by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at Victoria University Institute of Policy Studies and New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Wellington, New Zealand

  • 31 Mar. 2005
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  • Last updated: 02 Apr. 2009 10:14

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the first official visit by a NATO Secretary General to New Zealand, and I have been looking forward to coming here. Let me tellyou that I have been deeply impressed by the very warm reception that Ihave been given here, and so have my wife Jeannine and the NATOcolleagues who have travelled with me.

I believe that myvisit today comes at a very opportune moment. We may be literally atopposite ends of the globe, but New Zealand and NATO have come a lotcloser together these last few years. Values that we have shared formany years – democracy, freedom, basic human rights -- have come underthreat. Our security interests have converged to a considerable extent.And so it made eminent sense for Foreign Minister Goff to visit NATOHeadquarters last month, and for me to come to Wellington today, todiscuss those common interests, and how we can best address them.

Today, I would like to talk to you about the changing internationalsecurity environment and the challenges it produces before going on torelate these challenges to increased NZ/NATO cooperation.

I want to start my remarks to you today with a short trip back downmemory lane. Fifteen years ago, when the Cold War ended, many peoplepredicted the end of NATO. With the disappearance of the Soviet Unionand that of the Warsaw Pact, many felt that the Alliance could simplydeclare victory and fold up its tents as well.

Instead,NATO proved its worth many times over during the 1990s. The Alliancewas instrumental in putting an end to years of conflict in the Balkans.We engaged countries throughout Europe and into Central Asia in a vastnetwork of dialogue and cooperation. And by opening up to include tenmore member countries, we helped to create a Europe whole and free, andunited in democracy.

At the start of this new century,and especially after the events of 11 September 2001, the internationalsecurity environment changed dramatically again. And once more, NATO’srole in this new environment was questioned by some. Indeed, two yearsago, when tensions rose over Iraq, quite a few people predicted atransatlantic divorce.

Since 2001, however, there hasbeen a strong reappraisal of the transatlantic relationship in general,and of NATO in particular. I have experienced that reappraisal verypersonally in my meetings with Alliance leaders during my first year inoffice. And it was very clearly also the main message that came out ofthe NATO Summit meeting in Brussels last month, right at the start ofPresident Bush’s first visit to Europe following his re-election.

This reappraisal of the Alliance is really no big surprise. It is basedon a sober assessment of the new security environment; anacknowledgement that a number of realities in that security environmentrequire Europe and North America to work together; and a recognition ofNATO’s proven record of uniting America and Europe’s political andmilitary weight behind a common purpose ofdelivering greater security.

What are the defining features of the new security environment thatEurope and America are responding to through NATO? I want to highlightthree.

First of all, our new security environmentdemands new security thinking. Today, providing security means beingable to project stability – including to regions outside Europe. We areconfronted with a new, lethal breed of terrorism. We face the prospectof weapons of mass destruction getting into the hands of irresponsibleindividuals with evil intentions. And we must live with failing statescausing instability in their own region and well beyond. These arethreats that present themselves around the globe. Threats that we musttackle when and where they emerge. For if we do not, they willescalate, and we will suffer the consequences, right on our doorsteps.

NATO has drawn the right conclusions from this new reality. It hasturned from a “Eurocentric” Alliance into an instrument that we can usewherever our common security interests demand it. Taking control of thestabilisation effort in Afghanistan was a decisive step in thisreorientation of the Alliance. And we confirmed it by our more recentdecision to start a training mission in Iraq.

Now, letthere be no mistake; the Alliance is not turning into a globalpoliceman -- patrolling the world to root out evil wherever it mayoccur. That is something our member countries are neither interested innor capable of. But we do all realise that, given the changedcircumstances, a successful security policy cannot be based solely on aregional and reactive posture. With Afghanistan and Iraq we have takenon two immediate and very challenging tasks. And we have set in train acomprehensive programme to make NATO better capable of responding tosimilar challenges in the future.

That leads me to asecond feature of today’s security environment, namely the need formodern military capabilities. Today, forces that are geared mainly toterritorial defence are – to put it bluntly -- a waste of money. Whatwe really need are forces that can react quickly, that can be deployedover distance, and then sustained over a long period of timeto get the job done.

NATO has been pushing that kind of military transformation. We haveadapted our strategy and concepts, our military command and forcestructures, and our internal organisation and procedures. With ourChemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Battalion andthe NATO Response Force, we have multinational force packages in placethat are specifically geared to some of the most pressing requirements.And each of our 26 member nations is taking a hard look at its owndefence programmes and structures, to make sure that they are relevantto today’s demands.

We have already done a lot totransform our military capabilities, but we still have more to do. Wehave to make improvements in areas that are critical to modernoperations, such as strategic lift and air-to-air refuelling. We haveto make sure that a much larger proportion of our military forces arereadily available for operations away from Alliance territory. And wehave to arrive at a better mix of forces capable of performing bothhigh intensity combat tasks and the kind of post-conflictreconstruction work in which New Zealand forces have established suchan excellent reputation.

I want to elaborate a bit moreon a third and final feature of our security environment – which isthat tackling the new security challenges requires the broadestpossible international coalition. The reason for this is clear enough.It is because the new risks and threats themselves defy borders. Andbecause we will only be able to get a grip on them through amultilateral approach that effectively combines multiple disciplines,countries and organisations.

