"The Role of NATO for Europe's Security"
Address by the Deputy Secretary General
I am very pleased to participate in this conference and I congratulate the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wehrtechnik on its fortieth anniversary. Coming from an organisation which itself celebrated a fortieth anniversary a few years ago, I can assure you that some of the most exciting things and greatest achievements happen after you are forty.
It is evident that Europe is going through a crucial period - every bit as formative as the years which shaped the Atlantic Community in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
One of the key characteristics of today's security environment is its openness to change. Cooperation rather than confrontation reigns. History provides us all with an opportunity to recast the European security landscape. However, even we at NATO Headquarters do not have a crystal ball at our disposal. We cannot be sure what the new Europe will look like over the years to come. Yet the changes that have already occurred in a very few years are breathtaking and they are obvious to all. The Berlin Wall fell. The Cold War is over and the threat of a major conflagration in Europe has faded. The Soviet Union has disappeared and 15 independent countries have taken its place. Will we succeed in making the Europe of the 21st century a safer, more stable place than in the past? This is the challenge we are facing today.
Beneath the surface of a new Europe, there are a number of unsolved disputes and tensions which can easily throw us off course. From Bosnia to Chechnya, more Europeans have died violently from conflict in the last five years than in the entire 45 years of the Cold War. There are too many reminders that Europe's democratic revolution is not complete.
When the East-West confrontation in Europe ended many questioned the future relevance of NATO. Why, they asked, do we still need NATO when there is no longer a Soviet threat? The Warsaw Pact has disbanded, why not NATO?
I believe that events of the past few years have answered this question. Today NATO is playing a crucial part in shaping the new European Security structures, alongside other organisations such as the OSCE, the European Union, the Western European Union and the Council of Europe. We need NATO because it provides the basis for the strategic partnership of European and North American democracies - a partnership that remains at the centre of European security. We need NATO as an organisation that can extend stability to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that have undergone rapid change and are in the process of finding their place in the European House, an expression incidentally once coined by President Gorbatchov.
The changes undergone by NATO are to my mind equally impressive. Through NATO's Partnership for Peace initiative we have established cooperative relations with almost every country in the Euro-Atlantic area, including Russia. We have reduced and restructured our forces to cope with the new challenges of regional crisis and conflicts. And we have developed closer ties to other organisations, such as OSCE, WEU and the UN.
Most visibly of all, NATO deployed a Force of 60,000 in Former Yugoslavia to implement the Dayton peace agreement. This major undertaking as well as its sequel, the Stabilisation Force SFOR, illustrates very well the kind of new challenges NATO will face in the future.
In less than four months, the Madrid Summit will bring several years of change and hard work to a culminating point. NATO will invite one or more new members to begin accession talks with the Alliance. We will strengthen the Partnership for Peace programme of cooperation with all interested European countries, whether they will join NATO or not. We will establish a new relationship with Russia and Ukraine. And we will develop the European dimension within the Alliance.
Each of these issues would merit a little speech on its own. But let me try to address them briefly in turn:
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. They want to work with existing Allies for stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area. It is important to understand that security in Europe after the end of the Cold War is no longer a zero-sum-concept. The whole of Europe will benefit from a larger Alliance playing a wider role.
Second, in order to ensure that the opening of NATO increases security and stability for all of Europe, we are going to intensify Partnership for Peace. Partners will become increasingly involved with NATO, if they so wish. We will also work with Partners on establishing a Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The result will be the closest possible cooperation between our military forces and more frequent and meaningful political consultations. At the same time, each Partner will continue to develop an individual cooperative programme with NATO to meet its specific needs. Through an enhanced Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the opportunities will grow for ever-closer security cooperation in Europe.
Third, we want to establish a strong, stable and enduring security partnership with Russia, embodied in a NATO-Russia agreement. As you know, Secretary General Solana, on behalf of the Alliance, has been negotiating such an agreement with Russian Foreign Minister Primakov. The essence of the new relationship between NATO and Russia as we envisage it is contained in our proposal for a Joint Council. This will give Russia a visible place in the European and Transatlantic security landscape. It would provide opportunities for consultation as well as joint decision-making and joint action on a case by case basis. But the most valuable capital we want to build with Russia through the Joint Council is: mutual trust.
We would like to sign such a document at the highest political level, even before the Madrid Summit. I remain hopeful that we can achieve this goal.
Fourth, the Alliance will also develop further its relations with Ukraine. An independent, stable and democratic Ukraine is of strategic importance for the development of Europe as a whole. The Alliance is committed to build a "distinctive and effective NATO-Ukraine relationship" which could be formalized, probably by the time of the Summit. Here the Secretary General has also been given a mandate to pursue negotiations with our Ukrainian Partners, and I am optimistic with regard to the outcome.
Fifth, we will enhance our Mediterranean dialogue. Security in Europe is closely linked to security and stability in the Mediterranean. Our dialogue with non-NATO countries in the Mediterranean (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Mauritania) underlines our desire to help create good, strong and friendly relations across the Mediterranean just as we have done across Europe.
Sixth but not least, the Summit will see progress in the development of the European dimension and responsibility within the Alliance as part of a wider reform and streamlining of NATO's military structures.
I believe we should, for the sake of healthy transatlantic relations, move towards a new balance in sharing the common burden. So, over the past months, we have been developing the means by which European Allies could draw on NATO'S support for possible operations led by the Western European Union (WEU). Thus, for the first time, within NATO will be reflected a specific European dimension, complementing the essential transatlantic dimension which makes NATO the cornerstone of our security.
NATO today is at the heart of building a better and safer Europe across the board. The Madrid Summit in July represents not just one in a series of high-level meetings, it will be a turning point. Within the next few years, we shall have new members extending and deepening stability to the eastern part of the continent. We shall have new, very flexible, military structures able to undertake the whole range of operations from humanitarian relief to crisis intervention. And, of course, we will pursue our new mission - achieving a qualitative change in European security. Through Partnership for Peace, our relationship with Russia and other initiatives, we will be able to bind the continent together in a common resolve to prevent future wars and deal with local conflicts. In short, the Madrid Summit will see a new NATO emerge, fit for the future and guiding us towards a more stable, more cooperative and more peaceful Euro-Atlantic area.
Well, I hope I was able to convince you that what I said at the outset is true: some of the most exciting things in life happen after you have reached forty.