by Amb. Dr. Kornfeind at the 25th Anniversary of the Austrian Membership to the Partnership for Peace Programme
Excellences, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen - It is a great pleasure to address this distinguished audience today. And let me especially welcome our guest of honour,
Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Geoană. It is a great honour that you share this special day of celebration with us today.
After the Second World War many states decided to follow the path of Euro-Atlantic integration – be it by joining the European Union or becoming members of NATO, or both. These decisions were based on the desire for stability, security and economic development. Even though the tasks of both organizations may be different, they are based on the same values – democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
In 1994, at its summit in Brussels, the Alliance started an "immediate and practical program - that goes beyond dialogue and cooperation to forge a real partnership - a Partnership for Peace".
A year later, on exactly this day today 25 years ago, Austria decided to become a member of this Partnership for Peace programme. The strong believe in common values and the aim to defend and strengthen them has been our Leitmotiv - a Leitmotiv that we share as member of the PfP Programme and we also share in view of NATO-EU cooperation.
During these 25 years, working together, cooperating and coordinating, has been the best approach for coping with threats we face together. Already in the past, concerning the conflicts on the Western-Balkans in the 1990s, we saw that working hand in hand is contributing to our goal to ensure stability. Still today, Austria with her 350 troops is the largest non-NATO-contributing nation for the NATO-led operation KFOR and repeatedly holding the position of DCOM KFOR is underlining our continuous commitment.
Through our PfP engagement, Austria has contributed to different NATO activities but also has benefitted and continues to do so from NATO. Interoperability is a key factor. This enables allies and partner nations to act together coherently, effectively and efficiently. And it is essential to achieve common objectives and to participate in crisis response operations, be it under UN, OSCE or EU auspices.
Security is inter-connected. We all know that there are many challenges ahead of us. We face an environment of instability and of hybrid threats and the need to strengthen our resilience that makes cooperation of likeminded partners more important and more necessary than ever. At this juncture, let me also thank our Czech colleagues for their efforts as contact point - both here as well as in Vienna.
Traditionally, Austria's security policy has been understood as one of engaged neutrality: multilateralism, willingness to engage in dialogue and global partnerships have priority. This has also been proven by our contributions to NATO-led missions and operations.
And this has been emphasized by our strong commitment to engage in policies like Women, Peace and Security, with a strong focus on the Protection of Civilians, by our support for EU-NATO-cooperation as well as by political and diplomatic dialog.
Distinguished guests, we are here today to remember an important milestone – and to celebrate our partnership. We are determined to make sure that the partnership between Austria and NATO continues to be mutually beneficial.
H.E. Ambassador Dr. Elisabeth Kornfeind
Head of Mission of Austria to NATO