XXXIV Munich
Conference on
Security Policy,
7th/8th Feb. 98

Speech by the Secretary General

"The End of the Post-Cold War Era"

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to participate in this year's Wehrkunde Conference, all the more so as this is the last Wehrkunde chaired by its founder, Ewald von Kleist. He has made this conference into what it is today: a unique forum on transatlantic security relations. The Wehrkunde meetings have always been more than ritualistic gatherings. They are occasions which offer - no, which demand - that we use them to refresh our thinking about security issues.

In masterminding the Wehrkunde, Ewald von Kleist has created much more than a widely acclaimed international conference: he has created a transatlantic family, held together not only by shared interests but also by personal friendships. In a period in which the transatlantic relationship is undergoing profound change, this achievement cannot be over-estimated.

At many previous Wehrkunde-meetings we have talked about the Euro-Atlantic area being in a transition phase. This term captured the notion that while the Cold War was over, we were not yet sure where we were going to.

I would argue that this transition is now coming to an end. Today, we are witnessing the end of the post-Cold War era. What we have put in its place is a new strategic consensus - a strategic consensus on the main pillars of our security in the next century.

What are the elements of this consensus? First and foremost, a new transatlantic bargain between Europe and North America.

Bosnia taught us a lesson of unity which is essential for maintaining a healthy transatlantic relationship. But it is not sufficient. The end of the Soviet threat and the dynamics of European integration are going to affect the transatlantic relationship in ways far deeper than many of us may be ready to admit. If the transatlantic relationship is to remain healthy in the longer term, a new bargain must include a Europe willing and able to shoulder more responsibility.

I would argue that NATO has indeed begun to implement this new bargain. It is, after all, in NATO where the real, operational future of a European Security and Defence Identity is now taking shape. With a new command structure, Combined Joint Task Forces, and stronger relations between NATO and WEU, the stage is set for Europe to play a security role more in line with its economic strength. Such a stronger Europe will not only make a more coherent contribution to security in Europe; it will also be a more attractive partner of North America in managing global contingencies.

A stronger Europe also implies a less fragmented defence industrial base. That is why I believe that within NATO a transatlantic dialogue on technology-sharing could help us forestall a growing technology gap and thus keep the transatlantic relationship healthy.

These decisions and initiatives constitute elements of the new bargain between North America and Europe. Together, they constitute the new parameters of burden-sharing for the next century. Together, they demonstrate that this Alliance remains responsive to the security needs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Clearly, Europe is not yet the strategic actor it wants to be, nor the global Partner the US seeks. But these shortcomings do not result from "too much United States", as some still claim, but from "too little Europe". That is why the European integration process is not only relevant for Europe's own identity, but for a new transatlantic relationship as well.

The second element of the new strategic consensus is the need for a strong Russian involvement. No one today would seriously consider building security without, let alone against, Russia. Indeed, how Russia settles herself within the new Europe is perhaps the most important single factor that will determine the quality of European security in the years ahead. That is why the NATO-Russia relationship we seek is not simply one of mutually acknowledging each other's importance, but one of active cooperation, leading to mutual trust. And I believe that with the Founding Act and the Permanent Joint Council we have created the right mechanisms to achieve this close cooperation.

The Permanent Joint Council is barely half a year old, yet it is already working at a high pace. We have monthly meetings of Ambassadors, we had several meetings of Foreign and Defence Ministers, and we have agreed an ambitious work programme. To put it bluntly: The PJC works. It works, because both NATO and Russia want it to work. It works, because both NATO and Russia know that they are destined to cooperate.

This new political relationship between NATO and Russia has finally cleared the way for a closer military relationship. This means that the superb cooperation we have achieved in IFOR and SFOR must now be extended across the full spectrum of security-related issues.

We are setting up military liaison missions between NATO and Russia, starting at the highest levels first - NATO Headquarters, SHAPE, SACLANT and equivalent locations in Russia. We already have meetings of the NATO Military Committee and the new Russian military representative at NATO. We are developing cooperation between NATO and Russia on defence-related environmental issues. We have opened the new NATO Science for Peace Programme to some 1,500 Russian scientists. And we have already had exploratory meetings on armaments-related cooperation.

These are just a few examples of the work we hope to undertake with Russia in the future. So if we say that Russia needs to be in the architecture, and not outside of it, we mean what we say.

The third major element of the new consensus is the need for a wider architecture - an architecture based on different institutions acting towards shared strategic objectives.

In Bosnia we see most clearly how such an architecture can work. NATO, OSCE, the UN and the EU are all involved in creating the conditions for long-term stability in this region. But for our institutions to cooperate is not enough. They must also be open to new members.

