The New Strategic Concept: Active Engagement, Modern Defence
Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), Brussels
Dear Ms. McKerron,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for that kind introduction. The Transatlantic Centre of the German Marshall Fund is always a natural home for the NATO Secretary General.
But the GMF has also been closely associated with NATO’s new Strategic Concept from the outset, particularly through the unflagging efforts of Ron Asmus, who also contributed to the work of the Group of Experts.
As you are all aware, we will agree a new NATO Strategic Concept in just a few weeks, at NATO’s Lisbon Summit. The NATO Heads of State and Government asked me last year to lead the process in developing it. I can assure you that I have devoted myself fully to this assignment. Because I consider this Strategic Concept to be of profound importance.
NATO is the most successful Alliance in history. And I fully intend for it to stay that way.
The new Strategic Concept will have to guide the next stage in NATO’s evolution. The first stage was obviously the Cold War Alliance: purely defensive, big static armies, facing down one clear adversary. You might call that NATO Version 1.0. And it worked very well.
NATO Version 2.0 was the post-Cold War NATO, from the fall of the Berlin Wall until today.
It has also worked well. We helped consolidate peace and democracy across Europe. We managed crises from the Balkans to Afghanistan. And we engaged with new partners, with which we share common purpose.
The time has now come for NATO 3.0. An Alliance which can defend the 900 million citizens of NATO countries against the threats we face today, and will face in the coming decade. The Strategic Concept is the blueprint for that new NATO.
But before I go into what will be new, I want to highlight what will not be new. The fundamentals of this Alliance should not and will not change. Because they make as much sense as they have done for the past 61 years. And because they continue to be essential for the security of our citizens.
Most fundamental is the commitment to collective defence. An attack against one NATO Ally is considered an attack against all. That is a binding commitment. It is the most powerful possible signal of solidarity.
And it is clear deterrent to any potential aggressor, because everyone knows that taking on one NATO country means taking on all 28.
The second fundamental pillar: NATO’s military capability. NATO can generate and sustain military power at a level no adversary could match. It is a powerful deterrent. And it means that NATO can take on military operations no other organisations could tackle. That capability remains crucial to Alliance security, and we will preserve it.
The third enduring pillar: political consultations. There is no place but NATO where Europe and North America sit together every day to assess the security issues that affect us, and figure out how to tackle them together. The NATO Allies are a community of countries that share fundamental values. Europe and North America are each other’s number one trading partner. Together, they make over half of the world’s total production – the GDP. Preserving NATO’s role as the only transatlantic bridge between these countries is essential.
But with these fundamentals as the foundation, a lot must change in the way NATO does business. Because the international security environment is changing quickly.
The threat of a major military attack against NATO can of course never be ruled out, and many regions of the world are arming themselves quickly. But that threat is low. The more likely threats are the ones that are harder to see, but they are just as real - and potentially just as deadly.
The threat from international terrorism is clear. Last week, intelligence chiefs from major countries in Europe sounded the alarm about the risk of a large-scale terrorist attack. Not September 11 2001; but last week.
Over 30 countries are now acquiring ballistic missile technology. Some can already hit Europe. Again, that’s today. And that problem will only get worse.
Cyber attacks can take down a country’s air traffic control system, shut down the banks, paralyze government services and cripple an economy. In other words, they can reach a level that threatens the fundamental security interests of Allies. If anyone doubts that, they can ask the Estonians, who suffered just that kind of attack a couple of years ago.
Globalisation has made our economies ever-more dependent on supplies from around the world. Which means attack on those supply lines can have dramatic effects for our security - for example, if oil supplies couldn’t make it through the Straights of Hormuz.
I could go on, but you get the point. There are fewer military threats to our territory, but more challenges to our security, from every direction, including cyberspace. Which is why NATO has to continue to transform to remain effective.
There are three main areas where I believe NATO must transform.
First: we must modernise our defence and deterrence.
Collective defence will remain the essential core of the Alliance. And that continues to require effective military forces. But to be effective today, we need forces that are deployable across Alliance territory and beyond. The Strategic Concept must set out a clear vision for Allies to guide the reform of their forces – less investment in static forces and concrete, more forces that can move, can stay and can succeed wherever they are sent.
But today, defence of our territory and our citizens doesn’t begin and end at the border. It can start in Kandahar. It can start in cyberspace. And NATO needs to be able to defend across the spectrum.
