At the
on "NATO
for Italy"

3 Oct. 1997

European Security with an enlarged NATO

Keynote speech

by the NATO Secretary General

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to deliver the keynote speech at this distinguished conference.

Over the past three years or so, the issue of the enlargement of NATO has become a dominant theme in the security debate.

Yet despite this extensive - and exhaustive - debate, many people still look at NATO's enlargement in rather narrow and critical terms. For example, some critics have claimed that NATO's enlargement was meant as a quick fix to an alleged identity crisis. Others maintain that it was an arrogant attempt to become the dominant European security manager.

NATO is a democratic Alliance, critically dependent on public and parliamentary support. And therefore, if there are still doubts on enlargement, we must dispel them. I believe that dispelling residual doubts should not be too difficult. For the misperceptions about NATO enlargement have common roots: they lie in the failure to fully appreciate the changing role of institutions within our new security environment.

To put it simply, too many people still look at institutions the way they did during the Cold War. Back then, each institution had its clearly defined purpose. NATO's purpose was to guard against the possibility of a Soviet aggression. It was a single purpose, and it was easy to comprehend.

Today, the security environment has fundamentally changed, and with it the character of institutions. Integration has become the defining characteristic of our political environment. It is a process that is not confined to the level of economics alone. Integration also encompasses security. Simply put: we cannot be secure if our neighbour remains insecure.

In this new environment, the role of institutions is also changing. Rather than focussing on one single task, as they did in the past, institutions have become multi-purpose instruments. Rather than being narrow and defensive, they have become outward-looking and proactive. And rather than jealously guarding their respective "turf" against intrusion by others, they are creating a coherent political momentum towards shared goals.

Just look at two major institutions like NATO and the EU: they are separate and autonomous. Yet they are nonetheless shaped by the same factors. For example, both institutions are committed to enlargement, for the same strategic reason: enhancing stability. Their complementary roles are also visible in Bosnia: without NATO there would be no peace, without the EU there could be no successful reconstruction. Like NATO, the EU has special programmes for Russia and Ukraine. And both have a growing Mediterranean dimension.

But most significantly, the EU is broadening its relationship with the US through a joint Action Plan agreed in 1995. In a way, therefore, NATO's current efforts to create a more visible European dimension is being complemented by a new Atlantic dimension of the EU.

So our key institutions are rapidly transforming themselves. They have become multi-purpose instruments, using different means to achieve the same ends: a new security order for the next century. These institutions can no longer be measured with the outdated yardsticks of the Cold War.

This is also true for their respective enlargement policies. They cannot be judged by the zero-sum mentality of the past 40 years. A new Europe cannot be based on closed institutions. If our institutions would not be responsive to those aspiring to join, we would leave in place the old division of the continent. We would send the wrong signals: indifference instead of engagement. And we would keep these new democracies imprisoned in their past.

A European architecture based on indifference cannot be a stable construction. So the enlargement of NATO - like that of the EU - is a strategic imperative. It is an investment in a secure Europe.

But is it an investment we can afford? My answer: yes, we can afford it, because the costs are manageable, and because the gains far outweigh the costs.

Everyone accepts that at a time of reducing defence budgets, the additional costs have to be seriously considered. But some of the figures that have been quoted by private think tanks are grossly exaggerated, and are based somewhat on mistaken assumptions. We are currently working on a cost-assessment to be agreed by all Allies. Until this assessment is completed, I do not want to engage in the numbers games. Enlargement is too important a subject to leave to bookkeepers.

In any case, my view is that membership is more about commitment than cost. Applicants will pay their fair share of common costs, but it will not be an undue share. No one wants our new members to put their economic reforms at risk by spending excessive sums on defence. New members, like NATO's present members, will have the time and the freedom to meet the requirements in a way that they can absorb, while taking seriously their collective defence commitments in NATO.

