At the Standing
of Atlantic

19 Sept. 1997


by the Deputy Secretary General

I would first like to thank the conference organizers -- the Euro-Atlantic Club of Hungary, the Atlantic Council of Hungary, and the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- for the honour and privilege of addressing the Standing Conference of Atlantic Organisations. The vitality of these organisations is testimony of perhaps one of the most significant development at the end of this century: the growth of the Atlantic community.

In 1949, the drafters of the Washington Treaty envisaged the Atlantic Alliance as the cornerstone of a broader community of European and North American democracies - a community based on common values rather than common fear. As we know, this community could only emerge in the Western half of the continent. Thus, the Atlantic community remained incomplete from its very beginning. But the values that it upheld and defended were never conceived as geographically or culturally restricted.

The end of the Cold War has given us the opportunity to complete this Atlantic community. Those who were artificially separated from it for almost half a century are retaking their rightful place. NATO and the EU are opening their doors to those who share our values and are committed to make their full contribution.

The Madrid Summit brought to an end the debate about the pros and cons of NATO enlargement. The opening of NATO is now a settled issue. From now on, the focus is on the practical implementation. And here, we are moving on the fast track.

Two weeks ago, accession talks began as a first step in the process of the first new members joining the Alliance. Our goal is to conclude these talks by November, so that the Foreign Ministers of the Alliance can sign the Protocols of Accession for all three invitees at the December NATO Ministerial. After that, the Protocols will go to the governments and parliaments of the 16 NATO Allies for national ratification.

Preparing the ratification process will doubtless heighten the public attention on enlargement -- not only in member countries, but also in the three invited countries. I do not expect a replay of the debates we saw before Madrid. But it is evident that a strong signal of support in favour of enlargement from the respective publics of the three invited countries would help strengthen the ratification effort. It will not be an automatic process. In any event, we are looking forward to working very closely with Hungary as we prepare ourselves for full Hungarian membership in NATO in 1999.

You all know that at the time of the Madrid Summit there was considerable debate about whether more than three countries should have been invited to join the Alliance. The argument that carried the day was that the interests and cohesion of the Alliance would best be served by a smaller first round. But the Summit Declaration also underscored that the door to NATO must and will remain open, and that the first new members will not be the last. No European democratic country, regardless of its geographic location, will be excluded from consideration.

Despite some understandable disappointment on the part of those who had hoped to be invited at Madrid. I believe that this message has been well understood. Those countries which have not been invited have already made it clear that they will continue to press their case and to do all that is necessary to join. Thus, the powerful incentives for further reform, which the prospect of NATO and EU membership has created, will remain. Indeed, without the commitment of NATO and EU to open up we would not have seen the many bilateral treaties that have been signed across Central and Eastern Europe, laying to rest old enmities and conflicts once and for all.

For the three invitees, the challenge is now to involve them in NATO's work as closely as possible. It is a challenge that works both ways. Thanks to the Partnership for Peace and the IFOR and SFOR operations in Bosnia, much has already been achieved in terms of advancing interoperability with NATO. But a great deal remains to be done. NATO stands ready to help and advise but there is no magic solution, and the integration of the invitees into the Alliance will be a long and tough process of adjustment. It will require clear political will backed up by the firm commitment to see through change. There will inevitably be difficult choices to make as force structures are changed and equipment modernized. It will cost money - military reform does not come cheap. But the result will be well worth it. This adaptation, this creation of modern and efficient armed forces, would have been inevitable even if NATO membership had never been an option. And modernisation outside the NATO framework, with all the benefit of scale and interoperability that NATO brings, would be many, many times more costly.

It goes without saying that the new members will contribute their fair share to the costs of keeping this Alliance in good repair. This is important for Alliance solidarity in general and particularly so for the health of the transatlantic relationship which has been the cornerstone of the Alliance's near half-century of success. In the years to come, this relationship will be increasingly defined by our ability to find a new formula of burden-sharing. If the new members are seen as adding to NATO's political and military clout and willing to share the burdens of collective defence, then the transatlantic link will remain as dynamic as ever. So will the development of a European Security and Defence Identity, a concept that will gain further momentum.

So much for the invitees. Of course, the need to keep NATO's enlargement gradual and manageable does not preclude us from deepening our ties with all our Partners - here and now. Enlargement is but one part of a broader process of change. As I said earlier, the Atlantic community was never conceived as geographically or culturally restricted. On the contrary, that community today extends far beyond NATO as an organisation.

An enhanced Partnership for Peace will bring Allies and Partners even closer. The success and momentum of PfP has been greater than we first hoped. So, as the Allies have gained in experience of close cooperation, they have developed ideas for intensifying PfP.

The enhanced Partnership launched at Sintra last May offers important new opportunities. It expands the scope of PfP exercises and involves Partners in the planning and execution of PfP activities. It also allows for the appointment of Partners to international posts at the Partnership Coordination Cell in Mons and for the involvement of their personnel in various Alliance Headquarters.

These measures will allow our most active partners to come very close to NATO and enjoy many of the benefits that in past have been the preserve of the Allies only. The momentum doesn't stop there. Greater scope for consultations and involvement of Partners in planning and decision-making for peace support operations will in turn inspire more ambitious regional and bilateral programmes of cooperation. This evolution of PfP makes clear that it is much more than simply a military cooperation programme. It is an investment in the future peaceful evolution of this continent.

