Peace through Partnership"
by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking the Trustees
for their kind invitation, and by
saying what a great pleasure and an
honour it is for me to be here today.
It is a great pleasure and a great
honour, because as your lecturer today
I will be following in the footsteps
of so many eminent politicians, diplomats
and businessmen who have spoken here
over the years. Being here today is
therefore also a challenge -- to maintain
the superb standard of the Cambridge
European Trust Lecture Series. I will
do my very best to meet that challenge.
As you know, the basic objective
of this Lecture Series is to contribute
to the debate on the future of European
integration. What I wish to do this
afternoon is to sketch the distinct
contribution the NATO Alliance is
making to European integration --
the way in which NATO promotes peace
and stability across the European
continent through its active policy
of partnership and co-operation.
I think today is an appropriate day
to talk about partnership, because
it is the anniversary of a significant
date in recent history. Exactly two
years ago today, on 23 March 1999,
Javier Solana, my predecessor as NATO
Secretary General, gave the formal
approval for NATO airstrikes against
Serbia. Now, this might seem like
something of an odd link. After all,
most people's enduring memories of
the Kosovo campaign would be the sight
of NATO aircraft taking off from Aviano
airbase in Italy, or perhaps Jamie
Shea giving his daily press briefing
at NATO HQ. Wasn't NATO acting on
And wasn't that precisely why the
credibility of the air campaign was
put into question by a number of observers?
What might Kosovo have to do with
partnership? And what on earth could
Kosovo have to do with the integration
My answer is: everything. Because
when NATO launched Operation "Allied
Force", to reverse Milosevic's
campaign to rid Kosovo of most of
its citizens, it did not act in isolation.
It had the support of virtually the
entire Euro-Atlantic community. Nations
from all over Europe, including those
neighbouring the crisis area, supported
our actions, allowing NATO forces
passage through their territories
and airspace; working with NATO to
facilitate humanitarian assistance;
and later - following the end of the
air campaign - contributing troops
and other assets to the NATO-led KFOR
For some nations, that was an enormous
sacrifice. Some faced domestic divisions.
Some were forced to accommodate hundreds
of thousands of refugees that were
expelled by Serbian security forces.
Some faced real military risks. And
some were hit hard by the economic
impact of the Kosovo campaign. And
yet they all stood firm.
What we saw two years ago was a Europe
that can say: "enough".
We saw a Europe that can stand up
against barbarity. We saw the entire
family of European nations unite in
the quest to stop the violence and
reverse ethnic cleansing. We saw a
Europe that not only talked about
common values, but defended these
values. In short, we saw a Europe
that is growing together.
This overwhelming display of solidarity
in the Kosovo crisis did not come
about by accident. Rather, it was
the payoff of a sound investment that
NATO had been making since the end
of the Cold War: an investment in
Partnership and Cooperation.
During the Cold War, partnership
wasn't exactly the guiding principle
at NATO. Our security agenda was defined
for us, and it was, in some ways,
a negative agenda. It was about preventing
the "worst case". In other
words, security in the Cold War was
essentially about things we didn't
want to happen.
When the Cold War ended, we stood
at a crossroads. We now had to choose
between two security approaches. On
the one hand, we could declare victory,
and simply continue with business
as usual, focusing on our own issues
at home. Of course, this was a narrow
and exclusive, perhaps even selfish
approach -- but at least we knew it
had worked until then.
The alternative - essentially untested
-- approach was inclusive, co-operative,
outward-looking. To reach out to the
rest of Europe. To offer the hand
of assistance, and guidance. And,
yes, at the same time, to become more
engaged in resolving to the challenges
that the newly democratic states of
Central, Southern and Eastern Europe
were facing. In a word, to choose
NATO went for the co-operative option.
Not out of idealism, nor altruism.
But out of realism. Because it was
in our security interests to engage.
In truth, there was simply no alternative
to co-operation, if we were to continue
to maintain our own security.
So NATO reached out to the wider
Europe. We developed the Partnership
for Peace Programme, to foster military
co-operation with more than two dozen
non-NATO countries. We established
the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council,
as a forum for political consultation
with our Partners. We engaged in a
Dialogue with nations from the Southern
shores of the Mediterranean. And,
last but not least, we developed distinct
relations with Russia and Ukraine.
