Keynote speech

by NATO Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Alessandro Minuto Rizzo at the conference on 'NATO’s aims and actions for the Mediterranean Dialogue and the broader Middle East Region'

  • 26 Jun. 2006 -
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  • Last updated: 14 Dec. 2009 15:07

Minister Khatib,

Doctor Touq,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be in Jordan today to help set the stage for this most important conference on “NATO’s Aims and Actions for the Mediterranean Dialogue and Broader Middle East Region”. I want to extend my sincere appreciation to the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy for its initiative and hard work in organising this meeting, together with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division.

Over the past few years, the 26 member nations of the NATO Alliance have been increasingly interested in working together with countries in the southern Mediterranean and Broader Middle East regions. And we are obviously very pleased that more and more countries in these regions have shown a growing interest in working together with NATO.

I have been intimately involved in NATO’s outreach across the Mediterranean these last few years. And I believe that the intensification in our dialogue and cooperation reflects a growing realism, in all our countries, with respect to the new, 21 st century security environment – and pragmatism in trying to cope with the risks and challenges that it poses.

Security is not humanity's natural state. It has to be worked for, day in and day out. And in a world that is characterised by globalisation, we have to work even harder to remain secure. Why? Because security threats, too, have globalised. The 11 September attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are a case in point. They were led by Saudi nationals, based in Afghanistan , with a foothold in Germany , who trained in Africa before striking in the US . There can hardly be a better demonstration of the dark side of globalisation.

The same holds true for “failed states” – states without strong governance that plunge into disorder and violence. Indeed, the very term “failed states” was added to our vocabulary only a few years ago. By now, it has become a household term. Because we have seen that failing states can quickly become a threat to international security, be it by becoming a safe haven for terrorists, or a “black hole” for the trafficking of people and drugs.

Last but not least, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Thanks to a lot of political and diplomatic effort, the spread of these weapons has proceeded only slowly. But with a new breed of terrorists willing to inflict mass casualties on our societies, preventing state- and non-state actors from acquiring such weapons has attained a new sense of urgency.

So what conclusions are we to draw from this new security environment? What should an effective security strategy look like? Of course, there is no definitive blueprint for safeguarding security in a globalised world. But I do believe that it is possible to identify a few essential requirements.

First, any security strategy today has to be a strategy of engagement. A passive, reactive approach may have been sufficient in the past. It clearly has become insufficient now. Either we tackle the new risks and threats to our security when and where they emerge, or they will escalate and end up on our doorstep.

Second, we need to look at security today in a holistic fashion. In an age where security challenges have become multi-dimensional, our responses must be multi-dimensional as well. This means that we have to apply political, economic and military instruments in a concerted approach.

This brings me directly to my third point: any viable security strategy today must be a strategy of teamwork. No single institution, let alone a single nation, possesses all the necessary means for effective security management. Only through cooperation will the full range of instruments be available to us.

For the past few years, NATO has successfully promoted precisely that kind of concerted action – not just among its own member countries, but also with other nations and organisations.

The most visible demonstration of NATO’s reorientation to the new security environment are our missions and operations – from operation “Active Endeavour”, our anti-terrorist maritime operation in the Mediterranean, through our logistical and training support for the African Union in Darfur, to our security assistance and stabilisation operation in Afghanistan.

Let me stress that, in all these cases, NATO is working hand in hand with the rest of the international community, especially the United Nations and the European Union. We are not, and do not want to be, a “global policeman” – but to support effective multilateral action.

For this same reason, we have been eager to establish more structured relationships with other international organisations. We have given a fresh impulse to our cooperation with our twenty Partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic area, from Finland to Moldova , and from Switzerland all the way to Kazakhstan . And we have been keen to develop new, mutually beneficial partnership relations, including through the Mediterranean Dialogue process and, more recently, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

The basic aim of NATO’s engagement across the Mediterranean is clear. It is to build trust and mutual understanding – to involve more countries in a common struggle against common security challenges -- and, in so doing, to increase all our chances of meeting those challenges.

Our basic approach can be summarised quite easily as well. NATO is not imposing anything on any of its Mediterranean Dialogue or ICI partners, but offering to work together in areas in which it has experience and expertise, and where our partners are prepared to define specific requirements. Moreover, NATO wants to complement ongoing cooperation in and with other international fora, rather than to duplicate or complicate this cooperation. And that underlines our interest in practical cooperation, which is where NATO’s advantage clearly lies.