Equally important, the newly created Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council will provide Partners with more opportunities for consultation and co-operation, both in peacetime and in the event of a crisis.

The EAPC is not simply a replacement of its predecessor, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC). It will upgrade and intensify the political consultation element of our cooperation. The Alliance is giving Partners the possibility to consult with the Sixteen more regularly and more substantively; and to involve them - if they so wish - more deeply in the political guidance and conduct of NATO's peacekeeping and peace support operations. This has to some extent already been the case for IFOR and SFOR. The EAPC is thus the logical complement to a stronger, more operational Partnership for Peace.

Together, the Allies have also made tremendous progress in putting in place another key element of the new security order - a new relationship with Russia. Only six months ago, many commentators were arguing that we would have to choose between NATO enlargement and Russia. The NATO-Russia Founding Act demonstrates that an enlarged NATO need not be at the expense of a transformed NATO-Russia relationship.

I am aware that some observers have raised doubts about the new mechanism created by the Founding Act, the Permanent Joint NATO-Russia Council. They fear that NATO is being weakened or diluted, or that the efficiency of our consultation procedures is being impaired. These critics are afraid that Russia will acquire disproportionate influence over the Alliance. I believe that Americans call this "the camel's nose under the tent".

But these charges are unfounded. The joint Council is entirely separate from the North Atlantic Council. What we discuss with the Russians is what we agree to discuss with them - and, in my view, as we see the fruits of consultation, we can broaden the agenda.

So, while Russia cannot expect to block NATO's own separate decision-taking, we will listen to Russia's proposals and concerns. We will consider serious, legitimate points. We had the first organisational meeting in July and will hold the first meeting at the Foreign Ministers' level next Thursday in NewYork. Both NATO and Russia are committed to make this new structure work. We are interested in co-operation, not conflict. Of course, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating". But the framework for progress is now set.

The new NATO-Russia relationship is on track. So is our relationship with Ukraine. Ukraine is a country which, by virtue of its size and geo-strategic location, is a crucial factor for stability and security in Europe. At the Madrid Summit, Allied leaders and Ukrainian President Kuchma signed a Charter which established a distinct and effective relationship between NATO and Ukraine. This relationship will help strengthen Ukraine's participation in the building of a new, cooperative security structure. One of our first steps has been the opening of a NATO Information Office in Kyiv - the first of its kind in any Partner country.

Our intensive relations with our Central and Eastern European Partners should not lead anyone to believe that we are neglecting another area that is important for our security: the Southern Mediterranean. Indeed, we are making steady progress in developing our dialogue with six Mediterranean countries - Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. The Madrid Summit has now put our Mediterranean initiative on an institutionalised footing through the creation of a special Mediterranean Committee. Here the 16 NATO nations will meet periodically with each of our six Mediterranean dialogue partners.

All these initiatives underline the point I made earlier: the Atlantic community is growing. But let us be honest: this wider Atlantic community is not a recreation club. It is first and foremost a community of action. As Bosnia brings home with brutal clarity, the security of Europe cannot be assured by communiques, it requires political will and the right instruments. In the initial stages of the breakup of Yugoslavia there was perhaps too little of both. Fortunately, this has changed.

I do not have to remind this audience of the importance of bringing stability and peace to the Balkans. Bordering on this region as you do, the implementation of a sustainable peace in Bosnia has a special meaning for Hungary and her neighbours.

The cooperation shown by Hungary has made a strong impression on many Allied observers. The capacity to work together with Allies in a "real-life" crisis management situation has provided much valuable experience on many levels. It bodes well for the work ahead of us in preparing for Hungary's admission into NATO.

Equally, Hungary's contribution to IFOR and SFOR has been important and has increased NATO-Hungarian military cooperation. I would like to express my appreciation to the Hungarian SFOR troops and I welcome, in particular, the engineering work they are doing in Mostar for the restoration of the Stari Most Bridge.

Building peace in a country that has suffered so dreadfully - and mostly from self-inflicted wounds - is by no means an easy task. But we are determined to push the political leaders in Bosnia to live up to all the commitments they have undertaken in the Dayton Accords to do just that: build peace.

We are today at a very important stage in this complex and multi-faceted process. Last week, municipal elections were held throughout the country. This event marks yet another milestone along the "democratisation" road. It complements last year's national, entity, and cantonal elections - whose elected officials have been installed in office.

The democratisation of Bosnia is what is feared by the "obstructors" of the Peace Agreement - those who would renege on the obligations, commitments, and indeed vision, established in the Dayton Accords. These are the extremists and hard-liners who, through manipulation of the media and by orchestrating civil unrest, seek to destroy what has been achieved to date.

Our message to these obstructionist is simple and direct: those who honour their commitments will receive our support; those who do not will find themselves denied any hope of taking up membership in the wider community of nations.

We all know that the challenges are daunting. But I believe that in IFOR and SFOR we can see the beginning of what Sir John Goulden has called a "new culture of involvement". To create such a culture - to foster the notion that security is a true team effort - such is the ultimate goal of the Atlantic community we are currently about to extend. Thank you.

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