AEJ'S 26th

14 June 1998


by NATO Secretary General, Dr. Javier Solana

Minister Onyszkiewicz,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to participate in this conference. I am particularly glad to be back in Warsaw, the capital of one of our prospective new Allies, to take part in this Congress.

The role of journalists in today's information age can hardly be overestimated. Journalists inform public opinion, and it is no exaggeration to say that you have the power to shape events. And if the media exerts its power responsibly, it can make a crucial contribution to help Europe grow together. The development of common understanding and common purpose starts with well- and accurately informed publics and parliaments.

In January, I had the honour of addressing the Polish Parliament, the Sejm. I spoke about Poland's return to Europe. I spoke also about NATO's enlargement and how this process enhances European integration and strengthens our community of shared values - the very theme of this conference.

Today, I would like to look beyond integration and share with you some thoughts on the future of European security.

This audience needs no reminder of the remarkable changes our continent has gone through over the past decade. The transition has not been easy. Yet the nations of Central Europe have been distinguished by one thing - an unwavering sense of direction and common determination.

These countries are demonstrating an historic sense of purpose - to associate freely with like-minded democratic nations, to join the community of democratic states, and to accept willingly the responsibilities of commitment to the security and defence of others. In short - to seek membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.

Their goal is in fact our goal - a new Europe, in which there are no more dividing lines. A new cooperative security architecture, in which all countries have a voice and a role. New patterns of interaction and partnership to enable us to address together the security challenges of today and tomorrow.

NATO has helped lay the groundwork for this new security architecture. Safeguarding the security of its member states remains at the core of this Alliance. But NATO has moved far beyond that. NATO today is shaping the security environment throughout Europe - and in ways we could never have imagined only a few years ago. In recent years, we have transformed our Alliance, we have replaced ideological confrontation with political and military cooperation. We have opened our doors to new members. We have grasped the opportunity to draw this continent close together through our policies of partnership and cooperation.

The Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council are the key mechanisms of NATO's cooperative approach. Together, these initiatives represent the strongest impulse for security cooperation that our continent has ever seen. Almost 30 nations in the Euro-Atlantic area engage with the 16 NATO Allies in a unique network for security consultation, joint crisis management, regional cooperation and humanitarian action and disaster response.

Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council are not fair weather talking shops. Both respond to clear-cut requirements. They provide a practical mechanism for working together, developing common procedures, and sharing knowledge.

There is no better example of the direct practical benefits of this cooperation than the NATO-led coalition that has brought peace to Bosnia. The smooth deployment and operation of IFOR and SFOR have only been possible because of the experience acquired through working together and operating together under Partnership for Peace.

Nor is security cooperation confined to traditionally military matters. The EAPC has established a disaster response capability and at the beginning of this month I opened a Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre that is already working to support the United Nations High Representative's humanitarian relief efforts in Albania. By the same token, both Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have both made use of the consultation opportunities provided by Partnership for Peace in response to the growing crisis in the Balkans, and we have stepped up our military assistance programme to both countries.

Only NATO could have generated such a strong momentum. But if Europe is to complete its transition, we must reach further, and tackle the key political challenges that will determine the security of Europe into the 21st century.

Let me focus on three main challenges which are already at our doorstep - challenges which, if we handle them skilfully and with determination, will show us the way ahead in our vision of an enduring security architecture for this continent.

First, we must stay the course in Bosnia in helping to build a lasting, irreversible peace. We must show similar determination to help bring a peaceful solution to the conflict in Kosovo, and prevent further destabilisation of the region.

Second, we must work with Russia in building a new partnership based on cooperation, transparency and reciprocity.

Third, we must recognise that the transatlantic link - the backbone of our Alliance - will remain as important in the new European security environment as it has been.

First, Bosnia and the Balkans.

The fragile peace in Bosnia and the crisis in Kosovo remind us that there are still parts of Europe which are politically, and indeed at times literally, at war. Our continent cannot find lasting peace and stability if the Balkans remain volatile.

We cannot ignore the problem in the hope that it will go away. Instead, we must build on the strong and successful cooperation among countries and institutions already at work in building peace in Bosnia. The NATO-led Stabilisation Force is a unique and unprecedented example of what such cooperation can achieve - truly an international coalition for peace. Together, NATO and its Partners are pushing Bosnia towards a sustainable peace, one in which all parties realise that their stake in peace is higher than their possible gain through war.

We are still a long way from true reconciliation. But the overall trends are encouraging. Freedom of movement and security have dramatically improved. Individual Bosnians can and do routinely travel between the entities. Infrastructure is being rebuilt. Power has been restored to all major cities and water to most. Nationwide railroads are running again. Regional airports have opened. And Bosnia will have a unified telecommunications system next month.

