and NATO -- Facing New Challenges
by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson
at a conference organised by the Aspen Institute
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank the Aspen Institute for organising this event,
with support by the International Staff of NATO, the Ukrainian
Government and the German Minister of Defence. I also would
like to thank our Ukrainian friends for sending such a high
ranking delegation. I am also grateful to the Allies for being
represented at such a senior level. This conference truly shows
how important the NATO-Ukraine relationship really is for all
For this reason I have been looking forward to coming here
to share with you my views on the NATO-Ukraine relationship
and the challenges it faces. And my interest grew even stronger
when I saw mention on the programme of "security sector
reform". This, as you know, is a subject on which I could
speak forever. But I promise I will be brief this afternoon,
or we will all miss the dinner that Minister Scharping is kindly
hosting for us this evening in the prestigious Reichstag building.
As to the importance of the NATO-Ukraine relationship as such,
I don't have to say much: it is self-evident. Ukraine occupies
a pivotal geo-strategic position -- bridging East and West,
bordering two NATO Allies as well as, of course, Russia. That
is why Ukraine's steadfast determination to consolidate itself
as a viable nation-state -- by pursuing democratic and economic
reforms, an enlightened policy on ethnic minorities, and good
relations with all of its neighbours -- is so important to us
all. We have given it our support -- and we will continue to
On 9 July we will celebrate five years of Distinctive Partnership
between NATO and Ukraine. The North Atlantic Council will travel
to Kyiv on that occasion for a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission
at Ambassadorial level. In reaching such a milestone, it is
certainly useful to look back at what has been achieved, as
well as to look ahead at what is still outstanding, desirable
and possible in our relationship.
Generally speaking, when looking back over these past five
years, I think we have much to be pleased about. They have been
five years of steady progress, of closer political engagement,
and more substantial and effective cooperation.
Certainly in its foreign policy orientation, Ukraine has made
many wise choices -- even before we concluded our Distinctive
Partnership in 1997. Early on, Ukraine decided to adhere to
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons
state. It then managed to resolve the thorny Black Sea Fleet
issue with Russia. And it concluded groundbreaking bilateral
treaties with its other neighbours.
These were all early indications of Ukraine's strong determination
to pursue an active and cooperative approach to its own security
and that of the Euro-Atlantic community.
More recently, this constructive approach has also been on
display in the Balkans. We all remember how you stood with NATO
when it launched its Kosovo air campaign, despite significant
pressures to follow a different course. And your participation
in the international community's peacekeeping efforts in the
Balkans -- in addition to affirming your foreign policy orientation
-- has been valuable in a number of other respects as well.
It has helped the cause of peace and stability in that war-torn
region. It has also helped to familiarise Ukrainian forces with
those of the Alliance and other Partners, and to enhance their
interoperability. And it has helped the NATO alliance -- in
mounting and sustaining military operations in various Balkan
theatres, and engaging Ukraine in a frank and open assessment
of security in the Balkans and how we should foster it.
Crises are a test of commitment -- and September 11th was
a test for us all. In the wake of 11 September, Ukraine has
been steadfast. It has shown a keen awareness of the threat
which terrorism poses to our common security -- a realisation
that this security threat, as well, requires a cooperative response
-- and a determination to work with NATO and the rest of the
international community in fighting this scourge.
Let me assure our Ukrainian friends that we have been heartened
by their early positive response to NATO's invocation of Article
5, and the constructive attitude that they have subsequently
taken in supporting the campaign against terrorism.
The record of the past years, until today, is clear. In its
foreign and security policy orientation, Ukraine has followed
a steady course. NATO, for its part, has been committed to supporting
this orientation -- through high level statements of support,
political and expert level consultations on issues of common
concern, and by not only encouraging but actually facilitating
Ukraine's participation in our common efforts in the Balkans.
But the scope of our Distinctive Partnership is wider than
foreign and security policy per se. It also enables NATO to
assist Ukraine in tackling some of its most challenging reform
projects. And I am sure you would agree that in this area, progress
has not met all of our expectations. The road to full economic
and democratic reform is long, hard and not yet complete.
One crucial domestic challenge is security sector reform --
the main subject of your discussion earlier this afternoon.
My views on this subject are clear. In the post Cold War security
environment -- and especially following 11 September -- Cold
War forces are simply a waste of money. Oversized and ill-structured
forces not only fail to fulfil the military tasks we demand
of them. They are also a burden on the economy and, hence, on
other areas of domestic reform.
For all these reasons, security sector reform must be a central
element of political and economic transformation. Now I know
full well that this kind of reform is painful. All over the
world the military is said to be an institution that traditionally
resists change. But judging from my own experience as British
Defence Minister -- and I am sure the NATO Defence Ministers
around the table will agree -- military reforms can be carried
through if they are well thought out, and if the military is
given a clear perspective of the way ahead.
Over the past several years, we -- NATO Allies and Ukraine
-- have done a considerable amount of conceptual work, in particular
in the context of the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence
Reform. Most recently, work has focused on translating aspects
of the "State Programme of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Reform
and Development until 2005" into a total of 80 achievable
and affordable objectives. And at the moment, we are examining
how existing PfP tools and resources may be used to support
and reinforce Ukrainian efforts to meet these objectives.
This year we have to move from planning reforms to actually
implementing them. I therefore strongly urge our Ukrainian friends
to push ahead with reform, and encourage the Allies to make
an extra effort to assist them.
