Panel discussion

with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and former NATO Secretaries General Lord Robertson and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the Brussels Forum

  • 21 Mar. 2014 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 24 Mar. 2014 18:10

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and former Secretaries General Lord Robertson and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Craig Kennedy: I think it's clear that if we need someone to guide us through dark times, you are exactly the person.

So our next session on NATO in transition will be moderated by one of GMF's own (…).

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER (Senior Transatlantic Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States): (…) referee. That said, I will be a traffic cop and a referee. I understand emotions are running high on this topic and I'm… we're all guessing I think that this will be about the same topic as the last (inaudible) they had both Germanys on it. So, clearly, very… the man was very fond of Germany, all the Germanys.

I would like to get… I would like to get a question out of the way that has been thrown around by some of the realists, not just in my country, to my embarrassment, but also in America. And that is the question whether NATO broke its promise in 1999 by the enlargement and the subsequent enlargements after '99 taking up all the new Eastern European members. The quote that is often heard is the one by James Baker that NATO would not move an inch nearer to Russia's borders. Did NATO break its promises to Russia?

LORD GEORGE ROBERTSON (Senior Counselor, The Cohen Group): No, it didn't, and that… that alleged promise was way before my time. James Baker was not a contemporary of me. The enlargement of 2002 broke no promises at all and, indeed, was done with the cooperation of Russia. I had many meetings with Russians at that time, and although there were some members of the government of Russia who were… who were reluctant, especially about the Baltic states, ultimately President Putin stood back and said that he was… he was quite comfortable with that taking place.

I think there were other… we mustn't use the words "red lines" anymore, but there appeared to be other sort of limitations that may have related to Georgia and… and Ukraine in particular. But so there was no promises broken and, indeed, the… the NATO-Russia Council statement at the time clarified what we meant, and we said there would be no permanent forward postings of… of NATO troops. And I think the previous promise had to do with the stationary of nuclear forces to the east as well. So we didn't break any promises at all.

I had good relations with… with Vladimir Putin and with the Russians at that time. You mentioned interviewing me in the British Ministry of Defence. Actually, the Ministry of Defence wasn't in the old War Office building.


LORD GEORGE ROBERTSON: It was in the Air Ministry building, which is quite relevant because when I went to Moscow early in 2002, and I think I was the first visitor for, international visitor for, then not even President Putin; I was given a private pleading by the German, the German Defence Ministry, to take me to that famous meeting, and I was interviewed as I landed in the evening before the following day's meetings. And all across the breakfast television programs the following morning was the NATO Secretary General being interviewed in the freezing cold at the airport, with a plane in the background that said "Luftwaffe" along the side.


CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Yeah, thanks for reminding us of that.


LORD GEORGE ROBERTSON: I have to tell you, at the end… at the end of the meeting President Putin said: "Why did you come in a German plane? Could you not come with a Union Jack on it?"

But we had… we had good relations. And if I could, sorry, abuse your… your question, because it is relevant at the moment, I stood beside Vladimir Putin at a press conference and on the 28th of May, 2002, after the meeting of heads of state and government at the inaugural meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, flanked by Putin and by Berlusconi, I did a press conference. And I just want to say what Putin actually said in reply to a question. In other words, this was not a scripted comment by him, and I think it's very important at this time, 14 years later.

He said: "Russia always had a crucial role in world affairs. The problem for our country has been, however, that over a very long period of time a situation arose in which Russia was on one side and the other side was practically whole… the whole of the rest of the world. Nothing good came of that confrontation between us and the rest of the world. We certainly gained nothing from it." And he then went to say: "Russia is and wants to be and remains part of the civilized community of nations. There is nothing to be gained if our voice is not heard, and we are determined for our national interest to be taken account on."

Russia is prepared to act in accordance with international law, international rules, in the course of a civilized dialogue for the achieving of common and joint ends, and those ends have been set out very clearly in the document we signed off today. I think President Putin and the Russian people need to be reminded of these words, what they signed up to, what was the joint commitment. And they should be reminded of it regularly and constantly.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Thank you very much. So I think that was a very useful reminder, Lord Robertson.

Let me move to JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER, your successor as NATO's Secretary General. You presided over much of NATO's initial Afghan operations and, of course, over a NATO that was going global with a vengeance, that was looking to become more deployable, more sustainable, more globally engaged itself and with partners. Now, given what has just… what is happening here and what might still happen, and given limited defence budgets at a time of crisis that's still not over, clearly, at least not for a lot of Europe, was that a mistake?

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Professor, Leiden University): No, it definitely wasn't. I admit that, would we have been sitting here four or five weeks ago, this would have been the topic. You said it yourself. What is NATO, what is NATO going to do? I should start by complimenting Vladimir Putin that…. that he helps us a lot in two ways: (a), to underline the relevance of NATO which we had to do ourselves mainly in the… over the past years; and, secondly, because he might, as Secretary General Rasmussen said, he might convince politicians in the… in the Allied nations to stop the… the slide in the… in the defence budgets. That's a silver lining of this… of this horrible crisis.

