End of the Century: Opportunities and Risks
by the NATO Secretary General
One of the inevitable consequences of the end of the Cold War is the re-definition of many of our basic assumptions about security. And often we find that what was once considered to be a "fundamental truth" has today turned into a "variable" which needs to be re-examined. Such a re-examination can be painful at times, as it requires one to challenge - and perhaps change - long-held views and convictions. But there should be no doubt about the necessity of such a re-thinking. The new security environment requires fresh approaches.
I believe that NATO has done its fair share of rethinking, and its transformation over the last few years reflects this. The NATO of today has moved far beyond safeguarding its members' territory. It is now actively working with other institutions and organizations in trying to create the conditions for long-term stability in the entire Euro-Atlantic area. To this end, NATO has assumed new missions, it has invited new Partners and members, and it has developed new structures. In short, the NATO of today can legitimately be called a "new" NATO - a NATO that has moved from safeguarding security to actively promoting and widening it.
That is why the NATO Summit in Madrid was so crucial. It provided a comprehensive action plan for the future. It gave NATO the means it needs to fulfil its wider purpose in this new Europe. Indeed, just listing the major Summit achievements shows how the NATO of today has become a catalyst for a new, comprehensive security order:
And let us not forget that for the past 21 months, the Alliance has organised, deployed and led an international coalition for peace in Bosnia.
These achievements make it clear that the Summit has delivered on all aspects of the new NATO. The Alliance emerged stronger from Madrid. We emerged stronger, because our vision for the future offers increased security for all the countries of Europe. We emerged stronger also because we have the resources - political, diplomatic, military - to achieve what we promise.
Three years ago, at our Brussels Summit, we promised to start the process of NATO enlargement. Our rationale was clear and straightforward: we cannot create lasting stability in Europe if our continent remains divided along a line artificially drawn in 1945. To keep NATO as a closed shop would have meant keeping countries formerly in the Eastern bloc imprisoned in their past. It would have meant robbing them of one of the best means of transcending the historical and, indeed, psychological divisions of the past.
At Madrid, we have delivered on our promise of Brussels 1994. We have invited the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to enter into accession talks. The talks are currently underway, and we hope to finish them next month. Pending successful ratification by our 16 parliaments over the course next, these three invited countries should become full members in 1999, NATO's 50th anniversary. At that time, another NATO Summit will be held to consider the way ahead.
But what about those who have not been invited this time? My simple answer: Enlargement is an open process, not a single event. Indeed, the Summit made it very clear that no European democratic country, regardless of geographic location, will be excluded from consideration. NATO will remain open. The first new members will not be the last.
Despite some understandable disappointment on the part of those who had hoped to be invited at Madrid, I believe that our message of openness has been clearly understood. Aspiring countries have already made it clear that they will continue to press their case to join NATO. Thus, the powerful incentives for further reform - created by the prospect of NATO and EU membership - will remain. Indeed, without this prospect, I wonder whether we would have witnessed the remarkable number of bilateral treaties and other measures for good neighbourly relations that have been made across Central and Eastern Europe.
Implementing the first round of enlargement does not preclude us from deepening our ties with all our Partners. On the contrary, NATO is committed to the wider Europe, not just to those who seek membership. And we now have the means to express this commitment even more clearly: the enhanced Partnership for Peace and the newly created Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
These initiatives span the Euro-Atlantic space from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Within just a few years, they have led to ever closer military cooperation and political consultation among over 40 countries - an achievement unprecedented in European history. Our enhanced Partnership for Peace allows Partner countries to familiarise themselves ever more intensively with NATO's structures. The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council allows them to consult even more extensively with the Allies. Never before has NATO's pan-European vocation been more visible. Through the Alliance's cooperative approach, almost all countries in the Euro-Atlantic area are now bound together in a common commitment to a more peaceful, stable future.
This commitment is not just rhetorical. It is having a visible effect in Bosnia, where soldiers of more than 30 countries are united in a true coalition for peace. In my visits to Bosnia, I see not only American and Russian soldiers patrolling together - I also see soldiers from Ukraine, from the Baltic states, and from Finland and Poland. NATO's Partnership initiative enabled them to work together. They have reconstructed thousands of miles of road, built or repaired over 60 bridges, and opened up the railway system and airports. They are proud and effective partners in the NATO-led international coalition for peace in Bosnia.
