Updated: 14-May-2002 NATO Speeches

14 Dec. 2000


by US Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright
at the North Atlantic Council

Mr. Secretary-General, fellow ministers, distinguished colleagues, good morning. This is the last time I will have a chance to participate in a meeting of this Council, and it is astonishing to me that in just a few short years, we have accomplished so much.

Since 1997, we have given our Alliance new life by enlarging its membership, enhancing its partnerships and preparing it to meet 21st Century threats. We have underlined its importance by acting together to reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and set the stage for an upsurge of democracy in Southeast Europe. And we have begun forging historic new links with the European Union.

Today, and tomorrow, we will discuss important next steps, but first I want to congratulate Secretary General Robertson on the completion of a very successful first year in office. The past twelve months have been a time of progress for Europe, democracy and NATO. Lord Robertson has earned our confidence and deserves our praise. The military staff also merits our gratitude for their fine work.

I am deeply grateful, as well, to each of you for the spirit of cooperation with which you have approached our discussions, and the friendships we have developed. Together, we have built a strong record in which we can each take pride.

I believe the future will hold even greater success, and that the new American Administration will maintain my nation's bedrock commitment to this Alliance and to its members.

It is inconceivable that any administration at any point in the new century will forget the central lessons of the last, which is that America cannot be secure unless Europe is secure, and that a united NATO is the most effective force for international stability, freedom and peace the world has ever known.

Since the Cold War ended, our collective task has been to build and adapt institutions that will defend freedom, foster prosperity and provide security for future generations. There are many elements to this job, including the expansion of the EU and adaptation of the OSCE, but none is more vital than ensuring NATO's effectiveness during its second fifty years and beyond.

As French President Chirac noted last week in Nice, NATO "is the very foundation of our defense."

That is why it is so important that we succeed in our goal of building a NATO that is truly able to make, keep and build peace in the 21st Century. This means an Alliance that is 1) true to its founding principles; 2) broader, more flexible, and committed to collective defense; 3) able to meet the full spectrum of current and future threats to our security; 4) strengthened by and open to new members; and 5) working with its partners to create a future of security, prosperity and democracy for the entire Euro-Atlantic community.

An Active and Effective NATO.

In recent years, our ability to construct such an effective Alliance has been put to the test in the Balkans.

During the past decade, this region survived severe trials that its people will not soon forget. But today, the nations of Southeast Europe are moving in the right direction. Due in no small measure to the men and women of SFOR and KFOR, the region is at peace. Every state has a democratically elected government. Progress is being made in the return of refugees and displaced persons. And cooperation with the war crimes tribunal at The Hague--although still not sufficient--has increased.

Dramatic evidence of the region's turnaround is on display in Croatia, the newest member of the EAPC and Partnership for Peace. Croatia's new leaders inherited hard economic problems, but they are determined to guide their nation into the mainstream of a prosperous and democratic Europe. In that effort, they both need and deserve the full backing of NATO members.

The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains fragile, and the process of building a democratic and economically viable state remains slow. There is daily progress, however, on refugee returns. And the November elections showed that while nationalists retain influence, moderate political forces are gradually gaining strength.

The keys to further gains are not hard to identify. Leaders of the major ethnic groups must recognize that unity is in the best interests of all and that joint institutions--including an integrated military--will benefit all. Bosnia does not need, and cannot afford, three armies. Moreover, a much stronger commitment to economic reform and fighting corruption is essential if Bosnia is to attract the investments it must have to grow.

The United States welcomes warmly the democratic election of a new President in Yugoslavia. We admire the courage and love for freedom shown by the Yugoslav people during their difficult campaign and support their efforts now to establish the rule of law, initiate economic reforms, and address urgent energy and budgetary needs.

We also join President Kostunica in condemning violence committed by armed extremists in the Presevo Valley. We should not underestimate the problems there or let them get out of hand. We urge restraint on all sides and support efforts by KFOR to improve security and prevent further incidents.

