19 Feb. 1997


by the Secretary General

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first and foremost congratulate the new Secretary General, Ambassador Cahen. Ambassador Cahen's broad experience as a diplomat at the highest level will be a major asset in helping the Atlantic Treaty Associations meet the challenges of the new century. He will be presiding over the Associations at a most critical time in the evolution of the Alliance.

A new European Security Architecture is visibly taking shape. Through the Intergovernmental Conference the European Union is preparing for the next century - for a Union that is both wider and deeper. Within the OSCE discussions on a Security Model for the 21st century are laying the ground rules for a wider security community. The adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe is set to begin next week. And the Atlantic Alliance is preparing for a major Summit meeting in July.

In less than five months, this Summit will bring to culmination a process of Alliance adaptation which began in 1990. At Madrid, we will: invite one or more new members to begin accession talks with the Alliance; establish a new relationship with Russia; and build a European Security and Defence Identity within NATO through a more flexible military structure.

Underpinning this process of reform and adaptation has been the strong public support given our Alliance by the Atlantic Treaty Associations. In fact, the vital role of the national ATAs in building bridges between NATO and public opinion has gained, not lost, in importance. As the security environment has become more diverse, our message has become more complex. The current phase of Summit preparation is no exception. Let me outline where I see the key information challenges with respect to NATO enlargement and Russia.

The opening of NATO should be seen - and appreciated - for what it really 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 responding to their sense of belonging. These countries want to join NATO for the same reason the current members do not want to leave it - because NATO is addressing new challenges in Europe and beyond.

The policy of opening the Alliance to new members is already paying dividends. In order to prepare themselves for consideration as potential NATO Allies, a number of Partner countries have taken concrete steps to resolve bilateral problems in advance. Moreover, new Allies will provide additional support and energy in pursuing the broad approach to security that the new NATO exemplifies.

Our vision of the future also includes a prominent role for Russia. A European security architecture worth its name must give Russia its rightful place. We are working towards a new European security architecture in which there are no "losers", only winners. I am convinced that we will achieve increased security in Europe - in cooperation with Russia. Indeed, Russia already has close links with the EU, the Council of Europe, and the G-7. That is why I believe that Russia will ultimately conclude that a privileged relationship with an enlarged NATO is far preferable to a self-imposed isolation.

NATO and Russia are now engaged in a discussion which will continue through the months ahead. I believe that both sides are genuinely committed to a successful outcome. Our goal is to create a permanent mechanism of consultation, and possibly, joint action. I would also like to see Russians permanently represented at NATO, ready to make their views heard, but also seeing with their own eyes what the new NATO is really all about. Russia's partnership with NATO in the IFOR and SFOR in Bosnia has done more to bring us together than any communiqué.

In order to ensure that NATO's adaptation increases security and stability for all of Europe, we will also have to take into account the needs of those countries who do not join or who may join later. This suggests the further enhancement of our most successful cooperation mechanism: the Partnership for Peace.

The capacity of the international community to act and interact effectively has been increased markedly by this initiative. We will broaden and deepen cooperation with all our Partners, particularly in political consultations and operational planning and activities. And we will be doing this in cooperation with Partners. Already the Alliance is working with Partners on the initiative to establish an Atlantic Partnership Council. Such a Council would provide a framework for enhanced practical cooperation under PfP and for an expanded political dimension of the Partnership. It would build on the best elements of the NACC/PfP experience to date.

An enhanced PfP is not a "consolation prize" for those who are not invited for NATO membership in July. It stands squarely on its own merits. The contribution of Partners to IFOR and SFOR in Bosnia should have demonstrated to even the most ardent sceptic that military cooperation across Europe is a strategic necessity. It is therefore in the interest of all Partners to draw the web of cooperation even closer.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Un autre défi important sur l'agenda de la nouvelle Alliance concerne son adaptation interne. En regardant les coupures de presse des dernières semaines, j'ai l'impression que l'adaptation interne de l'OTAN se réduit à une seule question : "à qui revient tel commandement militaire ?" A nouveau, une question complexe est réduite à une accroche simpliste sans rapport avec le sujet.

