At the Yomiuri
Symposium on

Tokyo, Japan
15 Oct. 1997

"NATO's Role in Building Cooperative
Security in Europe and Beyond"


by the Secretary General of NATO, Dr. Javier Solana

Excellencies, Distinguished Members,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to address the members of the prestigious Yomiuri Symposium on International Economy. The Yomiuri Symposium has since its inception in 1972 established a remarkable record as a forum attracting many distinguished speakers. I am honoured by your kind invitation.

Let me say at the outset that it is a special pleasure to be in Japan for my first visit as Secretary General of NATO. Japan is a valued member of the family of democratic nations. You have long played a vital role in key international institutions - from the United Nations to the Organisations of Economic Cooperation and Development to the G-7 leading industrial countries. And you have long sought to promote peace and stability - in your region and globally - by bringing states closer together through their common interest in economic development and prosperity.

That is why I have been very keen on developing close contacts with Japan, continuing the tradition we have established since 1990, when NATO and Japan together organised the first of our major conferences on global security. Since then, our biennial NATO-Japan Security Conference has provided particularly useful opportunities for enhancing our informal ties and expanding the range and depth of our discussions on global and regional security issues. I believe we can, and should, do more in fostering mutual dialogue on a regular basis, and I shall return to this later in my remarks.

Japan and the Allies share many interests, and this is growing steadily as our economies become ever-more interdependent. Our prosperity becomes ever-more dependent on world investment and trade patterns. Our destinies more closely intertwined by the information revolution, and the increasing need to work together, jointly and cooperatively, in a widening circle of international activities - from tackling environmental problems, managing currencies and financial stability, contributing to peacekeeping in far-off parts of the world, to creating new, cooperative instruments for building stability in our regions.

It is this latter topic - building cooperative security, and NATO's role in doing so - which I would like to address today.

Six years have passed since a NATO Secretary General last visited Japan. And in that time what changes we have seen. Some have been difficult and unfortunate, such as in former Yugoslavia and in several newly independent states once part of the former Soviet Union. But the most important change has been remarkably smooth and conflict-free. I think here of the sudden, but peaceful, end to the Cold War in Europe. After such massive military confrontation and times of tension which spilled into other regions of the world - the Asia-Pacific included - the Berlin Wall came down and an historical period came to an end.

Of course, in reality it was not as simple as that. History does not unfold in congenial and benign ways. We cannot just sit on the sidelines and wait for good tidings. No, if there was ever a lesson learned from moments of far-reaching - I would say revolutionary - change in our patterns of interaction and our whole approach to security, it is that we have to try and manage it. We must be pro-active, adaptive to the new circumstances, ready to seize new opportunities and leave the "old thinking", the out-moded perspectives and prejudices behind.

Let me take a moment to describe how NATO reacted to the new security circumstances following the end of the Cold War.

As early as 1991, with a new Strategic Concept, the Alliance adopted a broader approach to security. The threat of massive attack along the East-West line in Europe vanished. NATO Allies turned their attention to the risk of conflicts arising outside their territories that had the potential for spill over. Instabilities stemming from violent ethnic conflict, from mass migration, from breakdown in civil order, from the possible spread of weapons of mass destruction - these became seen as the new risks and challenges that we as Allies would need to address in future. We have therefore added new tasks and missions such as peacekeeping and crisis management, and developed means to respond to the challenge of proliferation.

Correspondingly, NATO's military forces have changed both in quantity and quality. Today - as a result of the developments since 1989 - the risk of a large-scale military conflict in Europe has effectively been removed. Levels of military forces in Europe have fallen considerably. For example, U.S. forces stationed in Europe have been cut by over 60%. Readiness levels of forces have been lowered. NATO nations have undertaken major reductions in defence expenditures. And since the early 1990s, the Alliance has cut substantially - by over 80% -its nuclear forces. In sum, we have reconfigurated our armed forces to be better able respond to new security challenges of the post-Cold War period - that is, smaller, more mobile, more streamlined, more flexible.

But the real challenge went beyond new strategies or military structures. If a new European security architecture was to emerge, NATO had to reach out to its former adversaries. If the division of Europe was to be overcome, the Alliance had to develop cooperative relations across the entire continent. And not only would this cooperation extend to individual nations. We wanted also to work closely with other institutions, such as the United Nations or the OSCE.

So over the past six years, the world has changed, the European security landscape has changed, and NATO has changed. We now feel confident enough of our process of transformation and adaptation to the new circumstances that we speak of a "new NATO". No, we have not given up the Alliance's core function of collective defence. That will stay intact; for it not only underpins our fundamental security and is the basis on which our commitment exists as Allies.

