Updated: 12-Mar-2001 NATO Speeches

6 September

Building a new Europe

Speech by Secretary General, Manfred Wörner at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech and Slovak Republic Prague

A year ago it would have seemed unimaginable that a Secretary General of NATO visit Czechoslovakia as the official guest of your government. Yet today a new Europe has emerged which makes the once impossible now seem wholly natural; a Europe drawn together by the unfettered aspiration for freedom, democracy and economic prosperity.

Your proud nation, always loyal to the traditions of Thomas Masaryk and Eduard Benes, has played its part in bringing about this historic change. In 1968 the Prague Spring proved that the love of your countrymen for freedom could not be extinguished, despite the dark years that followed. Charter 77 and other courageous groups stuck doggedly to the principles of the CSCE Final Act and its humanitarian provisions, thus creating, even at the worst periods of repression by the state, an area of freedom about them.

Today Czechoslovakia is engaged in a bold process of democratic and economic renewal. This will not be easy, as we all know, but your country has a long democratic heritage and a tradition of industrial enterprise which bodes well for your ultimate success. For your nation in its history and culture is quintessentially a Western one. With energy and vision, your new leaders are proving that Czechoslovakia intends also to play a key role in building the new European order. Their proposals for a new European security architecture and their staunch defence of human rights and freedoms are an inspiration to us all.

It is, of course, not only in the relations between government and people that the Cold War is over. Also in the relations between nations we see a new spirit of cooperation - a common desire not to be held back by the fears and suspicions that have bedevilled all previous attempts to create a European family of nations. Indeed I would say that never has Europe had such a palpable opportunity to break out of the infernal cycle of peace and war and create a durable order of peace and prosperity. It is the privilege of our generation to have this historically unique opportunity to make a fresh start.

We in the Alliance are determined to seize this opportunity. Certainly, and even with all the changes we see, age-old fears and suspicions, stereotyped images and popular misconceptions, will not be banished overnight. But they can be overcome, as President Havel has so eloquently stated. The active participation of Czechoslovakia in the Pentagonal Initiative, and its role in bringing the newly born democracies of Central Europe together, show also how quickly bridges can be built over old divisions. We now have a chance to spend our energy, imagination and money on building those democratic, free-market societies that we know are inherently peaceful, and thus our best guarantee of lasting stability, security and prosperity.

I have come to Prague today with the same, very simple message that I took to Moscow in July and which I will take to Warsaw next week; for it is a message that is addressed with equal conviction to all our former adversaries who are now our friends and partners. We extend the hand of friendship to you. We wish to cooperate with you. The time of confrontation is over. The hostility and mistrust of the past must be buried. We need to work together. Only in this way can we build the Common European Home or the European Confederation or the new European Order, call it what you will. We all know what we mean : a Europe of democracy, human rights and partnership in which the whole sustains the parts and the parts sustain the whole. We must go forward together; or we will be condemned to go backwards separately.

There is a way that leads us beyond confrontation and towards a Europe whole and free:
  • through the building of new structures of cooperation, a new European architecture that includes all of us;

  • through arms control negotiations to reduce weapons to the minimum, and to increase stability and reassurance;

  • through cooperation between us in all fields, political, economic, scientific, cultural.
We need to look afresh at our objectives and tasks. This our Atlantic Alliance has done, and will continue to do. At the London Summit in early July we decided to change our Alliance in the most far-reaching way since its inception forty one years ago. We have no interest in a confrontational system. For NATO has a new, even more valuable role to play as a supporting pillar of
a new and peaceful order of cooperation in Europe. In such an order military power will play a lesser role; less dominant, threatening no-one and dedicated to the role of reassurance against risks and the prevention of war.

How has NATO changed, you may well ask. Which concrete steps have we taken?
  • We are reducing our defence budgets and scaling back our forces;

  • we are reviewing our force structures, and changing our military strategy;

  • we are reducing the readiness of our active units, reducing training requirements and the number of exercises;

  • we are relying less on nuclear forces in Europe; we have proposed to the Soviet Union the elimination from Europe of all nuclear artillery war-heads;

  • we have offered to negotiate on short-range nuclear forces in Europe once a CFE treaty is signed. We have already convened a meeting of our Alliance's Special Consultative Group to draw up a mandate for these talks;

  • and also, following agreement on CFE, we have offered immediately to proceed to follow-on negotiations to build on that agreement, including measures to limit manpower in Europe.
These changes will be carried out as Soviet forces leave the territories of Czechoslovakia and Hungary, as they have already agreed to do so, and also the territory of the present - day GDR in the transition period following German unification. They will also be conditional on the implementation of a CFE treaty which will give all participating states firm guarantees against military aggression or intimidation. Moreover the Atlantic Alliance wishes not only to eliminate tension by reducing weapons, but also by increasing confidence and transparency. Thus we are pushing hard for an Open Skies agreement; we are proposing discussions on military strategy and doctrine. Above all we want security to be something that we discuss and decide upon together.