Clearly, the adjustments new members will have to make will be wide-ranging. They will have to continue to modernise their outdated armed forces. But this modernisation is a challenge that would have posed itself irrespective of their wish to join NATO. And, most importantly, NATO will provide a solid, reliable framework for the long term security of the new members - and that means a cheaper, more cost-effective defence than they would otherwise have.

So the costs of enlargement are manageable. And they pale in comparison to the strategic gains enlargement will bring. Aside from injecting a sense of optimism towards our Eastern neighbours, a larger NATO will also mean a stronger NATO - a NATO better able to tackle the new security challenges of the next century.

Consider these facts: admitting the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland will add about 60 million people to our Alliance, that is less than ten per cent of the entire Allied population. They will add almost half a million square kilometres, about 2% of the present Alliance territory. And just as preparing for EU membership has hastened economic and political reforms, so too the prospect of accession to NATO will hasten the reforms and restructuring needed in their armed forces. But there can be no doubt that these countries are willing to make their full contribution to our Alliance.

A larger NATO is also crucially important for the health of the transatlantic relationship. In the years to come, this relationship will be increasingly defined by our ability to find a new formula of burden-sharing. The United States remains firmly engaged in Europe, but it will expect the European Allies to take on more responsibility. If the new members are seen as adding to NATO's political and military clout, if they are seen as new European Allies willing to share the burdens, then the transatlantic link will remain as dynamic as ever.

NATO has enlarged several times in its history, each time it has grown stronger. To be sure, each time NATO enlarged, it was after considerable debate. For example, many of you will know that during the negotiations leading to the Washington Treaty some considered Italy as not eligible to join the new Alliance. They argued that a Mediterranean country could not possibly join what was to be an "Atlantic" framework.

Had we succumbed to this narrow notion of geography, the Alliance would have never acquired a full Mediterranean dimension. If Italy had not been admitted, neither would Greece, Turkey and Spain. We would be in a much weaker position today to have a positive influence on events in this vital region. As a consequence, the Bosnian conflict might still rage, because we would consider the Balkans and the Adriatic sea as being outside our security perimeter.

In retrospect, not to have admitted Italy - a country with such strong Atlantic values - would seem like an exercise in short-sightedness.

It is my firm conviction that just a few years down the road we will look back at the current enlargement debate and wonder why the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were not considered being an organic part of our Atlantic community.

Between now and the actual accession of the three invitees we will help prepare them for their full participation in the command structures of the Alliance. They will also be introduced to the defence planning disciplines of NATO. We are also looking into ways to provide for the accommodation and technical support for the new national delegations. So in 1999, the new members will be ready to make their full contribution.

Of course, many more countries want to be part of this community. You all know that at the time of the Madrid Summit there was considerable debate about whether other countries should have also been invited to join the Alliance. After careful consideration, and taking into account all relevant factors, the Allies reached consensus on the three countries that were finally invited. 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 our message of the "open door" 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.

At Madrid, NATO Heads of State and Government took account of the positive development towards democracy and the rule of law in a number of Southeastern European countries, especially Romania and Slovenia. They recognised the need to build greater stability, security and regional cooperation in the countries of Southeast Europe, and the need promoting their increasing integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. This specific recognition of Southeastern Europe should put to rest any notion of relegating this region to an area of secondary importance. The security architecture we envisage remains an inclusive one.

This message is also important for the Baltic states, who were referred to in the Summit Declaration as well.

While we are preparing to accept the first three new members, those who are serious candidates for the future will also be preparing to join. For one, our Individual Dialogues with interested Partners will continue. This means that all Partners that aspire to membership or that otherwise wish to pursue a dialogue with NATO retain the opportunity to do so.

Second, interested Partners can prepare themselves by moving toward greater interoperability with NATO and by taking a greater part in the enhanced Partnership for Peace.

This Partnership has exceeded all expectations. 27 countries have chosen to take part in this initiative - to take part in advancing cooperative security throughout the Euro-Atlantic area. Even countries who come from a strongly neutral tradition are eager to involve themselves with NATO through PfP - ready to help in peace support operations, and increasingly sympathetic to the ideals and goals of our Alliance.

