Updated: 23 November 1999 Speeches

23 Nov. 1999


by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson

Monsieur le Président,
Mesdames et Messieurs,

La construction d'une véritable Identité Européenne de Sécurité et de Défense est devenue aujourd'hui une de nos priorités. Son intérêt stratégique est évident. En effet, une Europe plus cohérente en matière de sécurité est un atout à la fois pour l'intégration européenne et pour des relations transatlantiques rééquilibrées. C'est pourquoi l'idée de cette Identité Européenne de Sécurité et de Défense circule depuis quelque temps déjà.

Hélas, force est de constater que, jusqu'à présent, la volonté politique nécessaire à la mise en oeuvre pratique de ce concept manquait. Le risque était grand de voir l'Identité Européenne de Sécurité et de Défense reléguée au rang des "bonnes idées".

Aujourd'hui, les choses changent. Nous assistons à l'émergence d'une nouvelle dynamique dans les efforts pour mettre en place cette Identité. Cette impulsion nouvelle se retrouve à la fois au sein de l'UEO, de l'Union Européenne et de l'OTAN. En fait, je dirais même qu'il n'y a jamais eu une plus grande cohérence d'objectifs et d'ambitions qu'à l'heure actuelle.

Nous devons nous efforcer de faire en sorte que cette cohérence soit aussi reflétée dans le domaine militaire opérationnel. Seule une volonté politique accompagnée de capacités de défense efficaces pourra permettre à une véritable Identité Européenne de Sécurité et de Défense de voir le jour.

Mr President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Kosovo provided us with clear lessons. Europe has realised that a Common Foreign and Security Policy also requires an effective military instrument. And we have realised that the division of labour in the Kosovo campaign, where the United States carried a disproportionate share of the burden, is politically unsustainable in the longer term. Europe has taken these lessons seriously. It has vowed to improve not only its decision-making and planning capabilities, but also its military capabilities.

Clearly, this is a task that requires a lot of work. Collectively, the European members of NATO spend almost two-thirds of the United States' defence budget -- but Kosovo made it clear that they have nothing like two-thirds of the real capability of the US. In other words, it is not simply a question of spending more -- it is about spending more wisely. The European Allies must look critically at the balance of their armed forces, and look at how they can operate together.

The urgency of meeting this challenge has been understood, as the current series of important meetings testifies. Last week's meeting of the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the European Union, the first of its kind, was a clear example that Europe is determined to make real progress.

Today's meeting is another step forward. And with the forthcoming EU Helsinki Summit and NATO's Defence and Foreign Ministers Meetings, the issue of ESDI is moving to a qualitatively new level -- towards a Europe truly able to conduct military operations in support of its Common Foreign and Security Policy, a Europe able to shoulder more responsibilities in a fairer and more equitable transatlantic partnership.

NATO and the WEU have spearheaded this development. Their cooperation over the last years has set the stage for the new opportunities we are now creating. In implementing the Berlin decisions of 1996 we have laid the groundwork for a workable ESDI. And since NATO's Washington Summit last April, NATO has continued its work on the development of the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance. This has entailed refinement of the arrangements to support WEU-led operations, and initial consideration of how NATO might consult with the European Union and assist it to conduct operations.

The WEU's audit on European capabilities, like the EU's Headline Goals, is another important contribution to a more effective European role in crisis management. So is NATO's Defence Capabilities Initiative (DCI), launched at the Washington Summit.

This Initiative will ensure that NATO's forces can meet the new challenges of mobility, flexibility, and sustainability, but it will also play a major role in strengthening European capabilities to successfully undertake European-led operations.

These efforts within our respective organisations demonstrate a welcome commonality of views and goals. They are another example of the complementary and mutually reinforcing efforts of our institutions. And I will work to ensure that ESDI continues to be based based on three key principles: improvement in European defence capabilities; inclusiveness and transparency for all Allies; and the indivisibility of trans-Atlantic security, based on our shared values. These should remain the hallmarks of our policies as we move ever closer to our common goal of building a true European Security and Defence Identity.

The successful cooperation between our organisations continues. And we are moving to test this cooperation where it counts -- on the ground. Preparation for our major crisis management exercise, CMX 2000, in February of next year, is well underway. And more exercises are to follow. They will add a further operational dimension to our common endeavour.

Monsieur le Président,
Mesdames et Messieurs,

Alors que notre siècle touche à sa fin, je crois que nous pouvons affirmer avec confiance que le processus d'intégration européenne a finalement commencé à prendre en compte la dimension de sécurité et de défense. L'OTAN est prête à soutenir et à accompagner cette évolution. En effet, nous sommes fortement convaincus qu'une Europe plus forte signifie une Alliance atlantique elle aussi plus forte.

Merci de votre attention.

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