Folk Och Frsvar
by NATO Secretary General, Javier Solana
This is my second visit to your country as Secretary General of NATO. I am glad to be back here only a few months after Prime Minister Persson visited NATO Headquarters - the first-ever such visit by a Swedish Prime Minister.
While the timing of his visit was symbolic in itself - it came soon after the historic NATO Summit in Madrid - our meeting underscored the importance of NATO's relations with Sweden.
If I were asked to identify the most important feature of the new NATO since the end of the Cold War, I would point to the permanent presence and involvement of our Partners - including Sweden - at so many different levels and in so many different activities of the Alliance. The NATO of today would not be the same without your active participation.
The close relationship between NATO and non-NATO nations is only the most visible sign of an Alliance that has changed perhaps more than any other international organisation. Over the course of the 1990s we have changed our policies, our strategies, our structures. Some of these changes were reactive, to be sure, imposed on us by a new strategic environment. But while the Alliance underwent its own transformation, it also helped transform European security at large. NATO has not just reacted to history - we have shaped it. Today, we can confidently say that the contours of a new Euro-Atlantic security architecture are becoming visible.
It is this evolving security architecture, based on cooperation not confrontation, that I would like to talk to you about today. In doing so, I shall focus on the progress NATO has made in implementing last year's key decisions. I shall touch on the role Sweden has, and continues to play, in our common efforts to create a better tomorrow and make Europe a safer place. And, I shall try to indicate where we are going in the future.
First, NATO's political agenda. If NATO today is an active player in the creation of a new security architecture, it is above all because of one key judgement the Alliance made at the start of the 1990s: that from now on cooperation would be the key strategic instrument for shaping our security environment.
NATO's evolution throughout this decade has reflected this guiding principle - with last year's Madrid Summit marking the culmination of our efforts so far. NATO put forward an ambitious action plan to enhance further security and stability in Europe. The key elements of this action plan include the enlargement process, a new partnership with Russia, a distinctive relationship with Ukraine, and enhanced practical cooperation and political consultations with Partner countries. They complement the roles of other institutions such as the OSCE and the EU.
Where do we stand on these major initiatives? As regards enlargement, just before Christmas NATO Foreign Ministers signed the individual Accession Protocols for the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. This paved the way for the next important step: ratification of the Accession Protocols in the 16 NATO member states. Once ratification is complete, we hope to welcome the three invitees as full members of the Alliance at the time of NATO's fiftieth anniversary in 1999.
Enlargement of NATO - like that of the EU - is part and parcel of a new security architecture, where the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe are free to determine their foreign policy and security structures for themselves. The fact that many of these states see their future as intrinsically linked with NATO and the EU should surprise no one. These two institutions have created a historically unique momentum of integration.
NATO enlargement is not a one-time event, but a process. We are not limiting enlargement to any specific geographic area. NATO will remain open to all European democracies willing and able to assume the obligations and responsibilities of Alliance membership. It is a serious and solemn undertaking, bringing with it both rights and obligations, none greater than the commitment to collective defence that has made NATO so uniquely successful as a military Alliance.
Much intellectual effort was devoted last year to the effect of enlargement on relations between Russia and the Alliance. It is no exaggeration to state that this time last year the debate about enlargement in many ways was really a debate about Russia. Indeed, the main argument used by critics of enlargement was that it would alienate and destabilise Russia, that it would encourage revisionist and antidemocratic forces.
I maintained throughout that the chance to anchor a new, democratic Russia firmly in an undivided Europe is a historic opportunity that we must seize. What we in NATO rejected was the notion that foregoing enlargement was the price for Russia to remain on its reformist course.
By contrast, we believed that the Russian desire to cooperate with us was a genuine one, just as genuine as our desire to cooperate with Russia. History has shown how right we were. NATO's enlargement and a solid relationship with Russia are not mutually exclusive. The Founding Act signed last May between NATO and Russia shows how in this new Europe, NATO and Russia are destined to cooperate. Through the Permanent Joint Council we now have the mechanisms to do so.
Over the last months, the Permanent Joint Council has met regularly at Ministerial as well as Ambassadorial level and quickly established a new spirit of cooperation and confidence. Our Defence and Foreign Ministers have met with their Russian counterparts on several occasions and Ambassadors meet monthly. There is also a huge amount of contact at the military level. The Russian Chief of Defence Staff has visited both SHAPE and NATO. And we have a three-star Russian Military Representative based permanently in Brussels. This provides a permanent point of contact to allow the military to get to know each other in practical day-to-day dealings.
