now become more a question of organisation than of principle.

There are, however, a number of respected strategic analysts who are asking some fundamental questions about the very value of alliances in todays security context. At the recent IISS Annual Conference in Dresden, for example, I noted that some argued that the concept of alliances is in existential crisis and that the Allies are suffering from "Alliance fatigue". I also noted that some expressed concern about a perceived trend towards US unilateralism.

I would, however, strongly take issue on both of these counts. Indeed, with the prospect of the development of a European Security and Defence Identity, and France and Spain being fully engaged within the military structure of NATO, I believe that the Alliance's effectiveness and cohesion has grown measurably in recent years. And my experience during my first year as NATO Secretary General demonstrates clearly that the US remains fully active and engaged in the Alliance and European security. NATO is a strategic Alliance, and its value is long-term. The coherence of the Alliance should be judged on how it is shaping the new security environment, not against the yardsticks that applied in the Cold War. I would like to argue that NATO passes that test with flying colours. Let me explain why I believe this.

That NATO occupies a central place in Euro-Atlantic security today is neither the result of an historic accident, nor of sheer luck. NATOs owes its vitality to a series of key decisions taken from 1990 onwards to re-orientate the Alliance and restructure it.

At the time, few noticed the long-term importance of such decisions: whether it was the force restructuring of the early 1990s, which created rapid reaction forces, or the Partnership for Peace, which created a permanent cooperative link with non-NATO countries. In these and many more cases, critics chastised NATO for lacking strategic direction and purpose. Accordingly, my predecessors spent much of their time explaining the changes and defending the Alliance against misplaced accusations of inertia and inaction.

I would maintain that all through this period, the pace of change at NATO has been considerably faster than the public's appreciation of it. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together, and soon the big picture will become clear. In other words, the next year or two will see the culmination of the transformation process set in train at the beginning of the decade. The result will be a new Alliance, far removed in purpose and structure from its Cold War ancestor.

Clearly, the final stages of this process are no less difficult or complex than the first stages - if anything, more so. We have to come to closure on a number of issues within a very short time-frame. Let me elaborate.

First, we must take decisions on the first new members of the Alliance. The enlargement of NATO is inevitable. It is a vivid expression that in this new Europe sovereign states are free to choose their alignments and that they are not subject to the old pattern of spheres of influence. NATOs opening to the East is thus an indispensable step to transcend finally the artificial boundaries of Cold War Europe.

We have reached the point where the preparatory stages are near completion. The Intensified Dialogue process is coming to an end. The states who want to join have a much clearer picture now of what the process involves in terms of civilian and military structures, democratic accountability, operational capabilities and ability to work alongside NATO forces, and the way in which NATO and its military structure works. For our part, NATO is now getting a much clearer picture of those who wish to join. If all goes well, I believe that a decision should be taken by Heads of State and Government at a NATO Summit in 1997 to invite several Partners to begin accession negotiations.

Yet, before that decision can be made, we must have in place a policy for those who do not join or who may join later. This is the second key area where urgent work is in progress. What is required is, first, that we keep the NATO door open for future members, by continuing the intensified dialogue. And, secondly, we have to enhance the mechanism which has already created unprecedented links between NATO and non-NATO countries: the Partnership for Peace. PfP has already become the most successful military cooperation programme in Europes history.

It has been essential in the preparation for IFOR. It is helping us manage our scarce defence resources more efficiently. It improves interoperability between NATO and Partner forces. It strengthens the democratic control of military forces in Partner countries. But PfP has to be upgraded and deepened to reflect the new situation which will exist after NATO enlargement. This could entail, among other things, offering interested Partners greater involvement in NATO military planning, activities and structures, as well as in consultations with the Alliance. In short, a "PfP plus" should generate the necessary reassurance that the security of an enlarged NATO and its Partners remains closely linked.

Third, we are also coming very much nearer to the substance of a new - and permanent - relationship with Russia. We have seen what can be achieved with the Russians in the Peace Implementation Force in Bosnia. The experience of working together there will, I hope and believe, mark a key watershed, and our cooperation will not end when IFOR ends. Both NATO and Russia are major contributors to European security and stability, and we need a long-term relationship that reflects this fact. There are a number of imaginative, positive proposals in the air, including a formal Charter which would create standing arrangements for consultation and joint action between Russia and the Alliance.

