Deputy Secretary General
Ladies and Gentlemen
Ambassador Alessandro Minuto Rizzo
at the Conference on
"Governing Stability Across the Mediterranean Sea:
a Transatlantic Perspective"
Let me start by noting what a pleasure it is for me to be
here. It is of course always a pleasure to be in my native Italy.
But I have also been looking forward to this conference, because
it deals with such an important subject, not just from the point
of view of the NATO Alliance, which I represent.
Given that NATO is my "professional home", as it
were, let me say a few words about NATO's current political
agenda first, before I turn to the Mediterranean. At the moment,
the Alliance is busy preparing for a Summit meeting of Heads
of State and Government in Prague in November. The challenge
before us is to demonstrate that we are able to deal with the
kind of security threats we were confronted with on 11 September,
and to move forward the successful policy agenda NATO already
had prior to that date.
NATO's enlargement has been one important item on this policy
agenda for the better part of the last decade. NATO leaders
are committed to inviting one or more new members in Prague.
The inclusion of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland into
NATO three years ago made NATO stronger, and Europe more stable
and more secure. The next round of NATO enlargement should have
an equally positive effect.
This will be more than a simple process of selection. Managing
enlargement also means keeping the door open for future members,
and it entails continued engagement with all our Partners, whether
they aspire to NATO membership or not. These are also important
goals for Prague.
Even before Prague, we hope to have in place a new framework
that will allow NATO and Russia to go beyond consultation --
and to be able to work constructively together on all the issues
where we have what President Putin calls "the logic of
common interests". We are working hard to reach agreement
with Russia on such a framework, and even though there are some
difficult issues to resolve, I am confident that we will succeed
simply because the logic is undeniable.
As we move towards Prague, ensuring that NATO has the right
capabilities to deal with future challenges is perhaps the toughest
job of all, particularly for the European Allies. Few European
countries are currently able to deploy and sustain effective
forces in significant numbers outside their borders. Unless
this deficiency is remedied, the transatlantic burden-sharing
debate is bound to get more acrimonious, and NATO is likely
Hence, the Prague Summit should demonstrate that measures
within the Alliance to prop up defence capabilities have begun
to yield results, and that these efforts are tying in with the
European Union's implementation of an effective Security and
Defence Policy. A greater European role in stabilising the Balkans
would be a further demonstration that European nations are serious
about their own security, and that fair transatlantic burden
sharing is not just a noble aspiration, but an emerging reality.
The events of 11 September and their aftermath have only underlined
the need to improve our capabilities. Clearly, the fight against
terrorism requires a broad approach in which military means
are just one element. But as Afghanistan has shown, military
means are important. And this means that the Alliance, as the
world's most effective military organisation, has a role to
We are hard at work to maximise the Alliance's terrorist fighting
potential. Intelligence sharing among the Allies is being increased.
Their defence capabilities are being reviewed to tailor them
more specifically to the requirements of combating terrorism.
We are also focusing more systematically on the dangers of weapons
of mass destruction, on the protection of our forces and populations
against these lethal weapons, and on ballistic missile defence.
There is one further, important element of our response to
terrorism, and that is our interest in engaging our partners
- not just the 27 that form part of our Euro-Atlantic Partnership
Council, but also the seven that take part in our Mediterranean
Dialogue. And that leads me to some more specific remarks about
the importance of the Mediterranean region to the Alliance.
The Mediterranean has always played a significant part in
the European security equation. Still, during the Cold War,
the focus of our attention was on the so-called Central Region.
And accordingly, the Mediterranean region was seen as the "Southern
Flank". Luckily, the period of bipolarity is now safely
behind us and with it the notion of the Mediterranean as --
merely -- NATO's "Southern Flank".
At the same time, however, the Gulf War, the break-up of Yugoslavia
and -- most recently -- the threat of terrorism, have all shown
that security and stability in and around Europe is still very
much a work in progress. These developments have also reinforced
the notion that security in Europe is linked to security in
the Mediterranean region. And they have led the Alliance to
focus more specifically on the region as one with unique characteristics
and dynamics -- and presenting specific security challenges.
So what are some of these broad characteristics that apply
-- to a lesser or greater extent -- to countries throughout
the region, and what kind of a security challenge do they present?
Let me mention five problem areas.
