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A more capable and balanced alliance
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A more capable and balanced alliance
The Atlantic alliance is now in its second half-century. That alone is an achievement, and a testament to the energy and relevance of this organisation. But what is perhaps more impressive is the broad and important agenda NATO is pursuing as we enter the 21st century: from enlargement, to partnership and cooperation, to our relations with Russia, Ukraine and the Mediterranean, to our operations in the Balkans. Taken together, a very challenging agenda but one that demonstrates clearly NATOs vital role in shaping European security for the better.
The Defence Capabilities Initiative (DCI) was originally intended as a measure to address the growing technology gap between the United States and its NATO allies.
Recent moves towards a common European defence and security policy and European defence capabilities that are separable but not separate from NATO have sparked off considerable debate.
The development of a European Security and Defence Identity that is separable but not separate from NATO took a new turn at the European Unions Helsinki summit in December 1999.
The Armaments Review, approved by allied ministers in December 1999, provides a compelling blueprint for reforming the policies, structures and procedures governing NATOs armaments activities, and equipping alliance forces more effectively and efficiently.
The fragile relationship between Russia and NATO was dealt a severe blow by differences over Kosovo.
At their Istanbul summit in November 1999, the leaders of 54 states participating in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe signed the Charter for European Security.
At the Washington summit last year, allied leaders set out their vision of an alliance with new missions, new members, new partnerships, and a commitment to strengthen its defence capabilities.
On 3 March 2000, the air command of the North Atlantic Alliance in Europe was reorganised from three into two regions: Region North and Region South, divided by the Alps.
Current cuts in the number of active forces in most NATO countries make it even more important that effective use be made of reserve personnel and their experience.
Five Russian soldiers came to the rescue of a US soldier, who was severely wounded during a mine strike on 15 December 1999.
This was the first meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) at Defence Ministers level since the Washington Summit. The meeting focused on cooperation in the Balkans and progress in developing the enhanced and more operational Partnership as foreseen at Washington
The NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) met on 3 December 1999 in Defence Ministerial Session, the first such meeting since the Washington Summit.
The Defence Planning Committee and Nuclear Planning Group of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 2 December 1999
The North Atlantic Council met in Defence Ministers Session in Brussels on 2 December, 1999
The Foreign Ministers and Representatives of the member countries of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) met in Brussels today. The Secretary-General of the Western European Union also attended the meeting. Ministers welcomed Ireland as the newest member of the EAPC
The NATO-Ukraine Commission met in Foreign Ministers session at NATO Headquarters on 15 December 1999.
Focus on NATO activities, July 2000

To maintain NATOs effectiveness, however, we must continue to enhance the foundation of this alliance our military capability. In todays unpredictable security environment, it is still vital to ensure that our military forces are equipped appropriately to accomplish effectively the missions we assign to them.

Kosovo demonstrates the importance of getting this right. NATOs military forces havecarried out a very wide range of missions from providing humanitarian support to refugees, to a range of air operations, to the ground operation now deployed in Kosovo. This illustrates the scope of tasks our forces face in the 21st century, and they must be trained and equipped to meet them. We must work hard, and invest appropriately, to ensure that all the allies can both operate effectively, and operate effectively together.

The Defence Capabilities Initiative, which we launched at the Washington summit, is a big step in the right direction. This project will help to ensure that all NATOs allies make the necessary investment in key technologies and essential capabilities. It will also improve interoperability between allied forces, and with NATOs Partners. We have to make changes today, to be ready for an unpredictable tomorrow. One of my priorities as Secretary General is to make sure this initiative delivers.

The initiative will also contribute to another important project in development: a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI). Europe has now decided to improve its capabilities, the better to play a role in preserving peace and security commensurate with its economic weight. NATO stands ready to support that process by making its assets available for European-led operations. This will result in a more balanced alliance, with a stronger European input.

These are crucial efforts. Both initiatives will ensure that the alliance remains militarily capable. They will also balance roles and responsibilities more fairly, to build a more mature transatlantic relationship to reflect the new security environment. Together, these initiatives will enhance NATOs ability to meet effectively the challenges of the new millennium and to provide security for the generations to come.

Lord Robertson