Together with Russia, we already implemented a successful work programme in 1997 and at last December's PJC meeting of Foreign Ministers we endorsed a solid agenda of cooperation and consultation for 1998.
The 1998 work programme will cover many areas, including peacekeeping, arms control, efforts against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, exchanges on nuclear weapons safety and security, defence conversion, scientific cooperation, defence-related environmental issues, and civil emergency planning and disaster relief. Moreover, we welcome Russia's continued commitment to contributing to SFOR operations in Bosnia.
While we are opening a new chapter in NATO-Russia relations, we are not giving Russia a direct say in Alliance decision-making. Our relationship with Russia will in no way overshadow our relationship with our other Partners. It will - as specified in the Founding Act - remain a transparent relationship. We will continue to keep our Partners informed about PJC activities.
While NATO has embarked on its enlargement and on a new partnership with Russia, the Alliance is, at the same time, expanding its broad cooperative agenda with its other Partners.
Most importantly, we are enhancing the successful Partnership for Peace Programme, first established in 1994. Through PfP, over forty countries in the Euro-Atlantic area have improved their capacity to undertake jointly peacekeeping, crisis management and humanitarian operations.
The last few months have seen a qualitative improvement of PfP, as Partners have become gradually more involved in the planning and execution of PfP activities. Partner Country officers will be working together with their Allied counterparts at various levels of NATO's military command structure. We have also started work with Partners on the development of a political-military framework for NATO-led PfP operations. In short, NATO and its Partners will together shape not only the conduct of PfP exercises but also of future peacekeeping operations.
Few countries have been so active as Sweden in realizing the potential of PfP. In 1997 alone, Sweden participated in 15 NATO/PfP exercises, and hosted three of them on your territory. You took the initiative to establish a PfP Regional Training Centre, open to all Partners, organizing courses on PfP activities.
Sweden also plays a leading role in the Civil Emergency Planning programme of cooperation through courses arranged by the Swedish Rescue Services Agency. You have hosted numerous seminars on the civil aspects of crisis management and played an instrumental role in developing a follow-on workshop on CEP issues in Kyiv last September. And looking ahead, I understand that your country will host a regional course on CEP and civil-military cooperation in the autumn. This is an impressive list of achievements.
In addition to deepening our military cooperation, we are also enhancing political consultations between NATO and Partner countries through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Thanks to the active involvement of Sweden and other Partners, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council has become fully operational in a relatively short period of time. We have begun meaningful consultations on a wide range of political and security-related issues, including regional cooperation.
The opportunities for Partners to work closely with NATO have never been greater. The menu offered by the EAPC and the enhanced PFP is very broad. Partners are becoming involved in the whole range of NATO activities, except of course the commitment to collective defence which remains the exclusive privilege of Alliance members.
I know that regional cooperation is a delicate subject for the EAPC, particularly as it refers to Baltic security and stability. But equally it is one of the principal areas of EAPC activity and interest. So, let me talk a little on how the Alliance sees regional cooperation developing within the EAPC format. First of all, let me make it quite clear that discussions on regional issues will not lead to the creation of "regional clubs" within the EAPC, nor will they intend to institutionalize geographical splits between, say, countries in North-Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
Rather, regional cooperation within the EAPC will be open for all to participate. They will be conducted on an ad-hoc basis, to support the broader framework of creating security and stability in all of Europe. Regional cooperation within the EAPC will never become detached from this overall framework. It complements other stability, and security-enhancing initiatives in your region - such as the U.S. - Baltic Cooperation Charter, signed only a few days ago in Washington.
Looking ahead, we will use the EAPC Action Plan endorsed by EAPC Foreign Ministers last December to develop pragmatic and realistic approaches for the benefit of all members. This Action Plan defines a number of subject areas where Partners and the Alliance will work together. Let me here congratulate Sweden for your proposal to co-host with the US a seminar on defence-related environmental issues.
Never before has NATO's pan-European vocation been more visible. Through the Alliance's cooperative and constructive approach, almost all countries in the Euro-Atlantic area are now bound together in a common Commitment to a more peaceful, stable future.
This commitment is not just rhetorical. Nowhere is it more evident than in Bosnia, where soldiers of more than 30 countries are united in a true coalition for peace. Together, Allies and Partners have brought peace and hope to that shattered country. Equally significant, the international presence in Bosnia has shown how different international institutions, agencies and non-governmental organisations can and do work together to a common goal. Just like the team effort of the different military contingents within SFOR, we are witnessing a genuine team effort of organisations in Bosnia.
