|Updated: 17-Jan-2000||NATO Review|
NATO in the new millennium
NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson speaks to multinational SFOR troops in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on 21 October, during a two-day visit to the region.
(NATO photo - 62Kb)
In his first article in NATO Review, the new Secretary General sets out his vision of the Alliance and his main priorities at the start of his tenure, building on the achievements of his predecessor. As its essential foundation, the Alliance must maintain a healthy transatlantic relationship, based on shared values and a common commitment to uphold them. To achieve this goal, the new NATO must be better balanced, with a stronger European contribution within a more militarily capable Alliance. And the new NATO must remain open - open to new members, open to deepening cooperation with its Partners, and open to creative ways to bring peace and security to the Euro-Atlantic region.
Let me begin by stating how honoured and pleased I am to have been selected
for this position. NATO has been and remains today the most effective
Alliance on earth. No other organisation has done more over the past half-century
to preserve the peace, freedom and democracy of its members. And in recent
months, the Alliance has proved it is fully up to the most demanding security
challenges in the Euro-Atlantic region.
Much of the credit for this success in recent years is due to my predecessor
as Secretary General, Dr Javier Solana. During his four-year tenure, the
Alliance faced enormous challenges:
All these challenges were met successfully, thanks to the leadership
of Javier Solana and to the remarkable cohesion of the Alliance, as well
as its ability to adapt. The Alliance has evolved from a passive, reactive
defence organisation into one which is actively building security right
across Europe. NATO's agenda over this past decade has been so successfully
implemented that the Alliance itself is more relevant and more indispensable
than it has ever been. NATO's foundations as it enters the 21st century
are rock solid.
My job is to build on that success, in order to ensure that NATO continues to meet the challenges of the future. Let me outline several of the specifics.
The North Atlantic Council meets ethnic Albanian and Serb community leaders at KFOR headquarters, Pristina, Kosovo, on 22 October. (NATO photo - 23Kb)
First, NATO will have to continue to play its full role in the stabilisation
of the Balkans. We must not only consolidate the peace we are building
in Kosovo, but also contribute to the wider efforts of the international
community to build lasting stability and prosperity across South-eastern
Europe. We must ensure that the future of this region does not remain
a prisoner of the past.
We have already made real progress in Kosovo. The air campaign achieved
our objectives of reversing the ethnic cleansing, and forcing President
Milosevic to withdraw his forces. A secure environment is slowly being
restored. Over 800,000 refugees have returned home. The UN has established
its presence, and 1,800 UN police are on the streets.
The Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) has been disbanded, and a civil emergency
force has been created. A multi-ethnic transitional council meets weekly,
setting the stage for a multi-ethnic political future. And preparations
are underway for elections sometime next year. This is real progress,
when one remembers the chaos and violence the Kosovars were suffering
under the Yugoslav regime, just a few months ago.
There is still much work to be done. The immediate goal of the international
community, including NATO, is to help every citizen of Kosovo enjoy the
peace and security that we all enjoy. Over time, we must also foster democracy,
and begin to create the conditions in which Kosovo can thrive economically.
This will require real commitment, but we will persevere. We won the war
- we must not lose the peace.
Bosnia shows the benefits to be derived from patient engagement. This
country has made real progress since NATO deployed in 1995, and continues
to improve. This year, some 80,000 refugees returned home - twice the
rate of last year. More and more moderates are being elected to government
because Bosnians want peace. In fact, the security situation has improved
to the point that the Alliance is able to reduce the numbers of troops
in Bosnia by one-third, to about 20,000. Our long-term goal is getting
closer: self-sustaining peace in Bosnia.
But to reinforce our success in these two trouble spots, we must look
beyond them, to South-eastern Europe as a whole. Throughout the Kosovo
campaign, our Partners from South-eastern Europe showed their solidarity
with NATO's actions, supporting the Allies despite the economic hardships
and domestic troubles they face. They should be able to count on our support
The EU-led Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe is a major step forward.
It acknowledges the need for a more comprehensive approach to the whole
region, focusing on three areas: democratisation and human rights; economic
reconstruction, development and cooperation; and security issues.
NATO is actively supporting the Pact in the security field. The key is
the South East Europe Initiative that we launched at the Washington Summit
last April. This initiative brings together the Allies and seven countries
of the region to develop practical cooperation. We will work with these
Partners to encourage regional cooperation. And, as part of NATO's enlargement
process, we will help aspirant countries from South-eastern Europe to
prepare their candidacies for NATO membership.
My goal is to help build a Balkans that is inside the European family
of democratic values, not a problem for it. This will be one of my priorities
during my tenure as Secretary General.
US soldiers from the 31 st Air Expeditionary Wing prepare the laser-guided bombs of an F-15 at Aviano airbase, Italy, on 30 March. The Allies relied heavily on the more advanced weapons technologies of the US air force during Operation Allied Force. (Reuters photo - 45Kb)
Both Bosnia and Kosovo demonstrated the value of diplomacy backed by
force. If we need the same in future, we must ensure that adequate force
is available. In this respect, the Kosovo crisis was not just a success
but also a wake-up call. It made crystal clear that NATO needs to improve
its defence capabilities. We have to make changes today, to be ready for
an unpredictable tomorrow.