We would have discussed NATO going global, NATO as an alliance of democracies. We do not have that luxury as we speak. We do not have it. What we now have to do is see that we bring political comfort to the Baltics, to Poland, to the central and European states, and, I hastily add, that we comfort Moldova, we comfort Georgia, we comfort Ukraine.

That will mean a lot of money. That's not, of course, NATO's responsibility. I think you have discussed this earlier this afternoon. That's where the European Union comes in. You… we should comfort Ukraine, but also Moldova. I mean, Putin took Transnistria already quite some time ago. And you know that this week the president of the Parliament of Transnistria said: "Couldn't we have the same status as Crimea? We are… we are Russians, after all."

In other words, I am not answering your question in the sense that we should put the discussion on hold with… a discussion which is related to NATO and its global partners. It is good to have good relations with Australia, with New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, and so on and so forth, the UAE, what we learned in Afghanistan. But we have been taught a power politics lesson by Mr. Putin, and we thought that we were over that and that we had left that situation for good. We have been taught a lesson.

We, as we sit, the majority of us, as we sit in this room, trained to think in moral categories. Vladimir Putin does not think in moral categories. He thinks in different categories, and that's the lesson. And that is why NATO as well as the European Union should now—but Anders said it a moment ago—do everything it can to prevent this crisis from worsening. It is already bad enough.

And I hate to admit it, when we have to say Crimea is a fait accompli, I didn't expect that quite honestly two weeks ago, that I was sitting here and said, "Crimea is a fait accompli." And now the question is, when we discuss sanctions, when we discuss NATO's role, NATO's position, NATO's reinforcement, that we are preventing this crisis from even getting worse than it is. A crisis which has, as you said, 19th century traces and it has 20th century traces. And we thought we were living in the 21st century. In this respect, we are not.

So there is a lot of work to do for NATO in the domain, Anders just… just told us. There is an awful lot to do for the… for the European Union.

It took me—let me finish with this—it took me one and a half, close to two years to get consensus on air policing over the Baltics. That wasn't necessary. It took much, much longer, as you know, to develop contingency plans for that region. They didn't exist, and it was considered too provocative. We know better now.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Thank you very much. Well, I will say I have been thinking along similar lines, watching Europeans battle out a consensus. Many of us in this room were around for the Yugoslav wars and will remember that it took years, it took years for the British, the French, the Germans and the Americans to agree on what needed to be done. In many ways we were too late. We finally sprang into action. Compared to those times, I think we have gotten a lot faster and a lot more decisive.

Secretary General Rasmussen, thank you for your very clear words. I think that was helpful for all of us.

You said this situation is a potential game-changer. We must stand together now to protect our way of life. That said, how serious are NATO's defence commitments towards Eastern Europe, given the U.S. drawdown and European defence cuts?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: As I emphasized in my introduction, make no mistake, we will take all necessary steps and measures to ensure effective protection and defence of our Allies. I mentioned some of the steps we have already taken, and we stand ready to go further if it's necessary to deter and defend against any threat. So you can rely on our determination to provide such effective collective defence.

As regards defence investments, I think this is a wake-up call and in all European capitals, the whole situation should now be reviewed and it is necessary to reverse the trend of declining defence budgets. We can't continue cutting deeply in defence budgets and still think that we are able to provide effective collective defence. That's the reality. We have to reverse the trend.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Right. Okay, thank you very much.

I think with this, we will take it out into the audience. Now there are two ways that we can do this. Just to remind you, you can of course (…).

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER (Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University): (…) 2008 in Georgia was not. I want… the consensus here seems to be this is just absolutely a game-changer. With all respect to… to the Russians, and I know where I stand on this issue and many of you know where I stand on this kind of issue, but, you know, Kosovo would have looked not so dissimilar from the Russian point of view, in the sense that once you separated Kosovo from Serbia, you got a refe… you got a popular result that looked very different than you would have, had you actually had a referendum in Serbia and Kosovo as a whole. I am not saying they are the same, but they are not so different that we don't even talk about them. And what happened in Georgia was very similar.

So I just want to know why this is the game-changer. Not that we shouldn't be doing what we are doing, but why there is such a consensus that suddenly the world has changed.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Secretary General, would you like to take that?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah. First, on… on Kosovo, there is a huge, a huge difference between Kosovo and what we are witnessing in… in Crimea. Let me just remind you that in Kosovo we were pretty close to what I would consider genocide. And finally, too late but finally, the international community took action. And since then, our actions have been based on a UN Security Council resolution.

