Updated: 02-Apr-2001 NATO Speeches

At the 11th International
Conference on Security and Cooperation

Antalya, Turkey
30 March 2001

"The State of the Alliance - a Good News Story"

Speech by the Deputy Secretary General

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past decade, the International Antalya Conference has become one of the foremost annual gatherings of security experts in NATO. It is always an honour and a great pleasure to come to sunny Antalya, especially for someone who spends most of his days in rainy Brussels. The reason Secretary General Robertson could not be with you today is because he had a longstanding commitment to visit Poland. He asked me to convey to you his apologies for not being here with you today, together with his best wishes for a successful conference. I will take the opportunity to be with you to give you an update on the current state of the Alliance, as well as the main challenges it faces.

Let us start with a brief look back into NATO's recent past. Certainly at first sight, events since the last Antalya conference a year ago appear to have vindicated NATO's policies in several areas. The most obvious case are the Balkans. During and after the Kosovo campaign we were criticised for having strengthened Slobodan Milosevic's grip on power in his own country and his influence across the region. But today, Milosevic is out, democracy is taking root in Serbia, and the prospects for stability and security across the entire Balkans region have no doubt improved. In the meantime, Russia has warmed to the Alliance again, following the freezing of its relations over the Kosovo campaign. We have resumed our regular pattern of political consultations and are actively exploring opportunities for closer cooperation in a number of areas. A third example is the European Security and Defence Identity. This past year has seen significant progress on the development of ESDI. Capability gaps have been identified and are being addressed. An effective, trustful and permanent NATO-EU relationship is finally taking shape. And the transatlantic partnership looks set to emerge stronger as a result.

All this is good news, about NATO's recent achievements and future prospects. Unfortunately, what the NATO most ordinary people read about in their newspapers, or see on their television screens, is quite a different NATO. It is a NATO struggling to come to grips with simmering ethnic hatred and occasionally escalating violence in the Balkans -- a NATO finding it very difficult to engage a suspicious Russia -- and a NATO at serious risk of being undermined by the efforts of European nations to develop their own defence capabilities.

I don't want to explore the reasons for this rather gloomy image of NATO here today. As Alliance policy-makers, we apparently do not always succeed in getting the right message across to our publics. It is also evident that certain representatives of the media -- and you find them in all our countries - will always be reluctant to let facts get in the way of a good story - or, in this case, a "not so good" story. But rather than to accord blame for the less than positive image of the Alliance, let me use this opportunity to set the record somewhat more straight on the three key issues that I have already mentioned -- the Balkans, Russia, and ESDI - because I am firmly convinced that these individual issues, and hence the state of the Alliance as a whole, are essentially a good news story.

Especially these last few weeks, the situation in the Balkans has given rise to some rather alarmist headlines about a breakdown in the peace process in Kosovo and NATO's inability to reverse this trend. But if one steps back for a moment from the immediate day-to-day concerns in southern Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia , and takes a broader look at the entire region's development over the last ten years or so, a very different picture emerges.

Bosnia, for example, has changed tremendously. A tortured country only six years ago, it is now a country at peace - a fragile peace, perhaps, and buttressed by a robust international presence, but peace nonetheless. A peace that creates the foundations for the people of Bosnia to build a self-sustaining society: economically prosperous, politically stable, and fully part of the European mainstream.

Kosovo, as well, has undergone a dramatic transformation. It was the scene of terrible violence only two years ago, but is now largely secure. Kosovar refugees have returned to their homes. Free and fair local elections have allowed the development of democratic self-governing institutions. And here as well, a massive international presence works with all the interested parties to consolidate progress and to help Kosovo make the transition to self-sustaining democracy and stability.

In Yugoslavia, as I already noted, Milosevic and his regime have finally had to relinquish their iron grip on power. Under a democratic, Western-oriented leadership, the country is now taking its rightful place as a partner in Southeast Europe, rather than an outcast. Yugoslavia has retaken her seats in the UN and the OSCE, and is now a regular and accepted member of regional gatherings.

So, throughout the Balkans, we are seeing positive change. NATO has been instrumental in achieving this progress. In Bosnia, the Alliance not only played a crucial role in ending the war, but it has succeeded for six years in keeping the peace, with the vital assistance of our Partners. In Kosovo, NATO played a vital role in stopping and then reversing the ethnic cleansing, and is now working closely with the people of the region, and the international community, to keep the peace we fought so hard to win. And while NATO has consistently opposed the Milosevic regime, it is now working ever more closely with the new democratic government in Belgrade - a development completely unimaginable even half a year ago.

Does that mean that all the headlines are completely wrong? Of course not. While there is good progress across the board, it is also clear that there is still a lot of work to be done by the international community in general, and NATO in particular. There are three priority areas where I believe the Alliance should concentrate its efforts.

First, we must continue to isolate and control the ethnic Albanian extremists who have been inciting violence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Extremism of this kind must not be allowed to destabilise a country that is an example to the region that different ethnic communities can live alongside and amongst each other, without fear or violence.