La réforme en cours des structures militaires et des procédures de l'Alliance confirme mon opinion. A travers cette réforme, nous réalisons deux objectifs stratégiques majeurs. Tout d'abord, grâce au concept des Groupes de Forces Interarmées Multinationales, l'OTAN sera capable de réagir beaucoup plus rapidement et plus globalement à des crises naissantes - et avec la participation de partenaires.

Deuxièmement, cette réforme nous aidera aussi à atteindre un des objectifs politiques fondamentaux de l'Alliance - la création d'une Identité Européenne de Sécurité et de Défense visible au sein de l'OTAN. De la sorte, l'OTAN tient la promesse faite lors du dernier Sommet de Bruxelles en 1994. Nous y avons promis de soutenir le développement d'une Identité Européenne de Sécurité et de Défense, conformément aux aspirations formulées par nos Alliés de l'Union Européenne. Nous concrétisons cette promesse en mettant des moyens de l'Alliance à la disposition d'opérations conduites par l'UEO - si l'UEO le demande, après approbation du Conseil. Ainsi, nous franchirons une étape majeure vers une Alliance plus efficace et vers un rééquilibrage des responsabilités des deux ctés de l'Atlantique.

Bien entendu, ce que je viens d'énumérer ne recouvre pas la totalité de l'agenda de l'OTAN. Il y a d'autres dossiers importants en chantier. Nous sommes en train de développer une relation distincte avec l'Ukraine; de construire des ponts d'amitié à travers la Méditerranée; de développer de nouvelles propositions pour adapter le Traité FCE au nouvel environnement stratégique; d'intensifier nos efforts pour empêcher la prolifération des armes de destruction massive.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My key message is clear and resounding: NATO is in good shape; we are well on track towards a major Summit; we are ready to meet the challenges of today and are preparing ourselves to meet those of tomorrow. There is no need to be timid. We have a success story to tell; but perhaps we must tell it louder and clearer.

In this context, allow me one final thought about the role of the ATAs. It would be wrong to neglect our own publics during this crucial period. We must prepare for a thorough public debate as we move towards the July Summit. Ultimately, it is our publics who must be convinced that the new NATO is worthy of their continued support and funding. And it is particularly important that the parliamentary ratification of NATO enlargement should be well informed. Unfortunately, many of the articles I have seen on NATO's opening up have failed to reflect the real nature of the process and its benefits to European stability, as a whole.

So, there is a major public information gap to be plugged. The Atlantic Treaty Associations have long experience and they have the organisation to respond to the needs for public information at this time. There are three areas I would pinpoint.

First, the National Committees will need to play an active role in the months up to the Summit and in its follow-on to ensure an understanding of the ongoing process and be active in the upcoming ratification debate. Second, relationships between National Committees will also be important. Successful ventures in one country should be known to others. And thirdly, the Associate Committees in Partner countries will be looking for help and advice in responding to the growing information needs of their publics. They will want to know more about the implications of joining NATO or about the new PfP. The ATA Council and Secretary General can help organise the necessary support.

I appreciate that the demands on the ATAs are likely to grow, as they will for NATO, in the months ahead, while the funding remains tight. Nevertheless, I believe that by working together, we can and will get our message across. The International Staff at NATO will be able to assist the ATAs whenever possible. And thanks to modern communications, much of the information and the necessary arguments are already instantly available on NATO's Internet site.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is a unique period and it requires a unique effort. I have no doubt that the new NATO, which will emerge from the Summit, will be one that our publics will see as one perfectly suited to the new Europe. Certainly, it will be a NATO which will have benefitted immensely from the loyal and energetic support of the ATAs, not just over months, but over the years. I appreciate this support, and trust that our collaboration will continue to be as close and productive as in the past.

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