The PfP will become even more operational. The number of major military exercises has already grown from 3 in 1994 to 24 this year. And these military exercises will become more complex and robust. Our Partners will have a stronger presence at NATO Headquarters, and will be involved more deeply in our decision-making and planning than ever before. For example, Partner officers will work alongside their NATO counterparts at various levels of the military structure, planning and implementing PfP activities.

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. And with the new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) we are also enhancing the political dimension of the Partnership. This is particularly important for planning and overseeing a joint mission of Allies and Partners, as we are currently doing with SFOR in Bosnia.

One important example of the enhanced PfP in action is the assistance that Allies are providing, through the framework of Partnership for Peace, in the reconstruction and the restructuring of Albania's armed forces under democratic control of the civilian authorities.

All this means that the Atlantic community is growing, both in quantity and quality. The pool of resources we can draw on in managing crises in Europe is growing. The share of the security burden is being spread more evenly. And the possibilities for the Alliance to exercise decisive influence on security developments throughout Europe have grown. There is currently no other organisation which can create such a powerful, positive momentum.

This fundamental truth has not failed to make an impression even on Russia. Remember: not so long ago many people firmly believed that enlargement and a close relationship with Russia were incompatible, indeed contradictory goals. We were told that we would always have to choose between enlargement and Russia.

In this new Europe, NATO and Russia are destined to cooperate, and we now have the mechanisms to do so. The Permanent Joint Council we have created will provide us with the right forum for progress. It will enable us to exchange views on a wide range of subjects, each party being able to express and defend its positions. The Permanent Joint Council will be a body of its own which will provide both NATO and Russia with the possibility of consulting with each other on an equal basis.

Moreover, the PJC will also be a forum for cooperation between NATO and Russia. A very ambitious and detailed work programme has already been agreed between the two parties until the end of the year covering issues for NATO-Russia consultations, issues for practical cooperation between NATO and Russia and the implementation of the structures mentioned in the Founding Act. We also hope to have soon a Russian military representation at NATO enabling us to carry forward a far-reaching programme of military to military practical and concrete activities.

The Council has already met at Ambassadorial level, and just a week ago it met at Ministerial level in New York. Two days ago, in Maastricht, Allied Ministers of Defence held a fruitful meeting with their Russian counterpart, Minister Sergeyev. These meetings have all been successful. We will meet again at Ministerial level in December. All in all, in six months since the signing of the Founding Act, the PJC will have met three times at Ministerial level and five times at Ambassadorial level. This demonstrates that both sides are committed to make this relationship work.

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.

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. As we enlarge and adapt NATO to the new European security environment, we must ensure that we are able to preserve it as an effective instrument for peace and stability in Europe.

In closing, let me share with you one final thought. As we move ahead with NATO's transformation, it is perhaps natural that we focus on the obstacles and problems we still may face. But no matter how many mountains we still have to climb, we should always keep in mind that not to face the challenges would ultimately carry a much higher price tag:

Not to enlarge NATO would lead to a new strategic division in Europe - a division into a selfish West and a disappointed East. Not to deepen cooperation with our Partners would spread a sense of abandonment and insecurity across Europe. Not to establish a new relationship with Russia and Ukraine would encourage these countries to seek purely national solutions to their security needs. And not to constructively engage our Mediterranean neighbours would risk turning the Mediterranean into a North-South divide.

All this cannot be in our interest. And it is in our hands not to let it happen. With the enlargement of a new, fundamentally transformed NATO we can make a major step towards a united Europe at peace with itself. NATO's enlargement is therefore a matter of historic significance. And through the ratification of the instruments of accession, the parliaments of the 16 Allies will have a key role to play in making our objective of a united Europe all the more closer. And, I am confident, they will discharge their historic responsibility by ensuring that the doors to the Alliance are opened and remain open. Thank You.

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