Annual ABSOC
19th Feb.


by NATO Secretary General, Javier Solana

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank the Antwerp Business School for the kind invitation to address its Annual Conference.

It is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to meet with a different audience from the audiences I generally address which are dealing with security-related issues. However, the business world you belong to is not so far away from the security one. On the contrary, economic prosperity and security are inextricably linked.

For example, the recovery of Western Europe after the Second World War, and the subsequent process of European integration, was made possible among other reasons because of the underlying security provided by the Atlantic Alliance. Our economies could flourish because there was a security umbrella to protect them from international instability. During that period, while economics and security were linked, the balance tilted very much in favour of military issues.

The Cold War is now thankfully over, and with it this preponderance of military issues. In our new age of interdependence and growing integration, we have a unique opportunity to apply a broader approach to security, an approach in which we also can re-cast the relationship between economics and military matters.

The key to this new, broader approach is captured in the term architecture. It rests on the premise that only different institutions working together will make the full range of instruments available to deal with new security challenges: political, economic, and military instruments.

To have this broader spectrum of instruments available is indeed a precondition for successful crisis management. Let me illustrate my point:

When the war erupted in Bosnia at the beginning of this decade, some held out hope that the economic leverage of the European Union could induce the peoples of the former Yugoslavia to refrain from violence. After all, the European Union had substantial trade and economic links with the former Yugoslavia, and it provided a considerable amount of aid. If man were primarily an economic animal, then the war in the former Yugoslavia should not have happened: it was in no-one's economic self-interest.

Yet it did happen. And it was only the joint application of economic and military pressure that got the parties back to their senses. So the conclusion can only be that economic and military security remain two complementary elements in a broader definition of post-Cold War security. Our challenge is to build a durable institutional framework in which this broader definition of security is fully reflected: a true security architecture.

We have come a long way in creating such an architecture. In Bosnia today we can see how different institutions can work together towards shared strategic objectives: stability and prosperity for the Balkans. Without the UN, the parties would not know clearly that the International Community supports the peace efforts; without NATO and its Partners, there would be no peace; without the OSCE, there would be no free elections; and without the EU there would be no economic reconstruction. Bosnia is thus a real-life example of an emerging European security architecture.

I think it is fair to say that the success of the Bosnian operation owes a lot to NATO. But NATO's role goes beyond Bosnia. NATO can help create a new security architecture in more ways than acting as a fire brigade in a crisis. Indeed, I would argue that NATO's main purpose is to create the conditions of long-term European peace and stability.

Over the past years, NATO has changed from a largely passive, defence-oriented Alliance into an active instrument of political change in Europe. The Alliance has developed close relationships with virtually every country in the Euro-Atlantic area, with not less than 44 countries participating, countries as diverse as Austria and Uzbekistan, involved in more than 1,000 different activities such as exercises, seminars ... These initiatives span the Euro-Atlantic space from Vancouver to Vladivostok - an achievement unprecedented in European history.

As in Bosnia, all institutions are working in their respective fields to meet together the new security challenges of our world. For instance, the European Union is also playing a leading role. High on its agenda are the introduction of the Euro, its opening towards eastern Europe, the development of a common foreign and security policy in Europe, its relations with Russia. All these items show the deep convergence of strategic interests between the European Union and NATO as far as the new security order in Europe is concerned.

Let me now turn to how the Alliance has undergone its own transformation, while helping to transform European security at large. Indeed, I tend to describe NATO today as a catalyst - a catalyst of wide-ranging political and military change across the entire Euro-Atlantic area.

Rather than explaining each and every aspect of NATO's new agenda, let me describe four areas in which NATO is already acting as a catalyst. Together, they show how the new NATO is contributing to a new security architecture, based on a broad concept of security.

The first area: rejuvenating the transatlantic link.

NATO, today as yesterday, is based on the recognition that Europe's security and stability are indivisible from North America's security and stability. In an age of interdependence, Europe and America need to tackle challenges together. To act in isolation would seriously overtax each other's capabilities.

Bosnia taught us an important lesson in this regard. As long as the United States and the European Allies were unable to agree on a common course of action, progress was impossible. The moment they agreed, a combined diplomatic and military course of action was forged to bring hostilities to an end. It proved that the transatlantic community can create an irresistible momentum as long as it stands together. We have seen that a united Alliance can noticeably change the security dynamics across the Euro-Atlantic area - and for the better.

But to demonstrate unity in Bosnia 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.