So there is a huge difference. I could go further, but time doesn't allow. So, please, please, don't try to make the case that Crimea and Kosovo are similar. They are very, very, very different. Now…

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: But I don't think that's what Anne-Marie Slaughter in all fairness was doing. She was asking: Why didn't we think that was a watershed moment already? And why didn't we think Georgia was already a watershed moment? Am I right?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah, but Kosovo was…

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Why did it take Ukraine?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: … was also a sea change, absolutely.


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: But not… but not similar. And it was actually something very special that we engaged at that time in a campaign to stop genocide. That was also a very particular situation, but different.

Now, returning to… to Georgia and… obviously, what we witnessed in Georgia was also a very serious challenge. But we are now witnessing military action from the Russian side that is unprecedented when it comes to the size of troop movements, the fact that it's about the right of 45 million people to make their own choice. So, of course, there are similarities between what we saw in Georgia and what we are now witnessing in Ukraine, but the two events together really demonstrate that this is part of a… a more comprehensive Russian strategy.

And that's why I do believe that we need a firm and determined response, both in the short term and in… in the longer term.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: May I briefly add that there is, of course, a big difference between having Ukraine as a geopolitical battlefield, with its… on the base of its size, on the base of its population which has always… we all know the history; the history of Ukraine is a bit different from Georgia's history. But in principle, I do agree with… with Anders, what happened in 2008 in this regard is not basically different; the consequences could be very, very different because Ukraine is not Georgia. And that is what I see as a big risk.

And that is the reason that we have to do what we should do to prevent, from Putin having now learned us one geopolitical lesson, to… to rise the temperature as he can do every day in the eastern and southern part of… of Ukraine to start trouble, bringing in a few buzzards. I mean, Ukraine and Georgia, a huge difference. Both nations by the way, as I said before, I repeat, both Georgia and Ukraine should now be massively, financially and politically supported where we can. That's our responsibility.

LORD GEORGE ROBERTSON: I think there is also… you know, it's very easy, you know, you go to public meetings and, you know, you… you finish your evening and somebody gets up and sounds quite appalled by the fact that the speaker spent the whole of this evening talking about world affairs and did not mention the problems of Upper Volta. You know, the fact that you intervene in some place doesn't mean you have to intervene in every place.

I am old enough to remember the invasion by Argentina of the Falkland Islands and the very ambivalent position of the United States of America at that time in saying: We are keeping out of it, Latin America is very important to us as well. So, you know, I think that you can't do everything all the time and, anyway, we are a community of nations. There has to be a community of views before things happen.

You know, Kosovo is looked upon now as a sort of absolutely template for atrocities happening, near-genocide happening, action being taken, it being successful after 78 days, no ally casualties. Well, it wasn't unanimous before we went in. It was difficult to get a legal base, because there was no UN Security Council resolution. You know, we almost lost, if Milosevic had not lost his nerve, and actually we hadn't had help from Russia on the diplomatic side, you know?

So these are all very different and they can be very complicated situations, but there is no doubt about the geopolitical importance of Ukraine today.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: That said, Kosovo is also an example of just how difficult we, Westerners, with all our money and all our means, find it to then move forward democratic transformation and economic stability, even.

But I would like to hand the next question to Orysia Lutsevych. Can you remind us of your affiliation?

ORYSIA LUTSEVYCH (Research Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House): Orysia Lutsevych with Chatham House. My question is to Dr. Scheffer, actually. When this week President Yushchenko was in Brussels, he had very bitter memories of the Bucharest summit and he said that when we sat at this table and I was explaining the importance of giving Membership Action Plan to Ukraine and for the same matter to Georgia, the reason that was given by some member states was public opinion is too low, 31 percent at that time was low, you said, some member states. But he said when Spain was joining NATO, the public opinion was even lower, and he said the situation that we have today would not have happened, would these two countries had Membership Action Plan. Do you agree with that or not? Thank you.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well, that’s very hard to predict. The only thing I can say is that Bucharest was a pressure cooker because as you know, there were major differences within the alliance between France and Germany on the one hand, United States on the other hand, not yet Iraq revival, revisited, but almost.

And you also know the results. And you also know that since then it hasn’t become easier and since a few weeks it has become even more difficult, let’s face the facts, vis-à-vis Ukraine and Georgia.

And that’s why I'm not now going to tell you or anyone else here they’ll be NATO members in five or seven and a half years because we know that’s not going to happen. And Ukraine, after the government of course left the NATO path when Yanukovych came in.

So I can’t predict if this would have happened had they been NATO members. Had they been NATO members, we would have of course been obliged, as we are now in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and elsewhere, I mean, to have Article 5. That’s crystal clear.

