Updated: 12-Mar-2001 NATO Speeches

22 November

Speech before the Hungarian Parliament

Speech by Secretary General, Manfred Wörner

Until about eighteen months ago, the visit of the Secretary General of NATO to Hungary as the official guest of your Budapest government would have seemed an exercise in futurology. Yet today a new Europe has emerged which makes the once improbable now seem wholly natural; a Europe drawn together by the unfettered aspiration for freedom, democracy and economic prosperity.

Hungary, a nation at the geographical as well as cultural heart of Europe, has played a crucial role in bringing about this historic change. From the outset it was clear that the Hungarian people would never bow to totalitarian rule nor accept permanent isolation from their fellow Europeans. In 1956 your people bravely rose up against oppression, with tragic consequences. In the years that followed, you worked more cautiously but with the same dogged determination to change the system from within. Hungary was always different from other Communist countries, exuding a sense of a Western society itching to break free of a rigid but ultimately fragile corset.

You have not only liberated yourselves but helped decisively to liberate others. The decision of Hungary in the late Summer of 1989 to brave the anger of its Warsaw Pact allies and allow the East Germans to go to the West triggered the collapse of Communist regimes in Central and, later, Eastern Europe. I believe that change was inevitable sooner or later. But Hungary's brave decision accelerated this process and thus made it more peaceful than it might otherwise have been. You have earned the gratitude not only of the German people, but all Europeans.

Therefore it is hardly surprising that Hungary has always been in the vanguard of what is often called "the return to Europe"- the first to establish links with NATO and our parliamentary body the North Atlantic Assembly, the first to approach the European Community with a view to eventual membership and the first of the Central and Eastern European countries to become a full member of the Council of Europe, which happened two weeks ago. Today you are concerned to be part of Europe not only institutionally, but also economically and socially. This will not be easy, as we all know. Reform is not without its social consequences. It will take a combination of sustained reform efforts by you and sustained help from the West before living standards in both halves of Europe are more equal. Together we must make sure that popular enthusiasm and hope for the future are not dented by the inevitable pains and hardships of transition. Certainly your government's dynamism in establishing intensive links with Western nations, and encouraging their industries and enterprises to come to Hungary, bodes well for your ultimate success. Moreover the West's actions thus far demonstrate that you can count on our political support and concrete assistance, whether that be in the group of 24, the European Community or the new European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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. The active participation of Hungary in the Pentagonal Initiative, and its interest in building regional stability through a new dialogue with Yugoslavia and other neighbours testify that old divisions can indeed be bridged. 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 Budapest today with a very simple message. It is a message that is indeed addressed with equal conviction to all our former adversaries who are now our 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 Confedera-tion 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, directed at no specific threat or potential enemy 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 and moving to a posture where they will be truly weapons of last resort and the ultimate guarantee of peace; we have proposed to the Soviet Union the elimination from Europe of all nuclear artillery warheads;

  • and we have offered to negotiate on short-range nuclear forces in Europe and now that a CFE treaty has been signed, we intend to move ahead in the very near future. Our Alliance's Special Consultative Group has commenced its work with a view to drawing up a mandate for these talks;

  • and also, again now that there is agreement on CFE, we intend to proceed immediately 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, and also the part of Germany that was formerly the GDR in the transition period up to 1994 that follows 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. Hence our efforts to secure a significant CSBM agreement in time for the Paris Summit last week. The West will continue its efforts between now and the Helsinki Summit in 1992 to achieve even more ambitious CSBMs that will make our military activities fully transparent and restrict the scope for surprise or unusual force deployments. We are still pushing hard for an Open Skies agreement, a domain in which Hungary has also played a leading role. We are proposing further 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 renationalize 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 a new energy crisis with higher oil prices threatening the economic development of many countries, and your own in particular, certainly; but also 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 international coalition against Iraq should prevail. We hope very much - and indeed are confident - that the United Nations sanctions against Iraq will 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 Hungary has taken on this issue, at great cost to its economic reform programme, and trust that we can continue to work together until we can prove to Iraq - and all potential belligerants - that naked aggression cannot succeed.

