by the Swedish Minister for Defence, Bjrn von Sydow
Dear Secretary General and Colleagues,
Let me start by welcoming the determination shown yesterday by NATO in addressing the crise in Kosovo. The situation is very serious and has evolved into a humanitarian tragedy. The international community must help in finding a political solution to this crisis. As a member of the UN Security Council, and troop-contributing nation to both UNPREDEP and SFOR, we have an interest in continuing close contact with NATO concerning the situation in the region.
Sweden recently invited Vice-Ministers from all EAPC countries and representatives from the NATO-secretariat to an ad-hoc meeting on practical PfP-cooperation. The purpose was to discuss the further development of practical PfP-cooperation in the Baltic Sea region based on the conclusions drawn from experiences since 1994, and how this may be of relevance to PfP as whole.
22 countries as well as the NATO international staff participated.
There are some ideas that emerged at the Visby meeting:
Sweden suggested that work begin, within the framework of EAPC, towards increased interoperability as regards Civil Military Cooperation leading up to the establishment of interoperability objectives related to agreed standards.
Sweden also presented ideas regarding the continued development of the PfP Training Centre outside of Stockholm including a PSO Gaming Facility and a section dedicated to Civil Military Cooperation.
We believe that our establishment of a PfP Regional Training centre has contributed positively to PfP-cooperation in the Baltic Sea region and beyond. Sweden is willing to support the establishment of such a Centre in Macedonia - FYROM by making staff available to share experiences and know-how. This would contribute to peace and stability, and we hope that other countries also might consider lending their support.
The US delegation presented the idea of strengthening cooperation in defence education within the framework of PfP and EAPC - an idea that has been further developed today. Sweden supports this proposal.
At the last EAPC Defence Ministerial Meeting, Sweden and US suggested that a workshop be arranged as a continuation of the work done on the handbook "Environmental Guidelines for the Military Sector"; a joint US - Swedish Project.
This workshop took place in Poland earlier this week as joint Swedish - US arrangements hosted by Poland. More than 100 delegates from a large number of countries participated.
The workshop elaborated on a concrete model on how a country can implement a structured and an efficient national environment policy. It is my belief that this workshop can lay the foundation for future defence-related environmental work within the EAPC. The EAPC can, through CCMS and other appropriate fora, serve as a catalyst to assist countries in developing full defence environmental programmes.
I believe that both "The Visby meeting on Practical PfP-cooperation", the "Workshop on Military Activities and the Environment" and the workshop on a political-military framework for NATO-led PfP operations arranged by the PfP Regional Training Centre show the value of practical cooperation between Partner and NATO countries. They provide concrete examples that we can reach very far when we work together and consider our different experiences not as problems to be overcome, but as valuable assets to be shared.