But it’s also crystal clear that the political basis for bringing them in was simply not there. It wasn’t there in Bucharest and it is not here now. I mean, that’s reality, which does not at all mean, I repeat myself again, that we have heavier responsibilities vis-à-vis Ukraine and Georgia and at again Moldova. Let’s not forget Moldova because next stop might really be Transnistria. And Moldova is a poor country. It is a fragile country and let’s not repeat the same mistakes again.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Okay, on that note I think we hand over to Ambassador Grushko, who is the Russian Ambassador at NATO. Is Transnistria the next stop?

ALEXANDER GRUSHKO (Russian Ambassador to NATO): Well, first of all, I would like to say that this is not the best day for me because I see three sec generals sitting on the stage and I know them all personally. So how old I am. And I know a lot of stories from our history.

My second point is that I do believe that NATO is very close to have a new or old raison d’être and if this will be a choice. Coming back to, moving back to the Cold War, I would like to say that this is not the position of the Russian Federation and we do believe that we have a global security agenda which is extremely important and Russia will be prepared to continue cooperation, but on an equal footing.

Third point is also extremely important, I think, that it links this discussion with the previous one. It should be acknowledged that the policy of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, when he came to power was in fact to build strategic partnership.

You rightly said that we started from the freezing of NATO-Russia relations. We signed the Rome Declaration. This was also the result of our common visionhow to build security architecture after 2001, the tragedy.

We also proposed to launch a project called Four Common Spaces with the European Union, with a lot of things, bearing also common security, internal security space, external security space. We proposed to have crisis management agreement, visa pre- regime, a lot of things that would and should link together the European Union and Russia.

And this is extremely important, not to allow creation of such situation when our neighbours will be in a position of choice between E.U. and Russia. And that happened in Ukraine.

So we should not… for us there is no need to justify that what we do want to achieve in our relations with the west, this was genuine partnership.

And we have a lot of good examples of when we cooperate on a quite, quite, quite promising and sound basis.

Final points, two final points. Very short. We don’t need permission from NATO and you to act in line with international law. And Crimea was absolutely a legitimate case. And I do believe that NATO should acknowledge that fact and since NATO is a club of democratic countries, should accept this democratic choice of Crimean people.

It was so clear, so obvious that I think there should not be any doubt that what people have said during the referendum this should be respected.

Final point about soft power versus hard power. I think today there is a lot of debate about well, a new vision of NATO, that NATO should be in a position to demonstrate its muscles. And a lot of things being talked about the vulnerability of Baltic States.

I think when we talk about this region it is better to preserve the rights of the population and to get rid of this phenomenon of non-citizenship.

Twenty-three years have passed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but 640,000 people are not citizens only because they do speak Russian. And I think it will be the best, better solution than to send U.S. interceptors with very unclear mission.

Thank you.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Okay, well, I think we should thank the ambassador for setting out… No?


JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: If I may, I would ask Ambassador Grushko a question.


JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Because we have all of us including Russia in 1999 in the OACE chart of a European Security subscribed to the principle that each and every nation has an inherent right to freely choose its alliances. Why doesn’t the Russian Federation respect that principle to which it has subscribed?

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Please, can you hand the Ambassador the mike again? If you want.

ALEXANDER GRUSHKO: Well, first of all, this is a question, but…


ALEXANDER GRUSHKO: That’s true. This is true. There is… there is a very clear commitment, but at the same time there is also principles, basic principles of international law enshrined in all the documents that are first of all principle of indivisibility of security, that nobody will improve its security at the expense of the security of others.

NATO is free to take any decision and Russia is free to take any decision to protect its legitimate security interests. And from the beginning, we’re telling to all our colleagues and we were very outspoken in all our discussions that we do believe that if NATO goes with enlargement it will continue to produce new dividing lines, moving  dividing lines towards Russian borders.

And we said very clearly also that in some cases, these dividing lines will cross the countries, inside countries. And this is… was a very, very, very important signal. It’s up to you to listen or not, but we believe that we were absolutely right focusing on that.

And I think that when we are talking about the future security architecture, and this was an idea behind our proposal on treaty on European security, we must find the ways to protect the security of all but not relying on the instruments we inherited from the past.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Alexander, may I ask you will you accept Georgia’s rights to choose NATO membership if this is a Georgian decision? And if NATO accepts, would you accept that?

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Okay, and then we’ll stop the back and forth, the bilateral.

ALEXANDER GRUSHKO: Yeah. No, I was absolutely very clear. We’re against. We believe that this is a huge mistake to do it.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: That’s not an answer to the question, Ambassador.

ALEXANDER GRUSHKO: Yeah. No, this… this is the question. This is the position…


ALEXANDER GRUSHKO: … of my country.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Because, because when NATO did, you sent in your forces into Georgia in 2008.

ALEXANDER GRUSHKO: No, it’s not true because we were attacked. Read the police (inaudible) report and it was a very clear offence against sleeping Tshkinval, attack on the Russian peacekeepers. We lost 15 people and exactly the problem was that at that time we were knocking at the door of NATO-Russia Council trying to present our case. We were not allowed. And in few weeks, NATO has decided to establish NATO-Ukrainian… NATO-Georgian Commission, in fact to decorate Georgian leadership for this act.

