At the NAA
Annual Session

13 Nov. 1998


by Dr. Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO

Distinguished Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be in Edinburgh to speak at the Autumn session of the North Atlantic Assembly.

1997 was the year of many important decisions. The NATO Summit in Madrid and the NATO-Russia Summit in Paris brought us much closer to a workable security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic region. 1999 will again be a year of far-reaching decisions. The Washington Summit will put in place the new NATO for the 21st century. A New Strategic Concept will be unveiled. The number of Allies will increase from 16 to 19.

So 1998, the year between Madrid and Washington, should have been a year of quiet consolidation. I say "should have been", because we all know it has been all but that.

Kosovo did not wait until our new Strategic Concept was finalised. And it didn't wait either until the OSCE had perfected its skills in crisis management.

The Kosovo crisis forced us to act. It forced us to move from practice to theory. Most importantly, it forced us to take decisions that we suspected could have ramifications beyond the crisis itself. The decision to prepare for military action in the case of Serbian non-compliance was a defining moment for NATO and for European security at large.

Today, we can see that our decision to back diplomacy with credible force was the right one. Our pressure has changed the situation in Kosovo for the better. NATO's unity and resolve have made a crucial difference. Thousands of Serbian troops and police have withdrawn. Displaced persons are returning to their villages. The humanitarian situation has improved considerably. International relief organisations have re-started their operations. However, only when the dialogue between Belgrade and the Kosovar Albanians begins to bear fruit will we get closer to resolving the root causes of the conflict. We are now only at the start of this process. Both sides have to make an effort to reach a political settlement soon.

In Kosovo we are also breaking new ground in NATO's relations with the OSCE. We are establishing a general framework to coordinate our respective air and ground surveillance and verification missions in support of UN Security Council Resolutions. Our cooperation highlights the OSCE's increasing role in conflict prevention, a role that NATO welcomes and actively supports. This is the new European security structure - not on paper, but at work.

The Kosovo crisis has confronted us with a difficult question: how to avert a humanitarian disaster, how to stop a deliberate policy of ethnic suppression, in a country in the middle of Europe.

There probably doesn't exist a perfect answer. Each case needs to be considered on its own merits.

What is most important is this: we have seen that NATO can make a difference even in very difficult circumstances. It can make a difference if two ingredients are present: sound strategic objectives and unity of purpose. In Kosovo, we have both. The UN Security Council, the OSCE and the Alliance are united in the political objectives that the international community is seeking in Kosovo. And we in the Alliance did not waver in making the decisions necessary to achieve these objectives. And, yes, it helped to know that we were right morally.

We, 16 democratic nations, took the decisions necessary concerning Kosovo with the support and understanding of our parliaments and publics. Knowing that the NAA is behind us gives us added strength in making these hard decisions. Indeed, the NAA has played a role in all the crucial decisions of NATO's recent history - be it enlargement, the NATO-Russia relationship, Partnership for Peace or Bosnia. You have stood firmly with us; you have patiently explained our policy to a wider audience; you have stood up to the critics, and you have suggested constructive ways ahead.

The Washington Summit will mark an important watershed in our Alliance's history. It will mark the final closing of one chapter of NATO's evolution, and indeed of European security at large. With new members joining the team, Europe's Cold War divisions will finally have been overcome. But the Summit will also mark the opening of a new chapter of this Alliance's evolution, a chapter that one could entitle "facing the challenges of the 21st century".

Let me share with you some thoughts about the Summit, and about the NATO that will emerge from it.

The last time we met, in Barcelona, the ratification process for the accession of our three invited countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - had just begun. Today, that process is almost complete.

Again, the role of the North Atlantic Assembly in bringing this about has been crucial. You have helped your respective governments and publics understand the issues involved in enlargement. You have explained the benefits of accepting new members, as well as helping them integrate into the Alliance's political and military structures. And, in the end, you have successfully guided the ratification process in your respective parliaments. I congratulate you not only for your efforts, but also for your vision. Accepting countries ready and able to meet the conditions of NATO membership is an important element of the Alliance's transformation. It is a vivid demonstration of our readiness to overcome the past and prepare for the future. Enlargement is the most visible proof that NATO is on track for the 21st century.

The enlargement process will not end after the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland will have joined the Alliance. Other nations will continue to state their case for membership, pointing to their successful political and military reforms, their progress in establishing good relations with their neighbours, and their commitment to Atlantic values.

Clearly, in determining the pace of the enlargement process, we can follow three simple guidelines: Aspiring members must themselves be ready to join NATO; we must be ready for them; and we will continue to take account of Alliance interests as well as of European security as a whole.

The NATO that will emerge from the Summit will not only have new members, it will also have a growing relationship with Russia. Yes, the Kosovo crisis revealed disagreements between NATO and Russia. But these were disagreements about the proper means to resolve the crisis, not about the ends. Moreover, the fact that the Permanent Joint Council worked throughout the crisis demonstrated that we have come to understand that our relationship is not just for fair weather. It also works when the going gets rough.

Indeed, if the Kosovo crisis has vindicated anything beyond doubt, it is the strategic logic of our policy of creating a close relationship with Russia. On many issues, such as preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, we have common interests. It would be foolish and short-sighted not to pursue them together. For NATO, having a strategic partner of the weight and importance of Russia benefits not only the Alliance, but European security as a whole.