Secretary General Robertson was in Skopje earlier this week together with
EU High Representative Solana to commend the restraint shown by the FYROM authorities. Wisely, the multi-ethnic coalition government continues to focus on the importance of maintaining national unity in the face of the extremist threats. This is the way to go. The FYROM Government must now intensify inter-ethnic dialogue. And the extremists must lay down their arms and pursue their goals through political means. That was the other clear message of the groundbreaking joint visit by the EU and NATO representatives.

NATO's second priority in the Balkans is to continue our efforts to bring lasting peace and stability to the Presevo Valley. We must build on the cease-fire that exists there, and consolidate it into lasting peace. For this to happen, the insurgents in the area must continue to refrain from using force to carry out their goals. Equally, the Yugoslav forces in the area must continue to show the restraint they have displayed over the last several weeks.

NATO, for its part, will continue to provide for the security of the EU monitors in the Ground Safety Zone, which is yet another very positive example of NATO and the EU complementing each other. NATO will also continue to work to prevent arms or rebels from crossing over from Kosovo. And the Alliance will also continue to facilitate talks, and the development of new relations between Belgrade and the people in the Presevo Valley. That, in the end, should provide the long-term solution everyone is seeking, and turn this flashpoint into a foundation for better relations in the region.

NATO's third priority must be to build on our success in Kosovo, and to extend peace and security to all the Kosovars, regardless of their ethnic identity. That is the principle enshrined in Security Council Resolution 1244, and the international community is unanimous in its determination to uphold that principle. That means, above all, that the violence against minorities must stop.

KFOR is doing everything it can to maintain a secure environment in Kosovo. Progress is being made. Despite the occasional upsurge, the overall numbers show clearly that the level of violence is consistently going down. The Alliance will continue to work closely with the UN and its other partners in Kosovo, and of course with the Kosovar people themselves, to build on this progress.

Let there be no doubt -- the primary responsibility for establishing peace in Kosovo lies not with the international community, but with the Kosovars themselves. It is their reputation, their future, and the support of the international community that is at stake. It is up to them to take the steps necessary to build the kind of society Europe wants to accept as a partner, rather than hold at arms length.

There are reasons for hope. Governments throughout the Balkans region believe in the same basic principles: democracy; peaceful resolution of disputes; and cooperation to address common challenges. Cooperative regional initiatives are now in place, and delivering results: better trust and confidence, and practical problem solving. And importantly, the international community is fully engaged in the region, with NATO making a real difference. So, all in all, not only the current situation in the Balkans, but also the prospects for further positive change, are much better than they seem at first sight.

Also, much better than one is led to believe is NATO's relationship with Russia. True, in the almost four years since the conclusion of the NATO-Russia Founding Act in May 1997, the NATO-Russia relationship has seen many twists and turns, with Kosovo as the most obvious low point. I do not need to remind you that NATO and Russia had serious disagreements over Kosovo, up to the point where Russia suspended its formal cooperation with the Alliance.

But Russia was of course never completely out of the picture. It was ultimately instrumental in achieving a settlement. And it is crucial now in NATO's and other international efforts to restore peace and stability in the region. So the Kosovo experience has demonstrated that, if there is to be true and lasting security in Europe, Russia and NATO must work together, and build a solid relationship.

Since the temporary freeze of our relations over Kosovo, and especially following Secretary General Robertson's visit to Moscow in February of last year, we have made great strides in getting the NATO-Russia relationship back on track. We have significantly broadened the agenda of the monthly meetings of our Permanent Joint Council to cover the full range of political and practical issues set out in the Founding Act. We have had particularly useful discussions in the PJC on our respective strategic concepts and on Russia's new military doctrine. And one issue of mutual interest that we plan to take up in the PJC next month is the question of defence reform.

In the meantime, experts have resumed discussions on nuclear issues, questions of proliferation, and how to combat international terrorism. We have been engaged in helping Russia in the retraining of retired military officers. Moreover, in the wake of the tragedy with the "Kursk" nuclear submarine, we have initiated cooperation on search and rescue at sea. All this shows the tremendous potential for NATO-Russia cooperation. Indeed, from NATO's point of view, the scope for cooperation with Russia is virtually endless.

Frank consultation and close cooperation in these and other areas have clearly helped to increase the trust and confidence that must form the basis of a solid NATO-Russia relationship. It is clear, nonetheless, that many Russians still harbour serious suspicions regarding the Alliance.
And the issue that remains particularly controversial - because it remains misunderstood - is NATO enlargement.

Last month, during his second visit to Moscow as NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson opened a new NATO Information Office in the Russian capital. The basic aim of the Office is to overcome such old stereotypes, to explain to ordinary Russians what NATO is, what it does and why it wants to cooperate with Russia, and to emphasise in this effort that NATO will never be a threat to Russia - no matter how many members it has.

Lord Robertson stressed this point as well in his official meetings with President Putin, members of his Government and Russian Parliamentarians. But the Secretary General's basic message was to underline NATO's strong interest in a genuine, crisis-resistant partnership with Russia - a partnership in which, when disagreements occur, the two partners try to deal with them instead of walking away from each other.

There are good reasons to believe that the Kosovo freeze is now behind us, that NATO and Russia have finally started to explore the opportunities of being real partners in security.