Thus in the light of the Gulf crisis, it becomes even clearer to us in the Alliance that we 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? Within our Alliance, the collective approach to defence has enabled old antagonisms, for instance between France and Germany, to be permanently reconciled. So this is an approach that we will seek to promote elsewhere both through the CSCE and an active dialogue between NATO and all countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Thus NATO's integrated military structure, as a proven model of collective defence, can be of indirect benefit to your security.

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, whether you decide to remain in that organisation or not. 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. Foreign Minister Jeszenszky came to NATO last June, and Prime Minister Antall was our guest on 18 July last, the first Head of State and Government from this region to be our guest in Brussels. Thus the Hungarian response to our London Declaration has perhaps been the most impressive of all.

We have proposed also the establishment of permanent diplomatic contacts with NATO, to which Hungary has favourably responded. We look also to a multiplication of military as well as diplomatic contacts and exchanges. We have negotiated and agreed 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. If we pushed so hard for a conventional arms control agreement it is because we knew that it would be the key to unlock the syndrome of confrontation among the old adversaries of the two alliances. Thus its achievement is the
indispensable first step in building a Europe whole and free. 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 the 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 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, and most importantly when we think of the long-term future, there is the CSCE. My visit here takes place one day after the CSCE Summit meeting in Paris. This was a decisive moment in history, producing a number of results which will all be key elements in this future European architecture of peace and cooperation. A CFE treaty, and an initial package of CSBMs, the endorsement of the results of the 2+4 talks on German unity, the Joint Decla-ration on peaceful relations between the members of NATO and of the Warsaw Treaty Organization; and, finally, all those new perspectives that are subsumed in the term "institutionalization" of the CSCE process : regular high-level consultations 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.

Clearly the CSCE Summit has lived up to the ambitious expectations we set for it when we announced these initiatives in our London Summit Declaration last July. We recognized that in the fifteen years since the Helsinki Final Act, CSCE has been a unique success story. Yet it also has scope to do more than only its traditional roles of upholding human rights and enhancing military trans-parency. For since the Bonn and Copenhagen meetings earlier this year, for the first time in the Helsinki process all CSCE states will proceed from an agreed basis of democratic and market principles. So in our preparations for the Paris Summit, we stressed ways to strengthen the Helsinki principles and give them more operational content: initiatives such as the right to free and fair elections, commitments to uphold the rule of law, guidelines for economic and environmental cooperation, and a role for CSCE in tackling some of the problems involved in the transition to efficient market economies. In applying very early on and successfully to become a member of the Council of Europe, Hungary has demonstrated that it attaches the same importance to these values as we do in our Alliance.

Our Alliance will be supportive of the CSCE process and help it to bring its stabilizing influence to bear on the larger pan-European process. We will be actively encouraging further steps to make that process even more efficient in the future.

Will you, however, permit me to sound on the subject of CSCE just one note of caution? Some see CSCE as a replacement for the existing security organisations, some in the short term, others in the long term. 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 in all likelihood 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 Hungary as much as of any other European nation. Perhaps there is more explicit recognition of this fact in your country than in many others in Central and Eastern Europe. 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 reassuring credible means of defence through its integrated system 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 and an enlarged Council of Europe, both a strong NATO and a strong European Community are the prerequisites for a Europe of progress and prosperity. Indeed a future European defence identity within our Alliance will bind these institutions even more closely together. If you leave any of these institutions out of the architecture, it would be much less stable and efficient. Thus none can succeed without the others. Our future task will be to make these institutions more complementary and interlocking so that although they each have their specific functions, each takes over where the other leaves off.

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 hafibeen 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 Budapest 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. 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 interdependence 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.

Although Hungary looks West, Budapest has always been for us Westeners the gateway to Eastern Europe. My visit 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. Hungary 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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