But Russia's weight and importance must rest on its ability to contribute to common solutions, not on its ability to deny them. Such is the responsibility of a UN Security Council member. And such should be the logic that guides a modern Russia into the 21st century.

Intensifying the cooperation between the NAA and the Duma thus can only have a positive effect. I particularly welcome the creation of the joint NAA-Russian parliamentary group to monitor the work of the PJC whose members I had the pleasure to welcome at NATO a week ago.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Les relations de l'OTAN avec la Russie ne constituent que l'un des aspects de notre engagement en faveur de la coopration en matire de scurit l'chelle du continent. Les consultations menes avec nos Partenaires au sein du Conseil de partenariat euro-atlantique s'approfondiront et porteront sur des sujets tels que la coopration rgionale et la gestion des crises.

Le Partenariat pour la paix revtira un caractre plus oprationnel, permettant nos Partenaires de se rapprocher de l'OTAN et nous offrant de nouvelles options en matire de gestion des crises ou, comme nous l'avons vu dans le cas de la crise du Kosovo, de nouvelles options en matire de dploiements prventifs. Le soutien fourni par son biais deux de nos pays partenaires, l'Albanie et l'ex-Rpublique Yougoslave de Macdoine , tmoigne bien des potentialits qu'il offre dans ce domaine.

Aprs le Sommet de Washington, les relations OTAN-Ukraine se dvelopperont elles aussi, grce notamment aux contacts qui se mettent en place entre l'Assemble de l'Atlantique Nord et la Rada. Notre dialogue sur la Mditerrane prendra galement plus d'intensit.

En bref, le Sommet de Washington fera clairement ressortir que toutes ces relations de coopration sont dsormais une caractristique permanente de la nouvelle OTAN. Tout comme l'Assemble de l'Atlantique Nord est aujourd'hui devenue inconcevable sans ses contacts et ses sminaires avec les membres associs, une OTAN sans ses Partenaires est devenue tout simplement impensable.

Le Sommet sera toutefois centr sur ce qui constitue l'essence mme de l'OTAN, je veux dire le lien transatlantique. C'est ce lien qui donne l'OTAN son caractre unique et son efficacit. Dans la crise du Kosovo, comme auparavant dans le conflit bosniaque, c'est lui qui a fait en dfinitive la diffrence. Le Sommet de Washington verra la raffirmation de notre communaut transatlantique, et cela dans la ville mme o celle-ci a t fonde.

Mais une raffirmation est plus qu'une clbration. Au bout du compte, ce qui donne tout son prix au lien transatlantique, ce sont ses qualits dynamiques. Ce qui unit l'Amrique du Nord et l'Europe trouve toute sa force dans le fait que cette communaut est l pour faire face aux dfis, non pour les esquiver.

Et des dfis, le sicle qui va s'ouvrir en comportera. La mondialisation, par exemple, offre nos socits la possibilit de devenir plus cratives et plus prospres, mais elle les rend aussi plus vulnrables. La diffusion rapide de la technologie et de l'information offre des moyens de production entirement nouveaux - mais elle peut aussi faire surgir le spectre du dveloppement d'armes de destruction massive par un plus grand nombre d'Etats. Et des conflits rgionaux ne manqueront pas de mettre l'preuve notre unit, notre dtermination et notre crativit.

Rpondre ces dfis ncessite cependant plus qu'une gestion traditionnelle des questions transatlantiques. Nous avons besoin d'un partenariat transatlantique rquilibr, un partenariat avec une Europe plus cohrente, capable de mener des actions politiques - et si ncessaire - militaires avec efficacit.

Nous savons tous que c'est plus facile dire qu' faire. Aujourd'hui, l'Europe manque encore d'une perspective stratgique commune et du courage pour prendre la direction des oprations. Il lui faudra aussi dgager des moyens lui permettant de remplir ces nouvelles tches. Mais les lments de base d'une Europe plus forte sont en place au travers de la coopration troite entre l'OTAN et l'UEO. En rendant les structures militaires de l'OTAN plus flexibles, pour permettre de futures coalitions militaires diriges par les europens, nous pouvons donner progressivement plus de responsabilits l'Europe, tout en gardant nos allis nord-amricains impliqus.

Je crois que le temps est venu pour l'Europe de transformer ces possibilits en ralits politiques. Avec une vision claire et une forte dtermination, une tape dcisive serait notre porte.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Washington Summit will provide a major opportunity to look ahead and chart NATO's course into the 21st century. Key to this endeavour will be the approval of a revised Strategic Concept.

This document will confirm the Allies' commitment to the core function of Alliance collective defence and the indispensable transatlantic link. But it will also reflect the many changes that have occurred in Europe since the early 1990s. We can expect NATO's new roles in crisis management and non-proliferation to feature prominently in our revised Concept. So, too, will the new programmes and mechanisms of partnership and cooperation. The Concept will also affirm the importance attached to developing the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance.

The revised Strategic Concept will thus be a key document to explain NATO's rationale in the years ahead. But it will certainly not be the last document of its kind. The strategic environment is characterised by rapid change, and NATO continues to change with it.

For we now know that we can do far more than prevent the "worst case". A dynamic NATO can achieve the "best case": a stable Europe within a vibrant Atlantic community. And the continued support, energy and considered reflections of the North Atlantic Assembly are, and will remain, vital contributions to this common endeavour.

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