I referred to Kosovo as a defining event in our relationship with Russia. Kosovo was also, of course, a defining event in the development of a European Security and Defence Identity, the third broad issue I want to elaborate on today.

Kosovo showed us that, as we enter the 21st Century, Europe must play a greater role in preserving Euro-Atlantic security if we are to avoid transatlantic resentment about burden sharing. Kosovo also showed us that Europe needs to develop the capacity to take action where NATO as a whole is not involved, so that the Alliance is not dragged into conflicts because Europe has no capacity to handle them on its own. Simply put, the "NATO or nothing" option is no longer sustainable.

In sum, no one on either side of the Atlantic can ignore any longer the necessity for Europe to get stronger. Which is why more progress has been made in the past 2 years than in the previous 20 in the development of Europe's defence capabilities. The EU has moved quickly to set up the structures it needs to take on more responsibilities in the field of security. It has defined clearly its objective to be able to mount, by 2003, a rapid reaction force of some 60,000 troops. And it has determined the capabilities needed to meet that goal.

Among these capabilities are several which the EU does not have, but which have long been available within NATO, such as strategic lift, satellite communications, and command and control assets. That is why, except for the smallest contingencies, the EU will need NATO's support for EU-led operations. Which, in turn, is why our two organisations have to be closely linked, and work together. Duplication is in the interest of neither NATO nor the EU. On the contrary, complementarity between our two organisations must be the rule to create the right synergies. Since ESDI makes sense on both sides of the Atlantic, NATO and the EU, as actors with common strategic interests, should cooperate transparently to resolve crises.

In this respect, the Alliance has already made real progress. From Berlin in 1996 to last December's Ministerial in Brussels, NATO has taken concrete steps to support, and link into, the development of European capacities. NATO and the EU have agreed on permanent arrangements for consultation and cooperation.

All these steps represent real progress -- progress that is taking place for the first time. Why? Because, for the first time, both sides of the Atlantic have realised that ESDI is a mutually reinforcing process, and will benefit all countries concerned. But as this process goes forward, some fundamental principles must continue to be respected, if it is to pay off.

We need, first of all, to ensure that institutional relations between NATO and the EU are established on an equal footing, so the two can co-operate on a basis of equality and transparency. Of course NATO and the EU will keep their autonomy of decision. But they will also be linked together.

We must also ensure full coherence in defence planning between the two organisations. Each country in NATO and the EU has only one defence budget, and one set of forces. Adequate integration between NATO and EU defence planning should ensure that our armed forces are structured and equipped to conduct the full range of missions they might be assigned. This includes, of course, Article 5 missions, as well as peacekeeping operations such as those in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Finally, we must also ensure that non-EU NATO members are granted satisfactory participation in EU-led operations. Non-EU NATO members are making a direct contribution to European security every day, in NATO, in the Balkans and through their Article V commitment. If ESDI is to work, it needs the support of all European countries, not just some -- and the NATO members most of all.

The role of Turkey demonstrates convincingly why NATO has and continues to put a lot of emphasis on the participation issue. There are strong political and military reasons why non-EU NATO members such as Turkey simply must be part of the game.

The political reason is very simple: we all need Turkey. Its proximity to the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East and the Mediterranean puts Turkey at the centre of a crucially important strategic area. That is why Turkey will remain a key part of the European security equation. And why NATO's institutional arrangements with the EU will ultimately have to reflect this.

The military rationale for involving Turkey is equally evident. I cannot imagine a scenario for EU-led crisis management operations that does not involve Turkey in one way or another. Simply put: if the crisis is very serious, NATO will be involved -- including Turkey. If the crisis is less prone to escalation, but still requires a significant amount of force, then the EU may lead, but only with the help of NATO -- again, Turkey will be fully involved. If the crisis is at the lower end of the spectrum, the EU may act autonomously -- but if it is an operation that affects Turkey's security or Turkey's vital interests, it will obviously be in the interest of the EU to at least solicit Turkey's views, and most probably to seek its active contribution in resolving the crisis.

Any way, then, Turkey will be involved -- because NATO assets are required, because Turkish contributions are needed, or because the operation takes place in a region close to Turkey. In other words, the military realities of crisis management, including EU-led crisis management, will ensure that Turkey continues to play a role commensurate with its weight as a major security actor.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As it enters the 21st century, NATO has a broad and challenging agenda, but also a track record that is very solid - if not always well understood. In the Balkans, NATO is instrumental in helping to restore peace and stability to the very heart of Europe. By engaging Russia, NATO builds a constructive relationship with a country that simply cannot be ignored as a factor in Euro-Atlantic security. By reshaping the transatlantic relationship, NATO is preparing it for the hard security challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead.

NATO is also working hard, and successfully, in other areas that I have not been able to go into today: deepening its relations with Partners in Central and Eastern Europe; continuing its enlargement process; responding to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, etc.

So, in fact, the Alliance is as relevant and as central to Euro-Atlantic security today as it has ever been. It is setting the security agenda in ways the Alliance's founding fathers never even dared to imagine. It has become a truly invaluable instrument for shaping Euro-Atlantic security.

Thank You.

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