11 Apr. 1997

Dinner Remarks

by the Secretary General

Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank very warmly the Government of Canada, and in particular my good friend Lloyd Axworthy, for hosting this dinner/reception and for a very full and useful day of meetings we have had.

I have sought to use this brief visit to Ottawa to discuss with Canadian government leaders, parliamentarians and members of the public the tasks ahead in building a stable and enduring security architecture in Europe. It is vital that NATO Allies and their publics see clearly what needs to be done and the role they can play in achieving our objective.

Let me therefore use these brief remarks to sketch out the steps ahead.

In less than three months, the Madrid Summit will take place, which will bring years of Alliance adaptation and preparation to a culmination. Among the key decisions to be taken will be to invite one or more new members to begin accession talks with the Alliance, the establishment - we hope - of a new partnership with Russia, and the far-reaching reform of our military structures.

These are significant decisions. And the fact that we are making so much progress in adapting the Alliance is attributable to the cohesion of the Allies. Whatever frictions we may have had over the years as Allies, we have never lost sight of one fundamental truth - namely, that our security is best served by staying together and that we can only cope with the challenges of an increasingly complex world if North America and Europe act in concert.

This judgement is today most visibly vindicated in Bosnia. There, NATO is leading a multinational force - a truly international coalition for peace - that is essential if this war-torn country is to get on its feet. Canada - through its soldiers on the ground and through its wider peacekeeping experience - is a key player in this common endeavour, and we are grateful for that.

The NATO of today is actively shaping the security environment in and around Europe. In a positive sense, its influence is greater than it has ever been. There can be no doubt that NATO occupies a central place in the emerging new European architecture. I do not claim that NATO alone can solve every security problem. We have to work together, as in Bosnia, with the OSCE and the UN. But NATO does have unique expertise. Our military potential, our political weight, our credibility, are invaluable assets which can, and has made the difference in a crisis.

The key point is that today NATO is organised for a different purpose than in the Cold War. What makes the real break from the past is that the Alliance is shaping the security environment with our Partners. Since the beginning of this decade we have developed our outreach to the point now where a major part of NATO's activities are taken up by very extensive cooperative programmes - such as the highly successful Partnership for Peace.

This cooperative approach to security will be given another boost at our Summit meeting in July in Madrid. There, we will take far-reaching decisions for NATO and for Euro-Atlantic security as a whole.

First, we will invite one or more countries to begin accession negotiations with the Alliance. NATO Foreign Ministers agreed the goal last December: to be able to welcome the new members by 1999, the year we will celebrate NATO's 50th anniversary. The opening of NATO should be seen - and appreciated - for what it is: a natural part of the wider process of Europe coming together. Countries want to join NATO for the same reason the current members don't want to leave it.

Enlargement of NATO will carry a price tag, but it will be affordable. In return for this modest investment, we will get new Allies committed to work with us as part of an expanding pattern of stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area. As a result, all Allies - old and new - will benefit from the accession of new members.

Second, in order to ensure that the opening of NATO increases security and stability for all of Europe, we will intensify Partnership for Peace. Partners - if they so wish - will have greatly enhanced opportunities to be involved with the Alliance through a new Atlantic Partnership Council. The result? More frequent and meaningful political consultations with Partners, and the closest possible cooperation between our military forces.

Third, we will develop a strong, stable and enduring security partnership with Russia, embodied in a NATO-Russia agreement. What the Alliance would like to see is creation of a permanent mechanism of consultation - a joint NATO-Russia Council, where we will regularly consult and discuss possible joint initiatives. Such an agreement would building close cooperation between the Alliance and Russia, enhance mutual understanding and confidence, and commit us to explore the potential to work together on security issues. For our part, we could conceive agreeing such a text at the highest political level, even before the Madrid Summit. With the progress we have made to date, I am hopeful this can be done, and I shall be pressing hard to this end when I meet next week with Foreign Minister Primakov.

Fourth, the Alliance will also develop further its relations with Ukraine. I certainly do not have to remind a Canadian audience of the importance of an independent, stable and democratic Ukraine. The Alliance is committed to the development of a "distinctive and effective NATO-Ukraine relationship" which could also be formalised, possibly by the time of the Summit. In the weeks to come, I shall be actively pursuing discussions with our Ukrainian Partners, and I am quite optimistic on a successful outcome.

Fifth, but not least, the Summit will mark progress in the internal adaptation of the Alliance brought about through a wide-reaching reform of our command structures. This will provide for much-needed restructuring and down-sizing so that we can better and more flexibly carry out the new Alliance missions of peacekeeping and crisis management.

Mais cette restructuration permettra également d'élargir encore les responsabilités de l'Europe au sein de l'Alliance. Pour assurer de saines relations transatlantiques, il faut, je crois, s'efforcer de mieux partager le fardeau de notre Alliance transatlantique. Ainsi, au cours des derniers mois, nous avons défini les moyens permettant aux Alliés européens de faire appel au soutien de l'OTAN pour d'éventuelles opérations dirigées par l'Union de l'Europe occidentale. De cette faon, pour la première fois, l'OTAN comportera une dimension spécifiquement européenne, qui complétera la dimension transatlantique fondamentale à laquelle l'Organisation doit ses qualités exceptionnelles.

Mesdames et Messieurs les Ministres, Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs :

Bien entendu, l'agenda de l'OTAN ne se résume pas aux points que je viens d'énumérer. Il y a d'autres domaines d'activités importants, comme la construction d'un pont d'amitié par dessus la Méditerranée ou l'intensification de notre lutte contre la prolifération des armes de destruction massive. Dans un cas comme dans l'autre, nous n'atteindrons notre objectif que si nous conservons notre atout le plus précieux : notre cohésion. "Mais à quel prix?" demanderez-vous. "Que peut y gagner le Canada?"

Ce qui justifie la participation du Canada, me semble-t-il, ce n'est pas seulement la qualité de ses troupes ou les sacrifices qu'il a consentis par le passé pour défendre la liberté de l'Europe. Il y a également des raisons politiques, tout aussi importantes, je crois, qui donnent à la contribution du Canada toute sa valeur.

L'Alliance a aujourd'hui une influence beaucoup plus grande sur le cours des évènements en l'Europe qu'autrefois. Appartenir à l'OTAN, c'est, pour le Canada, jouer un rôle - un rôle important - dans l'évolution du continent européen à un moment où celui-ci connaît des changements fondamentaux. Ce rôle est - et restera - d'une importance capitale pour le bien-être du Canada. La situation en Europe n'est pas figée. Elle peut être faonnée et orientée par la volonté collective des Alliés.

Je pense que la période que nous vivons actuellement est peut-être parmi les plus décisives depuis la fondation de l'OTAN en 1949 - période pendant laquelle le Canada a très largement contribué, par son rôle influent, à donner forme au Traité de l'Atlantique Nord naissant. Aujourd'hui encore, l'Alliance continue de jouer un rôle central dans le devenir de l'Europe. Le Sommet donnera une nouvelle preuve de ce rôle central de l'Alliance. Il tracera la voie de l'avenir, et nous aidera à établir une zone euro-atlantique plus stable, plus coopérative et plus paisible.

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