by the Secretary General
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The dawn of a new year is usually an occasion both to look back at what has been achieved, and to look ahead. So let me first recall the crucial steps in NATOs recent evolution. I will then try to look ahead and offer my views on the potential for NATOs further development.
First, a look back. I think not many of us can confidently claim that they correctly predicted the time and manner in which the East-West confrontation ended. It certainly came faster and turned out to be much more comprehensive than most of us had expected.
At that crucial time, when many were questioning the very future of the Alliance, NATO embarked on a fundamental shift in its policies, starting around the 1990 London Summit. Underpinning this process was a set of key judgements about the future security environment.
The first concerned the emergence of new risks. Yes, there would be a peace dividend that we could - and should - cash in. But, no, the problems of European security had not been totally resolved. The need for a stable framework for coordinating our defence remained.
A second key judgement made by the Alliance at the start of the nineties was that practical cooperation, and not confrontation, would be the key strategic instrument for shaping our security environment. NATO, therefore, would have to make an active effort to help its former adversaries to become stable and confident democracies, with military structures firmly under democratic control.
Finally, NATO determined that in the emerging new European security architecture no single institution could provide all the political, economic and military means necessary to prevent or manage crises. Thus, NATO would not, and indeed should not, be the solo player in European security. Rather, NATO, EU, WEU, OSCE, and the Council of Europe would support and reinforce each other in building a comprehensive security framework for our continent.
I believe that events since 1990 have vindicated these key assumptions. And NATO has acted in accordance with all three:
As regards the emergence of new risks, NATO has reduced its forces significantly, yet has also restructured them to better perform their new tasks of crisis management and peacekeeping.
As regards the need for a cooperative approach to security, the success of the Partnership for Peace initiative speaks for itself, as it has drawn 27 OSCE countries into a mechanism for military cooperation with NATO.
And with respect to the need for a comprehensive security architecture, NATO has sought closer working contacts with all other security-related institutions.
Throughout this process of NATOs reform, some observers remained sceptical as to the ultimate rationale of NATOs policy. They suspected that NATO was being activist rather than active, that the Alliance was simply trying to keep busy to save itself from extinction.
Today, such allegations are no longer made. Today, the different policy tracks of NATOs reform have come together to form a coherent picture - most visibly in Bosnia, where the Alliance is leading a multinational peacekeeping effort unprecedented in modern European history.
Without the tried and tested mechanism of NATOs military structure, IFOR - and now SFOR - could not have been set up and deployed so rapidly and effectively. Without the links established through Partnership for Peace, the contributions of over a dozen non-NATO nations could not have been incorporated so smoothly. And without the links that the Alliance had forged with other institutions, most notably with the United Nations, NATOs unique potential could not have been brought to bear so successfully on the Balkan crisis.
The Bosnian experience shows that NATO has adapted very well to the new security environment. NATOs role in the Balkans demonstrates that while we cannot impose long-term peace and stability from outside, at least we can create the modicum of stability necessary to initiate the reconstruction of these shattered societies.
Let me dwell a little longer on this subject. The conflict in the Balkans moderated the optimism about Europes future that had prevailed after the end of the Cold War. The unfolding crisis presented Germany - for obvious historical reasons - with difficult choices and decisions both domestically and in its foreign policy.
On the international level, the conflict challenged the very idea of a workable security architecture. The OSCE did not have the confidence nor political cohesion to act resolutely as a conflict manager. The EU was an debut actor starting to develop its common foreign and security policy. NATO had the means to act, but no political mandate. The UN could deliver the mandate, but not all of the necessary means.
Despite the initial confusion, we were able to make some progress. But it was only when views on both sides of the Atlantic converged that a real solution became possible. The combined political efforts of Europe and North America finally cleared the road to Dayton. The rest, as one says, is history.
