At the

4 Sept. 1998

"Preparing NATO for the 21st Century"

Keynote Address

by Dr. Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO

Admiral Gehman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to address this international maritime symposium.

The theme of my remarks this morning is "preparing NATO for the 21st century". I would like to divide my remarks in three parts. First, what are the challenges we need to prepare for? Second, how do we respond? And third, what tools do we use to respond?

First, a word about the challenges. What will the early 21st century bring? What will be its main characteristics? Let me suggest a few.

We will see the trend towards globalization accelerate further. Means of communications and transport will connect different areas of this planet in entirely new ways. Information, people, goods, money - everything will travel faster and with more immediate consequences. Our societies will become more transparent, more open, more creative. And more economic and social interaction will generate more economic prosperity and a greater cooperation among nations.

These are some of the positive trends that globalisation will bring. But it will also bring challenges of an entirely new nature. Greater interdependence means that we are more vulnerable to developments that occur in different parts of the world. We cannot stand aloof or indifferent and pretend that our economies, our societies - and our security - can somehow be totally insulated from what happens elsewhere. Certainly not in a world where, as we see everyday in the newspapers, the impact of events on one side of the world can be felt right around the globe. We need to step forward and manage the challenges, not retreat before them or wait for them to confront us.

What does this concept of globalisation imply for the security issues that we face? How will it affect European security?

First of all, I believe that the European continent itself will continue to be characterised by two contradictory trends: integration and fragmentation.

On the integrative side: the process of European integration as manifested in the European Union will continue to deepen and widen. The EU will become an ever-stronger foundation of stability - not just for its member countries but more widely across the continent and internationally. Monetary union within the EU will turn the new Euro into the second most important international currency. And the EU is pursuing an active enlargement process of its own. As a result, more and more countries in Central and Eastern Europe will move westwards, so to speak.

As the links and relations develop between EU members and their European neighbours, a widening pattern of stability and prosperity will itself generate greater confidence and security - broadly understood - in these countries. Hopefully, this pattern will continue to include a democratic,market-oriented and reformist Russia. And - in time - I can see it extending to include democratic countries in the Balkans.

These encouraging signs notwithstanding, we still see, unfortunately, in the Balkan region, the Caucasus and other regions signs of ethnic, social and political conflict. Whatever their root causes, their potential for conflict means that our work in building security and stability throughout the wider Euro-Atlantic region is not finished. As in the global context, we cannot remain aloof or indifferent to this potential for conflict, whether it exists in the more remote regions of this continent or closer to home, as in the Balkans. We - the international community and international organisations - must be ready to help manage conflicts and mitigate their effects.

These are some of the challenges. How do we respond to them?

Nobody has all the answers. But let me define what, in my view, is essential in helping us find the right solutions.

First, Europe and North America must stick together. We cannot cope with globalisation if our security approach - or indeed our economic approach - is marked by fragmentation. The challenges of the 21st century will affect all of us; but managing them far exceeds the capabilities of individual nation-states. So security remains a team effort. And there is no stronger team than North America and Europe.

Secondly, the challenges of the next century suggest that our security policies must become increasingly proactive. We will always have our share of surprises - let there be no mistake. But many problems and potential conflicts can be anticipated, and many solutions can be devised, before it is too late. From preventive military deployments to economic assistance - there are many tools we have at our disposal. In short, we are not condemned to be the victims of events that lie beyond our control. We can shape the future - whether the challenges are those I mentioned earlier of globalisation or of Euro-Atlantic security.

Thirdly, the challenges I outlined put a premium on military competence. We in NATO no longer need, thankfully, to concern ourselves with the all-or-nothing scenarios of the Cold War. But without our military credibility and capability, Bosnia would still be at war. Partnership for Peace would not have gained the powerful momentum it has. Nor would we be able to uphold international stability in the face of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

This brings me to the third part of my remarks - what are the tools we have at our disposal? One is our Alliance. In my view, NATO is the only framework which combines the three key elements of successful security management. Only NATO combines transatlantic cohesion, proactive policies and military competence. And it does so in a framework that is not static, but dynamic. Let me elaborate on these three key elements of NATO's past, present, and we hope, future success.

First, the transatlantic relationship remains at the core of our security. But to preserve it means to adapt it. We cannot escape the fact that the United States is a global power. As such its interests extend globally in a way that few other countries, if any, can match. But in future, the US may not wish to take the lead in each and every contingency that may arise on the European continent.

European Allies have increasingly indicated a desire to play a security role commensurate with Europe's growing economic strength. Both developments point to a new transatlantic bargain - a bargain which better reflects the transatlantic realities of 2000 and beyond.

We have made great strides in implementing such a new bargain - a bargain including the creation of a European Security and Defence Identity in NATO. The arrangements we have developed with the Western European Union for European-led operations provide us with new political and military options. Politically, these new arrangements make sense because they reflect Europe's growing weight and responsibility in maintaining security on this continent. Militarily, the arrangements make sense, because they ensure that a stronger European voice develops organically from within NATO, and does not require wasteful duplication.

A second key to second NATO's success in the next century will be its continued pursuit of proactive policies. Our recent performance in this department has been strong. NATO's enlargement, Partnership for Peace, the new relationships with Russia and Ukraine, the Mediterranean dialogue - all these policies and initiatives are forward-looking and far-reaching.