In Kosovo, KFOR's job is to support the work of the UN Mission in carrying out Security Council Resolution 1244. Our purpose must be a Kosovo where different ethnic groups can live together democratically and peacefully.

Since our last meeting, Kosovo held landmark municipal elections that constitute a step toward autonomous self-government. The new year holds the promise of further progress. We urge UNMIK to move ahead rapidly with consultations on how to shape Kosovo's democratic institutions for autonomous self-government, and then to issue the necessary regulations. General elections to determine who will lead these institutions should follow as soon as possible, and certainly by next summer. We must keep on track.

Clearly, KFOR and the UNMIK police retain a crucial security role. Although the level of violence has dropped, harmful incidents continue and ethnic tensions in some areas remain high. We are also concerned by the threat posed to Kosovo's future by organized crime. The OSCE has done a good job in training the Kosovo Police Service, but much work remains to be done.

Encouraging progress has been made in the return of refugees and displaced persons, but the job remains far from finished. I want to emphasize that all those who have been illegally displaced have the right to return, including ethnic Serbs seeking to reclaim their homes in Kosovo.

The United States continues to urge both the immediate release of Kosovar Albanians detained in Serbia without proper grounds, and a rapid and comprehensive accounting of missing persons throughout the region.

The recent and remarkable democratic gains in Southeast Europe constitute an opportunity, not a solution. A new day has dawned, but clouds on the horizon have not yet lifted. Violent extremism remains a threat. Democratic habits will require time to take hold. Economic recovery has just begun. Croatia needs to do what is necessary to maintain its recently improved record of cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague, and Yugoslavia must meet its obligations, as well.

Some will look at the problems that remain in Southeast Europe and suggest that solutions will take too long, or that the job is just too hard, or that the responsibility for acting belongs to some of us, but not all. I do not agree. Our responsibilities in the Balkans are collective and continual. We cannot afford to call the job finished when it is not.

The progress made thus far could not have happened without our unity, and I am convinced that if we persist, together with the people of Southeast Europe, we can write a new and truly hopeful chapter in the history of that region.

There is no question that this will require a long-term commitment, and that each of us must do our share. But such a commitment is worthwhile. Because our success would be a priceless gift to the future, and make NATO's job easier for decades to come.

A Broader NATO

Our work in Southeast Europe is intrinsically linked to the Alliance's mission, in parallel and partnership with the EU, to construct an institutional framework in which all European democracies can be integrated into the transatlantic mainstream.

Our vision of a NATO in the 21st Century begins with an Alliance that is broader with new members and closer partnerships.

The enlargement of the Alliance, along with that of the EU, is a natural consequence of the evolution of a peaceful, undivided and democratic Europe. NATO's door remains open to nations aspiring to membership, and the Alliance will be active in its efforts to help them walk through it.

In 2002, the Alliance will have an opportunity to advance that vision when it considers enlargement again at its summit in Prague. There couldn't be a more fitting setting for Alliance leaders to make such momentous decisions.

The valuable contributions that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have made to our Alliance, including their participation in our efforts in the Balkans, have only underscored the wisdom of our decision to invite them to join NATO.

Through the Membership Action Plan and our bilateral assistance programs, we must continue to help the countries aspiring to membership become the best candidates they can be. I am confident that candidates will be in a position to contribute to our common security, and we will keep our pledge that the first new members will not be the last.

Just as critical to our concept of a broader NATO are the relationships we have built with our partners, including Russia and Ukraine. In meetings later today and tomorrow, I will share U.S. views about the importance of our relationships in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council and the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

A More Flexible and Capable NATO

In addition to a broader Alliance, our vision of a 21st Century NATO includes a more flexible and capable Alliance. Obtaining that flexibility depends on whether or not we can agree to a European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) which enables Europe to assume a greater share of our common responsibilities while strengthening the Alliance.

America's position on ESDI is well known to you and has not changed. To put it most simply, we are for it.