But we have taken forward our concept of cooperative security in a vigorous and far-reaching way. Over the last few years, we have been putting in place various elements of a comprehensive approach to cooperative security in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic region.

What are these elements? They include: a wide-ranging and continually deepening programme of military and defence-related practical cooperation through the Partnership for Peace; the establishment of a new forum - the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council - to provide for regular, intensified political consultations with all Partners on a wide range of security issues, from peace support to policy planning; new and dynamic partnerships with Russia and Ukraine; and the process of opening NATO to new members. Let me elaborate on each of these elements.

The Partnership for Peace is now the flagship of our cooperation. Its rationale is clear: in managing future crises, NATO Allies and other nations, including former Warsaw Pact members, within the Euro-Atlantic area must work together. Accordingly, they need soldiers that understand each other; they need forces that can operate together. Enable this kind of cooperation between NATO and Partners is what PfP is all about. It has been joined by 27 states from the Euro-Atlantic region. Even countries with a strongly neutral tradition have been eager to join PfP - ready to help in peace support operations, and increasingly sympathetic to the ideals and goals of our Alliance. Our latest Partner is none other than Switzerland.

Indeed, such has been the success, the Alliance has added a new political dimension to the concept of partnership in cooperative security. The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, which first met at Head of State and Government level at Madrid, will give Partners an influential say in the work we are doing together. It testifies that we are on the right track, exploring new dimensions of partnership, taking it into the political realm of shared responsibility to go with shared activities. It is yet another step in the building of European cooperative security. And it has no bounds in sight.

For example, confidence-building through openness, dialogue and cooperation does not have to be restricted to any one region. Since 1994, NATO has established a new dialogue with six Mediterranean countries - Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia - so as to bring about better understanding of each other's concerns on security issues.

Turning to Russia. It has long been my view that NATO and Russia are destined to cooperate. We both share an interest in building a peaceful and democratic Europe; and we both share an interest in responding more effectively to new security challenges such as ethnic conflicts, nuclear proliferation or civil emergencies. Yet Russia initially kept her distance, even though we developed a very close working relationship in Bosnia. The task that I was given by the North Atlantic Council at the beginning of this year was to forge a new, strong and durable relationship between NATO and Russia.

The effort was strenuous, the negotiations hard. But the outcome, very much worth it. With the new NATO-Russia Founding Act, signed in Paris last May, we now have with Russia the institutional basis for our future relationship. And it is already functioning. The NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council - the key body in our new relationship - has already held its first meetings and launched a programme of activities for this autumn.

Most importantly, we established a new spirit of confidence and mutual understanding that will doubtless flow over time from such cooperation and consultation. We have succeeded in bringing Russia closer to our cooperative security structures, making for her room at the table that befits Russia's size and weight in security matters.

The first Permanent Joint Council meeting, held a few weeks ago in New York, successfully launched our new partnership. At that meeting, we agreed on a work programme, which envisions a range of NATO-Russia cooperation, including peacekeeping, defence-related environmental and scientific topics, civil emergency preparedness and disaster relief, defence conversion, nuclear safety - to list just a few areas. We also discussed the present situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the more general topic of peacekeeping operations. The idea was to get the work moving and translate the words of the Founding Act into reality.

So I am optimistic about the role of Russia in the building of cooperative security in Europe. For one thing, Russia has grasped that the NATO of today is a new NATO; and that through this new partnership they will have opportunities to participate in the wider effort of Allies and Partners to foster stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic region. Through the Founding Act, Russia cannot be isolated, and cannot consider herself to be isolated. Her views will be heard. And the potential for common action is there. Taken together, these constitute an important addition to the security of Allies and Partners, as well as of those in other regions neighbouring Russia.

Not only do we wish to draw Russia into our cooperative security structures, but Ukraine, too. Size and geo-strategic location together make Ukraine a factor for stability and security in Europe. So we have agreed a distinctive NATO-Ukraine relationship, which will further develop strong ties between us.

Let me say a few words about yet another element of our cooperative approach.

At the Madrid Summit we took the historic step of inviting three of our Partners - Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland - to join NATO. We also made it clear that NATO's enlargement remains an open process, with no European democratic country excluded from consideration.

We are enlarging NATO because, quite simply, we want the peace that has become the hallmark of Western Europe to last and to be extended; we want freedom and democracy to take root; we want a situation in which no country of Europe will ever again look upon its neighbours as a potential or actual threat. And it is only natural that countries to our East should wish to enjoy the same benefits of peace and security as NATO's current 16 Allies.

In enlarging NATO, we are enlarging the area in Europe where everybody's interests - large or small - are taken into account, and where we face the challenges of the future working together, not against each other.

