Let me begin by telling you that it is a great pleasure for me to be able to attend the EAPC ministerial meeting for the first time. We are today invited to approve the 2007 edition of the PARP Ministerial Guidance. The Planning and Review Process (PARP) plays a valuable role in the development of Partner nations’ capabilities and interoperability for international operations, as well as assisting in national defence reform efforts.
I would particularly like to point out three items from the PARP Ministerial Guidance.
Firstly, Partners are operating together with Allies and contributing to security and stability in many different theatres and with a range of capabilities. The security environment in which we have to operate is increasingly complex and demanding. Although problems in the release of cryptographic material for Partners to use in operations have been identified in the previous PARP Ministerial Guidance, there has been little improvement in this area. This already existing commitment should be followed up by the relevant NATO bodies as a matter of urgency.
Similarly, the lack of access to NATO secure information systems can also present problems for Partners in terms of timely access to relevant information. As events sometimes unfold rapidly on the field, such information could be crucial for our troops as well as for the success of their mission.
Secondly, PARP is also used by nations concerned to develop their capabilities for the European Union’s purposes. Each nation has only a single set of forces. It is, therefore, highly desirable that there are improvements in the NATO-EU strategic partnership to promote closer co-operation and greater efficiency and avoid unnecessary duplication.
Thirdly, Allies have agreed a framework for potential Partner participation in the NATO Response Force (NRF), and modalities and mechanisms for Partner participation are being developed. Partnership Goals should aim to develop appropriate Partner capabilities with regard to criteria for rapid response units. Some Partners have already expressed an initial interest in participating in the NRF in the future. A number of Allies and Partners have already contributed to, or are preparing to contribute to EU Battle Groups. PARP can play a role in defining Partnership Goals that seek to facilitate standards for forces to be made available to the NRF as well as EU Battle Groups. Wherever appropriate, such standards should be the same for both formations.
As regards Finland, we are looking at the possibility for Partner involvement in the NRF with a positive interest. The new Government Programme states that Finland’s participation in NRF operations will be considered on the basis of the experience that will be gained from the EU Battle Groups. As our first readiness period ends by the end of this month, I expect us to already this autumn be able to make such an initial assessment and consequently discuss the possibilities to participate in the NRF.
Finally, I would like use this opportunity to congratulate our new Partner country Bosnia-Herzegovina for joining the PARP process so quickly after entering the Partnership for Peace Programme. I noticed that also Montenegro and Serbia have indicated that they intend to participate in PARP soon.
With these brief remarks, I can only endorse the recommendations stated at the end of the 2007 PARP Ministerial Guidance. Thank you for your attention.