No nation these days can provide for its security alone or in isolation from its neighbours. Nations seeking total security by their own efforts only create insecurity around them. So we must never re-nationalize European security. On the contrary real security can be achieved only through cooperation and sharing.

This does not, of course, mean that NATO or any European nation has to be defenceless. We live in an uncertain world with many risks and instabilities. Indeed the present Gulf crisis has brought this home to us with a vengeance. This crisis is not like previous regional disputes in which the interests of only a few nations were directly at stake; nor is it only, or even primarily, about oil. If our principal common objective - which must be the complete Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and the release of all hostages - is not fulfilled, the entire international community will be exposed to grave danger. Danger from the precedent of a large, powerful country cynically taking over a smaller neighbour; danger even more ominously from the ambitions that successful aggression will undoubtedly engender in dictatorships that increasingly have access to technologies of mass destruction.

Thus it is of crucial importance not only for Kuwait, and peace in the Middle East, but for our common effort to create a more durable and just international order after the Cold War that the United Nations sanctions against Iraq should work. We in the Alliance are determined to maintain our solidarity, and we will do our utmost to build further on the new-found effectiveness of the United Nations as the guarantor of international law and stability. I salute the robust stance that Czechoslovakia has taken on this issue and trust that we can continue to work together until we can prove to Iraq - and all potential belligerants - that naked aggression cannot succeed.

Our Alliance must maintain a secure defence and we expect no less of other nations. NATO will maintain a mix of conventional and nuclear forces in Europe as the ultimate guarantee of peace. Yet our goal is clear : to reduce military forces in Europe to a minimum so that no nation needs to threaten others to feel secure itself. A military posture that gives maximum reassurance is possible. Our Alliance's experience with its integrated defence structure proves this; for could any of you seriously imagine 16 sovereign and democratic states deciding to launch or support an attack?

Our aim is a Europe in which military aggression or threat becomes materially impossible and politically meaningless. At our NATO Summit we moved resolutely ahead to put the structures of such a secure Europe in place.

Firstly in creating a new dialogue with your country and all the other members of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation. We have invited President Gorbachev to come to Brussels to address the North Atlantic Council - an invitation that I was able to deliver in person in Moscow last July and which he readily accepted. After the recent visit of Minister Dienstbier, we also look forward to a visit by President Havel.

We have proposed the establishment of diplomatic contacts with NATO, to which Czechoslovakia has favourably responded. We look also to a multi-plication of military as well as diplomatic contacts and exchanges. We have proposed to negotiate a joint declaration on non-aggression between the member states of NATO and of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation.

Secondly in pursuing the arms control process with vigour and determination. A conventional arms control agreement is the key that will unlock the
syndrome of confrontation among the old adversaries of the two alliances. Thus it is the indispensable first step in building a Europe whole and free; which is why I am counting on the Czechoslovak government to do all it can to help us conclude this treaty now. This agreement will lay the basis of cooperation and mutual reassurance that will enable us to create an enduring peace in Europe. It is the secure foundation on which the new European order must be built if it is to last.

The conventional arms control process, coupled with talks on short range nuclear forces and an agreement on additional Confidence Building Measures, will give all of us in Europe guarantees that change and renewal will not be prejudicial to anyone's legitimate security interests. This is particularly important in the case of your neighbour, the Soviet Union. Understandably that country fears exclusion from the new Europe and is experiencing the impact of change most acutely. So it is essential that we use the arms control process to convince the Soviet Union that it has nothing to fear, but indeed everything to gain from helping a process of change - that it has done so much to initiate - to continue to its natural destination - a Europe whole and free.

Thirdly the NATO Summit in London set forth our ideas for building on the CSCE to bring all of Europe closer together in new or expanded structures of cooperation. Czechoslovakia, of course, also attaches key importance to an enhanced role for the CSCE as the genesis of a future European order. Your government in this respect has made a number of important and interesting proposals. In the weeks leading up to the CSCE Summit, we will strive to bring these ideas together into a coherent concept.

To be effective, however, CSCE must serve first and foremost to protect democracy and freedom throughout Europe, and tackle the problems involved in the transition to efficient market economies. Thus NATO has proposed a range of initiatives to strengthen the existing Helsinki principles and establish new forms of cooperation: initiatives such as the right to free and fair elections, commitments to uphold the rule of law, guidelines for economic and en-vironmental cooperation. In applying to become a member of the Council of Europe, Czechoslovakia has demonstrated that it attaches the same importance to these values as we do in our Alliance.

