to the EAPC
Mr Deputy Secretary General, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
I am pleased and honoured to be with you this afternoon to provide an
overview of the activities of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in what
has become a regular event in our relationship with NATO.
We meet in the shadow of the terrible events of September 11th and at
the beginning of the struggle to deal with the perpetrators.
As you would imagine, these events dominated our annual session in Ottawa
three weeks ago. Terrorism was the theme of a special plenary debate and
a declaration, which, I am sure you have read, by the Assembly as a whole.
Let me highlight three aspects of the Ottawa debate:
- First, the unanimity of our own members;
- Second, the declaration of support by our associate delegations;
- Third, the strenuous efforts made by the Russian delegation to associate
themselves with the resolution.
In Ottawa, we also asked all of our Committees to reassess their activities
and to see how they should each address terrorism in their future work,
within the scope of their respective competences.
We all realise that this issue will preoccupy us for years to come and
will require cooperation and coordination in many areas and at many levels.
It also creates a new perspective for many of the existing challenges
we face. Without prejudging the adaptation of our work, let me highlight
several areas of obvious interest:
Areas of concern
- By invoking Article 5, the Allies has shown their highest expression
of solidarity and expressed their commitment to deliver upon it. What
will be the future implications of this decision? And, if you allow
me, has life changed under Article 5?
- We are well aware that fighting against terrorism requires, above
all, political and diplomatic action. However, will terrorism be given
more prominence in Alliance activities, for example, in the strategic
concept and particularly as regards cooperation on weapons of mass destruction
and civilian catastrophes?
- What effect will the struggle against terrorism have on the shape
of our armed forces and their related expenditures to support action
against terrorism and its consequences?
- How can we use the EAPC framework for the many efforts that must now
go forward to confront these new threats to our security?
- How can we contribute to address the shortfalls of globalisation,
so that it reaches the lives, the welfare and the human rights of the
- Lastly, will current developments accelerate the trend towards major
changes in the forces deployed in the Balkans?
In my personal opinion, if the United States decides that it wants to
withdraw its forces from the Balkans, we should clarify whether this
is because the 10,000 troops are desperately needed or does this represent
a real shift in US strategic priorities in which Europe and the Balkans
go down on the list.
This must be first and foremost a NATO debate. As also should be the
debate as to how they would be replaced, if that is necessary, within
the scope of a NATO-led mission; remembering that NATO's assets and
command structures, for the time being, cannot be made available to
any other institution.
- Needless to say, the process of building ESDP remains a matter of
high interest for us. Of particular concern is how the ESDP can 'go
operational' when it still lacks essential capabilities or has to rely
on NATO? This is just of the many pending question marks on the future
These and other concerns will certainly test the cohesion of our transatlantic
relationship. Again, we will play our part in providing a platform for
discussing these issues with our American colleagues. A new initiative,
the Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum, which we will launch in Washington
D.C., in cooperation with the Atlantic Council of the United States and
the National Defence University, in December will be the venue for a first
high level exchange of view on these issues.
Cooperation and partnership
One thing is clear - the events of September 11 show the enormous importance
of NATO's policy of partnership and cooperation, and should certainly
lead to a deepening and a widening of this process.
For ten years, our work with partner parliamentarians has reinforced
NATO's PfP, especially in assisting partner countries facing the massive
challenge of defence and security sector reform.
We have been helping our parliamentary colleagues to become aware of
their responsibilities in overseeing security and defence policy, and
providing them with the experience and expertise to exercise this role
Reform of armed forces and defence establishments is essential to all
countries regardless of whether they are candidates for Alliance membership
or not. This week, for example, we have a parliamentary meeting with the
Ukrainian Rada in Kiev focussing on the reform of Ukraine's armed forces.
I should note that we have been particularly grateful to the Swiss for
their very considerable support of our "outreach" program.
With the Prague Summit looming, the next round of enlargement will, for
obvious reasons, dominate many of our proceedings next year. With our
Spring meeting taking place in Sofia, we can look forward to an energetic
I believe that the events of September 11 make NATO enlargement even
more important and should dispel any caution about moving too far or too
quickly. The new environment calls for bold action. The Assembly has always
supported the open door policy, without restrictions, and I personally
believe that we should be looking at an invitation that goes well above
the zero option.
I am not superstitious, I am sure no-one in this audience is, but we
all have our lucky or favourite number. Mine happens to be seven, which,
I know, has no particular relevance here.
