I am deeply honoured that the Member States of the North
Atlantic Alliance have nominated me to succeed the late Manfred
Woerner as Secretary General.  His example in serving our Alliance
will guide me in carrying out the tasks I have now been entrusted
with.  Secretary General Woerner's vision was inspiring, his voice
was forceful.

     I see my nomination also as a mark of respect for my country,
Belgium, which has always been a loyal Ally and indeed for nearly
thirty years NATO's host country.

     As you recall, the second Secretary General was my compatriot
Paul-Henri Spaak.  He presided over the Alliance during the turbulent
years of the late 1950's when East-West relations were at a very low
ebb.  In the mid sixties, Pierre Harmel pointed the way to a new
mission for the Alliance, namely the pursuit of detente and dialogue
with the Warsaw Pact countries.  I am proud of these distinguished
contributions by my two fellow countrymen.  I will endeavour to live
up to the example of wisdom, leadership and dedicated public service
that they set.

     Like my predecessors, I am deeply convinced that NATO remains
the bedrock of our security.  The old threats may have evaporated,
but instability is looming.  No one knows what the future may bring. 
As a defensive military alliance, NATO is as crucial as ever. 
Without it, transatlantic solidarity would soon unravel.  Building on
this security partnership with our North-American allies, we can
confidently work towards providing security and stability to Europe
as a whole.

     In the recent years NATO has reshaped its policies to face this
daunting task.  It is my firm intention to serve the Alliance with
conviction and resolve on the course that has been set.  If we work
closely together, with common purpose and determination, then I am
certain we will be able to meet the challenges ahead.

     Achieving security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe
is our first challenge.  Through the North Atlantic Cooperation
Council and the Partnership for Peace, the Atlantic Alliance is
already making a considerable contribution to the integration of
these countries.  This outreach is all the more important for being
part of a series of other efforts.  I am thinking of the associate
partnership of the WEU, the Pact for Stability, the work of CSCE as
well as the action of the European Union.  We must now bring these
efforts to fruition and create thereby a "Europe whole and free"
where democracy and the market economy can prosper without hindrance.

     Our will to succeed must go hand in hand with a reflection on
the nature of the relationship that we wish to ultimately establish
with our various partners.  Let us undertake this reflection without
creating new confrontation lines and according Russia in particular
its rightful place, without however giving her any "droit de regard"
or a veto over our decisions.

     The risks to security and stability towards the South have
often been brought to our attention by the most directly exposed of
our allies.  They, however, concern us all and should be carefully
reflected upon.

     The crisis in the former Yugoslavia has confronted us with yet
another challenge.  It has brought us to involve ourselves alongside
the United Nations in crisis management.  This new role for NATO was
unexpected, but it was carried out in a remarkable manner.  NATO
should be indeed willing and able to support the United Nations in
its peacekeeping missions, while fully preserving NATO's own
political and operational autonomy.

     Finally, I will work to implement the decisions of the Brussels
Summit.  The European security and defence identity must be realized
in full and the WEU confirmed in its role as European pillar of NATO. 
In this respect, the development of the concept of Combined Joined
Task Forces is of particular importance.

     We all have a vested interest in making European and Atlantic
institutions mutually reinforcing.  It is the only way to ensure
peace and prosperity in Europe.