Updated: 14-May-2002 NATO Speeches

7 Dec. 2001


by Toomas Hendrik Ilves,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
At the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the last ministerial meeting we have had to face significant changes in our security environment. Previous threats and challenges have not disappeared, but new ones have arisen, which have not been addressed by us in the past with adequate concern.

We see a paradigm shift: security risks previously considered "soft security" issues, like organised crime, money laundering, drugs, corruption, illegal immigration etc have acquired the meaning of "hard security issues".

The fight against terrorism is only partly a military challenge, it also includes co-operation in the judicial sphere and close collaboration among police, border-guard and other law-enforcement establishments. In order to facilitate the functioning of one of the crucial components of this fight, we need to reconsider another paradigm: information exchange. The horizontal flow of information - contacts between similar departments in different countries are established and are functioning rather well, but we do sometimes lack the vertical vector. It makes sense to collect the available information inside the country, to analyse it and then pass it to members of coalition, assuring this way that the set of information is comprehensive.

There are several initiatives to fight terrorism: in the framework of EAPC we have an EAPC action plan on enhancing co-operation in the fight against terrorism. We also have aligned ourselves with the EU Plan Of Action to combat terrorism. The OSCE also has a plan, in Warsaw the CEE and SEE countries also adopted a relevant Action Plan. We have worked out Joint measures among the Baltic countries. This demonstrates the willingness and certainty of partners to participate in the process each according to their capabilities and possibilities. The main challenge is how to implement all these plans and measures in an effective manner. In other words, the operative word in all these action plans and plans of action should be action.

Estonia, together with other partners, has associated itself with NATO's invocation of art. 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and supports the US in protecting itself and its allies. We must all ensure that the operations conducted by the anti-terrorist coalition will cut off the very basis of terrorism.

We applaud and encourage the further engagement of Russia in the Euro-Atlantic partnership and enhancement of co-operation between NATO and Russia. The horrifying events of this autumn have enabled us to make a clear distinction between the real and artificial problems in the Euro-Atlantic area. It is clear that NATO's enlargement process is a non-confrontational issue with a clear win-win element for every EAPC member.

NATO and partner countries involvement and co-operation with other international organisations in the Balkans has been a crucial element in achieving success of the latest elections in Kosovo and supporting the democratisation process there as well as settling the dispute in Macedonia.

To conclude, I would like to re-iterate the importance of the impact of processes in the South Caucasus region on overall Euro-Atlantic security situation. We should consider the possible spill-over of these conflicts. We do note the recent agreement between the presidents of Russia and Georgia in CIS summit on concluding the treaty on principles of bilateral relations next Spring. Estonia is ready to continue its participation in the border-monitoring mission of OSCE in Georgia. EAPC also should continue to focus on regional matters in the Central Asia region.

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