Updated: 05-Dec-2001 NATO Speeches

3 Dec. 2001


by NATO Deputy Secretary General Alessandro Minuto Rizzo
to the NATO Defense College Senior Course 99

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You have come to NATO at a particularly busy period of the year. Two weeks ago we hosted a meeting of Chiefs of Defence Staffs. Later this week, NATO Foreign Ministers will convene here at NATO HQ. And in just a fortnight, NATO Defence Ministers will also gather here.

But that is not all. The time where NATO officials only met amongst themselves has long gone. They also meet with all their colleagues from the Alliance's 27 Partner countries, and hold separate meetings with their Russian and Ukrainian counterparts. Moreover, there will also be a joint meeting of NATO and EU Foreign Ministers -- the second of its kind, and a testament to the rapid development of NATO-EU cooperation, on which I will say more in just a few minutes.

Having studied NATO for several months, you will not be surprised that the fight against terrorism is high on the agenda of all these different meetings. For the public at large, however, it is easy to underestimate just how the terrorist attacks against the United States have affected the Alliance. Because rather than to demoralize NATO or throw us off balance, the attacks have actually energised the Alliance. They have united both the Allies and their Partners, rallied them behind the ongoing US-led operations in Afghanistan, and committed them to taking all necessary measures to combat terrorism.

Following the invocation of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, Allies have taken a number of important steps, individually and collectively. Several individual Allies have offered forces and other military assets, and together, the Allies have agreed to the deployment of NATO AWACS aircraft to monitor US airspace, and of Alliance naval forces to the Eastern Mediterranean. The upcoming Ministerial meetings will be a valuable opportunity both to evaluate these efforts, and to discuss possible further measures.

At the same time, we must all guard against the notion that NATO is now all about terrorism, and that everything we did before 11 September has suddenly become less relevant. This is simply not true. Indeed, in many ways, the events of 11 September have reinforced the logic of NATO's pre-existing agenda -- they have not merely vindicated NATO's efforts in a wide range of areas, but actually also given fresh impetus to many of these efforts.

Take, for example, NATO's relations with Russia. NATO has long been convinced of Russia's key role in any new European security architecture. However, despite considerable efforts, we have so far been unable to develop a genuine partnership with Russia -- a relationship that promotes joint approaches to common security challenges, but in which we can also be frank in putting controversial issues on the table.

Following the events of 11 September, we have definitely come much closer to such a NATO-Russia partnership. In Russian eyes, Article 5 was always the quintessential demonstration of NATO's anti-Russian orientation. Now NATO has invoked Article 5 -- but in an entirely different context, a context Russia can understand and relate to, as demonstrated by the determination it has shown to work with NATO in the fight against terrorism.

Secretary General Robertson has met President Putin and other senior Russian officials twice these past few months to capitalise on this new momentum. And we may expect further progress towards a qualitatively new relationship when NATO Foreign and Defence Ministers meet with their Russian counterparts over the next few weeks.

Russia, of course, is only one of NATO's Partners, albeit an important one. NATO has 26 more Partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and they have all stood with the United States and the rest of the Alliance these last three months. This is a vindication of the determined effort NATO has made since the end of the Cold War to foster a common Euro-Atlantic security culture. But it is also, and above all, a strong incentive to continue on this path.

That, I am quite sure, is what NATO Ministers will decide to do. They will propose to their EAPC colleagues to enhance the sharing of information and coordination of activities against terrorism. But they will also want to give a push to the operationalisation of our cooperation in other areas, notably our ability to work together rapidly and effectively in meeting security challenges such as those presented by Afghanistan.

We have, of course, already seen a great deal of effective cooperation between NATO and its Partners in the Balkans. The events of 11 September have reinforced the logic of the Alliance's engagement in that region. The whole purpose of this engagement is to help create stable, sustainable, multi-ethnic democracies, in which there is no room for hatred, crime and terrorism to fester.

These next few weeks, both Foreign and Defence Ministers will no doubt want to reconfirm their intention to draw all the Balkan countries back into the European mainstream. The Allies remain firmly committed to assisting this reintegration process -- by providing the secure environment in which other international organisations can do their work and reconstruction can take place, but also by backing up diplomatic efforts with military force if needed, such as in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia this summer.

Integrating countries into the European mainstream also remains the prime objective of NATO's enlargement process. Decisions on new members are not for the forthcoming Ministerial meetings, but for a meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government to be held in Prague a year from now.

The nine countries that are declared aspirants to NATO membership know this. They also know that the Allies expect them to continue their focused efforts to prepare for possible future membership, making full use of the opportunities offered through our Membership Action Plan. Nonetheless, NATO Ministers will no doubt want to use the opportunity of their meetings this month to remind the aspirants of their commitments. They will, at the same time, wish to ensure that the Alliance adequately prepares itself -- politically and materially -- to assimilate new members.

One thing that I am sure Secretary General Robertson, for his part, will want to remind NATO Ministers of, is their commitment to improve the Alliance's military capabilities. The events of 11 September, and the military action that has followed them, have highlighted the urgency of the Defence Capabilities Initiative taken by NATO Heads of State and Government in 1999.

Our forces faced a multitude of different challenges -- from peacekeeping, through anti-terrorist operations to, ultimately, collective defence -- so they must have the best possible technology, and that requires adequate funding. No one is suggesting an excessive rush to fund security to the detriment of other vital government programmes. Just as before 11 September, preserving the security of our societies requires the right amount of spending, spent in the right way. But if there is one thing we should all have learned these last few months, it is that we must prepare not only for what we can predict, but also for what we cannot.

European capabilities, in particular, should be reinforced. Because they clearly lag far behind what the United States has to offer within the NATO context. And because this is the only way for European nations to provide substance to the so-called European Security and Defence Identity.

The events of 11 September are bound to lead, sooner or later, to a new discussion about a re-balancing of responsibilities between North America and Europe.

If that happens - when that happens - America's allies must be ready to give a decent answer. Showing political solidarity, as they did after the 11 September attacks, is only part of the answer. The strong European military presence in the Balkans, and the enormous financial investment the Europeans are making there, are also just parts of the answer. Ultimately, the answer must be more comprehensive. It must include a new European willingness to develop serious crisis management capabilities, with new military hardware. Secretary General Robertson will, I am sure, not hesitate to point this out as well.

Finally, 11 September, and the acts of bio-terrorism that have followed it, have also vindicated and given new impetus to the Alliance's efforts to counter the threat posed by the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Deliberations have intensified within the Alliance on how we can better assist national authorities in the protection of their populations against the dangers of a WMD attack. And because we realise that this is a problem which literally knows no boundaries, we have also initiated within the context of the EAPC the preparation of an inventory of national capabilities which could be made available to assist affected Allied or Partner countries in case of such an attack.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Just as our Chiefs of Defence Staffs a few weeks ago, our Foreign and Defence Ministers will have busy agendas when they meet here at NATO Headquarters in a few days, and terrorism will feature prominently on these agendas.

But Ministers will realise that preserving security and safety in this new age of uncertainty requires a comprehensive toolbox. The Alliance must also continue to build stronger relations with Russia and many other countries in Europe, and to help them with their evolution into modern, democratic and prosperous states. We must be able to handle our peacekeeping missions in the Balkans. And we must continue to reshape the transatlantic relationship, making it more balanced and better prepared -- materially as well as politically -- for the hard security challenges that will continue to emerge.

This is a daunting agenda, on top of the immediate demands related to the fight against terrorism. But one thing is certain : to meet all these various requirements is essential if we want to continue to ensure Euro-Atlantic security with the same success we have had for NATO's first five decades.

Thank you.

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