12 May 1999
NATO : The defence of our values
Article by the Secretary-General of NATO
50 years ago, the signatories of the Washington Treaty vowed "to
safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples,
founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule
of law." These values are as relevant today as they were in 1949.
Back then, they had to be defended against a heavily armed totalitarian
great power. Today, they have to be defended against a brutal political
leader, a leader whose policies of deliberately engineered hatred seems
to come from an era long believed behind us. If Europe is to enter the
21st century as a community of democracy, pluralism, and human rights,
we simply cannot tolerate this carnage at its centre. To stand idly by
while a brutal campaign of forced deportation, torture and murder is going
on in the heart of Europe would have meant declaring moral bankruptcy.
Now, as in 1949, we are called upon to demonstrate that values are not
only something to be preached, but upheld.
If anything, the Kosovo crisis has reinforced the need for the Washington
Summit. For this Summit is as much about Kosovo as it is about the future
of wider Euro-Atlantic security, because as we reaffirm the Washington
Treaty, we reaffirm our commitment to the core values on which this new
Europe must be build. The Summit will not only reaffirm these values -
it will also ensure that we continue to have the means to protect these
values when they are threatened.
The Kosovo crisis shows that the new Europe cannot be built by principled
declarations alone; we also require concrete instruments to cope with
acute crises and instability. The Summit will provide us with these instruments.
It will ensure that our values can be upheld today and tomorrow.
Kosovo demonstrates most clearly the need for diplomacy to be backed
with credible military force. We have seen that a mere appeal to respect
certain values amounts to little, if we cannot really uphold and protect
them. To have a decisive military impact on a crisis, without inflicting
undue harm on civilians or putting our own troops at too much risk, requires
a unified command and modern equipment. NATO has both. With a new command
structure, new initiatives to enhance NATO's military capabilities, and
with a new Strategic Concept, the Summit will ensure that the Alliance
maintains these assets in the changing security environment of the coming
Kosovo also vindicates another fundamental truth about how to build
long-term security for Europe: the need for a cooperative approach. After
all, security in Europe is everybody's business. We in NATO recognise
this. That is why we are engaged in active cooperation with 25 Partners
to help build a region of stability stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok.
The Euro Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Summit in Washington in which
Partners and Allies will come together, will provide us with a chance
of restating the importance we attach to this cooperation. Many of these
Partners, some of whom share borders with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
and may thus be more directly affected by the conflict, are nevertheless
supporting our efforts. Some offer NATO use of their airspace, others
take in hundreds of thousands of refugees, often at great expense. At
the same time, we are backing up our Partners as they try to cope with
the destabilising effects of Yugoslavia's policies. Many Partners will
also play their full role when it comes to implementing a peace agreement
The EAPC Summit will ensure that our Partners have an even greater say
in NATO-led crisis response operations, and NATO and Partners will further
enhance their cooperation in fostering regional security and humanitarian
One nation that has a vital part to play in helping to find a political
settlement of the conflict is Russia. It is evident that the Kosovo crisis
has burdened our relationship. Yet I believe that the full potential afforded
by the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council will be used again in the near
future. NATO and Russia are too important to ignore each other.
Kosovo could not show more clearly that the future of Southeastern Europe
affects us all. To create an environment where our common values can flourish
thus requires more than short-term action: we also need a comprehensive
vision on the future of Southeastern Europe. This aim will also be advanced
by the Washington Summit. Our meeting will be an opportunity to reflect
on Kosovo's future, once the international community begins to implement
a peace settlement. And, looking beyond Kosovo, the Summit will launch
work on a set of initiatives to enhance security in the wider Southeastern
Europe. These initiatives could complement other efforts underway in the
European Union and the OSCE. They would be another demonstration that
the international community is not only concerned with the current crisis,
but also with what happens beyond. We want to help the people in the Balkans
to enjoy peace and prosperity, as part of the Euro-Atlantic community.
The Washington Summit reaffirms our commitment to work towards a Euro-Atlantic
security environment based on our common values -- peace, democracy and
human rights. In engaging in Kosovo we show that we not only stand for
our values, but that we defend them. In making peace and long-term stability
in the Balkans our concern, we are sending a strong signal that in our
Atlantic community, these values have meaning. This is the central message
of our Washington Summit - a Summit the relevance of which has not been
diminished by the Kosovo crisis, but reinforced.