When the Kosovo crisis erupted, our
Partnership mechanisms were already
firmly in place. In the most critical
moment of NATO's history, we were
glad to find our Partners at our side.
The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
allowed us to foster understanding
and support for NATO's thinking and
policies. And the Partnership for
Peace helped us in mounting a sizeable
peacekeeping force, including troops
from 20 non-NATO countries geared
towards working with Alliance forces.
So we were vindicated in the strategic
choice we had made as an Alliance
of reaching out to our former adversaries
and trying to shape European security
together with them. Indeed, Kosovo
made us realise just how valuable
our partnerships had become, and how
important it would be to continue
to bind our Partners to the Alliance
and to further deepen and broaden
our relations with them.
Clearly, Partnership is not static.
It is a dynamic process of moving
closer to one another politically
and militarily. All of our currently
twenty-seven Partners understand that
they are the ones who decide how far
and how deep co-operation can and
should go. And the Allies realise
that it is up to them to respond to
the commitment shown by the Partners,
to recognise the momentum generated
by our common engagement in Kosovo,
and to make a qualitative step forward
in NATO's partnership relations.
So, as we look towards further enhancing
our partnership relations, I see a
number of priorities.
First of all, to continue to involve
our Partners in the single greatest
security challenge that we face --
bringing stability and prosperity
to South East Europe. The region is
plagued by deep-rooted difficulties
that obviously cannot be overcome
within just a couple of years. Outbursts
of violence will inevitably continue
to capture the headlines, as is the
case right now. But none of this can
disguise the fact that the patient
engagement of the international community
is showing positive results. In Bosnia
as well as in Kosovo, refugees are
returning, communities are being rebuilt,
common democratic institutions are
getting off the ground.
And let me be clear: neither NATO
members nor Partner countries will
allow these achievements to be undermined
by a small bunch of extremists in
the hills around Tetovo. NATO will
continue -- together with our Partners
-- to find a solution to this crisis.
Together, we will assist the Skopje
Government in meeting the challenges.
And together, we will send a strong
message to the extremists: You won't
succeed -- because we won't let you.
A second priority for our partnerships
is to continue to make them more operational
and geared towards present-day contingencies.
Kosovo has clearly demonstrated NATO's
dependence on its Partners when it
comes to crisis management and peacekeeping
tasks. Under virtually any scenario,
future NATO-led crisis response operations
will be conducted together with our
This means that we must continue
to prepare them, and ourselves, to
be able to work together as effectively
as possible. It also means that we
must permit Partners that are willing
to share the risks and costs of an
operation to participate appropriately
in the political control and military
command of such an operation. We are
working hard to operationalise and
also to balance our partnerships in
Third, we have to continue assisting
our Partners with defence reform.
The reason is clear. A military that
is transparent, democratically controlled
and fully accountable is part and
parcel of any mature democracy. And
a military operated with modern management
techniques is more cost-effective
and less of a burden on the overall
For these reasons, defence reform
is a vital national interest for our
Partners. But it is also a means to
a stronger partnership. Because Partners
with a well-run, efficient military
structure will be able to make even
stronger contributions to our common
missions. That is why the Allies will
continue to emphasise defence reform
in their assistance efforts, and why
the Partners should take full advantage
of this assistance.
A fourth priority for our partnership
relations is to keep open the prospect
of NATO membership. At the moment,
nine of our twenty-seven Partners
aspire to more than partnership, and
want to actually join the Alliance.
The Alliance has always had its door
open to new members; it admitted the
Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland
just two years ago; and it remains
committed to further enlargement.
Indeed, with our Membership Action
Plan we are assisting the nine aspirants
with their efforts to prepare for
possible future membership.
We cannot and will not give the current
nine aspirants a timetable for accession,
nor indeed guarantee them membership.
But neither can we keep one half of
Europe at arm's length forever. That
is why keeping NATO's door open remains
a strategic imperative for the Alliance.
