Feb. 18, 1997


by Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy


Thank you, Mr. Secretary General.

I would like to offer my congratulations to Secretary of State Albright. We watched with admiration her work at the UN. We consider it a positive step to be meeting here at NATO before her trip to Russia. As the other North American Ally, we would like to reinforce the need to build stronger trans-Atlantic links.

Five months is not a long time to tackle the many challenges we have before us. We hope that this meeting will energize us for the work ahead.

Enlargement/External Adaptation

Let me say, first of all, that Canada is entirely committed to the enlargement of the Alliance. Furthermore, in view of its importance both for NATO and for aspirant countries, we believe that the process should be taken forward as quickly as feasible.

Canada favours a broadly based first wave of enlargement - one that is consistent with the Alliance's security mandate and based on the progress made by individual candidates in democratization, transparency and civilian control over the military.

Domestically, we have evaluated the case for each candidate and we established a special ambassador to consult domestically and abroad on the issue of enlargement. Our assessment is that there are as many as five countries which might be admitted in the first wave.

But Canada also believes that the Alliance must also make it very clear at Madrid that the first wave of enlargement is not the last.

Process of Choosing

The process by which these new members are chosen is very important.

We welcome the proposal by the Secretary of State to discuss whether Partners should be invited to the Madrid Summit. In order for this to work, I believe three things would be necessary. First, a selection process for identifying the countries invited to join the Alliance should be agreed, including discussion by Foreign Ministers at Sintra, and the final results should be communicated to all prospective entrants prior to Madrid. We do not want to have an "Academy Award-style ceremony" where applicants wait breathlessly for the announcement. Second, the Alliance should examine carefully the impact of this proposal on NATO-Russia relations and agree how to manage political-level contact with Russia in the period prior to the Summit; and third, we would have to agree on how to manage other issues, such as internal adaptation, which were to have been discussed among NATO leaders only at the Summit.

Importance of Negotiations with Ukraine

A special NATO-Ukraine relationship is essential and will do much to strengthen Ukraine's sovereignty.

We fully support concluding an agreement with Ukraine prior to Madrid.

I am very pleased, Mr. Solana, that you are meeting with Mr. Udovenko next month to begin negotiations on a NATO-Ukraine special relationship.

We will be welcoming Mr. Udovenko to Canada in a few weeks and we will be reinforcing the same messages with him.

Baltic States - Atlantic Partnership Council

I am particularly concerned about the Baltic states who will likely not be in the first wave of enlargement.

We have done some good work thus far with Partners on creating the proposed Atlantic Partnership Council; we must make this body a vital element of the European security architecture, in order to reassure both the Baltic states and other countries that do not make it into the first wave that NATO is concerned about their security.

I would like to reiterate the Norwegian foreign minister's point that these countries should be involved in the development of the APC.

NATO should establish offices in those Partner countries where circumstances and the volume of activities warrant this; as part of the principle of self-differentiation among Partners, the Baltics might be among the first to take up such an offer.

Obviously, direct bilateral initiatives by individual member countries would be helpful in building a sense of security among the Baltic states.

Russia - Secretary General as Negotiator

The importance of managing crucial Alliance issues at 16 applies especially to our relationship with Russia.

We need to re-commit ourselves to-day to a process on NATO-Russia relations which is Alliance-wide.

We need to avoid any sense of divisions within the Alliance and we need to make it clear no group of countries may speak on behalf of the Alliance as a whole.

I want to express appreciation to the Secretary General for all the work he has done thus far. We need to come out of this meeting strongly endorsing his role as negotiator and underlining our commitment to thorough consultation and decision-making.

Need to Meet Russia's Concerns

While enlargement cannot be held hostage to negotiations with Russia, we should do our utmost to reach agreement if at all possible. We should be prepared to review Russian proposals very carefully, in a pragmatic and flexible manner in order to address Russia's legitimate concerns.

I would like to welcome the two proposals made by Secretary of State Albright for a joint council and a joint brigade as useful ideas for consideration. We look forward to hearing back on her discussions with the Russians.

But we need also to make clear to Russia that it is being offered a historic opportunity to move closer to the Alliance and to a new relationship with all its European and North American neighbours.

A closer relationship with Russia is a two-way street from which both NATO and Russia will benefit.

Internal Adaptation - Reform

We need to move ahead before Madrid with internal reform. We need to do so in order to send a positive signal to Russia that we are reducing both the number of and budget for the integrated command structure. We need to do it in order to make it clear to new members that new command headquarters on their territory will be considered only if there is a compelling rationale. And we need to do it in order to preserve and demonstrate Alliance cohesiveness.

We also need to demonstrate to our respective legislatures that savings will occur from these changes.

War criminals

Our work together in Bosnia is the best case for a new and revitalized Alliance. To achieve genuine and lasting reconciliation there, we must make every effort to apprehend those individuals indicted for war crimes. Canada has circulated a paper with a number of practical suggestions, including some proposals regarding support which SFOR can provide. We are prepared to examine proposals for a separate force. It is important to demonstrate that justice can be done.


As we review the lessons of history, I would like to recall the contributions of the former Canadian Prime Minister, Lester Pearson, who 50 years ago asked for Article 2 to be incorporated into the North Atlantic Treaty. The development of a broader identity for NATO is being reflected in our discussions on enlargement and in the enhanced relationships we are forging with Russia and Ukraine, as well as with the Baltic states.

 [ Go to Speeches Menu ]  [ Go to Homepage ]