That means taking on cyber defence. NATO must be able to defend itself against cyber attack – and I can tell you that we already have our systems attacked one hundred times per day. We also need to be able to support Allies who come under attack, with a deployable capability. But I believe NATO should also help Allies share experiences and set common approaches to cyber-defence.
I would also see real value in cooperation with the EU. Because this is a transnational problem, and it needs multinational solutions.
I hope that the Strategic Concept will also be the place NATO stakes out its decision to defend our populations and territories against missile attack.
There is a real threat to our territory – of being hit with a missile, which would be devastating, and of being pressured by nations that have missiles pointed at us. There is technology available – tested and ready to go – that can defend against a missile attack.
And we can afford it; the cost of expanding the current system for protecting our troops, to include all citizens, would be less than 200 million Euros, from NATO’s common budgets, over 10 years, divided among the NATO Allies. That is a lot of defence, for a very good price.
The Strategic Concept will also have to address another fundamental element of NATO’s defence and deterrence – our nuclear posture.
I can see a lot of journalists leaning forward at this point. I’m afraid that if you’re hoping for a little controversy, I’ll have to disappoint you.
In the discussions we’ve had until now on the future of NATO’s nuclear posture, I actually see a real convergence of views.
The exact language will be discussed in the coming weeks, and I don’t want to prejudge the conclusion. But I’m pretty confident that we will find the right balance between two very important principles. First, that we share the commitment to the goals set out by President Obama of a world without nuclear weapons, and that NATO will continue to work toward that goal.
But second, that our job remains to deter attack against our citizens, which means that as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO must retain nuclear weapons as well.
Ladies and gentlemen, the second are, where we need reform is crises management: we must be able to do 21st Century crisis management. No other organisation can marshal, deploy and sustain NATO’s military power. Which is why I am totally unconvinced by the media suggestions that after Afghanistan, NATO might never take on another big mission. First and foremost, because I have no doubt that we will succeed in Afghanistan.
And second, because there will be other missions in future for which only NATO can fit the bill. We will have to be ready.
It is maybe a bit unusual for a NATO Secretary General to quote the founders of the European Union, but I’m also a European politician so I’ll do it anyway. Jean Monet said that the lessons of history are doomed to be forgotten unless they are embedded in institutions. Afghanistan has taught us some very clear lessons, lessons we have learned at a very high price. I hope to see those lessons reflected in the Strategic Concept, because we cannot afford to forget them.
We’ve learned that there is often no military solution solely to crises and conflicts. It’s true in Afghanistan, it’s true in many of the other conflicts underway today. The military is necessary – but it is not sufficient.
What we need is a comprehensive approach, where the political, civilian and military efforts are coordinated, and work towards common aims. Where, as much as possible, the military and civilian actors plan together, operate in complementary ways, and support each other.
This may seem like common sense. And it is. But on the ground, and at the political level, there are all sorts of reasons, good and bad, why this doesn’t happen. Which, speaking very openly, means our military operations often operate in a vacuum, because the civilian progress we need isn’t there. It means the political and civilian efforts are more at risk, because they don’t get the protection they need from our soldiers. And it means that the whole international effort takes longer because it’s not nearly as effective as it should be.
That is why the comprehensive approach not only makes sense – it is necessary. NATO needs to work more closely with our civilian partners, on the ground, and at political level – especially the European Union and the United Nations. With both organisation, we already do so much. We hope they want to work more closely with us. And I believe that NATO needs a small civilian capacity as well, to interface effectively with our partners.
We’ve also learned we need to do training from the beginning. Because the sooner local forces can handle security, the sooner we can go home. It’s as simple as that.
The NATO Training Mission is now firing on all cylinders. There are about 25,000 Afghan security forces being trained as we speak. But we didn’t set up the training mission until 2008. Waiting that long was a mistake. We won’t repeat it. I hope the Strategic Concept will mandate NATO to set up a standing training capacity, so we can help others stand on their feet, rather than leaning on us.
Ladies and gentlemen. There is a third area where NATO must take the next step – engaging with the wider world to build cooperative security. In a nutshell, the Alliance must develop deeper, wider political and practical partnerships with countries around the globe.
When our last Concept was issued in 1999 NATO could still – just about – achieve its goals with its own membership alone. Partners were welcome but not essential. No more. Today, our partners provide troops, transit, financial support and political backing.
And we help them, by making their neighbourhoods safer. Cooperation with our partners is essential, for them and us.