The institutional "architecture" that one sees today in Bosnia rests on mutual reliance rather than competition among institutions. Without the secure environment provided by NATO and its Partners the OSCE could not have organised democratic elections. Without IFOR and SFOR, the economic and political reconstruction efforts led by the EU, the UN and many non-governmental organisations, could not have started. It is an architecture of synergy rather than hierarchy.
IFOR saw more than 30 countries from three continents, including Russia, working on the same side - the side of peace. IFOR and SFOR are models of an undivided Europe at work; they are models for the future.
Let us then look into the cristal ball and see what the future holds for NATO. I believe it will become increasingly clear in the coming months, as we move towards our July Summit in Madrid. At this Summit we will take a number of decisions which will affect both the future of NATO and of European security at large.
First, we will invite one or more countries to start accession negotiations with the Alliance. Our goal is to be able to welcome the new members in 1999.
Second, we will launch an enhanced Partnership for Peace initiative to widen the scope of cooperation with all our Partners, particularly in political consultations and operational planning and activities.
Third, we aim to reach agreement with Russia on the foundations of a strong, stable and enduring security Partnership.
Fourth, we want to move ahead in our relationship with Ukraine which could be formalised, possibly by the time of the Madrid Summit.
Lastly, we will put the finishing touches on a reformed NATO command structure to improve our capability to carry out NATOs new mission of crisis management and contribute to the building of the European Security and Defence Identity.
The aspect of the Summit that is likely to get most public attention is NATOs enlargement. However, we must not let NATO enlargement become the "single issue" of the European security debate. It should be seen - and appreciated - for what it is: a natural part of the wider process of European integration, a means of reinforcing in the new democracies the confidence in their destiny and respond to their sense of belonging. I see a strong moral obligation for us to help them fulfil their legitimate aspirations.
By 1999, I have no doubt, we will also have a larger NATO. But in order to ensure that enlargement increases security and stability for all of Europe we will also have to take into account the needs of those who do not join or who may join later. This will require keeping the door open to future members. It will also require strengthening the Partnership for Peace.
We are going to intensify PfP to allow our Partners to become increasingly involved with NATO and its military organisation in our consultations and planning for emerging crises. In this new "PfP plus", aspiring NATO members will be able to intensify their preparations for membership. For other Partners, PfP plus will provide additional reassurance that they will remain closely tied to an enlarged Alliance. As a further step in the process, we will work with Partners on the initiative to establish an Atlantic Partnership Council (APC) as an overarching framework for our cooperation. Our goal is to inspire a more productive consultative and cooperative process, in which Partners would be even more deeply involved.
A European security architecture worth its name must be one that gives the largest European State, Russia, its rightful place. The opening of NATO is therefore in no sense aimed at isolating or marginalising Russia. We know that in the long run we will not be able to achieve increased security in Europe without Russia, let alone against it.
NATO does not pose a threat to Russia, nor will an enlarged NATO. We have already said that we have no reason, no intention and no plans to station nuclear weapons on the territory of new NATO members. And, in the conventional weapons sphere, we have agreed at the Lisbon Summit in December of last year to start negotiating about modernising the CFE Treaty. These talks are due to start in Vienna next week.
Joining NATO will not burden our new members still fragile economies with unreasonable demands to achieve "NATO standards" in every category of military equipment. Nor is NATOs enlargement a means for former Warsaw Pact countries to "get back" at Russia. On the contrary, those who join the Alliance must also be committed to a good, constructive relationship with Russia, as all NATO members are.
Many open-minded Russian observers know all this. They know that NATO is not an anti-Russian Alliance. Nevertheless, negative perceptions remain and must be taken seriously. We must be prepared to go the extra mile, as one might say, to allay those fears and remove the misunderstandings that persist.
One important way of achieving this will be through an institutionalised relationship between NATO and Russia. We need an agreement that would suit our common interests and would establish a permanent mechanism of consultation and possibly joint action. I would envisage a relationship in which NATO and Russia would consult on each and every issue that would affect their common interests, whether these relate to crisis management, arms control, or non-proliferation. In addition to having permanent diplomatic consultation we would also have mutual representation at our military headquarters. In this regard, our successful cooperation in Bosnia is a model on which to build.