We support a stronger, more capable Europe that is able to act effectively with us or--if the Alliance chooses not to engage--without us. A successful ESDI will be good for Europe, good for the United States, and good for the entire transatlantic relationship.

The reason is clear. If Europe's military capacity is increasingly effective, more modern, and better adapted to meet new dangers, our Alliance will be more versatile, capable and balanced.

That is why it matters so much that we get ESDI right. Our colleague, Joschka Fischer, has talked about the finality of integration in Europe. I want to emphasize the finality--the enduring character--of the transatlantic link. If ESDI is done right, our ties will be even stronger.

The challenge is worth undertaking because of the need to improve capabilities. NATO's determined campaign to reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo succeeded, but it also revealed serious shortcomings in our preparedness to meet new threats.

In response, we need to move forward on all fronts, through the Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI); through ESDI within the Alliance framework; and through the EU's effort to strengthen the capabilities of its member states.

Building capabilities is hard, expensive and takes time. But without the necessary commitment and investment, there can be no meaningful ESDI, and no effective way for the EU to meet its Headline Goal.

The United States is encouraged, therefore, by the EU's efforts. We welcomed the recent Capabilities Commitment Conference and the announcement of national pledges by EU states and their associated partners.

These efforts will only succeed, however, if the EU and NATO harness their respective strengths to a common purpose. That is why we are working to forge a true strategic partnership between these two institutions.

In this effort, there is no room for rivalry, jealousy or complacency. The stakes are simply too high. And the consequences of a failure to cooperate would weaken NATO, the EU and Europe as a whole. By working together, we can address critical shortfalls while taking advantage of existing strengths.

Over the past few months, both the EU and NATO have come far. But if we are going to get it right, hard work remains on four tasks.

First, we must take a coherent and collaborative approach to force planning. We have taken a good step in this direction by recognizing that we are drawing on a common set of armed forces, and that the goals of our two institutions cannot be allowed to diverge.

Second, it is important at this meeting for Ministers to reinforce our backing for assured EU access to NATO operational planning. This is not a gift from NATO to the EU. Rather, it is in our own interest to avoid duplication and enable the EU to focus on improving capabilities in the field.

Third, we need to put in place reliable arrangements for regular consultations to ensure the effective partnership between the EU and NATO that we all seek.

NATO and the EU have common members, mutual interests, overlapping responsibilities and a shared memory of the costs of division and rivalry within Europe. We each have a vital stake in our ability to act together.

During the recent Nice summit, EU leaders expressed strong support for regular and close consultations with NATO. Permanent arrangements would enable the Alliance to make its assets and capabilities available to EU-led operations without compromising either organization's autonomy.

Finally, we must ensure that all allies are given adequate means to participate and contribute to EU defense activities, particularly when those activities could affect the security of allied countries.

The United States welcomes the good faith efforts the EU is making to provide an inclusive role for non-EU allies. We believe that the best assurance all allies have that the development of European security and defense arrangements will be compatible with their interests is the closest possible relationship between the EU and NATO. This is another reason we wish to assure the EU of the availability of NATO planning.

My colleagues, the strategic partnership we are all seeking to forge between NATO and the EU cannot be part-time. It cannot be turned on and off like a faucet.

Like America's commitment to Europe, it must be durable and unwavering, and based on a clear and shared understanding that our fundamental security interests are indivisible.

Tomorrow's historic meeting of NATO and EU Ministers is an opportunity for us to begin to lay the foundation for that kind of partnership between the two core institutions of our community. But we are not there yet. Between now and tomorrow evening, we need to reach a clear decision on assured access. This may require some additional assurances-among allies-on how non-EU allies will be treated. We also need to find a practical compromise on permanent political arrangements. The United States is prepared to work closely with all of you to achieve meaningful steps toward our shared goal of a true partnership between NATO and the EU.

Our vision of a more flexible Alliance committed to collective defense, but capable of addressing current and future risks will increasingly depend on transatlantic defense industrial cooperation.

