in the New Millennium
General's Mountbatten Lecture
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Except John Le Carré, nobody really misses the Cold War. That
pretty much goes without saying. But the Cold War did have one thing going
for it: simplicity. It was an abnormal state of affairs, but it certainly
was a reliable compass. We didn't have to define our security agenda --
the Cold War defined it for us. It was, in a sense, a negative agenda:
preventing an attack against us. In other words, security in the Cold
War was essentially about things we didn't want to happen.
Even when the Cold War was coming to an end, this narrow understanding
of security could not be shed easily. Of course, we were mesmerised by
the "velvet revolutions" of 1989, but we were also worried.
We had always wanted it to happen, but now, as it was happening, there
was also an unease as to where all this would lead. In a sense, we were
like the Lady at the bar of the Titanic. When the iceberg struck she turned
to the waiter and said: "Yes, I ordered ice, but this is ridiculous!"
Today, a decade later, we can confidently say that we have left this
reactive approach well behind. We have come to realise that security in
this new environment means more than thinking about what should not happen.
Europe is no longer under siege, so we no longer need a siege mentality.
We can afford to be much bolder now. Rather than thinking about what scenarios
we wish to avoid, we can look ahead and design a preferred scenario of
the future we actually want. The new strategic environment offers us a
unique luxury -- the opportunity to set the security agenda ourselves.
And setting the agenda is what the NATO of the 21st century is all about.
Take, for example, NATO's policy of enlargement. On the face of it,
it is about bringing our Eastern neighbours into the political and military
mechanisms of the Alliance. At closer inspection, however, it is a major
contribution to the re-shaping of Europe, namely by eliminating the notion
of Central Europe as a "grey area" of competing great power
interests. For those who join, it provides the European identity the EU
is not yet ready to extend. For those who want to join, it creates incentives
to continue on their path of reform. And, at the same time, it makes sure
that the widening of Europe remains compatible with a healthy transatlantic
link -- a new Atlanticism extended beyond Western Europe.
Or take, NATO's relationship with Russia, NATO's major adversary during
the Cold War. On the face of it, it could appear like a bureaucratic contest
about influence. At closer inspection, however, it is much, much more:
it is a major attempt to bring Europe's greatest security variable into
the emerging European security architecture. It is a major attempt to
anchor Russia firmly in the West: to win Russia over as a genuine Partner
in managing new common challenges, such as regional conflicts or proliferation.
Or take, the Partnership for Peace. At the face of it, a military cooperation
programme between the 19 NATO members and over two dozen non-NATO-nations.
At closer inspection, however, it is much, much more: a means to enhance
the pool of crisis management resources throughout Europe; a mechanism
to draw even neutral states closer to the emerging architecture, and a
"transmission belt" for conveying NATO's ideas on effective
defence planning and civil-military relations to those many states that
still struggle with their post-communist transition.
And, finally, take NATO's role in the Balkans. At the face of it, a
military-technical and humanitarian job of creating the conditions for
a self-sustaining peace in Bosnia and Kosovo. At closer inspection, however,
it is much more. It is the successful containment of two regional conflicts
that threatened to engulf a wider area; the breaking of the fateful logic
of great powers always supporting their traditional client states in the
Balkans -- for we managed to rally even Russia behind our common operations.
And moreover, by making a long-term commitment to the re-building of these
regions, NATO -- together with the European Union -- creates the basis
for bringing all of volatile Southeastern Europe, including a newly democratic
Serbia, back into the European mainstream.
I think these examples alone illustrate well the role of NATO as dynamo
of political change. Today, NATO is setting the security agenda in ways
the founders of this Alliance never dared to dream. The Alliance has become
the dynamo at the hub of political change.
But does all this mean that NATO's future is assured? Can we now switch
the Alliance on "autopilot" and leave its future evolution to
Parkinson's Law of expanding bureaucracies?
The answer is a resounding "no". Security in Europe remains
a work in progress. Our continent, and its surrounding area, are still
in the midst of a major transition. There is still lots of unfinished
business. So we cannot be complacent. NATO's job is far from over.
