|Updated: 07-Dec-2001||NATO Speeches|
NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to this meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
You will see behind me a new symbol which may be unfamiliar to you. Earlier this year, we launched an international design competition for a flag that would symbolize our Partnership. This is the result, our new EAPC flag - designed by Janis Krievs from Latvia.
As we enter the 21st Century, we are facing new and complex challenges. But at the same time, we have new and more effective tools to meet those challenges. The EAPC and PfP, in particular, provide us with powerful mechanisms to act together, and that should give us great confidence as we face the challenges of today and tomorrow.
With these exact words I concluded my opening remarks at our last meeting, in Budapest in May. Little did I know at the time how soon we would indeed be confronted with a dramatic new challenge indiscriminate, ruthless, senseless acts of terrorism against our citizens, our freedom and our values.
In response to the 11 September terrorist attacks against the United States, you, the 46 member states of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, have demonstrated a strong resolve to fight the scourge of terrorism. The EAPC has been, and must continue to be, an essential pillar of the international coalition against terrorism.
The EAPC framework offers great potential for the better sharing of information, better co-ordination of practical activities, and the better protection of our populations against terrorism. The new EAPC Action Plan for 2002-2004 includes several new approaches in this regard, which I strongly commend for your endorsement.
Clearly, however, just as NATO has not focused solely on terrorism since 11 September, neither should this be the case for the EAPC. Stability in the Balkans, border security and defence reform are just some of the other issues that continue to warrant our attention. I would draw particular attention to our common achievements in the Balkans, including in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  where NATOs Task Forces Harvest and Fox have made a major contribution to avoiding a potentially destabilising crisis. There is a whole range of other common security challenges before us. But, fortunately, there is also considerable untapped potential in the EAPC to tackle them.
This year we celebrate a decade of Partnership and Cooperation. Almost exactly 10 years ago, in this same room, NATO Foreign Ministers held their first official meeting with colleagues from Central and Eastern Europe. We have come a long way, and we have every reason to be proud of what we have achieved. EAPC and PfP are, by all accounts, the most successful programme of international security cooperation ever attempted.
But we must look to the future. To a future in which our cooperation is broadened across the full spectrum of political and security issues, and deepened in practical ways that really meet the concrete interests of each of our nations. I am confident that our meeting here today will be another important step towards such a bright future, towards a true Euro-Atlantic community of peace and stability.