"Key Steps for European Integration - Promoting
Peace and Prosperity in Europe"
by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
a great honour for me to be the closing
speaker at this important conference.
I wish I had had the opportunity to
take a more active part in your discussions
earlier during the week. However, following
the NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting
in Budapest at the beginning of the
week, I have traveled to Vilnius for
the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary
Assembly, and have only just made it
back to this part of the world. If you
agree, I will try not to speak for very
long to allow ample time for discussion
so I can still benefit from your insights.
Once again, Wilton Park has managed
to gather a group of eminent international
experts to debate a crucial political
issue. And let there be no doubt ---
these are important discussions. For
at least the past decade, South East
Europe has been at the center of Euro-Atlantic
security. No other region has seen
so much turbulence. No other region
has endured so much suffering. And
no other area has drawn so much international
attention. For Europe, and for the
countries engaged in trying to assist
South-East Europe, it has been a very
long, and very difficult decade indeed.
But if one steps back for a moment
from the immediate day-to-day challenges,
and takes a broad look at the region
today, a very different picture emerges.
Today, South East Europe is no longer
symbol of stagnation -- it is an area
seeing steady progress. Where war
has been replaced by peace. Where
dictators have been replaced by democrats.
And where violent division is being
replaced inexorably by integration.
There are many examples. Bosnia,
where ethnic war has been replaced
by peace and growing ethnic cooperation.
Kosovo, where the vast majority are
now living in security after many
years without it. And of course, Yugoslavia,
where democracy has ousted dictatorship,
and where a reflex of confrontation
has been replaced by a policy of cooperation.
But perhaps the most vivid example
of all is this Croatian city itself
-- Dubrovnik. We all remember, too
well, when the name Dubrovnik was
a metaphor for the insanity of war
-- a rude shock to the system we were
trying to build in post-Cold War Europe,
and a cruel reminder of the price
to be paid if we failed to move beyond
the hatreds of the past.
But today, Dubrovnik is a metaphor
for a very different European trend
-- progress, integration, peace. This
city is once again attracting tourists
and international meetings, such as
this one. Indeed, the entire country
has undergone a dramatic transformation.
Just over a year ago, in the wake
of democratic elections, Croatia was
admitted into the Euro-Atlantic Partnership
Council and Partnership for Peace.
Bold reforms have been introduced
by Prime Minister Racan and his government,
and Croatia has proven to the world
that it is a responsible international
actor. A remarkable transition indeed.
These four examples - Croatia, Bosnia,
Kosovo and Yugoslavia are powerful
illustrations of the progress that
we - the countries of the region,
and the wider international community
-- are making in bringing peace and
security to a region that has suffered
too much. Slowly but surely, South
East Europe is becoming what it aspires
to be: normal. Stable. Prosperous.
Fully part of Europe, and the Euro-Atlantic
community more broadly.
Has NATO been a part of that progress?
Well, as NATO's Secretary General,
I would have little choice but to
answer yes! And it is true: NATO has
been a crucial contributor to the
successes we have achieved until now
-- through our peacekeeping missions
in Bosnia and Kosovo, and through
our political and military efforts
across the region.
And let me be very clear -- NATO
intends to sustain this course. NATO
is committed to the promotion of security
and stability in Europe. That is a
very clear message from our meeting
in Budapest earlier this week, and
one that will no doubt be reinforced
at meetings of NATO Defence Ministers
and Heads of State and Government
over the next two weeks.
.We have our eyes open. While overall progress is good,
there is still work to be done. In Bosnia, in and around
Kosovo, and across South East Europe, we still have challenges
we must meet.
Just last week, we released the
final part of the Ground Safety Zone,
the buffer zone between Kosovo and
Serbia, to the FRY/Serb authorities
who moved into the zone with due restraint.
This followed several months of intense
efforts by NATO and the EU to broker
a political arrangement between Belgrade
and the ethnic Albanians from the
This process will have to be managed
carefully, if it is to succeed in
the long run. There remain serious
differences between these two parties.
The ethnic Albanians do have legitimate
grievances, which Belgrade must accommodate.
Given the constructive attitude of
the new FRY Government that I already
mentioned, I am confident that efforts
will continue to arrive at an arrangement
that will satisfy all concerned. NATO,
for its part, in its own contacts
with the FRY, will certainly continue
to press for this.
A similar, if even more volatile scenario, is unfolding
in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1)
. Here, as well, NATO and the EU have coordinated their
actions, and the OSCE and the UN have been on board as
well. As you know, I have visited Skopje twice during
the past few months together with the EU High Representative
Javier Solana. On both occasions, we strongly underlined
the international community's support for the authorities
in Skopje, and its condemnation of the irresponsible actions
and murderous violence by the ethnic Albanian extremists.