To enable the CSCE to perform these tasks, and to amplify and give more structure to wider political dialogue, NATO has proposed new institutional forms for the CSCE, most notably a programme for regular high-level consul-tations among member governments; CSCE review conferences once every two years; a small CSCE secretariat; a CSCE centre for the Prevention of Conflict; and a parliamentary Assembly of Europe. Our aim is to have a CSCE that allows all the nations of Central and Eastern Europe to play a full role in building with us the future European order.

Will you, however, permit me to sound on the subject of CSCE just one note of caution? I know that there are many in the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, as in our Alliance nations, who see CSCE as a replacement for the existing security organisations. I will not comment on the Warsaw Treaty Organisation for its continuation is clearly dependent on the free choice of its members. Yet NATO will remain an essential supporting pillar of a successful CSCE.

The CSCE can certainly enhance security. But it cannot substitute for the Atlantic Alliance. It does not have the means to take sanctions or ensure their implementation. The interests of each of its members, their social structures and value systems, at least for the foreseeable future, are too diverse to enable them to act collectively to preserve security in the event of crisis. This does not in any way diminish the importance of CSCE as a framework for creating confidence and promoting cooperation. It can, for instance, contribute to the peaceful resolution of disputes between states arising from problems with national minorities. We indeed see already how much instability they can cause in Central and Eastern Europe. In this respect the introduction into law of those commitments on human rights contained in the Helsinki Final Act can be a useful step forward. At the same time, we can and will develop confidence building measures and information exchanges that will enable us to live more harmoniously together. Yet, in the final analysis, CSCE will live up to its promise only if it is complementary to a strong Atlantic Alliance on which it can rely. Consequently, it will be all the more successful to the extent that we do not burden it with unrealistic expectations from the outset.

The existence of a strong and coherent new Atlantic Alliance is in the interest of Czechoslovakia as much as of any other European nation. It provides stablility for change and maintains the transatlantic link with the United States of America and Canada. This is indispensable for peace, and the freedom and security of the whole of Europe.

Yet even such a well-established and resilient institution as NATO cannot shoulder alone the burden of ensuring cooperation, prosperity and peaceful progress across Europe. Fortunately for this purpose we also have the European Community. It is the other essential component in our Western institutional framework and it too is undergoing a process of change and renewal in its striving to achieve an ever closer union of its members. While NATO provides the stability and the transatlantic link, the European Community provides dynamism, creativity and the basis of an ever more fruitful economic inter-dependence. Together with an expanded role for the CSCE, both a strong NATO and a strong European Community are the prerequisites for a Europe of progress and prosperity. None can succeed without the others.

At a time when the entire international system is being transformed, no government or alliance can fully control the powerful forces that make change inevitable. But by working together we can steer that change and produce an outcome in which there are no losers, only winners. I am vastly more hopeful in this respect now that agreement has been reached on membership of a united Germany in our Alliance. This will increase stability for all. It is the gateway to overcoming division, and to establishing a partnership between Western Europe and the newly democratising nations which will be a key factor in their economic and social modernization.

In short, NATO sees its future role as putting in place new structures of cooperation across Europe that will make it impossible for a situation like the Cold War ever to return. We want to work together with you in helping to manage the two crucial tasks in Europe today :'
  • to promote constructive change;

  • to provide stability so that change can take place in optimal conditions, with diminished risk of setbacks and reversals.
Here in Prague I hardly need to emphasize the benefits that cooperation between us will bring. The 21st century will bring new challenges, some of which could threaten our survival even more than nearly half a century of Cold War. Environmental degradation is one which your government is particularly concerned about; terrorism another which has been the subject of some fruitful discussions between Czechoslovakia and Alliance member nations in recent weeks. You too are aware as we are of the destabilizing potential of such things as drugs, hunger, population growth and the proliferation of immensely destructive military technologies in the Third World. Thus a dynamic Europe of advanced industrial economies and technological inter-dependence is not only essential for our material prosperity, but also for our security and stability at home and abroad. Without such cohesion Europe could well be the victim of these global challenges; together we can help to solve them.

My visit to this great European city of Prague today symbolizes a new era; but it is also a concrete invitation : to work together using our combined resources and ingenuity to create a new world, a world of cooperation where none of us feel threatened. We cannot escape the responsibility that this unique opportunity brings. Czechoslovakia which has contributed so much to our European political and intellectual culture, is a key partner in the building of a new Europe and a more just and equal world order. Let us therefore make today the start of that new relationship and work for that brighter future with trust and imagination.

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