Whatever the final form of our relations, the content of a Russia-NATO relationship will be substantial. Our relationship with Russia will not be an optional add-on. It will be part of a new NATO in which there will be constant two-way dialogue and interchange. By being institutionalised, increased stability and predictability will be given to this relationship and we will hopefully avoid the ups and downs of recent years. And at long last, we will begin to enjoy the strategic benefits of Russia and NATO working together.

We also need to enhance our relations with Europes second-largest country, Ukraine, which occupies a key strategic position. Like all of its neighbours, Ukraine has undergone a painful and lengthy process of transition towards democracy and market economy. It has given up nuclear weapons. Like so many others, it seeks to reforge its natural links with Europe. And the continuing independence of this country is of immense importance strategically. We must help Ukraine consolidate its evolution into a stable democracy by developing an enhanced relationship with NATO.

Fourth, we have to take decisions on what follows IFOR, whose mandate ends in December. Over the past few months, the elections which took place last weekend in Bosnia have been at the centre of our attention, as they are a key step in the process of building the institutions of a common state. These elections represent a major milestone on the road to peace and stability. During the next weeks following the elections, the international community must help the young republic establish the common institutions provided for in the Dayton Agreement. And we must hold the entities and the newly elected officials firmly to their responsibilities and the task of reconstruction - on the public administration level as well as the economic, social and political levels.

I believe that the international community, including NATO, must remain engaged in Bosnia beyond this first year after the entry into force of the Dayton Peace Agreement. On the security side, there may well be a requirement for a continued military presence in Bosnia after IFOR, albeit smaller and for a strictly limited term. Its objective would be to assist progress towards stability in the region and provide an environment of security while durable institutions are established and the parties fully assume their responsibilities. At the same time, reconstruction must continue and its pace must be maintained and even increased. And hardening of internal boundaries must be prevented.

Having visited Bosnia seven times now in the past nine months alone, I believe strongly that external pressure on the Dayton parties has to be sustained. At each stage of the Dayton process, the pessimists have been proved wrong and gradually from the ruins of war we have seen emerge the first green shoots of peace. This is because the international community has maintained its interest and sustained the pressure on all sides. If the international community is unflinching and resolute in its treatment of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a single state, that will be the best incentive for the parties to accept that reality and work with it, not against it.

This brings me to my fifth point. NATO's intervention in Bosnia has highlighted a reality which many had forgotten: that NATO's military structure is a priceless and unique asset. Indeed, it is something we cannot allow to wither through neglect. And for some months now, we have been looking at a new military structure which will have all the lessons of the 1990's built into it. By next year we will come to closure on a structure which will in effect be the settled, stable structure which will see us well into the new century.

The new structure will have to do three things:

First, it should be equally able to defend NATO interests out of area, as well as protect territory within it, including after NATO enlarges. That means it will be more streamlined and more flexible. The agreement in Berlin this June on Combined Joint Task Forces means that NATO will have for the first time an expressly-organised capacity for force projection and crisis management.

Secondly, it should be capable of including all existing members and new members. France and Spain are successfully integrated in IFOR and have command positions which reflect the importance of their troop contributions. I believe it makes sense for them to be fully engaged in NATOs military structure permanently - helping to shape NATO planning in time of peace, as well as in crisis. The work we are undertaking is designed to make that possible. Incidentally, it will, in my view, make no sense for new members to stay out of the structure.

Thirdly, the new structure should reflect a growing and visible European responsibility in defence and security terms. This, perhaps, is the most complex and politically charged of all the requirements that the new structure must fulfil, so let me elaborate a little.

For too long, the debate on a European Security and Defence Identity has been bedevilled by a debate on false opposites: a European versus Atlanticist defence. That debate is a sterile and unproductive one. The real question is not whether to move in a European direction or not. Everyone agrees that the Europeans have to contribute more, relatively, to the Alliance, and that they should develop the capacity to take the lead in future crises if necessary. That, as the Americans say, is a settled question.

In Berlin, we went some way in answering the next question - of how the Europeans should organise their increased responsibility. All Allies now agree that the ESDI should be developed inside NATO, and not outside it. Creating ESDI inside NATO means that we can make the best use of resources already devoted to defence by carving out a European operational capacity through the coherent organisation of European forces within NATO.