We will have to continue to encourage the newly formed
broad coalition government to intensify the ongoing dialogue
with the various ethnic groups, and to use the dialogue
to respond constructively to the legitimate demands of
all ethnic communities.
Our forces in Kosovo have interdicted the transfer of
people and weapons into southern Serbia and the northern
part of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1)
and will continue to do so. This comes on top of KFOR's
main responsibility, which is to create and maintain a
secure environment for all the people of Kosovo, regardless
of their ethnic origin. On the whole, we have been very
successful in this regard. Despite occasional serious
incidents, the overall level of violence has clearly gone
down over the past few two years. The Special Representative
of the Secretary General of the United Nations, for one,
considers the situation sufficiently stable to hold elections
on 17 November. Our troops in Kosovo will remain alert
and prepared to suppress any extremist violence as we
move closer towards that date.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, we have recently witnessed a
more fundamental challenge. The Bosnian Croats who left
the Federation structures have recently been trying to
call into question the Dayton
Peace Agreement and the legitimate state and entity
institutions. This is completely unacceptable as it would
only lead to renewed violence -- violence that would inevitably
spread throughout this region.
NATO is gratified that many of those
who left Federation structures have
since returned. Their future, and
the future of their country, depends
on working for the collective interest
of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a whole,
rather than pursuing narrow parochial
interests. And the Alliance is equally
gratified with the position taken
by Zagreb: in support of Dayton, and
against those who with to undermine
it. This is a major contribution to
the future of all the citizens of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, regardless of
their ethnic origin. It is an investment
in the future stability and prosperity
of the region. And it is a demonstration
that today's Croatia is fully part
of the Euro-Atlantic community --
a community that shares values, works
towards common solutions, and grows
One very prominent element of the
ongoing integration is, of course,
NATO's enlargement process. NATO's
door remains open to new members precisely
because integration promotes stability,
security, and prosperity. And it is
no surprise that the majority of the
countries aspiring to join the Alliance
are from South East Europe -- because
these countries, too, understand that
Euro-Atlantic integration is a net
contribution to peace and prosperity
in this region.
As you all know, NATO's Heads of
State and Government will hold a Summit
in Prague in November 2002. High on
the agenda of that meeting will be
the consideration of further invitations
for NATO membership.
Work in NATO is continuing as hard
as ever. Through the Membership Action
Plan, the Alliance is working closely
with the Governments and militaries
of aspirant countries, to improve
their ability to take care of their
own defence, and their ability to
work with NATO forces on joint missions.
That way, we will ensure that by the
time they join, they will be net contributors,
not simply consumers, of security.
It is, of course, too early for
any NATO member, or the Alliance as
a body, to discuss possible candidates.
At their meeting, Foreign Ministers
considered reports on the progress
aspirants are making to meet NATO
standards. But as we get closer to
next year's Summit, one thing is certain:
the countries of South East Europe
have already made enormous progress,
not only in meeting the standards
set by the Membership Action Plan,
but more broadly in demonstrating
their desire to contribute to wider
peace and security. This bodes very
well for the future of this region,
and for the entire Euro-Atlantic community.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have said these words before,
and I repeat them again here: There
are no easy answers to security challenges.
In the real world, there are no simple
and complicated solutions, no quick
fixes, no magic one touch aerosol
we can splash over conflicts and make
them go away the next day. Anyone
who expects that is both unrealistic
But while we do not have a magic
wand, we do have some very effective
tools: determined engagement; patience;
and cooperation. These are the tools
we have all employed in helping Europe
manage its challenges, and its transition.
And I believe the results speak for
themselves. What was so recently an
area riven by conflict is now an area
broadly at peace. Where just a few
years ago, human rights violations
were common currency, today they are
becoming encouragingly rare. Where
until so recently, the countries of
South East Europe were seen as consumers
of security, today they are increasingly
seen as contributors.
Of course, there is still much more
to be done. For there to be true,
lasting stability in this troubled
region, every country must follow
some very simple guidelines. They
must take responsibility of all their
citizens, regardless of their ethnic
origin. They must honour the agreements
they have signed, with their neighbours
and with the international community.
They must look to cooperative solutions
first, and move to integrate progressively
with the rest of Europe. In the end,
these will be the foundations of a
new South East Europe -- and we are
already seeing the beginnings. Croatia
stands as a good example. And this
conference is another step in the
recognises the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional