NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson
at the conference on
"International Security and the Fight Against Terrorism"
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking the Austrian authorities for taking the initiative
to host this conference. And I am very pleased indeed to see so many representatives
from NATO, Partner and Mediterranean Dialogue countries.
This broad participation reflects a simple fact. The new security challenges
in the international arena threaten us all - North America, Europe, Central
Asia, the Mediterranean region, and beyond. Terrorism is no longer a domestic
problem. It is now a threat to international security.
Defeating this challenge will require the broadest possible coalition,
and the deepest possible cooperation.
For me, today's event comes hard on the heels of critical NATO meetings
in Reykjavik, Rome and Brussels. Foreign Ministers, Presidents and Prime
Ministers, and Defence Ministers have successively addressed different
aspects of the Alliance's adaptation agenda. Their discussions relate
directly to our topics today.
So let me convey to you the same message that I heard at these meetings.
The international community must act against the scourge of terrorism
with a sense of urgency. That is why NATO is moving forward energetically,
on multiple fronts.
NATO's approach to all security issues is based on the concept of cooperative
security, the strong conviction that common security challenges must be
tackled by working together.
Terrorism is clearly such a common security challenge. As underlined
in UN Security Council Resolution 1373, terrorism requires a comprehensive
approach, one that unites the broadest possible coalition of nations,
but that also encompasses effective coordination between all of our international
NATO can contribute in a number of different ways. Its comparative advantage
is centred on its military clout, but it is certainly not limited to it.
Let me illustrate this by briefly setting out the scope of our current
The NATO Allies have first of all proved a strong political coalition,
united in their solidarity with the United States, and determined to help
fight terrorism. The invocation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty,
the Alliance's collective defence mechanism, was an
electrifying demonstration of this. It was followed up by the rapid deployment
of forces, including the NATO airborne early warning aircraft which spent
8 months patrolling American skies.
In the Balkans, the Allies have cracked down on a number of terrorist
cells, and made strong efforts to assist the countries in the region in
dealing with border security issues.
NATO has also proved its value as a platform for coalition operations.
The Allies are making key contributions to the two continuing operations
in Afghanistan - the US-led military operation against Al-Qaida, and the
International Security Assistance Force deployed in and around Kabul.
They are able to do so effectively only because of the years of developing
common procedures within the Alliance.
For the longer term, we are focusing more systematically on the protection
of our forces and populations against nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons, on the dangers of proliferation, and on ballistic missile defence.
And there is a concerted effort underway to sharpen the Alliance's terrorist-fighting
potential even further - including its procedures, its capabilities, and
its cooperation with Partner countries.
To bring all this together, NATO's Prague Summit in November is expected:
- to endorse a military concept for defence against terrorism;
- to outline NATO's role in managing the consequences of terrorist attacks;
- to affirm NATO's determination to act decisively against terrorism,
including supporting - on a case-by-case basis - future international
- to approve an Action Plan that will set out how NATO and Partner countries
can act against terrorism together.
Let me give you an idea of just how far-reaching these changes are in
practice. Take for example the political guidance for NATO's concept for
defence against terrorism:
Just last week, Defence Ministers decided that NATO should be ready to
help deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorist attacks, or
threat of attacks, directed from abroad against our populations, territory,
infrastructure and forces, including by acting against these terrorists
and those who harbour them.
Similarly, if requested, we should be ready to provide assistance to
national authorities in dealing with the consequences of terrorist attacks,
particularly where these involve chemical, biological, radiological or
We agreed that NATO should be ready to deploy its forces "as and
where required" to carry out such missions.
And we agreed that, following a case-by-case decision, NATO might provide
its assets and capabilities to support operations undertaken by or in
cooperation with the EU or other international organisations or coalitions
These are fundamentally important decisions, which give NATO a clear
way forward to tackle terrorism in a comprehensive way. Indeed, those
of you who recall the rigid debate about whether NATO had a role "out
of area" will recognise that this is a major shift of policy.
NATO is not about to become the world's policeman. But it can now be
used much more effectively in support of our common international fight
NATO is, of course, much more than an alliance of 19 nations. It sits
at the centre of a web of partnerships that allow us to engage and work
with a wide spectrum of countries throughout the Euro-Atlantic community
Our most comprehensive effort is that which pools the significant knowledge,
assets and capabilities of our 27 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Partners
with that which we have in NATO. Austria is an important contributor to
and beneficiary of this process.
It is no exageration to say that the EAPC is the world's largest and
most effective permanent coalition. At the political level, it was striking
that the EAPC statement in the wake of September 11 was as robust as that
of NATO itself.
At the practical level, we are already making good progress, notably
in sharing information on the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction,
and in compiling an inventory of capabilities for use in response to a
possible terrorist attack with such weapons.
The fight against terrorism is also a key priority for the newly created
NATO-Russia Council. The Rome Summit that created this Council was a truly
historic occasion, bringing an end to half a century of confrontation
and mutual suspicion. The fight against terrorism is a key component of
the new relationship, starting with a joint NATO?Russia assessment of
the terrorist threat to our peacekeeping forces in the Balkans.
Finally, NATO's seven Mediterranean Partners have also stood with us
since 11 September. We owe it to them - and to ourselves - to enhance
our Mediterranean Dialogue by injecting it with further opportunities
for practical cooperation, including in the fight against terrorism. And
that is something we are also actively developing.
Cooperative security means more than developing relations between NATO
and like-minded countries. It means good working ties with international
organisations operating in the same or similar fields. The terrorists
do not respect bureaucratic distinctions. Neither should we.
What does this mean in practice for NATO's cooperation with the UN, the
OSCE and the EU? Like NATO, these organisations are evolving all the time,
and that means that we must be pragmatic rather than dogmatic.
NATO certainly has taken a pragmatic approach. There are frequent working
level contacts between NATO staff and UN, OSCE and EU to explore the scope
for further cooperation. And on the ground in the Balkans there is a real
and effective working partnership.
The UN has an obvious general oversight role, notably in the implementation
of UN Security Council Resolution 1373. We had Sir Jeremy Greenstock,
the Chairman of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee, at NATO HQ last week
for a very useful discussion with the North Atlantic Council.
One of the things that emerged from that discussion is that NATO is particularly
well?placed to help tackle the intersection between terrorism and trans-national
organised crime, including the illegal movement of nuclear, biological
and chemical materials.
As far as the OSCE is concerned, I welcome the identification by the
Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on Terrorism of
policing, border monitoring, anti-trafficking and financing, as areas
where this organisation can make a particularly valuable contribution.
Within the framework of the Platform for Cooperative Security, NATO and
OSCE staff are exploring how we can better work together in the fight
against terrorism. Given the considerable overlap in membership, the delineation
of efforts between the OSCE and the EAPC clearly is one thing we have
to keep a close eye on.
Meanwhile, NATO's relationship with the EU continues to take shape. The
fight against terrorism is obviously high on the agenda of the growing
number of meetings between our organisations, at various levels. And a
NATO-EU Foreign Ministers' meeting in Reykjavik last month reaffirmed
the importance of cooperation in this area.
Civil Emergency Planning has emerged as a particularly promising avenue
for practical cooperation, given the considerable expertise and capabilities
available through NATO on this issue, and the possibility of involving
Home Affairs and other Ministries and Agencies in the EU context.
Henry Kissinger wrote recently that we should turn tragedy into opportunity.
September 11th has given us the opportunity to break down for good out-dated
or ideological barriers between former foes and international organizations.
In responding to the threat of terrorism, cooperation is not just the
best way forward - it is the only way forward. That is why events like
this, which spread mutual understanding and the culture of cooperation
across the international community, are so important.