For example, we need to continue the process of NATO enlargement, because
continuing that process is our best insurance against new dividing lines.
As Secretary General, my job is not to make the decision as to who should
join next. That is for NATO's member states, and as many of you know,
NATO's Heads of State and Government will be gathering in Prague next
year to consider issuing further invitations for NATO membership. Between
now and then, my job is to ensure that the enlargement process proceeds
as it should. This means ensuring that all the issues are debated fully,
by all the interested parties. It means giving the nine applicant countries
as much feedback as possible, through our Membership Action Plan. It means
reminding those aspirants that they will have to make difficult decisions,
and tough decisions, if they are to meet NATO's standards, in particular
on defence reform.
Needless to say, the final decision on enlargement remains fundamentally
political. But one thing should be clear: in today's Europe, every democratic
country must have the free right to choose its own security arrangements.
Europe can never be fully stable and secure if countries are not in control
over their own destiny, but have that destiny decided for them by others.
For NATO, adhering to this principle means that when a European democracy
is able and willing to make a real contribution to Euro-Atlantic security,
then the Alliance has an obligation to consider their application for
membership. In the new Europe of the 21st century, geography can no longer
When you talk about NATO enlargement you always end up talking about
Russia. Because much of the debate about NATO's enlargement is really
a debate about the future of Russia. And the NATO-Russia relationship,
very obviously, is another work in progress that needs continued attention.
All of us here are familiar with the ups and downs of this relationship
over the past decade, and Kosovo was the most obvious low point. Relations
are, however, once again back on track. Russian forces are working very
well with NATO forces in the Balkans. The NATO-Russia Permanent Joint
Council is meeting regularly, and discussing cooperation on a wide range
of the most serious security issues. And there is a general feeling on
both sides that we can and should deepen our relations further.
One of the most important ways in which we can deepen our relations
is through better communication. NATO needs to be more effective at conveying
to Russians what the Alliance is, what it does and why -- because Russians
need to understand more clearly that NATO is not, nor does it want to
be, any threat to their security. That is why I will be travelling to
Moscow next week and opening the NATO information Office there. This Office
will provide accurate and timely information to anyone interested in NATO
and NATO issues, and therefore help to eliminate some of the myths and
illusions that sometimes get in the way of practical cooperation -- including
the myth that enlargement is about encircling Russia. NATO and Russia
cannot ignore each other, and this fact has been proven many times over.
We should therefore have a relationship which reflects this reality.
The Balkans remain yet another work in progress. True, the changes that
have occurred over the last few months have been spectacular. I found
myself just a few weeks ago welcoming the Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia
to NATO Headquarters, and today I received the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister.
Democracy is becoming stronger in Serbia, and Serbia and Montenegro will
soon find a new basis for their relationship. Together with the striking
changes in Croatia last year, these developments mean that the ice that
has kept hostility frozen in place in the Balkans has finally begun to
But let us be clear: for this progress to continue, we must keep our
eye on the ball. Neither in Bosnia-Herzegovina nor in Kosovo do we have
a truly self-sustaining peace yet. That day will eventually come, but
it won't be tomorrow. So we must sustain the positive momentum -- by staying
the course, by keeping up the pressure on the parties to get back to normal,
but also by reminding them that international support is neither infinite
nor unconditional. With patience and persistence, we can help the Balkans
in turning the corner, we can help to defuse the proverbial "Balkan
powder keg" for good.
The final work in progress I wish to address today is the development
of the European Security and Defence Identity. Now, anyone following the
news over the past few months would have had difficulty avoiding the many
stories on this issue. But if I may say so, much of the recent coverage
on ESDI has missed the point -- and particularly here in the UK! It has
missed the point on why it is happening; and it has missed the point on
what is happening.
Why is Europe developing a stronger capability? The answer is simple:
because Europe has to make a greater contribution to security. Within
NATO, the United States still has to do the lion's share of the more high-tech
operations because Europe can't pull its weight at that end. And even
for the lower-level ground operations, Europe has great difficulties deploying
the troops it has. For Kosovo, Europe barely managed to provide 40,000
troops -- which represents 2% of the 2 million troops Europe has on paper.