NATO is an importantplatform for that kind of cooperation. In recent years we have givenfresh impetus to our Partnership relations with 20 countries all overEurope and into Central Asia. We are helping many of our Partners withthe reform of their security sectors, and the development of effective,democratically controlled defence institutions. And we have also madethe new security challenges a major focus of cooperation with all ourPartners – including our special Partners Russia and Ukraine – andtheir response has been very encouraging.

We have, atthe same time, been working hard to enhance our cooperation with otherinternational organisations. This applies to the United Nations and theOSCE, with whom we have cooperated increasingly effectively in theBalkans over the past ten years. But it applies in particular to NATO’srelationship with the European Union.

The European Unionis developing as a security actor – which is not only natural but alsodesirable. It is now widely acknowledged – on both sides of theAtlantic -- that a stronger Europe will widen our arsenal of responseoptions to the new security challenges. And it is widely accepted inEurope that a stronger security role should not amount to a duplicationof what is already available through NATO. NATO and the EU are makingrather good progress in coordinating the development of modern militarycapabilities. I am optimistic that we can extend our cooperation toadditional areas where we have a common security interest, where we cancomplement each other, and reinforce each other’s efforts. And here Imean functional areas – such as the fight against terrorism – as wellas geographical areas – such as the Caucasus and Central Asia.

One region that is bound to affect our security for the foreseeablefuture is the southern Mediterranean and the broader Middle East.Luckily, we have seen quite a positive dynamic in that entire regionover the past few months. NATO is keen to help sustain that momentum,and to promote greater stability for all. Which is why we are workinghard to deepen our Dialogue with seven countries in Northern Africa andthe Middle East. And why we have launched a new initiative last year tobuild new relationships with countries in the Persian Gulf region. Bothprogrammes have met with a very positive response from the countriesconcerned.

Finally, NATO has also been eager to fosterdialogue and cooperation with countries even further afield. Given thefact that NATO troops are now deployed in Afghanistan, it is nosurprise that countries such as neighbouring China and Pakistan haveshown interest in talking with us. We are always open to developingsuch contacts and promoting better mutual understanding. At the sametime, however, the active, practical cooperation of this country -- NewZealand – with the Alliance, is of quite a different order – and verywelcome indeed.

For many years, New Zealand has shown astrong realisation that its own peace and security cannot be seen inisolation from developments elsewhere. A realisation, also, that even arelatively small country can make a significant contribution tosecurity and stability -- in its own region and well beyond. And a keenawareness that working together with other nations in a largerorganisational context can be a real force-multiplier. As a Dutchman, Ican very well identify with that security perspective. As SecretaryGeneral of NATO, an Alliance which has always been keen to broaden thebase of its peacekeeping operations, I wholeheartedly commend yourengagement.

In the Balkans, soldiers from this countryhave stood shoulder to shoulder with NATO forces for well over adecade. Together, we have helped to end the bloodshed in the region,and to create a brighter future for all its citizens. Following thehandover of NATO’s peacekeeping responsibilities in Bosnia andHerzegovina to the European Union late last year, the Alliance’sactivities are now mainly focused in Kosovo. It speaks volumes for yourcountry’s engagement that you retain a presence both in Bosnia and inKosovo.

New Zealand has also deployed forces toAfghanistan. Your country recognises -- like the NATO Allies and theUnited Nations Security Council -- that a failure to stabilise andreturn democracy to Afghanistan would enhance the risk of terrorthreatening our societies and of even more drugs being planted andending up on our streets. And so you are contributing to the UnitedNations’ efforts in Afghanistan and those of the NATO-led InternationalSecurity Assistance Force. You are assisting with the training ofmilitary and police officers, and you are helping the Afghan Governmentto extend its authority by leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team inBamyan Province.

Those are all very valuablecontributions by New Zealand. They have helped to build greaterconfidence and security – as was demonstrated by the particularly highvoter turn-out in Bamyan for last year’s presidential elections. At atime when Afghanistan is moving to crucial parliamentary and provincialelections later this year, your decision to extend your PRT throughSeptember shows genuine commitment.

NATO will be therewith you, to see through our common effort. Building on our many yearsof effective cooperation in the past. Determined to uphold our commonvalues and to guard our societies against crime and terror.And confident that, together, we can help to build a better future for Afghanistan, and deal a decisive blow to terrorism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The NATO that I have described to you is an Alliance in action. AnAlliance of 26 democratic nations who understand the realities oftoday’s volatile security environment – who realise the need for Europeand America to work together in responding to those realities -- andwho are using the NATO framework to give shape and direction to thatresponse.

One essential characteristic of the Alliance’sresponse is its inclusiveness. We realise that NATO alone cannot meetthe new global threats to our security. That we need to work togetherwith other nations and organisations for our contributions tointernational security to have maximum effect.

Thatapproach has found resonance here in New Zealand. Time and again, yourcountry has proved able to define its security interests clearly andconsistently, and to act accordingly. Your own response to the latestchanges in our security environment has been typically steadfast. Weare privileged to be working together with you, and look forward tocontinuing our cooperation in the future. Thank you.