by the Deputy Secretary General
Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to address this high-level workshop on Baltic security.
I agree fully with our hosts - the three Baltic Ministers of Foreign Affairs - on the need to begin a process of dialogue and concrete action encompassing all countries in the Baltic region, including Russia. Not only is this an extremely worthy objective, it is also most timely, particularly at this stage in our common endeavour to build a new, stable and inclusive security architecture in Europe. Enhancing Baltic security is indeed an important aspect of this effort, and thus deserves the sort of close attention and discussion that this workshop is intended to provide.
Now, I am well aware that the issue that most concerns you is your membership of NATO. This is quite understandable. I will tell you at the outset, I cannot answer this question., nor can anyone from NATO HQ. The decision as to which countries will be the first to be invited to begin negotiations for membership is yet to be made by NATO member nations. But what I can reiterate is what members have stated - that the Baltic countries are eligible for membership, even if they are not amongst the first to be admitted, the door will remain open.
Secondly, I want you to see the NATO Summit in Madrid this July in its true perspective and interpret it correctly. The issue of NATO's enlargement has been the subject of immense attention, but in fact it is only one element in a whole range of activities which are currently changing the face of the European-Atlantic security environnement. We are evolving a new multi-faceted cooperative security order in Europe - of which opening the Alliance to new members is but one facet.
Today, therefore, I would like to explore the wider context of European cooperative security and the contribution of the Alliance to it. However, I want to emphasise that the evolution of this order neither begins nor ends in Madrid this summer. It remains a process that involves Allies and Partners alike, as well as international organisations other than NATO. Thus, the forthcoming Summit should be seen as part of a larger endeavour to improve security and stability in the whole of Europe.
In recent years, NATO has launched a number of initiatives and developed many ideas for improving the capacity to respond to security challenges of today and of the future. In the months to come, we shall try to bring together the various strands of our approach - one that includes, for example, internal adaptation and reform, the enhancement of Partnership for Peace, the initiative to launch an Atlantic Partnership Council, a possible agreement with Russia on a stable, durable and lasting partnership with NATO. Together, these form what can be considered as NATO's strategic agenda. In my remarks to you this morning, I would like to give you an update on where we stand less than five months before the Summit.
First, internal adaptation. Starting with the Strategic Concept adopted in 1991, the Alliance has already undergone a profound transformation and reform in responding to the new security situation in Europe. At the Summit, we expect to put the finishing touches on this process of internal adaptation process. We have already considerably reduced our military capability to create smaller forces with greater flexibility to carry out the new missions of peacekeeping and crisis management
We are streamlining and reconfiguring our command structures. And we have developed the concept of Combined Joint Task Forces (or CJTF), which will allow faster and more flexible military responses to a wide variety of situations. One of the key features of the implementation of both the new command structure and the CJTF concept is the flexibility to allow for the participation of Partners, if they so wish, in preparing for the range of peacekeeping, crisis management and peace support operations envisaged under an enhanced Partnership for Peace.
The implications of, and the potential arising from the Alliance's internal adaptation will extend far beyond Alliance members only. The experience of IFOR and SFOR has shown the benefits of Allies and Partners working together. In this regard, I would like to salute the contribution of the three Baltic states to Operations Joint Endeavour and Joint Guard. The success of IFOR and SFOR, with Allies and Partners working together in the cause of peace, illustrates far better than words can our goal of co-operation and partnership. The Baltic Battalion, which has made such a good contribution to peacekeeping in the hot spots of the world, is an absolutely excellent example of Baltic cooperation - an essential element in regional security. In future, NATO's new structures will be designed to enable Partners to be involved more easily in joint operations.
This brings me directly to the Partnership for Peace, which has had a remarkable impact on European security since its founding only three years ago. PfP has become a centrepiece of the cooperative security architecture that is emerging in Europe. A large part of its success is attributable to the way that PfP can respond to the individual requirements of Partners, offering a wide range of options for practical cooperation.
Self-differentiation is at the core of PfP - each Partner is free to develop its own programme of cooperation with NATO, tailored to its individual needs.
The potential of PfP is far from fully exploited. We continue to seek ways to improve and strengthen it. A number of far-reaching proposals are under consideration for enhancing PfP. The Senior Level Group which I chair has been tasked to develop by the time of the NATO Summit in Madrid a transformed Partnership for Peace. Specifically, we are looking at developing a more operational role for it; strengthening its political consultation element; and providing for greater involvement of Partners in the decision-making process.
The last point - greater involvement of Partners in the overall direction of PfP - is already being put into practice. Last week I chaired a meeting of the SLG at NATO Headquarters with Allies and Partners to consider how to streamline and rationalise the structures of our cooperation and partnership, in particular the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and the Partnership for Peace.
