Updated: 13-Jun-2001 NATO Speeches

At the Meeting
of the North
Atlantic Council
13 June 2001

Excerpted remarks to the North Atlantic Council

by US President George W. Bush

Thank you, Mr. Secretary General. Earlier, I outlined my broad vision of where I believe our Alliance must head. Now I would like to spend a few more minutes discussing five challenges that I believe we must meet in order to make that vision real.

First, we must change our thinking to meet the demands of a new age. The Cold War is over; the Soviet Union is gone; and so is the nuclear balance of terror. But the world faces new kinds of threats. A growing number of countries, including some of the world's least responsible states, are developing nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and some already possess the technology for ballistic missiles to deliver them. Others are developing new capabilities to conduct cyber terrorism. We must work together to deter and address all these unconventional threats.

To do this we must reassess old assumptions. Today, the 1972 ABM Treaty constrains us from learning what is technologically possible to meet the challenges of this new era. That Treaty codified a nuclear balance between two hostile superpowers. Today, Russia is not our enemy, and I believe Russia should be a partner to address these new challenges.

So I ask for your understanding and support as we take forward needed research and development on systems that could protect us all from WMD threats. I ask for your trust when I pledge to consult with you at every stage. I ask you to help me persuade Vladimir Putin to think differently and to join us in meeting this deadly new threat.

We have a common interest in making a smooth transition from the ABM Treaty to a new security framework for a new century. Instead of basing our security on our ability to destroy millions of civilians, I want to move toward greater non-proliferation and counter-proliferation efforts, decreased reliance on offensive weapons, limited but effective defenses, and greater transparency so responsible nations can have greater levels of confidence.

I am firmly committed to missile defense as part of this new framework, Missile defense adds to deterrence in the contemporary world.

Russia has recognized a weapons of mass destruction threat to Europe. Cooperative work on a new strategic framework can now be a great task that brings NATO and Russia together.

Our second challenge is to reach out to Russia's leaders, and to a new Russian generation, with a message that Russia does have a future with Europe and with us, if it chooses. But to be our partner, Moscow must accept its responsibilities to democracy, freedom, and peaceful relations with its neighbors. At the same time, we must also strengthen our cooperation with Ukraine and other members of the Partnership for Peace.

Our third challenge is to maintain our strength. All of us must make the hard budgetary decisions to provide for the mobile, flexible, and capable forces to face down any future adversary. And we must tear down the barriers to defense industrial cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic. It isn't a question of "buy American" or "buy European," We must create conditions for us all to "buy trans-Atlantic" - to build a market in which North American and European companies can collaborate to produce the most advanced systems at the lowest cost.

We can strengthen trans-Atlantic security through another important initiative, as well: the EU's Security and Defense Policy. The United States would welcome a capable European force, properly integrated with NATO, that provides new options for handling crises when NATO chooses not to lead. Such a force will require EU members to provide the resources necessary to create real capabilities, without waste or duplication. And such a force must be inclusive, so that all allies who wish to contribute are as fully involved as possible. Our security is indivisible. So must be our cooperation in this effort.

This brings me to Southeast Europe, our fourth challenge. We seek a Southeast Europe that is part of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. Democratic changes in Zagreb and Belgrade make this possible. Still, ethnic violence and intolerance persist, and the young democracies face enormous challenges in combating organized crime and creating conditions for economic growth. War criminals remain at large and must face justice.

We are working to face down extremists in Macedonia and elsewhere who seek to use violence to redraw borders or subvert the democratic process. I commend Lord Robertson, General Ralston, and the forces in KFOR for helping to end the violent insurgency in southern Serbia. And we should continue to work in partnership with Javier Solana and the European Union. Building on this experience, NATO must play a more visible and active role in helping the government in Macedonia to counter the insurgency there.

Concerning Bosnia and Kosovo, Secretary Powell said in this room in February that we went in together and we will come out together. I reaffirm those words today. Together we seek to create conditions for peace that can be sustained without indefinite stationing of NATO forces. Our efforts must support international civilian agencies, and ultimately local leaders and local institutions in their efforts to assume greater responsibility. In Bosnia, progress will allow for SFOR's transition to a deterrent mission. As Kosovars take on more responsibility, we can examine our force structure and think about Kosovo's final status.

In Prague, we will honor our newest NATO members and take up the fifth challenge, the further enlargement of the Alliance. We should continue to include new members able and willing to strengthen our Alliance. No state should be excluded on the basis of history or geography. And no third state should have a veto.

I agree with Lord Robertson that all aspiring members have more work to do. They must work to become free-market democracies at peace with themselves and their neighbors. They must make the military, political, and economic reforms necessary in order to assume the obligations of membership. And the Membership Action Plan is the roadmap they should follow. Based on the aspirants' progress to date, and the progress they should continue to make, I am confident we will be able launch the next round of enlargement when we meet in Prague. And we should look ahead, beyond Prague, to our vision of a truly united Europe.

"Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war," observed the poet Milton, and the long, bloodless defense of Western Europe by NATO deserves to be the most renowned of all those peacetime victories. We must never lose sight of what NATO does and what it stands for - how it safeguards prosperity and protects democracy in an ever-widening Europe. Let us be true to the great vision of our fathers and grandfathers; the preservation of peace by democratic leadership; the defense of freedom through collective strength and determination.

Thank you.


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