I already noted that security sector reform inevitably has
painful consequences -- military lose their jobs, bases are
closed, excess military equipment needs to be destroyed, etc.
We are not neglecting these consequences, and indeed have several
projects in place to ease their negative effects. For example,
since 1999, NATO and NATO members have been running courses
for former military personnel. To date, more than 200 officers
and warrant officers have been re-trained, of which some 70
per cent have already found new employment.
We are also helping the Ukrainian authorities with the problem
of base closures, and in drafting their national conversion
programme. And we are supporting a project for the destruction
of half a million Anti Personnel Landmines.
Another important characteristic of our efforts in the area
of Security Sector reform is that they are not limited to the
Armed Forces, but also include the Border Guard and Interior
Troops. This is not just because, like the Armed Forces, these
are sizeable structures that are in need of streamlining. It
is an attempt to help gear Ukraine's forces to a security environment
in which they have little to fear from any of their neighbours,
but must come to grips with newer security threats such as crime
and terrorism, and drug and weapons trafficking.
Taking such a broad approach is necessary, but it also complicates
matters. Because it means that more Ministries, Agencies and
individuals are involved. There will be greater reluctance,
greater bureaucratic inertia. There is no doubt in my mind,
however, that tough choices will eventually have to be made
anyway. Making them later will not make them easier. It will
only make them more expensive -- and even more painful.
As I already said at the beginning of my remarks, NATO stands
ready to continue to support Ukraine. But let me be very clear:
In no way can foreign assistance be a substitute for a nation's
own reform efforts. How fast and close Ukraine will move towards
its European partners will be determined by the seriousness
with which it tackles the double challenge it faces: continuing
its successful foreign policy orientation and moving ahead with
genuine domestic reform in all areas which make for a truly
modern society, ready to cope with the winds of globalisation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is crucially important that Ukraine meets this double challenge.
Because after September 11th, we know that geography is no longer
security. Threats come from afar, and they bypass borders. No
tank will keep out terrorists. No passport office can stop the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And no fighter
plane is useful when faced with thousands or even millions of
refugees fleeing a nearby conflict.
These are international threats to our common security. To
meet them, we need effective multinational cooperation, across
a whole range of fronts, if we are to be successful. And that
includes having affordable armed forces that are structured,
equipped and trained to work with those of other countries.
NATO has already begun its own internal process of adaptation.
The Alliance is hard at work examining ways to improve military
capabilities to defend and strike against terrorists, and to
develop our forces' ability to protect themselves against weapons
of mass destruction. In parallel, we are looking at how best
to use unique military skills and capabilities more effectively
to protect our populations, and to assist in civil emergencies.
Our aim is to have a significant package of adaptations to meet
this new threat in place by the NATO Summit meeting in Prague
But NATO is not enough. We need our Partners. Over the past
decade, NATO's Partnership initiatives have paid off their investment
many times over. Partnership for Peace, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership
Council, and our special relationships with Ukraine and Russia,
have changed the face of European security. They have become
political and military instruments for serious crisis management,
as we see every day in our operations in the Balkans. And they
have sowed the seeds of a true Euro-Atlantic security culture.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States,
the 46 countries of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council proved
to be the world's largest permanent coalition, staunch in their
condemnation of criminal violence and robust in their defence
against its perpetrators. We want to ensure that that value
is retained, and enhanced, for all concerned.
Some of the contours of a post-Prague Partnership are already
becoming visible. Combating terrorism will play a more prominent
role. And Partnership is an increasingly important means to
address security sector reform. But more needs to be done. This
is a challenge for NATO members and Partners alike. Together,
we must ensure that our Partnerships remains as relevant, and
as useful, in meeting new threats as it has proven to be until
now. The Prague Summit will be an important moment to mark these
important steps as well.
Indeed, the Prague Summit will be transformational right across
NATO's Agenda. We will move the enlargement process forward,
to bring more countries into the zone of total security that
NATO represents. We will continue to deepen our relations with
Ukraine and Russia, to build on new opportunities for cooperation.
And we will take concrete steps to improve our defence capabilities
within NATO -- and in particular, in Europe.
The choice for the Europeans is, in a sense, the same as it
is for Ukraine: modernisation or marginalisation. So the European
and Canadian NATO colleagues here today will not be surprised
that I also use this opportunity to, once again, sound my clarion
call of "capabilities, capabilities, capabilities".
Because we absolutely must make sure we can at least work together,
in NATO or in coalitions. The results of failure, for all of
us, would be stark. An inability to work together. And an inability
to preserve our security. Neither solution is acceptable.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
"Ukraine" means "borderland". In the past,
this might have been an appropriate name for a country situated
at the threshold of Asia. But today, geography is no longer
destiny. Where you sit on the map does not determine where you
stand as a nation. Ukraine has ceased to be a borderland. It
has become a respected player in the new European system --
making a real contribution to meeting the security challenges
we all face.
I encourage our Ukrainian friends to continue in that direction
-- and to redouble their efforts. In the aftermath of 11 September,
none of us has the luxury to be complacent. Each one of our
countries must make the reforms necessary to be able to work
with its partners, and to make an effective contribution. Those
efforts are underway in NATO, in the European Union, and across
Europe. Like all of our countries, Ukraine must ensure that
it does not get left behind.
NATO stands ready to assist Ukraine's efforts. NATO and Ukraine
will continue on the path of partnership and cooperation.