The economy is recovering and gaining momentum. A new Bosnia-wide currency will soon be introduced. Over 400,000 refugees and displaced persons have returned home, 175,000 of those in the last year. War criminals are being put where they belong - in the Hague. Bosnia is moving in the right direction.

We are on track, but the job is not yet over. For this reason, NATO Foreign and Defence Ministers have given the green light to the continuation of SFOR. This will further consolidate the peace. But more than that - it is a strong signal of our determination to get the job done.

Bosnia demonstrates the value of a coherent international approach. Such an approach is also key to promoting a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Kosovo and enhancing stability in neighbouring Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. On Kosovo, let me be quite clear that NATO will not stand idly by. We will not allow a repeat of the situation of 1991 in Bosnia. NATO Ministers have made quite clear their condemnation of the continuing violence in Kosovo and have called on all sides to refrain from violence and acts of provocation.

Last week, NATO's Defence Ministers showed that we are ready to back up international diplomacy with military means.

We are already using Partnership for Peace to provide assistance to Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We will be holding exercises in the region, including an air exercise in the very near future, to demonstrate NATO's ability rapidly to project power into the region.

Our Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre has established an air bridge to transport UNHCR supplies to help cope with the flow of refugees.

Our military authorities are now examining how we can use our full range of military capabilities to achieve three key objectives:

  • to halt the systematic campaign of violent repression and expulsions that we have seen recently in Kosovo;

  • to support international efforts to secure a cessation of violence and the disengagement of armed forces; and

  • to help to create the conditions for serious negotiations that can achieve a lasting political settlement.

In order to secure these objectives we will study and prepare for a wide range of military options, including the possible use of NATO air power.

I want to underscore to you that no option at this stage is excluded. NATO will play its role to help stabilize the region, and encourage a negotiated settlement that respects existing international boundaries.

The recent history of Bosnia and the crisis in Kosovo demonstrates the importance of involving Russia in finding and implementing a lasting solution. Indeed, the second major task facing NATO and the Atlantic community is to encourage the full participation of Russia in building a new, cooperative security architecture in Europe.

Russia remains a country in transition. It has yet to find its true geo-political role in the new cooperative security order in Europe. But one thing is clear: Russia remains a vital player in European security. The NATO-Russia Founding Act and the Permanent Joint Council give us a workable instrument to develop cooperation in security and defence areas. These are the new foundations on which we are building a completely different relationship. After four decades of confrontation, the Alliance and Russia now discuss, consult and cooperate on a daily basis on a wide range of security and related issues.

Let me give you just one recent example. At the Ministerial meeting in Luxembourg of the Permanent Joint Council, at the end of May, NATO and Russia together condemned the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan .

This NATO-Russia statement was a first of its kind. But such mutual confidence does not suddenly arise overnight. It has to be built, patiently, through the many practical, cooperative activities established by the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

Over the past year, we have developed together an extensive and indeed unprecedented work programme. Peacekeeping, nuclear safety, NATO-Russia cooperation in SFOR, armaments-related cooperation, terrorism, the retraining of retired military personnel - these are just some of the areas of our work. And we are enhancing military-to-military contacts, building on our very successful cooperation in the Stabilisation Force in Bosnia. The newly opened NATO Documentation Centre in Moscow is helping us overcome old stereotypes and nourish a new generation of security specialists. The NATO-Russia Founding Act is barely twelve months old. Not even the most cynical commentator could deny how far we have come in that short time.

Let me finally turn to the third challenge I outlined earlier: the maintenance of a healthy transatlantic relationship.

The transatlantic link is NATO's most unique feature. It is critical to NATO's success. Indeed, the history of the 20th century has shown that Europe and North America's security are inseparable. American and European Allies must face together the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Bosnia taught us 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 change them for the better.

But to demonstrate unity in Bosnia is, alone, not sufficient. The end of the Soviet threat and the dynamics of European integration are going to affect the transatlantic relationship in far-reaching ways. 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, 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. Ladies and Gentlemen,

If you leave with one main message today, I hope it is this: NATO - the new NATO - has evolved substantively over the past few years.

The new NATO is about to receive new members. The new NATO has downsized and restructured its military forces, rejuvenated the transatlantic relationship, established a vast array of Partnership activities with nearly every country in Europe, put in place special relationships with Russia and Ukraine, is developing a dialogue in the Mediterranean region, and has taken on new roles and missions - particularly in peacekeeping and crisis management.

The new NATO, working with our Partners, will be the dynamo for security and stability in Europe for the first half of the 21st century - just as it has been the guarantor of freedom and democracy, in the second half of the 20th century.

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is our story.

That is our vision.

Thank you.

 [ Go to
Speeches Menu ]  [ Go to
Homepage ]