Opening remarks

by Jonas Gahr Støre, Foreign Minister of Norway, at the Third Seminar on NATO's Strategic Concept

  • 14 Jan. 2010
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  • Last updated: 14 Jan. 2010 11:23

ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to Norway for the third seminar on NATO’s New Strategic Concept. I am glad to see that the Norwegian winter has not discouraged you from participating.

NATO’s partnerships are now more important than ever to the Alliance. A great deal has changed since the adoption of the current Strategic Concept in 1999. NATO has grown from 16 to 28 members. New partnerships have been introduced and old ones expanded.

NATO is now engaged in an operation far beyond the North Atlantic area. Together we face challenges such as international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These are just some examples of how our common security environment has changed since 1999. With such significant changes, the time is now ripe for a New Strategic Concept.

NATO cannot face these challenges alone. Cooperation with our partners, many of whom are represented here today, is increasingly important and in our common interest. Our interdependence is our strength. NATO cannot develop its new concept in isolation. The involvement of partner countries in this process is essential and to our common benefit.

I am therefore particularly grateful for and encouraged by the broad partner participation here today. This includes members of the Euro–Atlantic Partnership Council, the NATO–Russia Council, the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, the NATO–Ukraine and NATO–Georgia commissions, and representatives from contact countries.

NATO’s cooperation with partners has been a success and has increased tremendously in depth and scope. But this success also defines our current challenges. We need your inputs on how to reenergise our partnerships.

How can we bring them forward as the diversity of our partners increases? How should our partnerships be shaped to better address our common security challenges as they grow ever more global? Should our partnership architecture be determined by operations and current tasks? And if we do move towards a more flexible partnership architecture, how can we maintain the specificities of each format? I hope this seminar will be an opportunity to share thoughts and perspectives on these questions and others.

Let me extend a warm thank you to Madeleine Albright and Jeroen van der Veer, and the other members of the Group of Experts, for their tireless efforts to stimulate an open debate on the future concept of the Alliance.

The series of seminars and the public outreach that you have undertaken is important. You have shown great openness and I encourage Allies and partners to fully utilise the opportunities this represents. I wish you all every success as you take this work forward, from reflections to consultations to recommendations.

I would also like to thank our co-organisers Germany, Romania and Spain for their valuable help in preparing for this event. We also greatly appreciate the extensive assistance provided by the NATO International Staff and supporting think tanks in the preparations for this seminar.

Thank you.