And we believe this was not… what was not the way how NATO should address this situation because Russia was attacked.

I should refer to one thing. Secretary General said that while Transnistria or Ossetia and I will also addTajikistan. Tajikistan is also very important because in all these cases, this is because of Russia, because of Russian soldiers we have peace, stability, security and people are not dying. And this is also part of the security picture.

And this is an element we should be taking into account when NATO looks at the possible Russian role as an instrument for our common security.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Okay. I would suggest we leave the…

Ambassador Masafumi Ishii (Ambassador from Japan):  The general’s eloquently put the core issue here is unilateral change of the status quo by force should not be tolerated and the rule of the law should be… should prevail.

And that means this is not a Europe or United States issue. This is the global issue.

And the same thing may happen in my part of the country. So the way you solve this crisis has an impact on the future incident in my part of the world as well. So please bear that in mind.


CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: On that note, and yes, I am aware of you all, but on that note, of course it would be at least as interesting as what Ambassador Ishii(ph) just to hear someone from China here. Is anybody from China in the room who’d like to take a position on what’s happening in Ukraine?

It doesn’t sound like it. Okay, well…

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: They seem to be hiding under the bedcovers because it’s…

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: You can get back to me. Now, over here, this gentleman in the second row next to my colleague, Alexandra, has been waiting for a long time. Yes? I got you all.

MARKUS TRATOS(ph): My name is Marcus Tratos from Brazil. My question is Russia was playing an important role in Syria on the chemical weapons. What will happen now?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN : I suppose that all parties involved feel obliged to live up to the United Nations Security Council resolution on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. I mean, that’s not affected and should not be affected by ongoing events in Ukraine.

Let me remind you there is a United Nations Security Council resolution and all member states are bound by that resolution and I would expect Russia as well as other nations to live up to their international commitments according to that resolution.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER:  (Inaudible) implications. I think invading Georgia as well as Crimea were not easy decisions for President Putin because actually his world view tends to be fairly legalistic. And if you look at his speeches, he’s been like that.

And when Crimea happened I was struck by how it happened because in Georgia, when Russia invaded was militarily clumsy. But they had worked on the pretext they had tried to really create kind of moral case for invasion. And they stuck to it.

In Crimea, it was militarily swift and smooth, very well done, I suppose. But they didn’t work on the pretext almost at all. They didn’t care whether the pretext for invasion is believable. They almost wanted it not to be believable.

And I reached the conclusion that if in Georgia Russia violated the rules but later pretended it had not, then in Crimea it challenged the rules.

And I think Russia wanted to send a message that it wants different type, different principle to be valid. Basically Russia is against one pillar of European order namely the principle that ended the stage in the late 90s that countries are free to join alliances if they qualify.

Russia wants to send a message that risk is no good, and this is all about NATO allies. When President Medvedev made it clear the Georgia invasion was about NATO enlargement and President Putin was very clear that Ukraine was about NATO enlargement as well.

And I think we have some sort of parallel thing going on. Many people in the west think that Russia got way too easily in 2008. And that’s why Crimea happened. I think many people in Moscow think that we tried to send them a subtle message in 2008. They didn’t understand it.

That’s why we needed to take Crimea.

So my question is…


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: … how do we go about it? If the principle of free choice of alliance is being challenged, we don’t want to intellectually rephrase it. But we are in no position to enforce it either. How do we go about it? Thank you.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Who would like to take that question?

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: We go about it not primarily in the military domain because we can’t. Putin knows very well that we are not going to wage war over Crimea as we were not going to wage war over Georgia.

For many perhaps a sad conclusion but they’re not NATO members, so we’re not going to wage war.

What Putin in my opinion is doing is giving his answer perhaps a bit belatedly on the NATO and European Union enlargement in the sense that you have come closer to my borders. Free choice, no promises broken. I’ll now make sure, and that’s why I pay so much attention to these other nations that Vladimir Putin has started with Crimea. He might not take all the other territories but he is going to create a ring, a protective ring of nations where he wants influence. He knows that Ukraine, because it’s too big, that he cannot have exclusive influence.

But we should be careful that he does not create exclusive influence elsewhere and that’s why I’m saying that the political track is more important, is as important I should say than NATO and the military track. And what perhaps, Ambassador Grushko, I’ll answer you on one of your questions which I think are relevant.

I think… I think it was after all not the right decision that after your invasion into Georgia we suspended talks in the NATO-Russian Council.  I’ll give you that. I’ll give you that.

But on the other hand that, as you know, was also a pre-planned invasion like we have seen in Crimea. The number of forces you had on the other side of the tunnel in Georgia does not justify that this happened overnight.