Over the past few years, the number of opportunities for concrete, practical cooperation under the Mediterranean Dialogue has more than doubled. And today, they range from a very wide array of military-to-military activities to cooperation in the field of border security, airspace management, civil-emergency planning, and many other areas. 2004 was the first year in which more than one thousand Mediterranean participants took part in such activities. And not only this country, Jordan , but our other six Mediterranean partners as well, have significantly increased their participation in the Mediterranean Dialogue process last year.

NATO attaches considerable importance to promoting actual participation by its partner countries in Alliance-led operations. We are pleased that Algeria, Israel and Morocco have already announced that they wish to contribute to “Operation Active Endeavour”, and that other Mediterranean partners recognize as well that this counter-terrorist maritime operation is not just important to the security of Europe, but also that of the entire Mediterranean region.

Countries such as Jordan -- but other Mediterranean partners as well -- have gathered considerable experience in participating in UN and NATO operations. We have introduced a number of tools and instruments to build on that experience, and to further enhance the interoperability between our military forces. And let me note that this will be of benefit not only for NATO but also for the UN and other international organisations which rely on national forces that are well-trained and using the same standards and procedures.

The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, as well, is very much focused on practical cooperation. There is a wide-ranging Menu of Practical Activities to help interested Gulf countries define in which areas they wish to work together with NATO. We are pleased that Bahrain , Kuwait , Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have already acceded to the Initiative, and we are hopeful that other Gulf countries will follow in their footsteps in the not too distant future.

Looking to that future, and the promise which it holds for our cooperation with our Mediterranean Dialogue and ICI partners, I would like to highlight three new opportunities, as well as an important challenge.

First, we have introduced the opportunity for countries participating in the Mediterranean Dialogue process to develop an Individual Cooperation Programme with NATO. We have had a similar instrument available for some time to our Partners in the Euro-Atlantic area, in order to help them to better structure and individualize their cooperation with NATO, and this has been a great success. We are now about to finalise a first Individual Cooperation Programme with Israel , and are pleased that several of our other Mediterranean partners have expressed interest in this new opportunity as well.

Second, and again drawing from our experience working with our Euro-Atlantic Partners, we are promoting the development of Trust Funds. These are a relatively new but promising instrument, in which we combine NATO expertise with funding by interested nations and institutions to assist with, for example, the dismantling of landmines or the destruction of dangerous chemicals. Jordan has expressed interest in making use of the Trust Fund instrument in a number of areas, and we are examining how we can best move forward on those suggestions.

A third and final instrument that I want to briefly highlight has to do with training and education. If we want to be more effective in meeting the security challenges before us, it is vital that we further develop our common understanding of those challenges, the efficiency of our defence establishments, and the ability of our military forces to work together. That, in essence, is the thinking behind a NATO initiative that is taking shape at the moment, and which would have the Alliance share its knowledge and expertise on a wide range of defence and security issues with relevant military personnel of our Mediterranean Dialogue and ICI partners, including at a dedicated facility somewhere in this region.

Especially in this area of training and education, NATO is careful to avoid any suspicion of wanting to impose particular views or activities. That is why the same principles of joint ownership, inclusiveness and complementarity that guide all activities under the Mediterranean Dialogue and the ICI would certainly also apply to this training initiative. Having said this, we are keen to pursue this initiative in close consultation with our Mediterranean Dialogue and ICI partners, and we are pleased with the positive reception that it has already received, notably also here in Jordan .

I promised that I would highlight three new opportunities, as well as one major challenge. That challenge relates to informing our general publics, as opposed to our defence establishments which I just mentioned. In moving our relationship forward, it will be vital for us all – NATO countries as well as Mediterranean and ICI partners -- to get and to keep our publics on board.

We need to face the fact that stereotypes are still very much alive in all our countries, and we must do what we can to correct those. We must foster among our publics a greater awareness of the new security environment, and how we can better address the risks and threats that it poses by working together. And that means that we must reach out and inform our publics – to continue to talk and work together in an open, transparent and constructive manner – and to focus on delivering concrete results that are clear for everyone to see.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have given you an overview of NATO’s aims and actions for the Mediterranean and Broader Middle East regions. I repeat again that the Alliance’s basic aim is to build trust and mutual understanding – to involve more countries in a common struggle against common security challenges -- and, in so doing, to increase all our chances of meeting those challenges. And the way in which we seek to do this is very much through practical, results-oriented, mutually beneficial cooperation.

Both our Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative have been very successful – and I am convinced that they still hold enormous potential. I have laid out before you several new opportunities for cooperation, as well as one major challenge – that of reaching out to our publics – which is a joint responsibility that we must all face up to. I look forward to discussing all those issues with you today, as well as any other issues that you may wish to bring to the table, in the same pragmatic spirit that has characterised our cooperation, and that I hope will remain its hallmark.

Thank you.