Updated: 07-Dec-2001 NATO Speeches

7 Dec. 2001


by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic
H.E. Mr. Eduard Kukan
at the EAPC Foreign Ministers Meeting

Dear Secretary General, Dear Colleagues,

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the creation of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), which was succeeded by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in May 1997. NACC was created on the debris of the Cold War at the time when euphoria over newly found freedom was mixed with concerns connected with uncertainty about the future. At the time when the Soviet Union was falling to pieces, former foes created a forum within the North Atlantic Alliance for conducting a dialogue on security policy with the aim to prevent chaos and instability after the dissolution of the Soviet bloc.

Over the years, this cooperation has proved its value on many occasions. It created the basis for mutual trust, which is a necessary prerequisite for joint action in addressing crises and conflicts in the Euro-Atlantic area. Thanks to the EAPC, we are now better equipped for dealing with new challenges of the 21st century, we are more flexible, more open. Slovakia is an active participant of NATO led peace operations in the Balkans (KFOR and SFOR). It contributes to the activities of the EAPC and will continue to do so also after its entry into the Alliance.

For the aspiring countries, the Membership Action Plan is not only a tool for developing their military capabilities. It is a programme for comprehensive transformation of the entire system, contributing to strengthening our security and our ability to respond to new threats in every respect. It opens up the road towards expansion of the Alliance, thus representing a decisive instrument for strengthening the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area as a whole. Also thanks to MAP the Slovak Republic is prepared to face the threat of terrorism in a more effective and flexible manner.

The events of September 11 came as a great shock for the international community. The strongest superpower in the world proved to be equally vulnerable as any other country. Appalling and barbaric terrorist attacks on targets in the United States clearly showed the world what is the biggest threat of this century. Terrorism, which — in some quarters of the globe — had been discussed only as a hypothetical threat and was mentioned in the predictions of political scientists, showed its true face with a vengeance and took the lives of thousands of innocent victims. It was not only due to the media coverage that we all felt as if we were all inside the World Trade Center. The reality exceeded by far even our worst nightmares, and we came to realise that we are facing an enemy who threatens the most basic values of our civilisation.

The fight against terrorism is calling and will call for concrete actions and maybe sacrifices. It will take a long struggle, the struggle we all will have to engage in. We all have an opportunity to prove today that we know how to defend actively freedom, democracy and lives of our citizens. The only effective strategy is one employing a multidimensional approach, because reliance on military means alone is clearly not sufficient. It is necessary to mobilise all the resources — political, economic, intelligence as well as military — for, only in this way, can we counter the enemy whose face we do not know, yet who lives in our midst.

Coordinated international cooperation is the only possible answer to the threat of terrorism. However, global fight against terrorism requires also regional initiatives specifically taylored for individual regions. As an example, one can mention the Action Plan of the Fight against Terrorism, adopted by the presidents of the states of Central, Southern, and South-eastern Europe on 6 November 2001 at the Warsaw conference.

Slovakia has joined the antiterrorist coalition: it opened its air space for NATO aircraft within the framework of the operation Enduring Freedom, and provides humanitarian assistance. We have acceded to the EU Action Plan of the Fight against Terrorism, we verify procedures and mechanisms of exporting arms and dual-use goods, conduct surveillance of suspicious banking transactions and groups of drug smugglers that could be linked to various international terrorist groups.

The phenomenon of terrorism in globalised world requires a thorough examination of its causes. It is often fuelled by ethnic and religious intolerance, which crosses national borders and continents. We must, therefore, take a forward-looking approach and identify the risks even before they become apparent, eliminate the causes of possible threats before it is too late. Also in this area, investment into prevention is more effective than necessity to deal with the consequences of conflicts, after they escalate.

The fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan is not the beginning of the end; it is just the end of the beginning. The international community must continuously be involved in the process of building more stable and democratic Afghanistan, which will not fall back to the pre-Taliban situation where different power factions and warlords fought one another for years in a dragging civil war. May I repeat again that democracy and stability of the country are the best prerequisites for prosperity, and prosperity of the country is the most effective obstacle to terrorism.

The EAPC format is adequately representative for addressing this global topic: the topic of the fight against terrorism should become one of the priorities of this forum, with emphasis on the political and political-military instruments of prevention. Improved relations between NATO and Russia, bold stance of Central Asian governments, participation of EAPC countries in the antiterrorist coalition, these are promising stepping stones for an effective use of the EAPC as an important multilateral instrument to address the new security challenges.

The new era ushered in by the events of September 11 has brought certain changes. It has also enhanced an effective cooperation between the Alliance and the Russian Federation, raising their mutual relations to a qualitatively much higher level than ever before. This unprecedented cooperation leads to overcoming, only partly as yet, but maybe finally in the near future, the thinking of the Cold War era. The need to take action has led to a partnership between the Alliance and Russia; it has led to the realisation that, rather than representing a danger for Russia, NATO enlargement at the time of common threat of terrorism could, through expanding the zone of stability, strengthen security also on Russian borders.

We welcome intensive cooperation between the Alliance and Russia in the fight against terrorism, in the control and dissemination of weapons of mass destruction, and in the stabilisation of the situation in the Balkans. In these and other areas, Russia is an important factor of success. Nevertheless, I would like to stress the need to pay more attention to these issues also within the EAPC framework, which also has the potential to make a relevant contribution to addressing these problems. I would also like to put into consideration the proposal to open possibility for EAPC countries to associate with the decisions of the emerging format of the enhanced NATO/Russia cooperation. |

It seems that the war in Afghanistan overshadows the Balkans in the attention of the world media. However, ceasing to speak about a problem does not make it disappear. This is why we continue to attach great significance to stabilising the situation in western Balkans, where extremism and ethnic intolerance are important sources of conflict. Thanks to tremendous efforts of the international community, progress was made and the situation was gradually brought under control and stabilised. Recent achievements include the conduct and results of elections in Kosovo and the passage of all constitutional amendments by the Macedonian Parliament.

Elections in Kosovo were successful, and no major problems were recorded. The international community - NATO, the OSCE, the European Union, the Council of Europe, together with people of Kosovo, should be given credit for the fair and democratic course of elections. I am happy to inform you that 137 election observers from Slovakia, present in the region under the OSCE auspices, formed the second largest representation and their experience greatly contributed to the successful conduct of elections. Nevertheless, and it needs to be stressed, this was not an election about independence for Kosovo — the post-election development in the country may in no case go against international agreements and UN Security Council Resolution Nol244. It was an election about the democratisation of the situation, and we do not want it to lead to creating new borders and hotbeds of tension.

We give our support to the operation Amber Fox, and welcome the general amnesty, as well as the decision of the Macedonian Parliament to adopt constitutional amendments in harmony with Ohrid Accord. We are, however, still concerned about and sharply condemn violent acts of Albanian extremists directed against the legitimate Macedonian government.

The developments after September 11 reaffirmed our conviction that we must take a much more active and consistent stance in the face of new security and political risks and their causes then before. The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council has clearly the potential to respond to this challenge and to contribute to strengthening stability in the regions facing the greatest risks. The Slovak Republic is ready to take an active part in addressing this long-term task within the EAPC framework.

Thank you for your attention

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