That is why getting NATO's enlargement right is so crucial. What is at stake is not only the credibility of NATO as a cohesive Alliance. The successful accession of the first three invitees will also be an incentive for future aspirants to continue on the course of reform. I am confident that our parliaments will ratify the accession. Canada and Denmark have set the pace, and others will soon follow. This will be an overwhelming vote of confidence in the new members - and in our Alliance as a whole.

Even as our Alliance is growing, it will not lose sight of the wider Euro-Atlantic security developments. On the contrary, the Partnership for Peace and the EAPC both have created a powerful momentum for continent-wide cooperation. Through these mechanisms we have been able to tie virtually all countries of the Euro-Atlantic region into a network of close military cooperation. Even countries with a neutral security tradition have involved themselves in these endeavours. This demonstrates that NATO's commitment to a wider Europe is not mere rhetoric, but has become an uncontested reality of the new strategic consensus. In this new Europe, the old notion of dividing lines no longer makes sense.

The decisions of last year's Madrid Summit have put key elements of this new strategic consensus in place. We are now in a consolidation phase. But this should not make us complacent. If we want this strategic consensus to be more than a fleeting moment of the late 1990s, then we must use this consolidation phase to complete the projects that have begun so promising. And we must continue to perfect the instruments we have at our disposal. There is still unfinished business.

Our most pressing immediate task is to decide on the future of our operation in Bosnia. We have to create the conditions for a self-sustaining peace that does not require a continued international military presence. That point will be reached when all parties realise that their stakes in peace are higher than their possible gains in war.

1998 is a decisive year for the political future of Bosnia. This is the year when the politics of war must finally be replaced by the politics of peace. This is also the year in which the return of refugees and displaced persons should take place on a larger scale.

We are moving in the right direction in building peace in Bosnia. Successful action against war criminals has been undertaken; a new government has taken office in Republika Srpska, with its capital far from the Pale hardliners; refugees continue to return from overseas; a common currency is in circulation; common licence plates have come into effect; and fresh concepts are in the air - Sarajevo has to become an Open City; a weapons amnesty programme to curb the number of illegal weapons in private hands - to name but two.

These are encouraging signs. They demonstrate that our perseverance is paying off. And we will stay the course. There is already agreement in NATO and among other troop-contributing nations and international organisations that a follow-on force is needed in Bosnia. The precise options of such a force are now under discussion. But whatever the exact option we settle on, one thing is particularly clear for the Alliance. Our operation in Bosnia has shown that we can make most progress if we act as a unit, not as a coalition of the willing. To act in solidarity should thus remain the rule, not the exception - for such solidarity will provide the cornerstone of our success in managing the challenge of the 21st century.

The new strategic consensus I outlined here owes a lot to NATO. Much of the positive developments of the last years have been inspired by the decisions and initiatives of this Alliance.

Our cohesion - whether at 16 today, or at 19 tomorrow - is what enables us to successfully manage NATO's broader agenda. It is our cohesion that makes our collective defence commitment credible; it is our cohesion that ensures that SFOR commands such tremendous respect; and it is our cohesion which gives NATO's cooperative initiatives their direction and momentum. If we retain this cohesion we can confidently cope with an ever more complex agenda. But this requires more than a common vision of the future, or a political commitment to a common course of action. It also requires the commitment of adequate resources to get the job done. Security still carries a price tag. This, too, should be part of our wider strategic consensus.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In April next year we will celebrate NATO's 50th anniversary at our Washington Summit. This Summit should be more than a celebration of NATO's past achievements. It should first and foremost look ahead.

We will look ahead. At next year's Washington Summit:

  • we will complete the accession of our first new members;

  • we will adopt a new Strategic Concept, defining a new balance between NATO's traditional and new missions;

  • we will have our new command structure in place, with more flexibility and a stronger European element in it;

  • we will have turned the NATO-Russia relationship into a major element of the new security architecture;

  • we will have firmly anchored Ukraine in a distinct relationship with NATO;

  • we will have made the EAPC and the Partnership for Peace permanent fixtures of Euro-Atlantic security cooperation;


  • we will have moved closer towards a re-balanced transatlantic relationship, in which Europe and North America are sharing the burdens more equally.

This in an ambitious agenda. But in defining NATO's role for the 21st century we have every reason to be bold. For we now know that we can do far more than prevent the worst case. If we maintain the strategic consensus I outlined, we can achieve the best case: a stable Europe within a vibrant Atlantic community.

Thank you.

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