You all know that the Russian response thus far remains hesitant. Misplaced fears and stereotypes of the past still prevail. The result is a paradox. Russia expresses her misgivings about the opening of NATO by keeping a distance to closer cooperation. Yet this distance is precisely what prevents her from understanding why an open Alliance is not directed against Russia.
Will there be a way out of this dilemma? Yes, I believe there will. For any sober assessment of Russias national interest leads one to the conclusion that a privileged relationship with the new NATO serves the new Russia better then a grudging retreat into self-isolation. I am confident that this analysis will ultimately carry the day in Moscow, and that by the Summit we will have entered us into a new, durable relationship. It is on the basis of this approach that I shall engage Russias leaders over the weeks to come. I am personally committed and confident of the longer-term interest of reaching a mutually acceptable and formalised agreement between NATO and Russia. I believe that a persistent, patient and constructive approach in addressing Russian concerns with pay off in the end.
Simultaneously, we need to work on our relationship with Ukraine. That country occupies a crucial place in Europe. An independent, stable and democratic Ukraine is of strategic importance for the development of Europe as a whole. An enhanced relationship between NATO and Ukraine will help Ukraine to gain its rightful place - as a confident Partner and reliable neighbour.
Last, but by no means least, the Summit will be putting the finishing touches on NATOs new command structure. The new structures will be smaller, and will contain two important innovations. The first is the introduction of the Combined Joint Task Forces concept. This will provide the Alliance for the first time with an expressly organised capability to deploy a peacekeeping force into a crisis area. Most significantly, this option is not conceived as a NATO-only capability. From the outset, CJTFs are designed to operate with the participation of non-NATO countries.
The second innovation in the new structure is the growing role and responsibility of the Europeans within it. Spain has already decided to participate fully in the structure, and I hope that France will, too. We want to develop a visible European arrangement within the structure, which could be used for operations led by the Western European Union. So, in this way, NATO is making its own strong input to the evolution of the WEU as a means for an integrating Europe to take on greater responsibility in security matters.
In future crises NATO will continue to be fully capable of fulfilling core missions, including non-Article 5 operations under the mandate of the UN or the OSCE. Yet, it is also possible that some operations, by virtue of their size or location, might be best launched by the WEU with NATOs help.
The development of such a European option within NATO is not driven by a desire to replace NATO with a European defence system, much less by a desire to force the United States out of Europe. It is simply an additional option for certain contingencies. And it demonstrates that NATO is responsive to the realities of the European integration process.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that my remarks have made it clear that NATO survived the end of the East-West conflict not because of bureaucratic inertia or lack of courage to try something new. NATO survived because it serves our clear-cut strategic interests. It remains in business because even in this changed strategic environment it makes eminent sense to organise our security collectively within the tried and tested transatlantic framework.
NATO will continue to change. The "Alliance 2000" will have more members, closer relations with Partners and a durable relationship with Russia.
Germany has played a key role in this successful evolution of the Alliance, conceptually and materially. Germanys decision to participate in peacekeeping operations - a difficult decision, as we all know - has been warmly welcomed by all Allies as an indication of her readiness to take on greater responsibility in maintaining international peace and stability, commensurate with its international standing and weight. German soldiers serving alongside their NATO Allies and Partners in Bosnia - to me, this is a reassuring sign. As you know German soldiers in Bosnia stand shoulder to shoulder with their French partners of the Franco-German Brigade, conveying yet another hopeful message: The European defence identity is a realistic project in progress.
Looking back, Bosnia has tought us a great many things. But above all I feel certain that when we were faced with the crucial choice between indifference and engagement, between uncertainty and committed collective action, we made the right choice. Thank you.