by the Deputy Secretary General
Let me begin by welcoming you all here. It is always a pleasure to receive classes from the Marshall Centre. In just a few short years, this centre has helped tremendously in introducing officers from Partner countries to the ideas and practices of the Atlantic Alliance.
The Marshall Centre maintains very close contact with NATO at all its levels. Many of its professors, like Richard Cohen, have worked here. Others are specialists in their fields. Moreover, NATO speakers have often visited you to talk about our Alliance.
There is therefore no need for me to set out again the details of NATO's transformation or explain our current agenda. These are subjects with which you are already well familiar. What you may find more useful is to give you an insight into what we need still to do for the Madrid Summit in July. And what the consequences of the Summit will be for NATO and its Partners.
You will have noticed that this building is not a military headquarters. It is the political headquarters of the Alliance where the North Atlantic Council meets in permanent session. The military are well represented, as they should be. The Military Committee also meets here to formulate collective military advice. This is the place where everything comes together. The NATO Council and its many subcommittees are staffed by diplomats and civilians. They take military advice, but their purpose is to give strategic direction and exercise strategic control on NATO.
The dominant subject at the moment, obviously, is the Madrid Summit. It is less than eight weeks away. The decisions to be taken there are as important as any in NATO's long history. And like any important Alliance decision, they require months of advance negotiation and preparation among the Allies. As you can imagine, this building has become a centre of intense activity. This is an unprecedently busy time.
Let me give you an example. The number of Council and other high level meetings we had last year were double the number we had in 1989. We are currently on track to double again this year the number of such meetings we had last year. The amount of work supporting and resulting from these meetings has of course grown proportionately. All with zero budget growth and zero personnel growth.
To some extent, such an increase in activity could be expected in the run-up to a Summit. But, as I am sure you are aware, as well as preparing for Madrid, we are also developing a separate NATO-Russia agreement and a special relationship with Ukraine.
Let me dwell for a moment on this subject. Last December, NATO Foreign Ministers gave Secretary General Solana the task of negotiating the accord with Russia. He met Mr. Primakov in the fifth round of discussions last week in Luxembourg. The sixth round takes place tomorrow in Moscow.
There has been progress in each round. In the first two rounds, each side had its own document. By the third round, we were working from a joint text. We have now agreed almost all of the text. I see that President Yeltsin has estimated that 98% of it has been accepted.
There is no disagreement on the principles and mechanisms of the relationship. Once the document is signed, we will have regular meetings of a permanent joint NATO-Russia Council. We also agree on areas for consultation and cooperation. Differences remain on a few military aspects, and the negotiations are not yet over. But, even on the question of military infrastructure, there is confidence here that we can reassure the Russians that NATO poses no threat to them, without in any way compromising NATO's ability to defend its members.
Contrary to what you may have read in some of the press, the discussions have been conducted throughout in a reasonable, rational atmosphere. Both sides see the discussion as an opportunity to fashion a stability-enhancing, predictable partnership which will have the potential to grow over time, if the requisite political determination is there. For NATO, I can assure you that that determination exists.
NATO's relationship with Russia will not overshadow those with other Partners. Irrespective of the progress with Russia, NATO will continue to advance in its relationship with others. In terms of the relationship with Ukraine, similar substantial progress is underway. We aim to agree for Madrid a document on a distinctive relationship with Ukraine, both within PfP and beyond it. Last week, Secretary General Solana opened a NATO Information Office in Ukraine - the first of its kind.
Turning now to the Summit itself, Madrid is often portrayed as an "enlargement" Summit, as though only one issue were to be on the agenda. Nothing could be further from the truth. Compared to previous Summits, the list of decisions to be taken is unprecedently long and substantial. Madrid will most definitely not be a one-issue Summit. It will set the seal on the internal and external adaptation of the Alliance. In other words, it will bring together all the strands of NATO's adaptation which have been underway for some time.
The first major item is the completion of NATO's own internal transformation. We are working out the main features of a new military structure and the development of the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance. Both of these will have a major impact on Alliance structures. Both have to be endorsed at the highest political level.
We are also preparing for a major upgrading in our relations with Partners. This is the factor that makes this Summit unique. It is the first Summit which will benefit from extensive consultations with our Partners. It is the first NATO Summit since the launch of Partnership for Peace and, therefore, the first to take account of Partners' concerns and interests.
For example, we have been in dialogue with all 12 countries who have formally expressed a wish to join the Alliance. The NATO Council has already met with top-level representatives of all of them. The purpose of these dialogues is to provide the detailed information needed by the NATO Allies as they consider who should be the first members to be invited to join the Alliance.
Our aim is to welcome the first new members by NATO's 50th anniversary in 1999. I should emphasise one point. No decision has yet been taken as to who should be invited.
Some Allies may have firmer views than others at this stage. But no invitations can be offered without the agreement of all 16 Allies. And no discussion at 16 on the "who" has yet taken place. Minds are still being made up, on the basis of the dialogues and other factors. But after three years of a steady process of preparation through PfP, in particular, we are almost there. The Secretary General expects the candidates to be identified in process of consultations among the Allies in the immediate run-up to the Summit.
That will not be the end of the matter. NATO is already pledged to continue the process and remain open to the accession of further members, in accordance with article 10 of the Washington Treaty.
NATO's enlargement is only part of the external adaptation of the Alliance. Madrid will also see important developments in upgrading significantly our Partnership arrangements.
I have chaired the Senior Level Group which was given the responsibility for moving PfP forward. I can say that, since October when we first met, we have worked with Partners from an earlier stage and more extensively than in any previous policy initiative.
The next stage of PfP will be developed within the framework of a Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). The EAPC will provide a single political framework for all our co-operation activities. It will be a forum where Allies and Partners can meet and determine our future co-operation together. The EAPC will thus have a key role to play in future in the planning, elaboration and execution of PfP operations.
A number of far-reaching proposals are currently under consideration for an enhanced Partnership for Peace. They include, for example:
The effect of this enhancement of our relations with Partners will be to increase the possibility and credibility of joint action and close military cooperation between Allies and Partners. As we have seen in Bosnia, future peacekeeping operations are likely to be undertaken by varying combinations of Allies and non-Allies. The measures I have just mentioned will help improve our ability to work together in responding operationally to future crises.
Let me now conclude. After Madrid, we will have a NATO which has completed a long and necessary process of transformation. The new NATO will not be just about protecting its members against remote dangers. It will be at the heart of building a better and safer Europe across the board.
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 Article 5 to humanitarian relief or crisis intervention. And, of course, we will pursue our new mission - which I see as achieving a qualitative change in European security. Through Partnership for Peace, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, our relationship with Russia and Ukraine, the whole continent will be bound together in a common resolve to prevent future wars and deal with local conflicts.
This, in a nutshell, is the political agenda of the Alliance. It is our vision of how NATO can best contribute to European security and stability - not just over the next years but well beyond into the next century. For that reason, the Madrid Summit in July will be a watershed event for everyone - for Allies and Partners alike.