We’ve already taken that into account at NATO. You might be surprised how far we’ve come. Today, the 47 countries in the ISAF mission – 28 NATO countries, 19 partners -- shape and take decisions on the operation together. That’s unprecedented for us. But it reflects the reality that they are contributing in the same way we are, and deserve a real voice.
I hope that the Strategic Concept takes our partnerships to the next level. Our operational partners should have a structural role in shaping missions to which they contribute. We should reach out to new and important partners, and be open when they reach out to us. And I believe we should have flexible arrangements in place to encourage consultations between Allies and partners around the globe on security issues of common concern, with NATO as the hub.
All in all, this is an ambitious agenda. It is the blueprint for an Alliance even more actively engaged in building international security, and upgraded for modern defence. Which is exactly what we need to maintain our shared security for the coming decade.
But I can already hear the first question I might get, in a few moments: “nice vision – but in a time when nations are cutting back on defence, how are you going to pay for it?”
To that, I would say two things. First, we need reform. Taxpayers need the best return for their investment in defence. In NATO, we will streamline our command structure so it delivers what we need but costs less. We also need to look at pooling scarcer resources together, so we can buy and do things together that individually we couldn’t afford. I hope the Strategic Concept gives a strong mandate for continuous reform.
But my second point is this: there is a point where you are no longer cutting fat; you’re cutting into muscle, and then into bone.
I understand full well why Allies are cutting into their defence budgets. Given the financial crisis, they have no choice.
But I also have to say: cuts can go too far. We have to avoid cutting so deep that we won’t, in future, be able to defend the security on which our economic prosperity rests. And we cannot end up in a situation where Europe cannot pull its weight when it comes to security. The result would be that the EU Lisbon Treaty, which I strongly support, would be a hollow shell. And the United States would look elsewhere for its security partner. That is not a price we can afford.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Group of Experts Report was a real source of inspiration to me, as I drafted the Strategic Concept. Let me draw on it one more time. The Experts called NATO “an essential source of stability in an uncertain world”. And that’s right. It was true for the last 61 years. It is true today. And I am quite certain that it will be true for the next decade as well -- guided, shaped and inspired by the Strategic Concept we will agree just 6 weeks from now.
Moderator: Now, we have quite some time for questions and answers. I would like to ask you to introduce yourself and be as brief as you can, let me put it that way. So who wants to start?
Okay, the gentleman over there, with the little longer hair. There are microphones in the room. Please wait till you get them and maybe you could also stand up.
Oh, they're in the seat. I'm sorry, yes. The microphones are in your seats. And they should work.
Q: I hope so. Okay. I'm Klaus Hecking of the Financial Times Deutschland. And Secretary General, you said there is a point at which you don't cut into fat anymore, but you cut... but you cut into muscle and bone.
I don't know (inaudible)... well, no, it works.
Are some European states at that point already where they're cutting into muscle and bone, or are they still cutting fat? Thanks.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Secretary General of NATO): Well, I will resist temptation to name specific countries. My message is a general message that obviously we can still find fat somewhere and cut it. I mean, to reduce expensive and heavy general administrative overheads make our structures leaner and more effective as we are right now doing in the Alliance. And maybe also reduce costs related to what I call static, non-deployable forces. While at the same time, reallocate resources to investments in modern capabilities, future-oriented, high tech military capabilities.
In addition to that, I think we could make more efficient use of resources if these budget adaptations took place in a coordinated manner. Role specialization. Not all nations should necessarily have at their disposal all capabilities. Within an alliance countries could also cooperate. Some countries could specialize in one area, other countries in other areas and they could cooperate.
We could go for collective solutions instead of pursuing purely national solutions. One excellent example that could be expanded, 12 allies and partners have pooled resources together and acquired three expensive so-called C-17 transport aircraft. Individually they couldn't afford it, but by pooling resources together they have now acquired a capability. And for each individual partner and ally at a lower cost. And finally, we could go for more common funding.
So there are ways and means, so my point is, well, we have an economic austerity, nations are faced with budgetary constraints, but let's take it as an opportunity to make more efficient use of our resources.
Q: (Inaudible...), I'm a journalist. My question is to you, you were just speaking about Afghanistan lesson, that there is no military solution, also any conflicts. You was just visiting Turkey yesterday so it was there.
