Updated: 02-Apr-2004 NATO Speeches


2 Apr. 2004

Opening Remarks

by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
at the Ceremonial Session of the North Atlantic Council
on the Occasion of the Accession of Seven New Members to the Alliance

02/04/2004 - NATO
Ceremony to mark the accession to NATO

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have just raised seven new flags in front of the NATO Headquarters – symbolising
seven more countries who have joined this unique Alliance. An Alliance that started out 55 years ago with twelve member nations now has grown to more than twice as many.
Nothing could illustrate better the attraction, the strength, and the enduring value of the
transatlantic link.

The accession of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia demonstrates the principle that freedom is irrepressible. It demonstrates that nations and peoples across the Atlantic come together when they are given the chance to make their own free choice. Together with the enlargement of the European Union, today is the clearest demonstration that in Europe, geography no longer equals destiny.

From now on, 26 Allies will be joined in a commitment to defend each others’ security and territorial integrity. This is the strongest, most solemn commitment nations can undertake. Our seven new members have shown consistently that they are ready for this commitment. They know, by their very own experience, what it means to defend the values that one holds dear. They, in turn, can count on the solidarity of the other Allies.

The challenges of the new security environment -- terrorism, proliferation and failed states -- demand such strong solidarity. Just a few weeks ago, we lowered the flags in front of this Headquarters – out of respect for the victims of the Madrid bombings. Seeing those flags at half-mast, just outside our office windows, was a stark reminder of the profound struggle we are engaged in. It is a struggle that requires of us to defend our security far away from home, and in challenging circumstances. But we will prevail.

Les nouveaux membres peuvent faire valoir à juste titre que l'adhésion à l'OTAN vient récompenser le travail acharné qu'ils ont fourni pour se préparer à l'accession. Ceci devrait motiver de façon déterminante les autres pays qui partagent les mêmes valeurs, qui nourrissent les mêmes ambitions, et qui œuvrent avec nous en vue de leur adhésion. Le message que j'adresse à ces pays est le suivant : poursuivre sur la voie des réformes finira par porter ses fruits. Car la porte de l'OTAN restera ouverte.

Nous célébrerons après-demain le cinquante-cinquième anniversaire du Traité de Washington. Lorsque ce document a été signé, le 4 avril 1949, un délégué a exprimé l'espoir que, comme la Grande Charte d'Angleterre, ce Traité soit : "d'un côté un texte intangible; de l'autre une création continue".

Ces mots ont résisté à l'épreuve du temps. L'Alliance fait mieux que résister, elle s'élargit et prospère, au service d'un continent européen enfin réunifié et d'un lien transatlantique consolidé.

Permettez-moi maintenant de passer la parole à M. Franco Frattini, Ministre des affaires étrangères de l'Italie, qui interviendra en sa qualité de Président d'honneur du Conseil de l'Atlantique Nord. M. Frattini, vous avez la parole.

(English translation of last part follows)

The new members can rightly claim that membership in NATO is a reward for all their hard work in preparing for accession. That should be a powerful incentive to those other nations who share the same values, and the same ambitions, and are working with us towards their membership. My message to those nations is: staying on the path of reform will ultimately pay off. For NATO's door will remain open.

The day after tomorrow will mark the 55th anniversary of the Washington Treaty. When the document was signed, on April 4, 1949, one delegate expressed the hope that this Treaty would prove to be like the English Magna Carta: "on one side intangible; on the other side a continuous creation".

These words have stood the test of time. The Alliance did more than survive, it is enlarging and prospering at the service of a European continent finally reunited and a strengthened transatlantic link.

Let me now give the floor to Mr Franco Frattini, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, who will speak today in his capacity as President d'Honneur of the North Atlantic Council. Mr Frattini, you have the floor.

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