But I want to give you your point that completely stopping talking to each other is in the diplomatic sense perhaps not the right way to go.


GEORGE ROBERTSON:  I would… Can I just say…


GEORGE ROBERTSON:  Because I think that Jaap makes a valid point and I hope that the NATO today that they… that the ambassador and Russia will be pulled in all the time to hear what other people think of what is going on, and to perhaps explain and for a collective examination of what the future might be because it’s very, very important that we don’t simply focus on this particular issue. We need to look at the ramifications elsewhere.

If in 2002 Vladimir Putin thought that being on one side of an argument with the whole of the rest of the world on the other side as they are today and that that was not in Russia’s interest, then they need to work out where next Russia is going to go if it’s not going to find itself in isolation.

The second thing I would say is that you perhaps were looking at NATO because you’ve got three people who hold or held the position of secretary general of NATO. But this is primarily going to be a matter for diplomacy in the United Nations and especially in the E.U.

The Ukrainian economy is in dire, dire trouble and rescuing the Ukrainian economy and therefore…

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: I see Lady Ashin(ph) shaking her head. You have a EU problem.

GEORGE ROBERTSON:   Yes, and therefore you know, the ability of the Ukrainian people to make a fair and reasoned decision about their future depends on that economic situation being rescued and it being almost way beyond the capacity of the European Union and perhaps the international community who are faced with another parallel huge dilemma. And that’s not going to be a matter for NATO. NATO can stand firm and will stand firm.

And I rightly agree with everything that Anders has said this afternoon. But a bigger, huge problem is actually still in the offstage and people like Cathy are going to have to grapple with that, if we’re actually going to mean what we say and allowing the Ukrainian people to make a decision.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Right. Thank you very much.

I think we’ve had the Russian president on the couch for long enough and we should indeed, as you’ve just hinted, be talking about what needs to be done next. And I sense that Damon Wilson has been waiting impatiently to say some of these things.

But, Damon, before you say what I guess you’re going to say, because I heard you saying some of it this morning already, could you please also say whether you think it’s likely that any of that was going to happen and how you get from the current state of things to the desirable things in a realistic way?

DAMON WILSON (Atlantic Council): Thanks, Constance. Damon Wilson, with the Atlantic Council.

Part of what we’re talking about this morning is how to ensure there is a strategic response to what Russia has done in Ukraine. And so we’re focused on sanctions today, about how a strategic response is impacted on whether we actually stand behind and back up the vision of a Europe whole and free, or whether we cower and back away from it. And we talked a lot about sort of a means to build out a comprehensive set of actions that speak to this over time.

My question for you is we’ve debated whether NATO enlargement played a role in Georgia and the Ukraine. But what is the future of the NATO enlargement? What’s actually the future of the E.U. enlargement as part of our strategic response?

Do we stand firm behind the vision of a Europe whole and free? Do we see a Montenegro back in play for the Cardiff Summit? Do we see a Georgia map back in play for the Cardiff Summit?

Should we see momentum in the European Union to give a European perspective to the eastern partners that actually do reform?

I’d welcome your views on that.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Who of you would like to tackle that? Mr. Rasmussen? NATO enlargement?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah. Well, first let me describe the procedure we have decided before maybe elaborating a bit on my own view on this.

We have decided that we should of course address the open-door policy convincingly at the Summit in Wales on the 4th and 5th of September to prepare that. We will update assessments of each of the four aspirant countries: Georgia, Montenegro, the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Then NATO Foreign ministers will discuss this and take decisions when they meet by the end of June. This is a formal procedure which boils down to the answer, the formal answer that it’s premature, to answer your question.

Now having said that, I think what we have seen in recent weeks may have an impact on this. And I see this in a strategic perspective. I think also in relation to the question what do we do about it, I think what we can do about it is to speak a language that is understood in the Kremlin. That means determination, that means western unity and it means giving a realistic Euro-Atlantic perspective to countries that so wish.

And they have a right to choose their security policies and their alliances freely. They can choose an alliance. They can choose to pursue a non-alliance policy. It’s for them to decide.

And I think we should be firm on that and we should not grant a de facto veto right to third parties. This is my answer. And it means that it wouldn’t be sufficient just to reiterate open-door language from previous summits. We have to move and actually also reflect the progress that has been made, at least in some of the aspirant countries.

I think that’s as far as I can go at this stage.

GEORGE ROBERTSON:  I think Anders is inevitably I think constrained in what he can say as I once was too as well.

Since we’ve left we can be slightly less constrained, without I hope being in any way disloyal because I think that this is a big issue and it’s not just a short-term issue. If people start thinking in terms of a summit in September we’ll get it wrong. I think we need to look at a broader, a broader canvas about how the Europeans especially are going to organize their defence and security affairs, if they care.

You know, I used to use the famous word of Enver Hoxha, the dictator of Albania, who once said always remember, he said, that along with the Chinese people the Albanians may cut one quarter of the world’s population.