My question, and this point, that Turkey is suffering with the Kurdish conflict over 30 years and the NATO has always supported Turkey, over 50 years. I mean, the technically, military, also intelligence information. Did you also talk to the Turkish partners or Turkish president and states Minister about Kurdish conflicts, because there's about 20 million Kurds who is living in Turkey who has no any human rights in Turkey and the Kurdish organizations was asking if NATO want to solve their problems with the peacefully democratic solution, they're ready to give their gun to the NATO. Do you have any comment on that? That if the Kurdish organization give their guns to the NATO, NATO will be able to solve the Kurdish question in Turkey peacefully and democratically. Thanks.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Well, first of all, I have to say that within NATO we strongly support Turkey as a staunch ally. We are united in our endeavours to fight terrorism. I also have to say that NATO allies have been reluctant to accept NATO interference with domestic problems for good reasons. But NATO is strongly engaged in the general fight against terrorism.
I also have to say I consider... we consider PKK a terrorist organization. And I think the new Strategic Concept will clearly point out terrorism as one of the emerging security challenges, one of the new threats with which we have to deal and also improve our capacity to deal with terrorism. Among the concrete examples I can mention, we have established a new division at NATO Headquarters which will deal with emerging security challenges, including terrorism.
Moderator: Sorry. The next question, please.
Q: My name is Ingrid (inaudible) for the Brussels office of consultancy(?). My question relates to what you said about cooperative security. And I wonder what you mean by it when you say that you want to take the partnerships to a new level. What are the implications for collective security and what kind of reciprocal relationship do you envisage between NATO and its partners?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: First and foremost I'm speaking about the existing partnerships. As you know we have a number of partnerships. We have the EAPC partnership with a number of Eastern European and Central Asian countries. We have the Mediterranean Dialogue, with six Muslim countries and Israel. And we have the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with four Gulf states.
And I would expect the new Strategic Concept to indicate that we are prepared to consult with partners within these partnerships on every issue they might find of common interest. We are also prepared to further develop practical cooperation, military-to-military cooperation and other kinds of practical cooperation with these partners. So that's one thing - the existing partnerships.
So that's, I would add, when we speak about existing partnerships, also our partnership with Russia, which is a special partner. As you know, we have established in 2002 the NATO-Russia Council. So every month we have consultations with Russia, within the NATO-Russia Council.
I would very much like to see our cooperation with Russia further developed in the coming years. Practical cooperation in areas where we share interests with Russia; Afghanistan, counterterrorism, counternarcotics, counterpiracy, proliferation, including cooperation on missile defence.
To these existing partnerships I would add, new partners, new partnerships. And I think that's one of the lessons learned from Afghanistan, that we can't solve the problems in Afghanistan without engaging partners across the globe.
Within ISAF we have excellent cooperation with partners across the globe, including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea. I could add to that, that Japan, which is not part of the ISAF coalition, provides a significant financial contribution to our operation in Afghanistan.
And we need to involve these partners more closely in consultations, in decision-shaping and decision-making. When it comes to Afghanistan I think everybody realizes that we also had to engage Pakistan constructively, if we are to solve problems, and if we are to maintain regional stability we should also engage with India and China.
So these examples illustrate that if we are to accomplish our security mission today we need partnerships across the globe and that's what I'm thinking about when I talk about raising our partnerships to a new level.
Q: Thank you. My name is Jerem(ph). I'm from India. I have two questions to you. You mentioned about Afghanistan, the lessons learned. But this week we saw consistently every day we saw a lot of convoys, I mean, NATO convoys, being torched, burned up in the Pakistan. So how do you explain this factor in terms of the lessons you learned?
And the second question about that cooperative security and the new strategic partnership and you referred India. So what kind of role do you see for India in NATO strategic partnership? Thank you.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: First of all, I strongly regret the border incidents we saw last week. One of which also resulted in the killing of Pakistani soldiers. It was an accident. It was a mistake. We had apologized. My convey my condolences to the families of the soldiers who lost their lives.
I've had a meeting with the Pakistani Foreign Minister. We have discussed this and agreed, firstly, that we'll investigate this together, find out what really happened and learn from it.
Secondly, we also agreed that in order to prevent such unfortunate incidents in the future we have to improve our communication and coordination along the border.
But we also agreed that it is essential that we stand firmly together in our fight against extremism and terrorism, from which Pakistan also suffers.
So I think one of the lessons learned is that we need a long-term partnership with Pakistan and other countries in the region.
