21 Feb. 1997

"A time for cohesion, a time for renewal"

Speech by the Secretary General

Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I very much welcome this chance to speak to the CSIS again. And it is very pleasing to see so many American friends here in Europe.

The transatlantic relationship remains a core of stability in an uncertain world. In Europe, North Americans find Allies convinced of the importance of close cooperation. In the United States and Canada, Europe finds dynamic and reliable partners. In short, Europe and North America form a community of societies ready for dynamic change, and well geared for joint, pragmatic problem-solving.

A new European Security Architecture is indeed taking shape. It is a slow but sure process. Through the Intergovernmental Conference the European Union is preparing for the next century - for a real 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 underway. And the Atlantic Alliance is preparing for a major Summit meeting in July.

Taken together, these processes will define the shape of Euro-Atlantic security beyond the end of this decade. Our goal is a Europe without dividing lines, an architecture wherein each country is free to take its rightful place and has the right to have its own distinct voice heard.

But, as the conflict in Bosnia has shown, the European security architecture could not do without a strong and functioning transatlantic link at the heart of it. Europe will need US engagement in the next century, as much as it has in the present century. The road to Dayton was slow and rocky, but the support of NATO has been an essential part of the peace process. The momentum created by this unique display of transatlantic unity was irresistible - and it is still carrying on with IFOR and today SFOR! If you take the cooperation on the ground in Bosnia and the Partnership for Peace, it is clear that the Euro-Atlantic Community is growing, and already extends beyond the institutional limits of NATO.

NATO has emerged from the Bosnian experience stronger and more cohesive than ever before. We also have a clear vision of what has to be done for the future. Our Madrid Summit in July gives us the chance to complete our transformation, and get ready for the new challenges. We can enter the next century with a better and safer Europe.

Our agenda is ambitious:

First, we will invite one or more countries to start accession negotiations with the Alliance.

Second, we will transform our relations with Partners through an enhanced Partnership for Peace and the initiative to establish a new Atlantic Partnership Council.

Third, we aim to reach agreement with Russia on arrangements that would cement a strong, stable and enduring security Partnership.

Fourth, we will also develop further our relations with Ukraine.

Fifth, we will enhance our Mediterranean dialogue. NATO has to build friendly relations to the South, as well as the East.

Last but not least, we will adapt the organisation internally, so as to reflect the creation of a European Security and Defence Initiative and to prepare for joint action with our Partners.

This is indeed an ambitious agenda. But I want to concentrate on three key issues: enlargement, Russia, and the European role within NATO. All three are critically important - and yet all three are not well understood. So, let me try to set the record straight. What we are going to do at the Summit is not to produce a set of isolated decisions, but take a major step towards a more secure and stable Europe. Each of the key decisions is related to each other.

This message of coherence is particularly critical with respect to the invitation of new members. The new members will be joining a new NATO. This opening up of NATO is, to me, a moral obligation we have towards the new applicants. They want to belong to our unique community, because they share our values, because giving them a sense of belonging is good for them and for the wider Europe, and because there is no law of nature that would confine our Atlantic community forever to the 16 current Allies.

Not to enlarge is the "do-nothing, achieve nothing" option. It is the option the Alliance long ago rejected. The real issue is how to enlarge successfully.

In that regard, the cost of enlargement must not be a hindrance to reach our goal. Of course, NATO enlargement has a cost for both current and future Allies. What we need is a long-term political commitment to absorb the new members into an already-functioning system period. The investment for a more stable future is worthwhile.

The Congressional and Parliamentary ratification of the accession of the new members will be the decisive final phase of the enlargement process. To succeed, we need informed, broad all-party support in every Alliance country for extending the membership of the Alliance.

The Madrid Summit will be much more than an enlargement Summit, the Madrid Summit will be the opportunity for NATO to define a new European Security architecture. Thus, the Summit will not only invite new members, but will also launch an enhanced Partnership for Peace. We will broaden and deepen cooperation with all our Partners.

We have also started to consult Partners on the initiative to establish an Atlantic Partnership Council. This would provide a single new mechanism for political consultation and cooperation, building on the best elements of our cooperation experience to date.

An enhanced PfP is not a "consolation prize" for those who do not obtain an invitation for NATO membership in July or do not intend to obtain one. There will be no "winners" or "losers". IFOR should have demonstrated to even the most ardent sceptic that enhancing military cooperation across Europe is a strategic necessity, irrespective of enlargement. And, as the web of cooperation becomes ever closer, the ties between Allies and Partners become stronger and stronger.

The second key issue is Russia. In recent months, the view has gained ground that somehow we had to "choose" between NATO enlargement and Russia. The underlying idea seems to be that we can't have both: new members and a new relationship with Russia. This is nonsense.

Those who believe that NATO has to choose between enlargement and Russia are approaching Europe with a mentality that is wholly inappropriate for today's strategic environment. It is obvious that Russia still has considerable problems in understanding the new NATO and its opening to new members.

But Russia is a great power with great power interests. Many of these interests will suggest close cooperation with NATO. Russia already has close links with the EU, the Council of Europe and the G7. It wants its full place in Europe. That is why I believe that Russia will ultimately come to the conclusion 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. 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 points and also to see with their own eyes what NATO is really about. A true partnership will emerge if there is clear understanding. Russia's partnership with NATO in Bosnia has done more to bring us together than all the communiqus.

The third issue that I want to mention concerns NATO's internal adaptation. Reading through the press of recent months one could get the impression that this process is only about one question, namely "who gets what command?"

We have to resist the tendency to reduce such a complex issue to a mere soundbite. It risks diverting us from realising the major strategic benefits the new structure will offer. These benefits should be obvious to everyone: for the first time, through Combined Joint Task Forces, NATO will have an expressly organised capability to deploy a peacekeeping force into a crisis area. And from the outset, the structure will enable us to operate with the participation of non-NATO countries.

Most obviously, the new structure will reflect the decision to build the European Security and Defence Identity inside, and not outside, NATO. In other words, the ESDI will be developed with our American Allies and not without them. At an operational level.

The development of the ESDI is simply an additional option for those contingencies where a European response would be more appropriate and where the United States has no compelling reason to be in the driver's seat. We are now creating a new response option tailored to the requirements of a more diverse security environment.

American support for a more coherent European contribution to NATO is essential. But it is not a one-way street. Developing a European identity within NATO is complementary to broadening the US relationship with the European Union. Indeed, one of my greatest satisfactions as Spanish Foreign Minister and President of the EU Council of Ministers was to conclude the new transatlantic agenda and in particular the EU-US Action Plan. I have always believed that a strong transatlantic relationship cannot be based on security and defence ties alone, but has to include economic and social ties as well.

The US can rightfully expect major benefits from all this. There will be some relief in shouldering the burden of our common security in Europe. Equally importantly, a united Europe will be a staunch partner for the United States in managing global contingencies. The new NATO and the EU-US Action Plan will move us a major step forward in achieving both objectives.

Ladies and Gentlemen, NATO is well on track. The only thing that could throw us off that track would be our own "failure of nerve": an unwillingness to take the necessary next steps, or an unwillingness to make the necessary commitments.

But as we move to the Summit, there should be no doubt about NATO's commitment as to its vision. The stage is now set for a wider Atlantic community. Within this community, there will be a new dynamic at work. Its centerpiece will remain a larger NATO with new members, new Partners and new missions. But we will also strive to put the transatlantic relationship on a broader basis, covering all aspects of political, economic and cultural life.

Ultimately, NATO will give birth to a new Atlantic Community, showing once again its formidable capacity of adaptation in an evolving environment, to provide security and peace for the future.

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