With SFOR forces securing the peace on the ground, the OSCE was able to organize the first free municipal elections in Bosnia; in the Bosnian Federation - again with SFOR's assistance - joint police forces are being formed under the auspices of the UN International Police Task Force. NATO, the OSCE, the UN and countless non-governmental organizations are true partners in peace support. The practical experience we have gained in working together bodes well for the future.
The success of IFOR and SFOR is the success of PFP. Partners have been involved from the start. The benefits of common operating procedures and familiarity enabled us to assemble and deploy a multinational coalition in a very short period of time. Sweden has been an important contributor and deserves special credit for having sent an infantry battalion to the sensitive area of Doboj, in northern Bosnia. During my visit to the NORDPOL brigade last year, I was deeply impressed by the Swedish contingent's dedication and professionalism. You can be proud of your armed forces.
NATO remains committed to the full and unconditional implementation of the Peace Agreement and to the establishment of Bosnia as a single, democratic and multi-ethnic state. Compared to when we first deployed two years ago, much progress has been achieved. Most importantly, SFOR troops have put an end to Europe's bloodiest conflict since the end of World War II. We have rebuilt large parts of Bosnia's infrastructure and are helping with the resettlement of refugees.
Let me give you one very personal example of how far we have come: In the summer of 1995, I landed at Sarajevo airport in crossfire. I spent a night at the Holiday Inn without water, without electricity, without glass in the windows. Just getting to Sarajevo was a feat in itself. The following year, 1996, it was difficult to land now at Sarajevo Airport, but at least we weren't shot at. By then, IFOR had stopped the fighting and we were able to hold a Press Conference at the Holiday Inn. I visit Sarajevo at least once a month now. Taking a plane there and back in a day is routine. And when I arrive, at 8 in the morning, instead of the signs of war there are rows of taxis. We are witnessing, slow, but steady progress on many fronts. But we are aware that, despite recent progress, peace, and the institutions of civil society to uphold it, remain fragile.
The Peace Agreement must continue to be implemented in an environment of general security. NATO Foreign Ministers last December asked the NATO Military Authorities to develop options for a NATO-led military presence in Bosnia following the end of SFOR's mandate. Until then, SFOR will keep its forces in Bosnia at present levels. Regardless of what form our military presence will take beyond June, let me assure you that we will continue to consult with all members of the international coalition in Bosnia. On behalf of NATO, I welcome Sweden's preparedness to contribute to such a military force. This continues your fine track record of participating in international humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. Sweden has established a solid reputation as a nation deeply concerned about social justice and human rights - world wide. The legacies of Raoul Wallenberg, Dag Hammarskjold, and Olof Palme come to mind.
Sweden has made great strides in recent years to promote cooperative ties in the Baltic region. Together with your neighbours, you are re-opening channels of communication and trade that were artificially cut off for more than four decades.
Forty percent of your trade today is linked to the Baltic region. You are one of the largest foreign investors in the Baltic states and are hence indirectly contributing to the well-being of these new market economies, now one of the most dynamic regions in all of Europe.
Cooperation has also means enhancing security between your neighbours, bilaterally and multilaterally. Here, too, Sweden has provided invaluable support for Baltic security cooperation programmes such as the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion (BALTBAT), the joint Baltic Navy Squadron (BALTRON), and the Baltic Air Surveillance Network ( BALTNET). By enhancing security and cooperation in the Baltic region, your country contributes to security in all of Europe.
In conclusion, let me offer some thoughts on the future. I believe that the changes in the Baltic region are indicative of the wider changes that are occurring in Europe and beyond. They show that we are living in a world of growing interdependence, and integration.
Our major institutions must adapt internally and externally to the new environment to remain relevant. They must not remain closed. Sweden, for instance, joined the EU only a few years ago. And little over a month ago, the EU Council charted the way ahead for the next steps towards EU enlargement, a process of particular relevance for the Baltic States. All of the above developments have a direct impact on how we approach security. Here, interdependence and integration apply as well. Simply put: managing Euro-Atlantic security remains a team effort. It is a challenge that far exceeds the capabilities of individual nations.
Cooperation between NATO and non-NATO nations will remain a permanent feature of the new security architecture. Just as a workable European security architecture without NATO is inconceivable, so is a NATO without Partners. With the various interlocking security-enhancing mechanisms I have described, no country or region in Europe should feel that it is excluded.
In the future, even more Alliance activities will rely not only on the operational support of NATO members but also on the support of those, such as Sweden, who are not part of the Alliance. Sweden and NATO have already done a superb job in working together. Let us continue on this path.