Among the areas being considered by the SLG are:
We are continuing our work on these recommendations in order to reach decisions by the time of the Spring meeting of Alliance Foreign Ministers.
Looking for a moment at one of these areas - increasing regional cooperation among Partners - I believe that such cooperation should definitely be encouraged. Part of embedding PfP into the structure of the cooperative security order is to make it more responsive to the specific interests of groups of Partner nations who share the same regional security space. The cooperative approach also produces "economies of scale" - that is, certain activities to ensure and promote regional stability might be more achievable if two or more countries are working together than if an individual country tried to do it alone.
But, when talking of regional cooperation, we need to reject any notion of a security "grey zone" in the Baltic region. There have been proposals from some quarters that Sweden and Finland might be made responsible for the security of the Baltic countries - as if the region could simply be detached from the rest of Europe and the wider process of integration. I can assure you, nobody in NATO is taking these kinds of proposals seriously.
By contrast, the recent suggestion of President Meri to establish regional Nordic security cooperation with links to NATO is a more promising path and warrants careful study. The deepened participation of Partner countries in PfP - particularly in the enhanced PfP which I have described - should open positive prospects along these lines. The Alliance's determination that enlarging its membership should not lead to new dividing lines in this continent is another important factor which should be taken into account. All of this suggests very strongly that Baltic security is seen by the Alliance in the context of a broadly based European security architecture, and not as a region unconnected to Alliance security interests. We in NATO acknowledge the historical importance of the Baltic region as an important bridge between the West and Russia.
Development of regional cooperation would thus benefit considerably from the experience and input of representatives of the governments of the Baltic region. Initiatives such as the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion could in future be closely associated with NATO planning. The emphasis on operational cooperation in crisis management will in turn provide new opportunities for the Baltic states to contribute to Europe's - and their own - security. The work done in airspace control and naval cooperation also demonstrate the value of regional cooperation.
Another very practical step along the path of closer association between the Baltic states and NATO would be the establishment - through an enhanced Partnership for Peace - of full diplomatic and military missions to NATO. Legal and practical aspects must be worked out, but such deepened representation at NATO Headquarters and at various levels of the Alliance's new command structure would be additional proof of the close and lasting ties that Partners and Allies together can forge.
Improved relations with Russia will also help increase the feeling of security in the Baltic region. Indeed, a European security architecture worth its name must include Russia the largest European state. 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.
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 allow for the possibility of joint decisions and joint action. We envisage a relationship in which NATO and Russia would consult on issues affecting their common interests. In addition to having permanent diplomatic consultation, we would also have mutual representation at our military headquarters.
Our aim is to reach, by the time of the Summit, an agreement with Russia which could be expressed in a document whose format remains open. We foresee four main areas: the shared principles that would form the basis of our partnership; a broad set of areas of political cooperation; mechanisms for regular and ad hoc consultations; and mechanisms for military liaison and cooperation. The Secretary General will be meeting again with Foreign Minister Primakov this coming Sunday to pursue this discussion.
We also hope to develop a strong and enduring relationship with Ukraine. We believe very much that the maintenance of Ukraine's independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty is a crucial factor for stability and security in Europe. Here our aim is to reach, possibly by the time of the Summit, an agreement with Ukraine on an enhanced relationship that would help that country to assume its right place - as a confident Partner and neighbour.
The NATO Summit in July will also be the occasion on which the Alliance - in line with the decision taken at the 1994 Brussels Summit - will open itself to new members.
The decision on which countries to invite to take up accession negotiations will not be taken by any Alliance official. It will be taken by Allied Heads of State and Government, and in the context of other decisions of the Summit. That is why we do not talk of an "Enlargement Summit", but rather a "Summit on Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and Security". This term reflects far better the inter-relationship of our decisions and the goals we are seeking to achieve through them.
That is why, also, we do not see, nor do we want to see, a "black-and-white" situation to develop, a perception among Partners that somehow there will be "winners" and "losers". This is simply not the case. Our goal is a Europe where all nations are free and all free nations are close partners.
I therefore believe it is far more accurate to see the relationship between Allies and Partners as a seamless web of engagements. Those who, by their own preference, wish to avail themselves of the opportunities provided by an enhanced Partnership for Peace will find new, fertile ground for their endeavours.
Together with Partners, we are developing a single, coherent political framework to take our cooperation and partnership under the NACC and PfP into new realms. The opportunities for all active Partners will increase substantially. It is now up to us to show the requisite political will to reinforce and update what we've already built together.