of Madeleine K. Albright at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with the Group of Experts on NATO's New Strategic Concept

  • 17 May. 2010
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  • Last updated: 17 May. 2010 12:26

Left to right: Jeroen van der Veer (Vice Chair of the Group of Experts) talking with Madeleine Albright (Chair, Group of Experts)

Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies – good morning.

I am honored to have the opportunity, in company with Mr. van der Veer, to present to you the analysis and recommendations of the Group of Experts.

As you know, the Group was conceived at NATO’s 2009 Summit and tasked with providing advice to the Secretary General regarding a new Strategic Concept.

In accordance with our mandate, we have attached importance not only to our product but also to our process.

Our deliberations have included four major seminars and dozens of consultations and meetings with governments, civilian and military officials, and representatives from partner organizations.

Throughout, we both listened to -- and reflected -- an array of views.

The report we present today, however, speaks with one voice.

Like the Alliance itself, our group was able to reconcile differences in order to come together on the larger question of NATO’s indispensable role.

Most of our recommendations flow from two basic conclusions.

First, the Alliance has an ongoing duty to guarantee the safety and security of its members.

Second, it can achieve that objective only if it engages dynamically with countries and organizations that are outside its boundaries.

To safeguard security at home, the Alliance must continue to treat collective defense as its core purpose.

This reflects the primacy of Article 5 and our firm conviction that the security of each Ally cannot be separated from that of all.

NATO must maintain a flexible mix of military capabilities, including conventional, nuclear, and missile defense.

It must also conduct appropriate contingency planning and military exercises so that Allies may feel confident that their borders will indeed be protected.

These measures are fundamental to NATO’s identity and purpose -- but they are not sufficient.

Between now and 2020, the Alliance will face a new generation of dangers from sources that are geographically and technologically diverse.

These threats include violent extremism, nuclear proliferation, cyber assaults and attacks on energy infrastructure and supply lines.

Because such perils can arise rapidly and from any direction, the alliance must become more versatile.

To this end:

  • It should accelerate transformation through the development of military forces that are sustainable, deployable and inter-operable;
  • It should improve its capacity for rapid response;
  • It should attach a high priority to shielding information from cyber attacks; and
  • With resources tight, it should allocate defense funds wisely, by increasing its commitment to joint procurement and specialized needs.

All this is vital -- for NATO’s political role depends in part on its military capabilities, and if these are inadequate, its power to shape events could well erode.

That would be unacceptable because contributing to a more stable international security climate is one of NATO’s essential missions.

To do this successfully, the Alliance must be strong, but also smart and -- in our era – nothing could be smarter than having capable partners.

The Group of Experts was united in our view that partners should play an increasing role in NATO activities, and that the Alliance should explore every opportunity for strengthening its partnership ties both as a pragmatic means for solving problems and as an instrument of political dialogue.

Accordingly, NATO should improve its ability to work with other countries and organizations, especially in situations where a blend of military, economic and political measures are required.

Of course, the European Union, with its overlapping membership, is a NATO partner of singular importance.

The Experts are eager to see the Alliance and the EU operate in a more fully complementary manner based on the principles of reciprocity and cost-effectiveness.

We therefore encourage leaders in both organizations to agree on joint participation in meetings, fuller communication between military staffs, and more extensive coordination with respect to preventing and managing crises.

A second partnership that attracted discussion within our Group is that between NATO and Russia.

For reasons of history and geography, some Allies are more skeptical than others about Russia’s commitment to a positive relationship.

This divergence was reflected among the experts, but there was no disagreement about what NATO’s policy should be.

It is clearly in NATO’s best interest to work with Moscow to build a cooperative Euro-Atlantic security order and to respond to such shared concerns as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, piracy, and drug trafficking.

Partnership, as we know, is a two way street – but from the Alliance perspective, the door to cooperation with Moscow should remain open at all levels.

NATO can also influence its security environment by continuing its policy of gradual enlargement.

Prospective NATO members in the Western Balkans and elsewhere in the Euro-Atlantic region have a right to fair consideration based on the same guidelines that steered decisions about new members in the past.

NATO today is busier than ever, but this does not mean that the Alliance must go everywhere and do everything – there are limits to its resources and to its responsibilities.

Indeed, the new Strategic Concept should propose criteria for making wise decisions about when and where to commit NATO resources beyond its boundaries.

NATO is more than just a military alliance; it is also a political community, and therefore it should make more regular and creative use of the mechanisms for consultations under Article 4; NATO faces a continuum of threats -- informed discussion can enable it to identify and to act on timely options.

In addition, Alliance leaders should learn from its experiences in Afghanistan, understanding the imperative of political cohesion, the desirability of unified command, the value of effective planning, the importance of public communications, and the need to deploy forces at a strategic distance for an extended period of time.

There should be no question that NATO’s fundamental purpose is to protect the security of its members.

But providing for security is a more complicated proposition than in the past.

Thus, NATO should consider the possibility, when resources are sufficient and legal authority is clear, of helping the world respond to catastrophic emergencies, whether caused by nature or by human beings.

All of these measures should be accompanied by a commitment to organizational reform.

The Secretary General must have the authority and the mandate to streamline decision-making, prune the bureaucracy, and identify savings that can be used for military transformation.

Finally, as friends of NATO, we must all do a better job of building domestic support for the Alliance; otherwise, it may not have the resources it needs to perform critical tasks well.

After more than sixty years, we cannot let that happen.

To close on a personal note, I would like to thank the Secretary General and his staff, the entire band of experts, and also each of you for your wise counsel, ongoing interest and support.

It has been an honor for me to serve in this capacity, and a privilege to contribute to what I believe is an exceptionally important process.

Throughout this period of extensive consultation, it was very clear to me that NATO is the kind of organization that countries want and choose to join – not only because of what it does, but because of what it stands for and because of what its members believe.

The opportunity to draft a new Strategic Concept can help NATO to demonstrate this truth by setting a clear future direction that each Ally can endorse – and that all will embrace for years to come.

Thank you very much.