NATO has indeed begun to implement this new bargain. It is within NATO where the real, operational future of a European Security and Defence Identity is now taking shape. With a new command structure, and stronger relations between NATO and the WEU, the stage is set for Europe to play a security role more in line with its economic strength. Only with a strong, integrated and outward looking Europe will the US be able to play a more balanced role in the world. Only a united Europe, with clear policies, will be able to provide the global partner the US needs in the international arena.

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.

Second area: deepening our cooperation and managing NATO's enlargement.

As Bosnia demonstrates most clearly, the end of the Cold War has our security focus from the defence against a massive threat to the prevention and management of regional conflicts. Crisis management, however, requires multinational cooperation that goes beyond NATO's current Allies. Accordingly, the Alliance has created mechanisms of cooperation which allow all interested states within the Euro-Atlantic area to engage in the preparation of joint peace support operations.

These initiatives I've mentioned earlier allow Partner countries to familiarise themselves ever more intensively with NATO's structures. Within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the body we have created for this purpose, they can 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.

To fully overcome Europe's divisions, however, also requires our major institutions to admit new members. An open Europe cannot be built on closed institutions. That is why NATO, just like the European Union, has to face the challenge of enlargement. By enlarging NATO, we are enlarging the zone of security enjoyed by only half of Europe in the past fifty years. To admit new countries will certainly inspire confidence in their further development, including their economic development.

Last July, at our Madrid Summit, we invited the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to join the Alliance. They should join as full members in April next year, at NATO's 50th anniversary. One major focus in the months ahead is, of course, the ratification of the accession of the three invitees by national Allied Parliaments. Canada and Denmark have already set the pace. Getting NATO enlargement right is crucial for the Alliance as well as for European security at large. 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.

There should be no doubt as to the commitment of the three invitees. They fully understand the obligations and responsibilities that will be theirs upon entering the Alliance. And they have shown that they are fully prepared to meet these requirements. That is why I am confident that our parliaments will ratify the accession. This will be an overwhelming vote of confidence in the new members - and in our Alliance as a whole.

NATO's enlargement is a process, not a one-time event. The first new members will not be the last. This message of the open door has been 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. The powerful incentives for further reform, which the prospect of NATO membership has created, will therefore remain. Indeed, without the commitment of NATO - and the European Union - to open up, we would not have seen the many bilateral treaties that have been signed across Central and Eastern Europe.

Let me now turn to the third area: the Alliance's new relationship with 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 instability, nuclear proliferation or civil emergencies.

With the new NATO-Russia Founding Act, signed in Paris in May 1997, and with the Permanent Joint NATO-Russia Council we now have a solid basis for our future relationship.

The Permanent Joint Council is barely eight months 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. The PJC works because both NATO and Russia want it to work and know that they have a mutual interest in cooperating.

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, our military headquarters, 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 concrete work we hope to undertake with Russia in the future, so that Russia be part of the new security architecture we are building in Europe.

The fourth area: building peace in Bosnia.

I have already touched upon Bosnia many times in this speech. How could it be otherwise ? We have to create in Bosnia 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. It is a real challenge for us.

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. 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 and I hope that by tomorrow we will take a final decision. But whatever the exact option we settle on, we will stay the course.

Staying the course, maintaining our unique cohesion, will not only benefit Bosnia. It will also enable us to provide our wider cooperative policies and initiatives with the direction and momentum they need to move ahead. This is true for the NATO-Russia relationship, for our cooperation with our Partners. It is no less true for those initiatives which, for lack of time, I could not touch upon this evening: our distinct relationship with Ukraine and our dialogue with countries from the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. All these initiatives are held together by a NATO with a strong sense of unity and purpose - by a NATO which has moved from keeping the peace to actually shaping it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To state that security and economics are interrelated is not new. Indeed, when NATO was formed in 1949, the Alliance was seen very much as an Atlantic community designed to promote what the Treaty of Washington describes as the wellbeing of its peoples. The Treaty specifically commits allied governments to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and to encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.

Of course, these words were written at the time when the Cold War was still in its early days. Subsequently, virtually all of NATO's attention and efforts had to be focussed on collective defence and deterrence, while economic cooperation was taken on by the European Community and others.

Today, we are able to return to that larger, and more all-embracing concept of security that inspired NATO's Founding Fathers. Together with the EU, the OSCE and other key players, NATO can make a contribution to create a peaceful and stable future for the continent. NATO is not the only contributor. As you know, the European Union plays a leading role too, and the future single currency, the Euro, should be a key factor in the building of the Europe of the 21st century.

All of us are striving to succeed in getting our continent rid of all the painful moments it has gone through in the past century. As you have seen, NATO is not the last one to play its part. NATO has evolved to lead the change. To be a new NATO for a new Europe.

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