This makes sense on both sides of the Atlantic. We know that the US will not always want to take the lead in a European crisis, even though it may be anxious to support its Allies in a military action to solve it.

The problem is that, at present, the Europeans are not fully able to deal with the possible range of contingencies which they may face, except through NATO and with the US. The European Allies have no separable operational capability of their own, even though they invest heavily in NATO infrastructure. At a time when resources are so constrained, it makes no sense for European assets within NATO to lie dormant within NATO's structure. These assets should not be separate from NATO, but they should be realised and exploited.

If we can achieve such a separable, but not separate, European operational capability in the future, it should be possible, if so decided by the North Atlantic Council, for European elements of the larger structure to act in a crisis. And the new flexibility will also allow for WEU-led operations drawing on NATO assets - thus fulfilling a longstanding European ambition to move toward a strategic partnership with the US and not to remain perpetually strategically dependent.

The Berlin decisions were therefore a turning point in the debate on NATOs structure. Building ESDI within the Alliance definitively ends the sterile institutional debates of the early 1990s. We can now see that, like two great rivers converging, a European defence capability is entirely compatible with the maintenance of the Alliance as the prime guarantor of all our security.

In all the change to come, we will not lose sight of some fundamental truths. No other institution epitomises more visibly the enduring commitment of Europe and North America to each other's security than NATO. This will not change. Indeed, in an increasingly interdependent world, where risks such as those posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction can threaten us all, the notion that each side of the Atlantic could provide for its security in isolation remains the stuff of dreams or - more accurately - of nightmares.

What will change, however, are the specific ways and means of managing the transatlantic link. The United States cannot be expected to continue to take on the overwhelming share of responsibility for European security affairs, as if the Cold War had never ended. Nor can the Europeans pretend any longer that their integration process should stop short of security and defence. If Europe wants to become a strategic actor, it must tackle defence. A stronger Europe will ensure continued US commitment to European security. And only a stronger Europe can be a strategic partner of the United States in managing global security challenges.

The reform of NATO will open the way towards strategic coherence between the two great motors of peace and stability on this continent: NATO and the EU. If Russia is to play its full part in the Europe we are trying to build, then it must be embraced in economic as well as security terms. NATO and the EU working together towards the same strategic ends will have a profound effect on the evolution of an outward looking, democratic and prospering Russia. Similarly, there is the major strategic challenge of stabilising the Mediterranean region and of helping to build a peaceful, friendly, economically vibrant area to our South. The European Union must take the lead, but NATO can help by intensifying our Mediterranean dialogue. Together, therefore, NATO and the EU can profoundly shape the European political, economic and security landscape for the good. With such a great prize in view, the strategic disconnect that has sometimes existed between NATO and the EU during the 1990s is a luxury we can no longer afford.

We need to look increasingly at where NATO and the EU can complement each other to achieve our common aim - a secure, stable and prosperous Europe. The enlargement of both institutions eastward will have a profound effect on our security environment. And in many areas NATO and the EU have a common agenda. That is why the results of the Intergovernmental Conference are important for NATO. For a new NATO will not only be prepared for a more effective European contribution, but it needs such a contribution to create a more mature transatlantic partnership. To keep the fundamentals of NATO, we must change our way of doing business. Europe and North America, together, are a formidable combination. NATO reflects their combined operational and political potential, and can only be strengthened by a Europe playing a greater political and operational part in the ongoing challenge of ensuring security in the North Atlantic area.

So, ladies and gentlemen, the Alliance is moving fast towards a series of decisions - on enlargement; on enhancing PfP; on a strengthened, permanent and institutionalised relationship with Russia; on the future security requirements in Bosnia; and on a renewed military structure for the future which will enable the full participation of all Allies and reflect visibly a European Security and Defence Identity. These decisions constitute a more than adequate agenda for the Alliance in the coming months and would justify holding a NATO Summit next year. This will keep the Alliance centre stage. I am fully confident that, as in the past, we will rise to the challenge. The result of the decisions we take will be a new Alliance at the centre of a new Europe. An Alliance with new members, with new relationships with Russia, Ukraine and Partners - and with new strategic energy. In short, it will be an Alliance that will serve as the centrepiece of a New Atlantic Community.

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