Updated: 07-Nov-2001 NATO Speeches

6 November

Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism

Intervention by Ambassador Minuto Rizzo,
NATO Deputy Secretary General

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking President Kwasniewski for his initiative in organising this conference. I am pleased to represent NATO at this timely meeting, and appreciate the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of the Organisation.

Security, the issue on which NATO focuses, has changed over the past seven weeks. At the same time, the fight against terrorism will not distract NATO from pursuing enlargement and the MAP process with vigour.

President Bush has said that on September 11th, "night fell on a different world." And he was right. Not only the United States was affected by the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The entire planet has been affected.

Today we acknowledge that the attacks against the United States were attacks on the lives of all our citizens. On the health of all our economies. On all our freedom to travel. On all our freedom to communicate. On all our values. On all our ways of life. So this is not just a struggle for the US. It is a struggle for all of us.

We must therefore turn our sights to the challenge of terrorism. We must defeat it - as comprehensively as fascism was defeated; as thoroughly as slavery was defeated. That is the challenge that we face together. And all of us, nations and international institutions, are rising to this challenge.

NATO plays an important role in this context. Indeed, one very encouraging result of the tragic events of September 11th has been a total affirmation that Europe and North America remain what they have been for over five decades: a rock-solid community of shared values.

The most obvious demonstration of that solidarity has been NATO's decision, on September 12th, to invoke Article 5 of its founding treaty, and declare the attack against the United States as an attack against all 19 NATO members.

Allies have subsequently taken a number of measures, individually and collectively, to implement Article 5 and support the US-led military operations. These measures include, among others, deploying elements of NATO's Airborne Early Warning Force - NATO AWACS - to the continental US and deploying a NATO Naval Force to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Alliance, of course, is not acting alone in supporting the US-led campaign. Almost every government in the world is determined to work with the United States to combat the scourge of terrorism. And NATO, working with its Partners, is helping to build that coalition.

Within hours of the historic decision to invoke Article 5, NATO's 27 Partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council joined the Allies in condemning the attacks as an attack on our common values, and pledged to undertake all efforts needed to fight terrorism. A robust statement, indeed.

The speed with which NATO's Partners expressed their solidarity illustrates just how much success the Alliance has had over the past decade in fostering a new, co-operative security culture in Europe. The value of that effort is apparent now, in this time of need.

NATO is keen to build on this solidarity, on this common sense of purpose, and to translate it into concrete action. We have begun work to determine how best the Alliance can continue to adapt itself to be prepared to defend against terrorism. Indeed, the events of September 11 give new meaning to Allies' commitment under Article 3 of the Washington Treaty to "maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack".

The countries gathered here today are crucial to the international campaign against terrorism. Several of you are members of NATO. Others may soon join the Alliance. All recognise the wealth of experience and expertise accumulated in NATO, and the benefits of working together with the Alliance. As we develop NATO's capabilities to defend against terrorism, we are not open to such co-operation, but determined to develop it. Our security depends on it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Suppressing terrorism is a daunting challenge. One which requires extensive co-operation and co-ordination, both bilaterally and through multilateral channels.

Closer institutional co-operation features prominently among the principles that have inspired your Declaration and Action Plan. Several of today's concrete proposals will make a valuable contribution to the common fight against terrorism.

The Warsaw Action Plan reflects that this war will be fought on many fronts and that the campaign against terrorism requires us all to act. Accordingly, NATO forces in the Balkans have worked closely with host government authorities to take action against international terrorist cells. These efforts have successfully disrupted terrorist networks in the Balkans - including those connected to al-Qaida.

Thus, the battles will not just take place in Afghanistan. Rather decisions agreed today will advance the international effort as nations take action against money laundering, increase their intelligence and information sharing, agree on measures to promote tolerance, and exchange experiences in training anti-terrorist units. NATO strongly welcomes these steps you are taking today.

By working towards common goals and complementing each other, individual nations, regional initiatives such as yours, and international institutions will all help the international community present a united political, legal, military and economic front against the threat of terrorism. That is the only way forward, and the best prescription for success.

Thank you.

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