And we’ve lived with that illusion that a lot of… a lot of European nations not spending money on defence, not building capabilities were running the world because we had the United States to always pick up the pieces.

You know that in Kosovo came along, they had to do 85 per cent of the air war, you know, that in each of the events that would come along, I warned at the time I was selling European defence, the day will come when our European crisis emerges and the Americans will stand by.

Now I didn’t think it would be Libya, but it was Libya and the Americans not only stood back, they actually took their commanders out of the integrated military structure, something even I wouldn’t have imagined.

So America is now in the business of participating but not in leading. And that means that the Europeans have to sort of recognize their own fate is in their own hands. So when we look at enlargement, what kind of security arrangement do we want and need?

Actually the threats we will face in the future, leaving aside the important issue of today, is that all of the threats are coming right across here to Russia, to Ukraine, to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, as well as to the Balkan countries and to Finland and Sweden as well. Maybe we need to think a bit more ambitiously about a different framework, but one that still has the intrinsic strength that NATO has brought over its 65 years.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: I think the Russians have been trying to offer us one of those and we haven’t been all that interested. But I would like to give the floor…

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Without any doubt His Lordship was referring to his famous pygmy speech when he spoke about the Europeans during his mandate.

GEORGE ROBERTSON:   Well this was… perhaps Sweden wasn’t the best place to make the speech, which was… which was… This was a speech I made when I pointed out that the European Union was an economic giant but a political pygmy.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: A pygmy, yes. So…

GEORGE ROBERTSON:  And the NATO Council the following week…

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Right. Right you are.

GEORGE ROBERTSON:  … the French Ambassador Benoit d’Aboville was incensed. He had managed to stay incensed from the previous week right through in order… in order to point out to me at the Council meeting, he said you must remember, Mr. Secretary General, he said, that anthropologically speaking, he said, a pygmy is fully developed and has achieved his total size. The European Union has not yet done so.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: If I remember correctly, Ambassador d’Aboville was not a very tall man himself, but I would like to… I would like to hand over…

GEORGE ROBERTSON:   Could I give you my response to him? I said yes, Ambassador, I said, but the average pygmy taking his poison dart blow to his lips doesn’t pretend it’s a thermal nuclear weapon.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Right. Now, I have Gita Beck, former Defence minister of Denmark, another not very large country, but one with interest in this. Are you going to rethink the opt out from CSDP?

GITA BECK (former Defence Minister for Denmark): No, actually, that was not why I asked for the floor. I wanted to ask for the floor because I would like to address the issues about increased spending in the European-NATO countries because that has been a topic that’s been discussed for a long time.

But there is another part of the coin which is deployability.

So, Mr. Rasmussen, do you prefer to have the European countries to increase their defence spending but not being able to deploy their soldiers, or do we prefer to have the defence spending as it is right now but have all the European countries to be able to deploy their soldiers?

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Is that really a trade-off?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah, but not necessarily. I mean, it’s not either-or. You could do both. But of course you point to an important element in this. It’s not just a question about how much you spend but also how you spend.

GEORGE ROBERTSON:   Yes, yes, very much.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: And that’s why I think our focus should be on the development of modern capabilities and flexibility and deployability. And that’s actually how we are going to address this issue at the summit in September. As an outcome of the NATO defence planning process, we have identified a number of critical shortfalls and we will now focus on these shortfalls to try to prioritize because we can’t do everything, one in the same time.

And based on that, encourage allies to focus their future investments in those priority areas.

In that respect I was very pleased to see the European Council in December focus on certain capabilities that have been identified as critical shortfalls, in particular in Europe, namely drones, observation drones, air to air refuelling, and on top of that, they also mentioned cyber defence and satellite communications.

But that’s the first time actually that European Council has focused on the need for further investments in concrete defence capabilities.

I appreciate that it’s an important input. We can build on that, and at the summit in Wales, hopefully reach a commitment to investment in critical areas. And I would consider that equally important that we focus on capabilities instead of theoretical discussion on how big percentage of GDP is devoted to defence spending.

But on a final note, without money you can’t invest in those capabilities. So it’s not either/or and for some countries, it’s really been drastic cuts. In some countries we have seen cuts up to 40 per cent. It’s much, too much and we have to reverse that trend.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: May I briefly, Constanze?


JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: That also looking at the first question on the screen there, that I do hope that the European Union will also and hopefully in close consultation with NATO, but we all know how difficult that is that relationship, that European Union at the same time revises and modernizes its European security strategy, which dates back to Javier Solana in 2003, hopefully I say again together with NATO, defining its interests and thinks a bit broader strategically, also about the non-traditional threats.


JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER: But there’s an E.U.-NATO collective responsibility in my opinion, more specifically as GEORGE ROBERTSON was saying, that there might be crises where the U.S. would not be directly and immediately involved.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Thank you very much. That leads over into something that I would now finally use some of the wonderful technology provided by the extremely nice “Spot Me” people which is a poll. If you could pull up the poll, the question that I have suggested. Let me see. There you go. What should NATO’s mission be post-Afghanistan? Defence alliance territory, military operations outside of the Euro Atlantic area, helping non-NATO countries to defend themselves. Some of you will have read the Gates article. The German version of that is Eltuchdigung(ph). And fourth, defence against non-traditional threats like what Zenia(ph) was asking about: energy, cyber, and others.

If you could please vote now, vote for one of the four, vote often, vote early. No, sorry, I didn’t say that. What is the one important piece of advice that you would give Mr. Rasmussen’s successor? Male or female, who knows?

GEORGE ROBERTSON:   I was… Yes, I was a CND member when I was the age of 15. But I can see for both to go on a remarkable journey as well. But what advice?

Well, first of all, take that, that poll. Don’t do what that says. I think it would be… it would be totally wrong if NATO, you know, suddenly reverted to being an organization purely based on territorial defence. It’s got to be more than that because the territories cannot be defended on the territories of the countries. We have learned that to our expense. The surprises that have caught us have shown that territorial defence is one component of Article 5. That is right.

But it’s not the only one. Indeed the reason we have got so few deployable forces in the countries as the former Defence minister said is because countries are still obsessed to the exclusion of the broader areas. And it takes us to Zenia’s question which is there are threats out there. There are real challenges in the cyber world, in climate security and resource wars and global terrorism and extremism and nationalism that are all coming along. These have got to be on the priority area for NATO, both in capability terms but also in its politics.

So my advice, inasmuch as it matters at all, is you make sure that the organization looks on a broader horizon…

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Beyond territorial defence.

GEORGE ROBERTSON: … than it does at the moment. And secondly, I would give one other brief bit of advice, and that is I think it’s still deplorable that Macedonia, which Anders has to call something else, that the republic, as indeed I was obliged to in my day, that the Republic of Macedonia is not allowed to join the alliance. It’s perfectly qualified to do so.


GEORGE ROBERTSON:   And it’s stopped from doing so.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Lord Robertson, I’m getting frantic signalling from over there.


CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Mr. De Hoop Scheffer, what is the greatest challenge Mr. Rasmussen’s successor will be facing?

JAAP HOOP DE SCHEFFER: When I see those four points and I do away with the percentages now, seeing that there is a vital alliance which is capable, if and when necessary, of paying attention to all four of those points, I do not believe defence alliance territory, fine, I’ll fully support it.

But having said that, you can’t neglect one or the others. And that means money and that means political will. And I say again that means a much better closer NATO-E.U. relationship. I keep repeating my mantra. If we don’t do that, with the Americans having all kinds of other obligations, then NATO will not succeed and the European Union will not succeed.

My answer would have been we didn’t vote. All four of those elements are relevant for NATO. Number one, of course, be the most relevant, but I agree very much with George, you can’t do that on your own territory.

But let’s say… let’s say not doing something about non-traditional threats would be self-defeating. We’ve discussed at length helping non-NATO countries to defend themselves. So I mean, that will be… that would be my advice to his… to her or to him.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Okay. Quite similar then, I have a different question for you, Secretary General. What’s the most important personality trait your successor needs to have?



ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yeah. I would rather answer the other question, but…


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Let me do both because they are inter-linked actually.


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I think it’s of utmost importance that NATO has a high profile leader and not least taking into account recent events, I think determination, clear action-oriented approach are essential for the leadership of NATO. And that leads me to a couple of remarks on what is the biggest challenge.

I would say the most important task is to fight retrenchment. I see tendencies to be… to become inward looking, what I call retrenchment. I see those tendencies to be the most dangerous threats to our security because retrenchment leaves behind a vacuum, a security vacuum. And that vacuum will be filled by autocrats that will try to test us.

And there are many reasons why we see tendencies to retrenchment. One of course is economic austerity. There are also political reasons. So my plea is that my successor will focus on keeping a global perspective when it comes to security and that’s why I’m very much in agreement that I would also give high priority to number one defence of alliance territory.


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: But let’s remind ourselves that we can’t effectively protect our populations and our territory unless we are also capable to go out of area if needed and defence against… and defend against non-traditional threats and help non-NATO countries to defend themselves.

So there’s no contradiction between the four. On the contrary.


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: They complement each other.

CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Thank you. On that note, we know the next NATO Secretary General, whoever she is, will have a lot to do.


CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER: Please help me, please help me thank our panellists.


CRAIG KENNEDY:  Constanze, thank you so much. That was a terrific session.

Gentlemen, I think in the nine years that we’ve done sessions in NATO, this was by far the most lively and interesting we’ve done. A big thank you to all of you. It was terrific.