This is one of the cornerstones of our support for NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative and ESDI. As part of an effort to enhance that cooperation, I launched the Defense Trade Security Initiative (DTSI) at the NAC ministerial in Florence. DTSI, a collaborative effort between the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, is the first major post-Cold War adjustment to the U.S. defense export control system.

DTSI is designed to (1) enhance allied and coalition interoperability by facilitating the transfer to allies of critical U.S.-origin defense items; (2) promote a robust transatlantic defense industrial base that can provide innovative and affordable products needed to meet NATO requirements; and (3) strengthen export controls by enhancing compliance and enforcement.

This initiative substantially improves the U.S. export control system. For example, it facilitates U.S. companies' efforts to enter into joint arrangements with allies' companies; allows European companies to participate more easily with U.S. companies in bidding on U.S. Defense Department programs; and provides for expedited licensing for defense trade in support of DCI, with a ten-day turnaround in most cases.

I am pleased to report that all DTSI-required regulatory changes to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations are now in effect. We are also doubling our licensing personnel and upgrading their computers to speed this process.

The U.S. is committed to the success of all elements of this Initiative, which will greatly benefit transatlantic defense cooperation for many years to come.

Preparing for future threats also means that we must increasingly deal with threats posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the means of their delivery. We recognize that proliferation poses a direct military threat to Allied territory, populations and forces. Accordingly, we continue to implement the Washington Summit's WMD initiative.

Over the past year, we have consulted closely with our Allies on development of a national missile defense system. These consultations were an important factor in President Clinton's decision to delay deployment.

Clearly, WMD and missile proliferation remain serious concerns to the Alliance and a real threat to which Allies must respond.

The U.S. remains committed to close consultations on our missile defense policy and to discussions with Russia on further reductions in strategic offensive arms and modifications of the ABM Treaty to accommodate deployment of a limited national missile defense system.

I believe the Alliance will increasingly need to explore how to cooperate on common missile defense efforts in order to meet common security needs and maintain the unity of the Alliance in this critical area.


Mr. Secretary General and colleagues, I have considered it a great privilege to serve in this Council over the past four years. And I thank each of you for the dedication you have brought to our deliberations. Since 1997, we have accomplished much, enlarging our Alliance, strengthening our partnerships, upholding democratic values, and laying the foundation for a strategic partnership between NATO and the EU.

As I prepare to depart office, I think back to the beginning of the last decade. And to the many questions that were raised about the unity and purpose of our Alliance in the absence of a Cold War threat. And I am pleased to say that, together, we have decisively answered those questions.

Today, there is no doubt that NATO is and must remain the instrument of choice in defending the security and freedom of the Euro-Atlantic community.

Nor can there be any question about NATO's unifying role. For our Alliance is not a threat to any nation. On the contrary, it is a partner to every nation that embraces democracy and is willing to join us in building a more peaceful and lawful world.

Perhaps it is because President Clinton has been in Ireland this week, but I am reminded of the words of William Butler Yeats, who warned us that when the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passion, anarchy is loosed upon the world, and the center cannot hold.

Our generation has no greater task than to see that the center does hold.

That means we must never lose sight of our shared understanding that the destinies of Europe and America are linked.

Looking back, we know that when we have been together, we have prevailed. When we have been divided, we have invited disaster.

Like most of you, I was born on this side of the Atlantic. And my life's direction was shaped by the turmoil in Europe half a century ago.

There is nothing unique or unusual in this except that I have been given the opportunity to represent the United States to the world, and to work with you on behalf of an Alliance and a set of relationships to which I am utterly devoted, and to which we all owe our liberty.

I believe that free people working together are the most powerful and productive generators of human progress. And that NATO embodies that principle more consistently and effectively than any other single institution.

I will never forget my time here, or the friendships I have made. You may always count upon my support. And you have my assurance that America's commitment to NATO and to the Euro-Atlantic partnership will continue for generations to come.

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