And if we can't use them, the rest might as well exist only on paper.
By improving Europe's capabilities, we can balance burdens more fairly
within NATO, and overcome any complaints on the other side of the Atlantic
about burden-sharing -- complaints which I believe remain justified today.
At the same time, a stronger Europe will be able to handle the security
crises in or around Europe that do not engage the strategic interests
of the United States and NATO -- which means that we will have more options
than just "NATO or nothing".
We are already turning the corner in one important area: defence spending.
The general ten-year fall in defence budgets across the Alliance has stopped.
And in 11 European NATO countries, defence budgets are starting to go
back up. This is an important development, because the right defence spending
is necessary if Europe is to take on a fairer share of the defence burden.
Does all of this mean that Europe is creating its own army? No -- despite
what the press is saying. European countries are simply developing the
capacity to use their forces more effectively. The troops will still be
part of national forces, but should have better equipment and training,
and be deployable on national operations, or NATO missions, or UN missions
-- and soon, EU missions as well.
The EU is preparing itself to take on a range of missions, called the
Petersberg tasks, which comprise: humanitarian and rescue tasks; peacekeeping;
and crisis management operations, including peacemaking. The EU is not
planning to assume responsibility for the collective defence of Europe
-- that remains exclusively NATO's job. And of course, the Alliance will
continue to retain the mandate and the capability to take on the full
range of missions, from conflict prevention to crisis management.
For all these reasons, stronger European capabilities are no threat to
relations with North America. We are not losing any options - we are simply
gaining one more tool in the toolbox of crisis management.
Both the EU and North America have therefore agreed that, where NATO
as a whole is not engaged, but the EU does wish to be, NATO will support
the EU with Alliance capabilities. This arrangement will ensure that the
EU has the support it needs, without implication, but that NATO and the
US don't always have to be in the lead. It is a more flexible and efficient
way of responding to future crisis management in the Euro-Atlantic arena.
We have already broken ground on this project. Indeed, we have made more
progress in the past 2 years than in the previous twenty. NATO and the
EU are now working out how to share information, how to share equipment,
and how to cooperate in peacetime and times of crisis. Which means that
we are on the way to putting in place the kind of NATO-EU relations we
will need to manage crises in the 21st Century. But the road is long,
and we have to ensure that NATO-EU relations are based on transparency
and cooperation, and that all Allies are included in the process. When
we succeed -- and I am confident it will happen -- it will benefit all
concerned: NATO, the EU, and wider Euro-Atlantic security.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
NATO has moved from a single-purpose collective defence institution
to a multiple-purpose instrument, able to set the security agenda in unique
ways. The possibilities for the Alliance to exercise decisive influence
on security developments throughout Europe have grown tremendously. There
is currently no other organisation which can create such a powerful, positive
To keep this momentum requires us to maintain the "inner balance"
of this Alliance -- the balance between transatlantic burdens and responsibilities,
the balance between sound politics and sound military capabilities. This
inner balance of our Alliance is not self-regulating. It requires an active
effort to maintain it. It requires a constant transatlantic dialogue.
But it also requires another dialogue: the dialogue with our own publics.
We may sometimes complain about public indifference on matters of security
and defence. In particular when it comes to resources, defence risks losing
out against other causes that are seen in the short term to be more noble
-- schools, or hospitals. But let us not miss the forest for the trees.
It may sound paradoxical, but the current indifference is in fact a sign
of how well we are doing. People don't worry about security because they
But the leaders of the Alliance must make it clear to their electorates
that this feeling of safety and security is not a natural state of affairs.
It is a result of a constant and persistent effort, not least by NATO.
We have to explain that this Alliance is much more than insurance against
the unexpected downturns in international relations. It is a tool we can
use to shape the strategic environment in line with our interests and
Investing in this Alliance thus means more than paying an insurance
premium. Investing in NATO means investing in Europe's positive evolution.
It means investing in the safety of future generations.