Enlargement is also about putting in place the conditions for future stability and prosperity. If we refused to accept the challenge of enlargement, confidence in Central and Eastern Europe would be undermined. The countries in this region would look for security by other means, possibly resorting to arms build-ups and fearing intentions of their neighbours.

Our goal is to welcome these countries as new Allies by 1999, the time of NATO's 50th anniversary.

The Alliance will gain strength through 3 new members and benefit from greater cost-effectiveness in defence as a result, it will further promote our wider cooperative security objectives. An enlarged NATO gives us better means - and, indeed, greater incentives - for Partners wishing to join NATO to deepen their ties with the Alliance as well as with other Partners. The prospect of NATO membership has already proven itself to be an important instigator of domestic reform and improved bilateral relations among countries of Central and Eastern Europe. And that cannot but contribute to building cooperative security.

Finally, a word about Bosnia and the international cooperative effort there to help implement the Dayton Peace Agreement. The NATO-led Multinational Force, working closely with other international organizations and individual nations contributing to the peace process, including Japan, have made great progress in bringing peace to Bosnia.

The fighting has stopped; heavy weapons have been cantoned. Infrastructure is being reconnected and rebuilt, roads put back in service, thousands of housing units repaired, electric power service re-installed.

Normalcy is returning increasingly to every day life. Unemployment has dropped, GDP growth has occurred in the Federation; roughly 175,000 refugees have returned to Bosnia from residence abroad; more than 160,000 internally displaced persons have returned to their homes.

Of course, there is a need in Bosnia to make progress in a number of key areas - refugees returns, common currency, passports and citizenship - to name several. We need to keep the pressure on all parties to comply with their commitments under the Accords. It is they who bear the responsibility for making Dayton work; it is they whose signatures are on the Accords and who have promised to implement them fully.

Our task is therefore straightforward. We, the international community, need to show our determination to encourage those who support the Dayton process, to stand firm against those who would destroy it.

An important contributor to the international effort in Bosnia is Japan. In providing assistance in the re-building of the country, you are involved in European security, and working to the same ends as NATO. Cooperation between organisations and countries involved in the military and civil implementation of the Dayton Accords has been essential in achieving the progress we have seen so far. It also shows that in future we can work together on projects of cooperative security, in dealing with crises or other instabilities that may arise in Europe and indeed beyond.

Let me just mention other areas where the interest of the Alliance in building cooperative security coincides with Japan's interests.

  • Stability in Europe is of obvious concern to Japan, given the extent of investments and economic involvement in the Continent. And not only in Western Europe, but also Central and Eastern Europe as this region opens up to trade and foreign investment.

  • Russia is as much a factor of stability for Japan and its surrounding region as it is for the European continent. The integration of Russia in Western cooperative security structures - including the G-8, for example, as well as the NATO-Russia Permanent Council - is an important basis on which to build new partnerships with a democratic, stable and emerging Russia.

  • NATO enlargement brings with it a re-vitalised transatlantic relationship. An outward-looking United States has committed, and continues to commit itself to the security not only of the European Allies, but also to those in many other regions of the world. Asia-Pacific is no exception.

  • Our international peacekeeping efforts will be strengthened through the experience of cooperating in Bosnia. And Japan - a valued contributor to international peacekeeping - has an interest in that.

I would like to end my remarks with some ideas on how to carry forward the current exchange of views with the Japanese government on issues of European and Asia-Pacific security.

First of all, we can improve and extend our contacts. Greater and more regular contacts between NATO Headquarters and senior members of the Japanese government in order to keep each other informed of developments of mutual concern.

The Alliance's work in non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction would be another area where exchanges of information on a regular basis would be very useful and in our mutual interest. My staff at NATO Headquarters stands ready to meet with your representatives in Brussels on this and other issues as often as necessary.

Then, there is our biennial NATO-Japan Security Conference, which provides yet another opportunity for us to carry on our discussions. I would hope very much that we can continue our Conference and perhaps broaden its scope of participation.

Japan has participated as an observer in certain NATO activities, such as seminars on peacekeeping and on civil-military relations in peacekeeping. This participation could also be extended.

In my remarks today, I have sought to describe the Alliance's comprehensive approach to cooperative security. In broadening our concept of security, in taking on new roles and missions, in carrying out wide adaptation, the NATO of today is not longer about defending against large-scale attack. It is about building security within societies, creating the conditions of stability in which respect for human rights, consolidation of democratic reforms and economic patterns of trade and investment can flourish. These are some of the objectives Japan shares with us.

In short, it is about a new cooperative security order for the Euro-Atlantic region. But the principles and concepts sustaining it are not restricted to this region alone. They could have a wider application - possibly in the Asia-Pacific region. And this would prove another striking example of how our approaches to security and our interests can converge.

Thank you.

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