A first, very distinct problem is the rift between Europe
and the Mediterranean region in terms of their democratic and
economic development: simply put, an open and affluent North
-- and a poor, underdeveloped South. Since 1986, the per capita
income in Middle Eastern and North African countries has fallen
by some 2 per cent annually. This is the largest decline in
any developing region. At the same time, the population growth
rate in this region is 2.5 per cent per year. The results are
obvious: high unemployment rates, particularly among the younger
generation, and, consequently, migration out of these countries
and -- for the most part -- into Europe. At the moment, about
six million immigrants from the Maghreb region alone reside
in the European Union.
A second, related, problem is the persistence of a several
regional tensions. The end of the East-West conflict ended the
Soviet influence on several countries in the regions, and this
offered new opportunities to resolve such tensions. However,
to date, more than ten years after the Cold War, disputes still
continue about the future of the Western Sahara, Cyprus, and
-- most importantly -- the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.
The UN Peacekeeping forces deployed in these three areas have
been there for decades, and will probably be there for many
more years to come.
Of all these problems, the unresolved Middle East crisis stands
out. More than any other conflict, it has implications that
go far beyond its point of origin. Because without a serious
Middle East peace process, a major obstacle to sound relations
between the Western and Arab worlds will remain. And clearly,
given the emergence of the terrorist threat, such a normalisation
of relations is now more urgent than ever.
A third problem are limited resources. Most people may still
think in terms of oil and gas, yet some experts predict that
the struggle for water could become one of the major sources
for conflict in the 21st century. Indeed, although water is
a much sought-after resource, no internationally binding legal
norms exist for its distribution. And the Mediterranean region
is very much affected by this problem. For example, Israel,
Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria all get their water from the Jordan
basin. And both Palestinians and Jewish settlers on the West
Bank depend on ground water that is underneath a strip of land
that is highly contested.
The fourth problem I want to mention is proliferation. Some
countries along the Mediterranean shores are believed to be
acquiring weapons of mass destruction. We must be prudent in
our analysis and refrain from the simplistic suggestion that
this quest results from the South's challenge of the North,
or from a contest between civilisations. It is clear to serious
analysts that the rationale for acquiring these weapons is in
itself largely caused by regional circumstances. But the example
of Iraq, a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, demonstrates
the difficulties of preventing a determined government from
acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
A fifth and final problem I want to mention -- I need to mention
-- is terrorism. Let me stress right away that this is obviously
not a specifically Mediterranean phenomenon, nor one linked
with any particular religious beliefs. It is clear, at the same
time that whereas open societies can cope with the speed of
progress and globalisation -- and indeed are the engines behind
such progress -- closed, undemocratic states find it difficult
to provide their people with even the basic needs of modern
life. And the lack of democratic and economic reforms that I
already mentioned, combined with a lack of fundamental freedoms
and human rights, all provide a fertile breeding ground for
terrorism in many parts of the Mediterranean.
So those are some of the broad security challenges presented
by the Mediterranean region. It is clear that most of them derive
from weakness and fragmentation rather than strength. And there
can be no doubt that worsening socio-economic conditions are
the greatest challenge of all.
This, in turn, points to the European Union as the international
organisation most suitable to foster co-operative relations
in the Mediterranean region and between the region and the rest
of Europe. The EU offers what the region undoubtedly needs most:
That said, however, It is equally clear that the EU alone
could not deal with the scope and the diversity of the Mediterranean
region. Furthermore, the EU does not include several key players
in Mediterranean security, notably Turkey and the United States.
In order for the Mediterranean to become a more stable, prosperous
region, it is therefore logical for other institutional players
to play their part as well. And one of these players is NATO.
The Alliance has, from the mid-1990s onwards, adopted a differentiated
approach to Mediterranean security. And through the Mediterranean
Dialogue that we launched in 1994, we currently offer opportunities
for both political consultation and practical co-operation in
a wide range of areas to a total of seven non-NATO Mediterranean
countries -- Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco
Let me stress that our Dialogue is not a one-way street. It
is not all about NATO Allies trying to win over the Dialogue
Partners to their vision of security. The Dialogue is as much
a vehicle for the Allies to learn about the concerns and aspirations
of the Mediterranean countries, as vice versa. And this channel
of communication, this two-way street, has only become more
important after 11 September.
At a time when NATO is gearing up to be better able to deal
with terrorism, we realise full well that this is another security
challenge that threatens Allies and non-Allies alike, and that
requires a co-operative approach. That is why, in responding
to terrorism and facing up to other security challenges, we
attach so much importance to engaging all our partners -- our
27 European partners as well as the 7 partners in our Mediterranean
And that is also why NATO will continue to sponsor gatherings
such as the meeting you have had here these last few days. I
hope that you have found it of use to your work, and that you
have enjoyed it as well.