Letter from the Secretary General
Shaping NATO for the 21st century
NATO Summits are not regular events. In the history of the Alliance they have occurred only at important moments for particular purposes. Each of the three NATO Summits this decade has moved the Alliance forward in a process of change and renewal. In London (1990), Rome (1991) and Brussels (1994), NATO leaders gave the Alliance new roles, new Partners - and a new vision.
The 1997 Madrid Summit will mark the moment when the processes of transformation and change converge and the new Alliance finally emerges:
Of the many critical decisions that NATO has made in its recent history, those at the Madrid Summit will be perhaps the most crucial. They will stamp their mark on European security as a whole. That is why the ground for those decisions must be prepared thoroughly and well.
The North Atlantic Council (NAC) and North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) Ministerials last December contributed significantly to ensuring that the Summit will be a success. They defined the Summit's agenda and made progress on a number of key issues.
By recommending to their Heads of State and Government to invite at the Summit one or more countries to start accession negotiations with the Alliance, NATO Ministers have moved forward the process of opening the Alliance to new members.
The initiative to develop with our Partners an Atlantic Partnership Council will contribute to a more productive, cooperative and consultative process with them. The new Council is intended as a forum where Partners and Allies can consult on the basis of equality: it will provide the framework and the direction for an enhanced Partnership for Peace.
Another key development was that NATO Foreign Ministers made clear their intention to come to agreement with Russia on arrangements that could deepen and widen the scope of the current NATO-Russia relationship. NATO's goal is a strong, stable and enduring security partnership with Russia which would include cooperation and consultation on a wide range of European security issues, as well as firm consultation and liaison mechanisms.
In the meeting between the NAC and Russian Foreign Minister Primakov last December, and in my own talks with him, I came away with the impression that Russia is ready to discuss NATO's offer of partnership and to develop an agreement. In the months ahead, I shall be exploring with Russia the prospect of such an agreement.
The real test of NATO's vitality lies in the extent to which the Alliance can contribute to tackling concrete security issues, including helping bring peace to areas of conflict, such as that seen in Bosnia and Herzegovina up until a year ago.
At the December Ministerials, Alliance Foreign and Defence Ministers agreed that NATO would continue to take on the leading role in the newly formed Stabilisation Force (SFOR) for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
But SFOR is not NATO alone. As in the former Implementation Force, we welcomed the troop contributions of many Partners and other non-NATO countries, as part of the international coalition for peace. Such close, intensive and successful cooperation in the field has provided an important foundation to the new Euro-Atlantic cooperative security order we are trying to build.
It is through partnership with others - nations, as well as European organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union, the Western European Union, the Council of Europe - that together with NATO's contribution we shall achieve the goal of a truly cooperative approach to security in Europe.
It is my firm view that next July's Euro-Atlantic Summit for Cooperation and Security will be the occasion when the extent of NATO's adaptation and transformation, and of its contribution to the new cooperative security order, will be evident to all. The decisions we reach at Madrid will ensure that this is so.