Clearly, the job of changing attitudes, overcoming fear and hatred, is in this country a long-term project. We are reminded every day that reconciliation cannot be imposed from the outside. Ultimately, this is the responsibility of the Bosnians themselves. But NATO and its Partners have demonstrated that we can make a difference. We have stopped the war. We are helping to re-build the country. And we are putting pressure on those who think they can obstruct the progress towards a lasting peace. Only NATO - only this unique Alliance of Europe and North America - commands the respect that is needed to succeed.
The "new NATO" also means a new relationship with Russia. The signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act last May marked a fresh start for our relations with Russia. Most notably, the Act created a new NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. We had the first organisational meeting in July; the first meeting at the Foreign Ministers' level was held last month in New York. We will use this Council to meet regularly with Russia to discuss issues of common interest and concern. We will listen to each other's point of view, and explore in good faith the potential that NATO and Russia may have for reaching common positions on matter of European security. Indeed, the Charter foresees the possibility of taking common action if both sides so choose - such as we have already been doing, quite successfully, in Bosnia.
No mechanism can in itself guarantee a perfectly harmonious relationship. But the NATO-Russia Council provides us with a framework for making progress. And it underlines that our desire to build a security architecture with Russia is a genuine one. Remember: Only a few months ago, many commentators were arguing that we would have to choose between NATO enlargement and Russia. We have since learned that we can have both - new members of NATO and a transformed NATO-Russia relationship.
The new NATO-Russia relationship is well on track. So is our relationship with Ukraine. Its size and geo-strategic location make Ukraine 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.
In Ukrainian language "Ukraine" means "borderland". With NATO's help, the notion of Ukraine as being at the periphery of Europe can be put to rest for good.
Our intensive relations with Central and Eastern European Partners should not lead anyone to believe that we are neglecting another area important for our security: the Southern Mediterranean. It is simply impossible to overstate the importance of Mediterranean developments for the rest of Europe. The Mediterranean is a crossroads of cultures, economies, and religions. Accordingly, the Alliance is making an active effort to forge closer ties and to dispel some of the damaging misperceptions and apprehensions that may exist on both sides of the Mediterranean shore.
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.
Let me briefly turn to NATO's internal reforms, whose importance cannot be exaggerated. In Madrid, we made progress towards a new structure which, I hope, will be finalised at the December NATO Ministerial meetings.
This new structure will have several major advantages: First, it will provide us with greater operational flexibility, and a better reaction capability to respond to crises. Second, it will be easier to incorporate contributions by Partners in any future joint operation. Thirdly, it will enable us to make significant progress towards creating a European Defence and Security Identity.
The latter point is particularly crucial. The end of the Cold War not only changed East-West relations, it also changed the transatlantic relationship. Today, the European Union aspires to develop a distinct Common Foreign and Security Policy. The United States expects to be relieved of some of the burden it shouldered throughout the Cold War. This means that the old division of labour - where NATO took care of European security, while the European institutions focused mainly on economic integration - no longer reflects transatlantic realities.
Accordingly, the Alliance has given increased priority to the development of a European Security and Defence Identity within NATO. In practical terms, this means creating the capabilities and procedures which would facilitate possible operations led by the WEU, using NATO assets and support. Our aim is to improve the European operational capacity, without duplicating what we already have in NATO. If we can achieve such a separable, but not separate, European operational capability in the future, it should be possible for Europe to act in a crisis - even if, for whatever reason, the United States chose not to participate.
Essential elements of the new command structure have been identified and will form the basis for future work. For example, a European Deputy Strategic Commander will have the specific responsibility for creating a European operational capacity within NATO. As a result of these changes, the new NATO will be more in line with the political, economic and military realities of the late 1990s and beyond.
I think all this makes it obvious that the "new NATO" is more than a slogan. The new NATO is about Euro-Atlantic cooperation in the broadest sense. This is what so many observers still fail to comprehend. They do not yet fully realise that the Allies' security has become inseparably linked to that of our Partners.
But this is the reality. It is a reality reflected in the way the Alliance is organised - with the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Partnership for Peace, regular consultations with Russia and Ukraine, and an institutionalised Mediterranean dialogue. These are no longer just marginal policies that one could switch "on" or "off". These are commitments to wider European security that are now firmly built into the very structure of the new NATO.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as implied in the title of my remarks, the end of the 20th century offers both opportunities and risks. To my mind, there is no doubt that the opportunities far outweigh the risks. We are on the right track. A new Europe is emerging, a Europe of greater integration and cooperation. The new NATO I have described has a vital role to play, along with other European organisations, in moving toward the goal of a just and lasting peace in an undivided Europe. It is an ambitious goal - but, for the first time in generations, it is now within our reach.