During the air campaign, the United States bore a disproportionate share
of the burden, because the other Allies did not have all the military
capabilities and technology needed. Clearly, we must rectify this imbalance
and work to ensure that all the Allies have the technology necessary to
be militarily effective, and to cooperate 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 ensure
that all of NATO's Allies develop certain essential capabilities. It will
also take steps to improve interoperability between Allied forces. This
is not just a question of spending more - it is also about spending more
Promoting interoperability with NATO's Partners is also a key priority. We have seen both in Bosnia and Kosovo how important they have become in the conduct of peace-support operations in Europe.
Dr Javier Solana, High Representative for the EUs Common Foreign and Security Policy, listens to Finnish Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen, President of the EU Council, at the first formal joint EU foreign and defence ministers meeting, in Brussels on 15 November. Proposals for the creation of a European rapid reaction force were discussed, in preparation for the EU Helsinki Summit in December. (AP photo - 45Kb)
I also intend to help reinforce the European role in NATO. The European
Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) is not just an attractive idea: it
is an urgent necessity. Simply put, the burden of dealing with European
security crises should not fall disproportionately on the shoulders of
the United States. We need to create a more balanced Alliance, with a
stronger European input.
Europe recognises this - and is starting to do something about it. It
now has to build the necessary capabilities, as well as institutions,
to allow it to play a stronger role in preserving peace and security.
NATO supports that process.
For my part, I will work to ensure that ESDI is based on three I's:
ESDI does not mean "less US" ... it means "more Europe"
and a stronger NATO. I very much look forward to working on this project
with Mr Solana, in his new post as "Monsieur PESC"(1).
Russian President Boris Yeltsin (right), Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov (left) and Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev (centre background) at the opening ceremony of the OSCE Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, on 18 November. One of Lord Robertsons priorities for the Alliance is to get NATO-Russia relations back on track. (AP photo - 44Kb)
Another of my immediate priorities will be to work to establish a deeper
cooperation with Russia. I welcome the fact that Russia is once again
participating in meetings of the Permanent Joint Council, including at
the military level. But we must move beyond just discussing Bosnia and
Kosovo, and resume work on the full range of cooperative activities agreed
under the Founding Act.
The reason is simple - security in Europe requires cooperation between
NATO and Russia. There is no way around it. Both Russia and NATO share
common interests: keeping the peace in the Balkans, arms control, non-proliferation,
and cooperation in science.
It is to our mutual benefit to cooperate in areas where we agree, and
to continue talking even when we disagree. I intend to work hard to build
this kind of strong, practical relationship.
NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, General Wesley Clark, meet Ljupco Georgievski, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2) one of the Partner countries neighbouring Kosovo that gave the Allies staunch support during the Kosovo crisis, and provided invaluable assistance to the hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanian refugees. (Skopje, 22 October ). (Belga photo - 70Kb).
I also want to strengthen still further the links between NATO and its
other Partners. Throughout the Kosovo crisis, NATO's Partners have demonstrated
clearly that they are no longer standing on the sidelines of security.
They are key players.
The countries neighbouring Kosovo provided invaluable assistance to the
tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the brutality of Serb security forces.
They were staunch supporters of NATO operations to bring the violence
to a halt. And now, as in Bosnia, over 20 Partners are sending troops
to Kosovo to help keep the peace.
Through these major contributions, the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme
and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) have demonstrated their
value in developing a cooperative approach to security across the Euro-Atlantic
region. I want them to become even more operational and relevant to the
security needs of our Partners. That is why I intend to support fully
the improvements we have recently made to PfP to improve interoperability,
and to give our Partners more say in planning and conducting NATO-led
peace- support operations.
Finally, one of my key responsibilities will be to prepare NATO for the
next round of enlargement. NATO's Heads of State and Government are committed
to considering further enlargement by no later than 2002.
Between now and then, we must utilise the full potential of the Membership Action Plan and give all aspirant countries as much support as possible in meeting their targets. The door to NATO will remain open.
Taken together, this is a broad and ambitious agenda, and it will require
a lot of hard work to accomplish it. But as I look to the future of this
great Alliance, I am very confident.
Today, NATO remains the centrepiece of Europe's collective defence, with new missions, new members, and ever-deepening partnerships. It is essential to ensure that NATO continues to make its unique and vital contribution to Euro-Atlantic security well into the next century.
Profile of the Secretary General
Robertson (53) succeeded Dr Javier Solana as Secretary General of
NATO on 14 October 1999.
in Port Ellen on the Isle of Islay in Scotland, he is a graduate
in Economics of the University of Dundee. Following his studies,
George Robertson worked as a full-time official of the General,
Municipal and Boilermakers' Union from 1968 to 1978, where he was
responsible for the Scottish Whisky industry.
then entered political life and served as a Labour Party Member
of Parliament for Hamilton (latterly Hamilton South) from 1978 to
1999. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of
State for Social Services in 1979.
the 1979 General Election, he was Opposition Spokesman, first on
Scottish Affairs (1979-80) and then on Defence (1980-81). From 1981
to 1993, he served in various capacities as Opposition Spokesman
on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, including as Deputy Opposition
Spokesman on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1983), and as Principal
Spokesman on European Affairs from 1984 to 1993. He joined the Shadow
Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland in 1993, a position
he held until the Labour Party came back into power after the May
1997 General Election.
Robertson then served as Secretary of State for Defence until his
appointment as NATO Secretary General.
taking up his new appointment, he received a life peerage and took
the title Lord Robertson of Port Ellen on 24 August 1999.
He has served in an advisory capacity on numerous bodies and received a number of awards, including being named joint Parliamentarian of the Year in 1993 for his role during the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty.
full curriculum vitae
of the Secretary General