by the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government

  • 22 Feb. 2005
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  • Last updated: 02 Sep. 2009 17:35

The trans-Atlantic relationship has withstood the stresses of time, because we are drawn together by common interests and values. But this extraordinary and successful partnership must be nurtured or it will wither.

If nurtured, it can continue to be a powerful expression of our collective interests in peace and security for ourselves and others around the globe B a peace that underpins the prosperity and well-being our societies enjoy and which others would like to share.

If we neglect this relationship, if we allow small differences to fester and sour our relationship, we run the serious risk of undermining our ability to effectively deal with the serious and growing threats we face today, including terrorism, failed states and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

So we need to focus on our shared interests and values, while finding ways to accommodate our differences. We must emerge stronger and more united.

Europe and North America share a common world-view based on peace and security; democracy and rule of law; respect for human rights, including those of minorities; and market-based economies, tempered by a moral sense of the common good. This world-view has served our own societies well and history has shown that countries that ignore these principles not only have internal problems but can also be the cause of global instability.

It is in this context that NATO has a key role to play.

While the commitment to collective defence, the core purpose of NATO, was forged in a very different world, it proved itself through 50 years of the Cold War.

NATO has also proven itself a valuable and flexible tool in the post-Cold War world. As the most effective military alliance in the world, with its planning capability, its hardware, and its capacity to span the Atlantic and bring together our shared interests and capabilities, it has delivered in Bosnia, in Kosovo and now in Afghanistan. It has formed partnerships with former enemies, and helped their transformation into full Allies.

But if we don't nurture the political consensus that underpinned these successes, if we don't do our part in agreed missions, and if we don't fulfil our commitments to NATO’s transformation agenda, our Alliance will slowly weaken.

Europe also has an important role. We all support the EU’s efforts to strengthen its defence capabilities. Its strength is our strength. EUFOR has rightly assumed command in Bosnia of Alliance soldiers, including from Canada, Norway and Turkey. And in the coming year, NATO and the EU will have to deal with the issue of Kosovo’s status, as we build towards its future standing within the Balkans and Europe.

In sum, there must be a strong and complementary partnership betweenNATO and the EU that plays to each other’s strengths. Without this partnership, we will run the risk of losing the benefits of a strong transatlantic relationship. NATO has proven its capability in the tough missions, and Europe is proving itself in Bosnia. More than ever, we need to enhance the political ties between NATO and the EU, to talk about the real issues that concern our security, and to find common and mutually reinforcing solutions that play to each organization's respective strengths.

Our Alliance is more than just military.

This morning, we celebrated the triumph of democracy in Ukraine. Our meeting with President Yushchenko serves as a reminder that NATO has a role in Europe and elsewhere as a confidence-builder and a place for dialogue and the propagation of ideas.

Through the Partnership for Peace, we have been able to promote reforms and acceptance of such concepts as transparency, accountability andcivilian control of the military.

NATO also provides a framework for confidence-building that serves us well as we continue the NATO-Russia dialogue.

NATO is far from just the sharp end of the stick. Indeed NATO is also a political vehicle for projecting our belief that security is essential to development, democracy and human rights, and prosperity. To the extent that we complement our essential security activities with efforts in this direction, we will find not only that the Alliance is alive and well, but that our shared values and history are validated by our actions.

Even when NATO is asked to take on military responsibilities, we are learning that stabilization and security, while essential, are not sufficient to tackle new threats. NATO stood up admirably to security challenge in Afghanistan, where the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) brought credit to the Alliance.

But events in Afghanistan and elsewhere have also shown that a response by the outside community requires a range of instruments. Post 9/11, we live in a new world which requires a holistic approach involving defence, development and diplomacy.

Canada is reinvesting in all three. We used to think of military expenditure and development assistance as being poles apart. No longer. Security is an essential underpinning for successful investments in health, education and development more broadly.

The links between these three capacities are what lies behind the concept of Provincial Reconstruction Teams that are being established in areas of Afghanistan where President Karzai is trying to reclaim authority for Kabul. When Canada deploys its forces in Kandahar this summer, they will be assisted by aid officers, who will identify key assistance projects to help to reduce tensions, and by diplomats,who will work with the provincial and local authorities in building confidence with the local population.

This approach also lies behind the planned activities of the Alliance in Iraq.

Iraq needs three things: democratic governance, security and a sustainable development path. Unless progress is made on governance and security, there will be no development.

Canada has been involved in police training in Jordan since the beginning of 2004 and we are now ready to commit up to 30 military trainers to work outside Iraq in training the Iraqi security forces once a concept of operations has been finalized in NATO. And we will be contributing $1 million to the NATO trust fund to help finance their training.

But all of us know that security alone is not the whole answer for Iraq. The remarkable success of the recent elections, supported by Canada, demonstrates that the people of Iraq want democracy. While they won't expect miracles, we must ensure that they derive some early benefits from democracy or the progress achieved thus far will be short-lived. Canada has a significant development assistance program to complement our security assistance.

Building on the foundation of a strong military alliance, a recognition that NATO plays an ever-more important role in political dialogue, and an investment in bringing security and reconstruction together, this NATO Summit is properly extending our dialogue to the countries of the broader Middle East through the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Co-operation Initiative, based on our common hope that we can build confidence and trust with partners there.

In the Middle East, the situation demands the creation of a climate where moderate views will prevail over the extremists.

Indeed, progress in the peace process over the past few weeks has been impressive. But we cannot be complacent: this can easily go off the rails. We all need to reflect on how best to help. We are hopeful that the upcoming meeting in London will be a catalyst for capacity building for the Palestinians.

For now, it will be best to proceed through bilateral avenues and the UN. There may not be a role for NATO per se. But as individual members of the Alliance, we all understand the critical importance of the Middle East peace process to international peace and security. We need to keep an open mind regarding how best to support a secure environment.

NATO must also remain vigilant to emerging threats.

We all recognize the serious proliferation threat and human rights situation that Iran presents. And we all agree that Iran must be encouraged to end its nuclear weapons program and to proceed with reforms. Our message is unified – we hope the challenge can be addressed through dialogue and diplomacy. We support EU efforts to this end.

While further steps will be decided by the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency, we must be prepared to stand behind our words with stronger measures if necessary.

In conclusion, the transatlantic relationship is important to us all. Within this relationship, NATO is both a practical instrument and a fundamental vehicle for strengthening transatlantic relations and for pursuing our common values and interests beyond our region.

Whether regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Middle East, or even Iran, we must always be guided by our shared objectives. We will have our differences, but we cannot afford to allow differences to become divisions. The world needs our collective support of, and investment in, the Atlantic Alliance.