''Striking a new transatlantic deal''

Acceptance speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Atlantic Council of the United States’ Distinguished leadership award, in Washington, DC

  • 01 May. 2013
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  • Last updated 06-May-2013 11:36

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Susan,

Thank you for your very generous  introduction.   Thirty years ago, you introduced me to this great country.  
You started me along the path that’s led me here today. For that, I will always be grateful.

Let me also express my gratitude to Jim, Fred, Damon, and the entire team at the Atlantic Council. You have made an exceptional contribution to strengthening the transatlantic bond. And I'm so sorry that Brent Scowcroft was not able to be with us tonight. 

I also understand Hillary is joining us shortly, but I would nonetheless like to pay tribute to her leadership, intellect, and energy, which have served as an inspiration to us all.

For over sixty years, NATO has been our collective life insurance.   The Washington Treaty’s key principle can be summed up as “all for one, and one for all.”   Yet NATO is not  just a  military Alliance. 

The Washington Treaty also commits all Allies to strengthening their free institutions.  Promoting conditions of stability and well-being.  And encouraging economic collaboration.  Like collective defence, these too are enduring commitments.  

NATO was formed to defend our freedoms.

Personal freedom. Political freedom.  And economic  freedom.  These values are more powerful than any military might.

At the height of the Cold War, our nations struck a unique transatlantic deal.   Protected by NATO, nations that had gone to war against each other forged closer  cooperation, and laid the groundwork for the European Union.

As communism collapsed, NATO and the European Union opened their doors to new members, spreading freedom across Central and Eastern Europe.  Former foes became friends and Allies. That was the second transatlantic deal.

Now in this global century, Europe and North America face a new challenge: to protect our shared values across the globe, and shape the global agenda in line with those values. 

So now we need to strike a new transatlantic deal.

To do more with each other, not less.
To come closer, not drift apart.
To turn outwards, not inwards.

So how can we  make our community of values stronger, wider, deeper? 

My long-term vision  is of a transatlantic common market.  So I welcome the launch of talks on a transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This will stimulate jobs, innovation, growth.  And in a world where not all play by the same rules, it will ensure that we continue to set global standards. 

But my vision goes beyond trade deals.  It’s about people, science, culture.

Coming to America strengthened my personal bonds with families, colleagues and institutions across this great country.

Coming to America as high school students, my two daughters made life-long friends.

Coming to America as a college student changed my son’s life. He’s actually married to an American and settled here in the States.  And my wife and I are proud to be grandparents to Danish and American children.

That’s why strong exchange programmes   are the best way to keep us connected.

North America and Europe must also continue to work with the wider  world.   As NATO Secretary General, I have visited  South Korea, Japan, and Australia.  Because partners around the world want us to engage,  and we must. 

We may be divided by geography, but we share the same values and face the same challenges: cyber attacks, terrorism, missile proliferation, piracy.  And no country, and no continent, can deal with such challenges on its own.

Finally, we   must deepen our  security cooperation across the Atlantic. This is the foundation for everything we have.  So we must continue to invest in NATO.     And we must all shoulder a fair share of the burden, just as we all share in the benefits.  

Today, there is a growing imbalance in the security contributions made by America and Europe.  European nations need to do more, and to do better.  Because to remain America’s partner of choice, Europe’s choice must be to become the strong partner that America needs. 

The transatlantic relationship is vital for the freedom, security and prosperity of Europe and North America. And it provides the bedrock of the rules-based global order.

This vital partnership is about more than the single strand of security.  It’s also about politics.  Economics.  And above all -- people.

I will continue to work to advance that vision through a new transatlantic deal. To preserve our freedom, increase our prosperity, safeguard our values for generations to come.

So thank you very much for this award. And thank you for your continued commitment to all that we do together.