The enlargement of Alliance membership projects self-confidence and security into an area historically prone to uncertainty and conflict. Our outreach - manifested in PfP and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council - rallies dozens of nations behind a common security standard. NATO's relationship with Russia helps ensure that Russia plays an important and constructive role in European security and that we can cooperate on matters of mutual concern. Our distinct relationship with Ukraine assists this young nation in finding its own way into the European mainstream. And the Mediterranean dialogue sends a clear signal to our Southern neighbours that we do not consider the Mediterranean a new divide.

All of these relationships are long-term projects. None of them will mature overnight. Together, however, they will steadily transform Euro-Atlantic security for the better. Whether we focus on SFOR, or on the joint NATO-Russia statement condemning India's and Pakistan's nuclear tests, or on NATO ships visiting Albanian ports - each case is another step closer to a Euro-Atlantic community that can confidently face the challenges of a new century.

Let me say a few words about Russia. The entire international community, as well as Russia's own political leaders, recognise that the political and economic crisis afflicting Russia today is serious. Its origins and its eventual solution lie in the hands of the Russian people and its government, not in the hands of outsiders, however concerned and supportive they may be. This is a defining moment for Russia and the course of Russia's evolution is of great concern to all of us. A democratic Russia can count on the support of the Alliance. All Allies are resolute in this. Despite the present difficulties, I hope the Russian people will stay on track, and continue their political and economic reforms.

Through good and bad times, our channels of communication, of consultation and cooperation, established through the NATO/Russia Founding Act, will remain open. Today, through the Permanent Joint Council, the Alliance and Russia discuss a wide range of security issues in Europe - from Kosovo and Bosnia to expert meetings on non-proliferation and defence conversion. The new NATO-Russia relationship in all its dimensions gives us the confidence that if difficult weather should approach, we always have a calm and protected port.

Turning now to the third area of NATO's unique contribution - military competence: here, too, the record is good. We need only to look at SFOR in Bosnia to realise that NATO remains a unique military actor - at land, air and sea. Only NATO could have drawn up an operation of such magnitude, one that involves so many non-NATO countries and international organisations, and yet runs smoothly and effectively.

To maintain the level of competence we will need to continue to devote adequate resources to ensure that we have the necessary capabilities to work together as Allies and partners to face these challenges.

Let me dwell for a moment on Bosnia.

As you know, in a week's time there will be national elections. The outcome of these elections will have major consequences for the future of this new nation. For the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, this election is their opportunity to vote for leaders who represent the future, not the past. It is the opportunity to show to the world that democracy has taken firm root in this war-torn country. It is the opportunity to show that the work of the past two years in democratic institution-building, in reconstruction, in reconciliation, is paying off. We in the international community must renew our pledge at this important time that we will not forsake those in Bosnia who are seeking to break free from the past. NATO will help those who support Dayton. We will act robustly against those who try to obstruct it. And we will not relent in pursuing justice for the perpetrators of war crimes.

Let me also use this opportunity to say a few things on the ongoing Kosovo crisis.

Belgrade's oppressive policies concerning Kosovo have not only resulted in many lost lives. They have also created a huge refugee problem that has all the signs of a humanitarian disaster. It can only get worse as winter approaches. The international community cannot, nor will not, stay indifferent to this crisis. The entire international community must redouble its efforts in getting the two parties to a political settlement. In the last few days there has been a procedural breakthrough which offers the possibility that talks between the parties can begin soon. I very much hope that they will. NATO stands ready to support international diplomacy to find a lasting political solution in Kosovo - a solution that meets the aspirations of the Kosovar Albanian population within the unity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. NATO has completed planning for a range of military options - as directed by our Ministers. This planning gives our political leaders great flexibility in the implementation of military options, should they be required. We are ready to act.

The Alliance has at the same time taken major efforts to stabilise the situation in neighbouring countries. Both Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have, in response to the crisis, made use of the consultation opportunities provided by Partnership for Peace. We have stepped up our military assistance programme to each of them. With Albania we have just concluded a revised Partnership Programme that will help bolster stability in this country. We are also supporting the United Nations' humanitarian relief efforts in Albania.

The exercises we have held in recent months in Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have political as well as military significance. In just a few days time we will be holding another significant exercise in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. These exercises demonstrate that we will help our Partners in an emergency.

These exercises also demonstrate that NATO's military forces are adapting to meet new challenges such as those posed by the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. And in this new role, an important part is played by the Alliance's maritime forces.

Port visits, such as the one by STANAVFORMED to Durres, Albania, in July show the Alliance's commitment to strong ties with Partners, including in times of crisis. Operation Sharp Guard made it clear to all that naval forces can contribute significantly to crisis management in meeting today's challenges. Embargo operations and surveillance are but two of the sort of tasks that maritime forces can carry out.

The concept of Maritime Immediate Reaction Forces - like the Standing Naval Force Mediterranean - has proved its viability for a wide spectrum of warfare and crisis management. Their flexibility, versatility, endurance and multinationality make NATO's maritime forces especially well-equipped for the new security requirements of the next century. Yesterday I had the privilege to visit the US submarine San Juan and to see at first hand the impressive capabilities of NATO's naval forces. To their operational flexibility, one can add their political visibility - an important factor in 21st century crisis management.

Admiral Gehman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In my remarks this morning I have focussed a lot on risks and challenges. Any responsible security policy must do so. But I do not want to be misunderstood as a pessimist. So let me conclude by stating very clearly: the opportunities the next century offers us far outweigh the risks. If we make the right decisions now, and if we create the right instruments to shape this new strategic environment, then we have every reason to believe that we can master whatever challenge the next century will hold in store. So is NATO prepared for the 21st century? I would say - yes, emphatically, it is!

Thank You.

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