Press point

with the Hon. Madeleine K. Albright, Chair of the Group of Experts and 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 16:45

Q: How important is this progress? I mean, it's the last (inaudible) of this 11 years, so how important is it to renew it?

THE HON. MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT (Chair of the Group of Experts): I think it's very important. The Alliance celebrated its 60th anniversary. There has been a new Strategic Concept every decade, but this one, the last one was written in 1999 before the new countries actually were active members, and before 9/11. So that the world really has changed, and our Expert Group is looking at it from the perspective of a different security environment and a different set of needs that the Alliance will have to meet.

Q: Mrs. Albright, do you see changes that are already necessary in the Strategic Concept from the work that you've done so far?

THE HON. MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT: Well, we are not ready to provide any conclusions yet. We are in the process of listening. This is our third seminar. We are going to be consulting within the capitals of the various countries, and I think it's very important to still have an open mind.

What we do know is that within a constantly-changing security environment, NATO needs to have flexibility and agility in order to be able to respond, and also that's why what we're doing with the partners is so important, because they're very much a part of whatever that response will be.

Q: Madam Secretary, NATO is supposed to protect freedom and democracy. Does it make sense to have partners who don't respect democracy?

THE HON. MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT: Well, one of the things I asked in my opening remarks is exactly that, is under what circumstances do we have relationships with countries that don't have the same approach towards democracy and human rights? That is one of the issues, I think, that will be discussed.

Q: What's your opinion?

THE HON. MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT: Well, I am... in the United States there's this constant argument between idealism and realism, and I say it's a false dichotomy, mainly because I never can say which I am. So I'm an idealistic realist, or a realistic idealist, and basically you have to be able to solve problems, so that's where I am.

Q: (Inaudible...) Norway. We are facing a new reality outside in the world with asymmetric war(?) like terrorism. We saw it this Christmas and we have seen it several times before. How can NATO be able to meet those challenges the next, let's say, 10 or 20 years?

THE HON. MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT: That's exactly the question, is that we were... the Alliance was set up for a totally different purpose, also very much dealing with nation states rather than ad hoc groups and we are looking at various ways that the Alliance can meet the responsibilities of dealing with asymmetric warfare.

The other part, I have to say today, having watched television, what happened in Haiti is a natural disaster, but ultimately can have great consequences, and what I find interesting is that the United Nations and NATO, as well as individual countries, are understanding the need to help for humanitarian reasons, but for all the larger reasons.

And so I think we do need to look at what the new environment, literally, provides and deal with the consequences of that. And maybe the Minister wanted to comment.

Q: But (inaudible...). One more question, to both of you, actually. It is a natural disaster in Haiti, but isn't the situation so dreadful and Haiti is actually a failed state to a large extent, that you actually would need to consider more international activity also in the military field, a more military intervention to keep the country stable?

THE HON. MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT: I'm not going to comment on that, but I do know, having dealt with Haiti a lot, is that it is... there are so many serious issues and former President Clinton has been named previously as the UN Envoy on Haiti. There is nobody that is better suited to deal with that. But I do think that there are genuine issues when a country has suffered in the way that Haiti has.

JONAS GAHR STØRE (Foreign Minister of Norway): Well, I think that as the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, where NATO supported rescue operations, and this operation illustrates the need for partnership with that part of the organizational world, UNOCHA, relief organizations, NGOs who are active. We know that many Norwegian NGOs are heading for Haiti to help.

So I think this is one of the dimensions that this seminar actually will address: How can NATO interact with these organizations without becoming these organizations? And that's a fine line, and we will have discussions on that here in Oslo.

Okay. Thank you.

THE HON. MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Thank you.

Q: Thank you.