At Stanford

17 Oct. 1997


by the Secretary General of NATO, Dr. Javier Solana

Faculty and Students of Stanford University,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you today. The reputation of Stanford University as a centre of excellence and intellectual power is known far and wide. So too is the beauty and peacefulness of its location.

I am also very pleased to be back among students and faculty in such a distinguished institution of higher learning and research which continues to set high standards for the rest of the academic world. As a former professor physics, I often miss the stimulating environment that only a university campus can provide.

Of course, NATO Headquarters is also a stimulating environment. Indeed, NATO is undoubtedly undergoing the most exciting period in its history. Just a few months ago, in Madrid, we held a historic summit that marked the transformation of NATO from an organisation concerned primarily with the security of its own members, to one that is actively projecting security and stability across the Euro-Atlantic area.

At Madrid, we set out a very forward-looking and ambitious agenda for the years ahead:

  • three countries that cooperate closely with NATO, countries we call Partners - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - have begun accession talks, with a view to NATO membership;

  • we have committed ourselves to keeping the NATO door open for future members;

  • we have embarked on a new partnership with Russia through the NATO-Russia Founding Act;

  • we have created opportunities for intensified consultations with our Cooperation Partners, of whom there are 27, through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council;

  • we have substantially enhanced the Partnership for Peace programme - a programe we began in 1994 that has dramatically increased mutual understanding and cooperation between NATO and former Warsaw Pact, neutral and other non-NATO European countries;

  • we have signed a Charter on a Distinctive Partnership with Ukraine;

  • we are enhancing our dialogue with non-NATO Mediterranean neighbours; and

  • we have made further progress in reforming NATO's command structure, and in developing arrangements within the Alliance that will allow European Allies to assume greater responsibility for their security, including in future operations that the U.S. may choose not to participate in.

If we can achieve this agenda - and I believe we can - Europe will achieve a degree of unity, security and durable economic prosperity that it has not known for centuries. However, the key test of the credibility of any institution like NATO is not only its ability to define long-term objectives, but also to deal effectively with immediate crisis situations in and around Europe.

And over the past six years, we have faced one such crisis situation in Bosnia. Tonight, I want to talk to you about what we have accomplished in Bosnia, and to make the case that the international community must continue its commitment and its efforts there.

Bosnia has not only been a major challenge to our hopes of building more stable, democratic and tolerant societies in South Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism. It has also been a test case of the international community's capacity to handle the new types of instability that the end of the Cold War has brought in its wake: extreme nationalism, ethnic intolerance, border disputes, refugee flows and abuses of human rights. These may not pose the same threat as the confrontation of the Cold War period. But their persistence in certain areas of Europe could, if left unchecked, sow the seeds of future conflict.

The war in Bosnia shows that Europe remains a continent still haunted by instability. It reminded us that even after the end of the Cold War, values do not simply spread, they must also be upheld and defended. The "end of history" may have to wait yet a little longer.

Unfortunately, it took some time before the international community could develop a coherent and effective response to stop the war in Bosnia.

But eventually, the international community united to conclude a peace settlement enshrined in the Dayton Peace Accords. It also realised the importance of forging an effective international coalition to implement the accords. Under United Nations mandate, NATO was entrusted to lead a multinational force for this purpose.

This effort - by IFOR and now SFOR - has been tremendously successful. Let me give you my evaluation of the progress made in Bosnia in implementing the Dayton Peace Accords.

Today we are at a very important stage in the peace-building effort in Bosnia. There are signs of progress, but still more needs to be done.

Compliance by the parties to the Dayton Accords has not been perfect. But despite the fact that we are still some distance away from the goal of a stable, single, democratic and multi-ethnic state, dismissing the Accords overlooks substantial achievements and good prospects for further progress.

First and foremost: the fighting in Bosnia has stopped, more than 370,000 troops have returned to civilian life. Heavy weapons have been stored under SFOR supervision and, by the end of this month, over 6,000 of these weapons held by Bosnia, Croatia and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will have been dismantled under an arms control agreement negotiated under the auspices of Dayton.

Infrastructure is being reconnected and rebuilt. Last year, over 320 km of roads were put back in service, 15,000 housing units repaired, heating restored to 32,000 households, 400 schools repaired, and electric power service re-installed in all major cities and many rural areas.

Normalcy is returning increasingly to everyday life. Unemployment has dropped from 90% to 50%, real GDP has almost doubled since 1995, and 30% GDP growth (mainly in the Federation) is expected this year. Roughly 175,000 refugees have returned to Bosnia from residence abroad; more than 160,000 internally displaced persons have returned to their homes.

In the Federation, joint police forces are being formed. Local police in the Republika Srpska have agreed to work with the International Police Task Force in re-training and re-structuring.

The recent transfer to The Hague of 10 Bosnian Croats indicted for war crimes shows that the international community's unrelenting demands for the arrest and prosecution of indicted war criminals are paying off. Also, SFOR's actions in Prijedor last July against two indicted war criminals demonstrated that SFOR is carrying out its mandate robustly.