There are evident and profound changes in NATO's nature as it embraces
new missions in addition to its permanent role. Those changes; which now
appear to be acknowledged by Russia, support the idea of a broad and regionally
balanced enlargement to be launched in 2002, in a more politically oriented
approach to NATO's role in Europe's security and stability.
Caucasus, Central Asia
Our own geographic focus will evolve, so that we can look more closely at
the regions which, for many reasons, have an increasing importance in Euroatlantic
security This means paying more attention to Central Asia, a region we had
felt unable to embrace in our programmes so far.
We will also intensify our work on the Caucasus, with a first Rose-Roth
seminar in the region in 2002. I also intend to visit Armenia and Azerbaijan
early next year at the invitation of their parliaments.
This brings me to relations with Russia. Already before 11th September
cooperation between the Assembly and the Russian Parliament had resumed
with great enthusiasm on both sides. The new security developments will
only accelerate the momentum. In Ottawa, I signed a "Framework of
Cooperation" with the leadership of the Russian delegation to the
Assembly; the reading of which, I recommend to you.
We know that one of the greatest obstacles to closer cooperation has
been Russia's refusal to see that NATO is changing. Yet, in signing the
framework, I believe we saw the first chink of light. The Russian delegation
modified a text which characterised their approach as seeing NATO as a
"threatening alliance" to one in which NATO is described as
"a possible threat".
Terrorism will be high on the agendas of both the Committees and our
Monitoring Group in which, jointly with our Russian colleagues, we examine
the implementation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. I expect the meeting
of the Monitoring Group in Moscow later this month to focus heavily on
the developments in and around Afghanistan.
Three of our Committees will meet their Russian counterparts in Moscow
next year in what will now become an annual meeting of the NATO PA in
the Russian Parliament.
In these and all our meetings, we will be focussing on areas of practical
cooperation but also working to reduce suspicion and build mutual trust
and confidence in order to better understand each other's views.
As an indication of this confidence building, the Assembly will hold
for the first time next January a staff training programme devoted exclusively
to the Russian Parliament.
The threat of terrorism makes ever more vital the development of functioning
societies where previously there has been instability and conflict and
the spectre of failed states. Nowhere is this more true than the Balkans.
For the Assembly, this means:
- to intensify our work and contacts with the region;
- specifically, to use our good contacts with the Parliament of the
former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to press them to establish the
legal and constitutional basis that will make for sustainable, peaceful
relations between the communities;
- to develop relations and provide material assistance to both Yugoslavia
- In this respect, we will be hosting a two-day course on security and
defence for Bosnian Parliamentarians in early December.
Trust is needed between East and West, but it is also very much required
between North and South. As we said in our Ottawa declaration "we
will not fall into the trap of the terrorists who want to lure us into
a conflict between religions or cultures". This is why our Mediterranean
dialogue is of particular relevance. We shall hold our yearly seminar
with partners of the Southern and Eastern rims of the Mediterranean in
Malta in a few weeks. I would hope that, through this seminar, the Assembly
could contribute to sustaining the cohesion of the international coalition
against terrorism. Also, to keep building dialogue and cooperation with
our Southern Mediterranean countries. The recent meeting here at 19+7
is to me an encouraging step forward upon which we must build.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the security environment in which we live, the new roles and missions
of the armed forces, the urgent need for defence reform and restructuring,
the influence of the revolution in information technology and now the
struggle against terrorism all suggest a higher profile for parliamentary
The need for public and parliamentary understanding and support is never
higher than during those periods when armed forces are in action and when
lives are at risk. Demands for results are intense, memories short, and
fears of civilian losses understandably acute. Parliamentarians bear the
responsibility not just of reflecting public anxiety to governments, but
of explaining to their constituents why painful policies are necessary
and of justifying the new expenditures that could be requested to cope
with this new threat.
The Assembly is determined to fully exercise its role in fostering informed
debate and improving parliamentary awareness of these key issues.
It is also aware of the need to prepare future generations to meet the
new, perhaps even more difficult challenges of international security
of this century. I would therefore like finish by thanking NATO for its
support, once again, this year, to our New Parliamentarians Programme.
I trust that this programme will enable us, over time, to build a core
of leaders across the EAPC countries who are fully equipped to tackle
the security challenges of their time - however complex they may be.
I thank you for your attention.