5 Mar. 1997
by the Deputy Secretary General
It is a privilege for me to address this distinguished seminar. It is a useful opportunity to take stock of where we have got to with Partnership for Peace. And in the light of our preparations for the NATO Summit next July, the discussions here should serve as a valuable source of new ideas for the future development of PfP.
The July Summit will chart the Alliance's course into the next century. Preparations are now in full swing. Many commentators are focussing on the decision to invite one or more countries to begin accession negotiations with NATO. This is only natural, as is the high level of attention given to our current efforts at forging a lasting and durable relationship with Russia.
But the Summit's real significance goes far beyond identifying new members or getting the NATO-Russia relationship right. It will mark the culmination of years of NATO's reform, resulting in a new NATO - a NATO with a military structure matching the full range of our new missions. One significant feature of the new structure is that it will reflect a stronger European responsibility. It will also be much more capable of cooperating with Partners. In its studies and options for this transformation, NATO's Military Committee has worked on the assumption that future operations will more likely than not include Partners. This shows how the relationship with Partners is becoming an intrinsic part of the way NATO does its business and the way we organise ourselves internally, as well as externally.
The Partnership for Peace will remain, after the Summit as before, the centrepiece of NATO's approach to cooperative security. Already, PfP has made a remarkable impact on European security since its founding only three years ago. When launched in January 1994, PfP was dismissed by many as a political placebo. One commentator referred to it as a "military kabuki play" - strong on form, weak in content. There were doubts about the practical value of the initiative. Few could then imagine the circumstances which would bring NATO and the Partners together in the same military operation.
The reality has been very different. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, peace has become possible only because of the unity of the international community. The NATO-organised SFOR is the most visible demonstration of that unity and Partnership for Peace made it possible. Without it, IFOR and SFOR could not have been set up and deployed so rapidly and effectively. Without the links established through the Partnership, the contributions of over a dozen non-NATO nations could not have been incorporated so smoothly. PfP has thus demonstrated its long-term value not only in theory, but in practice.
We now have 27 Partners involved in dialogue and military cooperation with the Alliance. Countries from a wide variety of security traditions have joined, encompassing almost every country in Europe, including Russia, and reaching out as far east as Central Asia. Neutrality is no bar to membership. Moldova, Austria, Turkmenistan, all countries where neutrality is enshrined in the constitution, are long-standing members. Switzerland was the latest to join. PfP has thus become a pivotal element 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.
This basic principle is not going to change. However, over the last three years, a number of things have happened that suggest a fundamental enhancement of PfP. There are new political realities, new operational requirements, and increasing Partner needs. Taken together, they require an acceleration in the programme's evolution and closer interoperability.
Last September, the Council established the Senior Level Group, which I have the privilege to chair. The SLG set in motion a process that will lead to a clearly stronger, more responsive Partnership. This new PfP would have a more operational role, strengthened political consultations, and greater involvement by Partners in decision-making and planning.
At the start of the Partnership, almost all the direction and content of PfP came from NATO: inevitably so. Partners were keen to receive advice and expertise from Allies who were ready to help them as they transformed their security policies and military organisation. Some Partners were doing this for the first time in modern history. Having benefitted from NATO experience, and applied it, many countries are now in a position to make their own strong input to the Partnership.
We are committed to associating Partners closely in the initiatives to develop PfP. NATO Foreign Ministers placed particular emphasis on this at their meeting last December, and the SLG is meeting regularly with Partners to ensure that their views are fully taken into account. In fact, a number of far-reaching proposals are currently under consideration for reinforcing PfP. Among the areas being considered by the SLG are:
We are continuing our work on these recommendations in order to reach decisions on the reinforced Partnership for Peace hopefully by the time of the Spring meeting of Alliance Foreign Ministers.
We can look ahead to a new and more powerful relationship between Allies and Partners after the Summit. 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.
All this requires a new political framework. Over the past six years the NACC has served us well. It has been instrumental in turning cooperation from an ambitious idea into a well-established reality. In every relevant category - for instance, military contacts, defence industrial conversion, or conceptual approaches to arms control - it has enabled us to make progress. Most importantly, it has helped break down many of the mental reserves and barriers that stood between us in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War. Because of NACC, initial misunderstandings about NATO could quickly be turned to familiarity.
But like PfP, NACC, too must evolve to reflect the more operational nature of our cooperation. So we have taken the initiative to replace the NACC by a new body to be called the Atlantic Partnership Council. This new forum will bring together in a single framework the best elements of the NACC political consultation process and of the military cooperation in PfP.
I should add that our vision of the APC is that it will not be just a change of name from NACC but there will be considerable added value. This new body will be endowed with increased consultation and decision-making authority and will have an important role to play in the context of future PfP operations.
Allow me now a few words on some other key issues NATO faces which relate to PfP in one way or another. As you are well aware, we are currently engaged in deepening our relationship with both Ukraine and Russia. While Ukraine is an active Partner for Peace, Russia so far has not made the most of the opportunities PfP provides.
To some extent, Russia's downplaying of its part in PfP may have been due to the focus by NATO and Russia on developing the political side of their relationship. I believe, however, that a durable, institutionalised relationship between NATO and Russia should not imply that Russia will continue to play a small part in PfP. On the contrary, many of the joint projects, such as the NATO-Russia brigade that we currently foresee, need to be developed and exercised under PfP. Where else could we do so if not within PfP? Like in the case of Ukraine, Russia's enhanced relationship with NATO will not be seen as an alternative to PfP. So I would foresee a greater Russian involvement in the programme.
The second major issue is NATO's enlargement. I think I do not need to explain at length the rationale for admitting new members to the Alliance. We admit new members because 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.
For those countries aspiring to join NATO, Partnership for Peace has already helped a great deal in preparing them for membership. But PfP is not just a preparation mechanism which one leaves behind once NATO membership is achieved. Even those Partners who soon will turn into Allies will have to remain committed to cooperation with others. They will be joining an Alliance which has made expanded Euro-Atlantic cooperation a key, if not the key part of its policy - and of its military structures. That is why NATO enlargement does not weaken PfP, but strengthens it. In short, Partnership for Peace remains a permanent feature of the Euro-Atlantic security framework.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the long list of new possibilities for Partners demonstrates that the talk of an enhanced PfP is not mere vision. There is real substance there which will have an even more profound impact on European security than PfP has had so far. If all Partners remain committed, as they have so far, their sense of security will be considerably increased through much greater transparency, closer cooperation, more opportunities to actively participate in crisis management, and easier mechanisms for consultation on issues of mutual interest.
I wish you a stimulating exchange, interesting and even daring ideas, and a successful conference.