by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Strategic Concept Seminar in Helsinki

  • 04 Mar. 2010
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  • Last updated: 04 Mar. 2010 12:49

Remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

President Halonen,
President Ahtisaari,
Minister Stubb,
Minister Bildt,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today. The theme of this seminar, “the comprehensive approach to crisis management”, is central to NATO’s new Strategic Concept. I am grateful to our co-hosts, Finland and Sweden, for bringing here so many of the key players. I am also pleased to see Jeroen van der Veer and some of his fellow members of the Group of Experts here as well.

NATO’s experience over the past years, notably in Afghanistan, underscores that successful crisis management requires a new compact between all the different civilian and military actors.

We need the United Nations to lead the overall process, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to be broadly and intensely engaged. We also need NGOs to spread their web of projects, from health care to promoting new approaches to agriculture.

The logic of the Comprehensive Approach is compelling, but its implementation remains difficult. Each player operates within its own stovepipe, and with its own working methods. The combined impact of our efforts remains much less than what it could be.

In my view, three steps are required.

Step One: We must instil a new understanding of the need for better civil-military cooperation.

We need to open up the way we plan and run our operations to include the indispensable civilian expertise – from rule of law to alternative livelihoods; from public health to cultural aspects and education. And we should also include the gender aspect and enhance the engagement of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict.

Taken together, all this will be a real revolution in the way we think and organise our operations and our cooperation. We need to see each other as indispensable partners, and not as competitors.

To start with we should draw the lessons from our experience in Afghanistan. This conflict is a defining experience and the prototype of what we need to do better together to face other crises and stabilisation operations in the future. It is clear from our recent operation in Marjah that we achieve better, more lasting results when the military and civilian sides work together from the outset and according to a single plan. NATO will then have to define which civilian expertise it needs in order to be able to interface more effectively with the civilian agencies both within our national governments and within other international organisations.

Step Two: We need closer cooperation between all major institutions and Non Governmental Organisations – at all levels.

We are making significant progress. We signed a Joint Declaration between the United Nations and NATO. NATO and the European Union are also working more closely together, not just in the Balkans and in Afghanistan, but also off the coast of Somalia. We are using our experience to help newer international institutions, such as the African Union, to be more effective.

But we need to do a better job communicating the benefits that the civilian actors gain from working more closely with NATO. I want also to improve the frequency and quality of the dialogue between NATO and the NGOs. I do not want this to be an abstract, conceptual debate but a pragmatic one drawing from our common experience of Afghanistan and of other crisis areas. I intend in the near future to invite many of the NGOs represented here today to a frank and open dialogue to which I will be personally committed.

Step three: We must increase NATO’s connectivity with the wider world.

Look at Afghanistan. A long term peace and stability requires the positive engagement of countries in the region, like Pakistan, India, China and Russia.

We must invest in long-term relationships with these major players and others that will determine international security in this century. That is why I suggest that NATO should be used as a forum for discussing global security issues.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In today’s world, we have to realise that the military is no longer the complete answer – now it is just part of the answer. Hard power is of little use if it cannot be combined with soft power. We have to understand that the only way forward is to coordinate and cooperate with others.

Thank you.