And as far as India is concerned, I would very much like to see our relationship further develop. We have had some contacts, but at a lower level, at a very technical level I think it would give merit to raise it to the political level and when it's appropriate also have political consultations because India, as well as Pakistan, is an important player in the region.
So what I'm first and foremost thinking about is a political, a more formalized political dialogue between NATO and India.
Q: Hello? Paul (inaudible) from European Commission. I wanted to follow up on the earlier question about the structured cooperation with global partners. You mentioned the NATO-Russia Council. We all know that Russia has also been asking for something more, something specifically regarding European security. It seems that some member states are ready to talk about this and maybe even look something further. What is your own view on this? Is there a need to engage with Russia on some legitimate claims they have on European security?
And secondly, regarding EU-NATO cooperation, you mentioned crisis management, that we should be doing more there. Are there other areas as well that you could foresee in the future? I know that Catherine Ashton has been asked to report to the December Council on ideas. What could you suggest for her? Thanks.
Q: First, on Russia. Yes, you're right, from the Russian side President Medvedev some years ago presented a proposal as regards the creation of a European security architecture frame within a legally binding treaty.
Actually, we have discussed this in the NATO-Russia Council. The NATO position is very clear that we don't see any need for new documents and new legally binding treaties, but we see a need for real progress when it comes to, I would say, the common security. And one specific example would be cooperation on missile defence.
I would expect the NATO Summit in November to take the decision that we will develop a NATO-based missile defence system which can cover the whole of our territory and protect our populations by linking the existing U.S. system with existing European systems that are prepared to protect our deployed troops. But why only protect our deployed troops? Why not expand it to cover the whole population? And that's what it is about. It's technically feasible, by linking these systems together we can provide protection for all citizens in NATO countries.
If we take that decision I think it should also be accompanied by an invitation to Russia to cooperate. It makes sense militarily because it would give the whole system better coverage, make it more efficient and it would make sense politically because it would be clear to everybody that his missile defence system is not directed against Russia, it is really a common defence system.
And that would be a Euro-Atlantic security architecture in the real world that matters to people, the man in the street. I mean, it would be a security roof from Vancouver to Vladivostok. I mean it doesn't give people security to write a treaty, but it gives people security to protect against hostile missiles.
So I'm not against a common security architecture, but I focus on what really matters in the real world, and not on documents and treaties.
As regards NATO and the European Union, I would very much like to see a strengthened partnership. Twenty-one countries are members of both organization, so it's a bit strange that there is still a lack of cooperation when it comes to operations, in theatres where we operate together.
When it comes to development of capabilities there's a clear risk that each organization pursues its own programs instead of merging programs or instead of coordinating programs.
And finally, when it comes to political consultations according to the existing framework, the only issue we are allowed to discuss when I chair common NATO-EU meetings, that's Bosnia. And while Bosnia, of course, is an important issue, I could think of other issues of common interest that also deserve consultation, like Afghanistan, Kosovo, counterpiracy, proliferation, just to mention on terrorism. But we can't.
So we have to make progress. I have noted with great satisfaction that European Council tasked High Representative Ashton to come forward with proposals that go beyond previously presented proposals and I look forward to consulting with her in the coming days and weeks as to how we can bring this cooperation forward.
By the way, that was also one of the issues I discussed in Ankara yesterday.
Q: Mr. Secretary General, my name is (inaudible). I'm representing the Euro-Atlantic Association of Belgium.
Building on what you just said about avoiding duplication and if you talk about a comprehensive approach to handle crisis management, a military approach is not sufficient. You must get along with a spectrum of civilian means, like assistance, police justice. Could these capabilities be supplied in a structured and agreed way by the EU, like it is the case for Berlin Plus? In other words, would NATO favour a reverse Berlin Plus scheme to go into its comprehensive approach?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: It sounds a bit technical, but I think the political part of it is could we imagine a cooperation between NATO and the European Union where the European Union is in the lead when it comes to the broader civilian aspects of cooperation? I mean, the comprehensive approach doesn't mean that NATO will be in the lead necessarily when it comes to civilian reconstruction and development. On the contrary, we don't have the capacities to do that. But what I'm talking about is improving our capacity to interact with other actors on the international scene like the European Union.
