Jean-Claude JUNCKER Prime Minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Those Luxembourgers who experienced the Second World War do not hesitate to contrast the pre-war with the post-war period. This does not simply reflect the trauma caused by the violation of Luxembourgs neutrality and subsequent occupation and war. It can also be attributed to the external threat that was felt after 1933 which finally led to the terrible hardships resulting from the war. Abandoning an unarmed neutrality which twice in this century proved useless and joining a political and military alliance the Atlantic Alliance was a real watershed for Luxembourg.

The feeling of no longer being alone while a new balance of power was emerging and, above all, having the confidence of standing alongside the United States of America, which paid in blood to give back freedom and dignity to the oppressed peoples of Europe all this should be recalled as we mark the 50th Anniversary of our Alliance. On this day, the gratitude of Luxembourg goes out to all those responsible for ensuring stability and peace on the Old Continent.

The emergence of the European Communities, transformed in the meantime into the European Union, and the reunification of Germany, would have been unthinkable without the protective shield of NATO.

We should recall that already back in the 1960s, NATO offered the hand of friendship to its adversaries as expressed in the Harmel doctrine. It is from this policy of firmly defending the essential values of the Euro-Atlantic community while offering dialogue to the entire European continent that NATO will draw its resources for the future. This is the collective ambition of our organisation as we welcome the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland into our ranks.

Now we must ask ourselves, should we adapt NATO to the new geopolitical realities, and if so to what extent? Since the revision of its strategic concept in Rome in 1991, NATO has entered into partnership with all the countries of Europe, including Russia and Ukraine, states that naturally occupy a privileged position.

My first wish is to see this cooperation deepened and enriched with all our partners. In this regard, the peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina represent NATOs finest success.

My second wish is to use this experience to clarify the transition from an Alliance initially conceived for the defence of territory a mission which is not being put into question to an Alliance defending the values and interests of its members. In other words, to find a way to help stabilise an uncertain world facing new risks.

My third desire is that this rejuvenated and renovated Alliance, in the context of its new strategic concept, make adequate allowance for the European Security and Defence Identity. Right now the question of defence is emerging as the next European challenge to be tackled in the wake of the achievement of Economic and Monetary Union. This innovation is the best way to ensure more durable, stable relations, because it would mean a better balance with our indispensable ally, the United States.

In Washington it is my hope that we will inaugurate an era of modernised atlanticism, respecting the principles that have inspired an exceptional joint endeavour that remains without parallel in history.