Why some Partner countries will become
members. And why NATO is helping them
to better prepare themselves for eventual
A fifth priority for our partnerships
is to advance the Euro-Atlantic Partnership
Council. In the four years of its
existence, the EAPC has already demonstrated
immense value as a forum for consultation
and co-operation in many areas critically
important to European security - issues
such as regional security, arms control,
peacekeeping, and civil emergency
The great strength of the EAPC is
its open-ended, transparent and relatively
informal character. Participating
nations are free to raise any issues
and are actually encouraged to propose
new areas for consultation and co-operation.
All nations are free, but not obliged,
to take part in working groups tackling
particular security issues. All this
means that there is still considerable
untapped potential in the EAPC that
NATO, for its part, is keen to explore.
The last but by no means least important
issue on my list of partnership priorities
is to further NATO's relationship
with Russia. In sharp contrast to
our other Partners, Russia actually
turned away from the Alliance when
it was faced with an emerging crisis
in Kosovo. We regretted this.
We had hoped that the special relationship
that had existed between NATO and
Russia since 1997 would have at least
allowed Russia to remain on speaking
terms. Instead, Russia froze its relations
with the Alliance.
Luckily, this episode is behind us
now. The NATO-Russia relationship
is once again back on track. Russian
forces work together effectively with
NATO forces in the Balkans. Our Joint
Council is again meeting regularly
to discuss common security concerns
and to steer practical cooperation
on a wide array of issues. And there
is a general feeling on both sides
that we should deepen our relations
Thus far, I have spoken about partnership
as a means of connecting NATO to the
wider world around it. But there is,
of course, yet another partnership
-- a partnership within NATO, as it
were: the transatlantic partnership.
Indeed, this unique partnership is
the core of it all. Let me therefore
close my remarks with a few words
on the "Mother of all Partnerships",
the transatlantic one.
The partnership between Europe and
North America remains the foundation
of global stability, the engine of
the world's economy, and the nexus
of technological innovation. North
America and Europe represent the world's
strongest community of like minded
nations: not only successful democracies,
but also outward-looking nations with
a culture of pragmatic problem-solving.
In short, the transatlantic partnership
is unique. And that won't change.
What will change, however, is the
way in which we manage our security.
Ten years after the end of the Cold
War, and with the EU an economic equal
to the United States, it is becoming
increasingly difficult to explain
why Europe is barely visible a security
actor. Hence the need to expand European
integration to the security field
By supporting the EU's evolution
into a crisis manager, and by building
a trustful relationship between NATO
and the EU, the Alliance catches two
birds with one stone: we move European
integration forward in a crucially
important area, and we are at the
same time re-balancing the transatlantic
link in line with a fairer sharing
of burdens and responsibilities.
Only a transatlantic partnership
that is perceived as fair by both
sides will last. Only in a fair partnership
will North America and Europe be able
to tackle an ever-growing transatlantic
agenda: bringing long-term stability
to Southeastern Europe, managing regional
crises, enlarging NATO and the EU,
supporting Russia's democratic transformation,
stabilising the newly independent
nations, encouraging open markets
world-wide, preventing the spread
of weapons of mass destruction, and
much more as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 1994, after observing one of the
first Partnership for Peace military
exercises, a British journalist heavily
criticized PfP as being a showpiece.
In his view, the entire set-up was
unrealistic: American and Central
European soldiers working together
as peacekeepers in Europe -- what
could be more absurd? Less than two
years later, IFOR deployed into Bosnia
-- with many American soldiers, and
with soldiers from many Partner nations.
Less than two years after Partnership
for Peace had been created, its strategic
value had already been vindicated.
So the fact of the matter is that
NATO's partnerships are a huge success.
Ten years of reaching out to the new
democracies to our east has resulted
in a web of profound security relationships
across the continent. Thanks to NATO's
policy of promoting partnership and
co-operation, forty six countries
- NATO members, former Warsaw Pact
countries, ex-Soviet Republics, as
well as neutrals, including Switzerland
which is not even in the United Nations
- now regularly discuss security issues
together, train and exercise together,
and even carry out peacekeeping operations
This represents a massive change
from the past, and a major contribution
to the security, the stability and,
yes, the integration of the European
Thank you very much.