So I think the comprehensive approach constitutes an excellent example of how we could expand the cooperation between NATO and the European Union. I want to stress that I'm not saying that the European Union should then deal with civilian aspects alone. I fully recognize that European Union has also the ambition, and rightly so, to take on military operations within the new Lisbon treaty. But the European Union has at its disposal a broader range of instruments that could be useful as a supplement to the military operation when it comes to crisis management. And that's also a part of an additional answer to the question raised before, where could I imagine an expanded cooperation between NATO and European Union. And comprehensive approach is exactly one of the areas.
Q: Secretary General, David Brunnstrom from Reuters. I want to go back to Pakistan. Could you give us some explanation from your side of how you see the recent... the deterioration of relations between the West and Pakistan recently.
And following on from that, how can you actually reconcile the different strategic interests that Pakistan and NATO actually have in Afghanistan? And in the shorter term, how optimistic are you that this border closure issue can be resolved and that the Torkham border crossing reopened so that it doesn't... before it affects NATO operations seriously?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Starting with the latter, the Pakistani civilian and military authorities have assured us that we could expect the borders to be reopened for our convoys shortly. And I really hope that would be the case, because it's also an increasingly security problem. I mean, the convoys are now lining up and are very easy targets for militants, so I think also from a security point of view it is a matter of urgency to reopen the border crossings.
Secondly, I don't think it's an accurate description of our relationship to use the word deteriorating. We have had a very unfortunate border incident. We also have to realize that it has created some, let's call it, concerns in the Pakistani public, the press, the Parliament. And it's a very difficult situation to handle for the Pakistani government and the Pakistani military. But in our talks with the Pakistani leaders they have all assured us that they stay committed to our common fight against extremism and terrorism.
And the first part of your question is how can we reconcile all this? And I visited Pakistan a couple of months ago and in concrete terms I suggested that we prepare a political declaration framework for a more long-term partnership so that Pakistan clearly understands that we stay committed to the region, we stay committed to peace and stability in the region. Our goal is obviously to make the Afghans capable to take responsibility for their own country, but I can assure you we will not leave Afghanistan until we are sure that the Afghans can actually take responsibility themselves.
In other words, we will not leave behind a security vacuum to the detriment of other countries in the region. I think that's a way to reassure countries in the region.
Q: (Inaudible...), formerly with the European Commission. Reading recently in anticipation of your new concept, reading European papers, American papers, and political journals they have used expression that you may propose a new global role for NATO. You very carefully avoided using that expression. I'm wondering you can comment on that?
The other one, my other question is about China. You mentioned about Russia, India. These three countries of course they are not member of NATO, and I'm wondering how in any possible involvement of NATO, new involvement in Asia, how you are going to deal with the legitimate concerns of China in that respect?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: No, you're right, I've not spoken about a new role or new missions or new involvement. On the contrary I have stressed that NATO's core task was, is and will remain territorial defence of our countries and populations. According to the very famous Article 5 in the NATO Treaty.
So in that respect there's no expansion of our ambitions. But what I have been spoken about is the need to understand correctly what territorial defence is about in today's world. And we have to understand that effective protection of our own populations may start beyond our borders. That's a new thing. It’s not an expansion of NATO's ambitions, but it is to realize that if we are to protect our people against terrorism then we may have to fight terrorism at its roots, like in Afghanistan.
So effective territorial defence in a globalized world may take out of area operations. Yes, our operations may even start in cyberspace. And it is, I think, it's a well-placed question because it's very important to understand this correctly. That I'm not speaking about expanding operations, but making their classical territorial defence more effective. That's what it is about.
And I think regarding China and other major players that it makes sense to expand our range of consultations to also include China and other major players like India in our regular political consultations. Just one argument in that respect: NATO operates on the basis of United Nations' mandates. We operate on the basis of a UN mandate in Afghanistan and likewise in Kosovo, within KFOR.
We have special relationships, so to speak, with four out of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, because three of them are actually allies: the United States, France and United Kingdom. And with the fourth we have a special partnership within the NATO-Russia Council, and thereby also a framework for regular consultations.
But with the fifth member of... permanent member of the Security Council we don't have an organized dialogue. This is my argument, among others, for expanding our consultations to also include India. But as I've said, China and other major players as well.
Moderator: So Secretary, thank you so much. I know there are many more questions. Unfortunately, the Secretary General has to go now. I would like to thank you once again for these very illuminating remarks and reflections on the new Strategic Concept and all the best for NATO's endeavours and the Lisbon Summit. Thank you again.