of the

29 May 1997

Logo Sintra

Opening Statement

by the Secretary General

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Deux jours aprs notre Sommet historique OTAN-Russie Paris, nous voil runis cette session ministrielle du printemps, Sintra. Je remercie les autorits portugaises pour leur gnreuse hospitalit et pour l'organisation parfaite. Cette runion du Conseil s'inscrit dans le droit fil des prcdentes runions de prparation des dcisions importantes que doivent prendre les Chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement au Sommet de Madrid, en juillet. A l'aube du 21e sicle, ce Sommet faonnera la nouvelle OTAN et il prparera le terrain pour la mise en place de structures de scurit en coopration dans l'Europe tout entire.

Notre runion aujourd'hui Sintra contribuera la prparation de ces dcisions capitales. Je vais vous prsenter mon rapport sur les divers facteurs qui interviennent dans le processus de l'largissement. La dcision concernant les pays qui seront invits sera prise par nos Chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement Madrid. Nos dbats d'aujourd'hui contribueront la formulation de recommandations dans les semaines venir.

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We will endorse today measures to further strengthen the Partnership for Peace by reinforcing its political consultative dimension and by making it more operational. The new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council will be established together with our Partners. It will provide the overarching framework for political and security consultations and cooperation under PfP. We look forward to tomorrow's first meeting of the EAPC with our Partners.

Today, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Udovenko will be joining us for a brief ceremony at which we intend to intial the Charter on a distinctive partnership between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Ukraine. This important document will be signed with Ukrainian President Kuchma at the occasion of the Madrid Summit in July.

We will also discuss today ways to further enhance our Mediterranean Dialogue. This Dialogue has progressed well. Our Alliance, after having overcome the division of Europe, is also striving actively to promote cooperation with our Southern neighbours.

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We will also address NATO's internal adaptation. Much has been done since our landmark meeting in Berlin last year. Work is progressing to define a new command structure and on fleshing out the concept of Combined Joint Task Forces. The practical arrangements to enable NATO assets to be identified and transferred for use in an operation led by the WEU have largely been completed. In sum, we are well on the way towards fulfilling our decisions last year aimed at adapting NATO' structures. This will give us the flexibility needed to handle the full range of its missions while at the same time building the European security and Defence Identity within the Alliance. We will be taking stock of progress and mandating a full report to the Summit.

Finally, let me point out that many of the adaptions of the Alliance that we will be discussing today take account of lessons learned from our successful operations in Bosnia with IFOR and now SFOR. We will discuss Bosnia this afternoon and the implementation of the Peace Agreement with the presence of Carl Bildt.

Our meetings in Sintra demonstrate that NATO is well on track for the 21st century. The Atlantic Alliance, together with its Partners, remains determined to meet the challenges of a new era - to meet the challenge of change.

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