Joint institutions of governance and civic administration have been set up and are beginning to function. The Bosnian Presidency and Council of Ministers are meeting regularly, the Constitutional Court is up and running, the Parliamentary Assembly has formed and passed new economic legislation. Agreements have been reached on opening additional civilian airports in both entities and on establishing inter-entity telecommunications. And structures for military cooperation have been established - between armies that not long ago were fighting each other.

These achievements are growing proof that the road to peace and stability is the one charted by the Dayton Accords.

Perhaps most encouraging has been the recent municipal elections - an essential part of democratic institution-building. Although the results still need to be implemented, those elections revealed growing cracks in the ranks of the extremist political forces. The people who support peace have - through the ballot box - dared to challenge the old guard, the ones who are trying to undermine Dayton.

Therefore, my own analysis, supported by many visits in the theatre, confirms my determination that we pursue a future for Bosnia as a multi-ethnic state. Evidence on the ground simply does not support the recent suggestions that Bosnia be partitioned into a series of ethnic mini-states.

Partition may seem a simple fix to the complex and sometimes frustrating task of implementing Dayton. However, we must not delude ourselves: partition would be morally wrong and strategically reckless. It would have us endanger the peace just when our active approach to implementing Dayton has begun to pay off.

Partition would violate all our principles. It would reward aggression and extremism - with potentially terrible consequences elsewhere, and it would betray the majority of the Bosnian people who dream of a country in peace. It would also waste our massive international effort to create a better future for Bosnia - an effort that has already cost the lives of many brave soldiers, diplomats and others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to help realise the promises of Dayton.

To be sure, there is a need in Bosnia to make progress urgently on refugee returns, apprehension of war criminals, and establishment of fully functioning common institutions. We need to keep the pressure on all parties to comply with the Accords. And we need to show our determination to encourage those who support the Dayton process and to marginalise those who do not. NATO, through SFOR, will continue to do its part.

We will not be intimidated by threats of violence or deterred from carrying out the mission of peace that the Dayton Accords stand for. SFOR is not a passive bystander or mediator. SFOR will continue to carry out its mission - to implement Dayton - in an even-handed but robust manner.

Our approach is simple and direct. We will support those who support Dayton. We will react swiftly and firmly against those who try to undermine the Peace Accords.

We have learned several valuable lessons from the Bosnia experience.

The first lesson is that Europe and America's security is indivisible. We cannot remain aloof, indifferent, to conflicts and instabilities in what might seem far off parts of the Continent.

Second, NATO was able to act in an effective role in Bosnia because the Alliance had adapted its structures and procedures to meet new challenges. Without this adaptation, we would not have been able to organise and deploy a multinational coalition such as we see in Bosnia today.

Third, Bosnia showed that the transatlantic relationship within NATO remains crucial for the Alliance's continued effectiveness. As long as we worked at cross purposes, nothing moved. Once both sides of the Atlantic got themselves on the same track, there was progress - and very soon thereafter there was peace.

A fourth lesson is that Bosnia showed that the Alliance's approach to partnership and cooperation is working. SFOR is not simply another ad hoc military coalition. Nor is it just NATO acting on its own. Other countries help share the risks and burdens with us - Hungarians, Poles, Swedes, Estonians, Ukrainians, Russians - just to name a few of the 21 non-NATO nations serving in the Stabilisation Force under NATO command.

The extent and range of our peacekeeping cooperation has surprised many. A few years ago, who would have believed that NATO and Russian soldiers could serve together in any part of the world, let alone the Balkans. Today, we know differently. Russian soldiers are deployed alongside their American counterparts. And they are represented at SHAPE, NATO's military Headquarters.

In Bosnia, NATO has not only worked with Partners in bringing peace to this country. It has also cooperated, and continues to do so, with other international organisations and agencies. This is a clear demonstration of the broad concept of security we pursue - encompassing not only the military aspects but also economic, social and political ones.

In conclusion: there is no guarantee that we will avoid future Bosnias. But we are better prepared through cooperation and partnership to respond if necessary. With the Alliance's adaptation, we are in much better shape today to manage crises collectively than we were only a few years ago. Our work in Partnership for Peace and in other cooperative structures will only enhance this capability further.

However, we also need to maintain our political will, especially in the midst of such a vital peace operation. This operation, under SFOR, is succeeding. Continued political determination and perseverance will ensure continued success. The United States and its Allies and Partners can be proud of the many men and women serving in Bosnia for the cause of peace. I have met with many of them on the ground, and I can tell you they are performing splendidly. They deserve our praise and the support necessary to complete the missions they are steadily fulfilling.

That is why I urge all those who support the peace process in Bosnia to remain resolute and determined to see this considerable effort through, to stay the course. For one lesson is certain - we cannot go back to the 1992 Bosnia. We have to go forward.

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