12 Jun. 1997
Secretary General's
Statement to the Press

Meeting of the North Atlantic Council
in Defence Ministers Session

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Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

Today's meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Defence Ministers session once again brought together all 16 Allies. In addition, those Allies participating in collective defence planning also met this morning in the Defence Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group.

NATO's landmark Summit in Madrid is now less than a month away. So, following on from the Alliance's Foreign Ministers in Sintra two weeks ago, Defence Ministers used today's meeting as an opportunity to make their specific contribution to the preparation of this Summit.

We focused on three topics at our meeting:

First, the situation in Bosnia and in particular the role of SFOR;

Second, our progress in the internal adaptation of the Alliance's structures and procedures;

and, finally, NATO's external adaptation;

On the first topic, Bosnia, SACEUR briefed us on the first six months of operations by SFOR. We commended SFOR for its success in enforcing military compliance.

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Ministers strongly supported the declaration from the PIC Steering Board in Sintra calling on all Parties to implement the Peace Agreement fully and without further delay.

On the second topic - internal adaptation - Ministers reviewed the great deal of work we have done in NATO over the past six months to implement the far-reaching decisions that we took in Berlin and Brussels last year. This internal adaptation has concentrated on three key areas:

  • the implementation of the CJTF concept;
  • the design of a new command structure; and
  • the creation of the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance

The phased implementation of the CJTF concept is proceeding well. The first trial involving headquarters able to direct multinational and multi-service operations will take place later this year.

We have also made substantial progress within NATO on the shape of a new command structure and on the manpower and resources needed to operate this new structure. The purpose of the new command structure is to enable NATO to better carry out its missions - new as well as traditional - in a changing security environment. It will also help us to enlarge the Alliance efficiently. Some issues remain to be agreed so we are not quite there yet. We will continue to work hard to achieve full consensus.

The creation of ESDI within the Alliance is an area where we have moved ahead very decisively since our decisions in Berlin last year. This work is now largely completed. The main building blocks for using NATO capabilities and assets for a WEU-led operation are well in hand.

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On the third topic - NATO'S external adaptation - we discussed a number of important initiatives of direct concern to Defence Ministers:

  • One of these was our new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the enhanced PfP : Ministers gave a warm welcome to both these initiatives which we will discuss in depth with our Partner countries when we meet with them tomorrow in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

  • Another important issue we discussed was how to give substance to the Founding Act between NATO and Russia.

  • We discussed too our preparations for NATO's forthcoming enlargement. We concentrated in particular on ways to use our defence planning process to make the integration of new members into NATO's military structure as smooth and rapid as possible.

Finally, a few words on the meetings of the Nuclear Planning Group and the Defence Planning Committee (DPC).

During the Nuclear Planning Group meeting, Secretary Cohen described current US efforts to help ensure the ratification by the Russian Duma of the START II agreement.

We also renewed our call to Russia to bring to completion the reductions in its tactical nuclear weapons announced in 1991 and 1992 and to consider making additional significant reductions.

The DPC adopted Ministerial Guidance 1997, that is to say the political guidelines for defence planning. For the first time , the WEU contributed its input to NATO's Ministerial Guidance.

In all, we had a successful meeting which has helped to chart our route to the Summit and to prepare NATO for the challenges to come.

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