Updated: 03-Jul-2002 NATO Speeches

3 July 2002

Farewell remarks

by the Secretary General
for the Chairman of the Military Committee with CHODS

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In some fields of work, once you get to the top, you can relax. Admiral Venturoni certainly made it to the top. But the position of Chairman of NATO's Military Committee has never had the privilege to relax.

From the moment General Omar Bradley first took up the post in 1949, the Chairman of the Military Committee has always had a delicate and difficult job. To provide guidance to the NATO Commanders. To lead the Military Committee's long term planning. To make recommendations on the use of military force. And most difficult of all, to explain complex military issues to diplomats and politicians.

These are the traditional tasks of any Chairman. But you, Admiral Venturoni, faced challenges no Chairman of the Military Committee has ever encountered before. The events of September 11th demanded an historic response from the Alliance. The declaration and implementation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty took place under your watch.

Since then, NATO has provided unprecedented support to the United States, including acting in North America for the first time with the deployment of NATO AWACs, breaking up terrorist cells in the Balkans and backing up Allied efforts in Central Asia. All new missions for the Alliance. All carried out flawlessly, thanks in no small part to your leadership and guidance.

For this contribution alone, Admiral, you have earned NATO's gratitude. But of course, you have contributed to so much of NATO's broad agenda. Much of your time has been devoted to our operations in the Balkans. You took up your position as Chairman at the height of the Kosovo crisis, which was a real baptism of fire. The successful conclusion of NATO's first major military operation, the Kosovo air campaign, was an historic accomplishment for the Alliance and you personally.

You were subsequently closely involved in KFOR and in the Alliance's operations in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia . And it was in recognition of these particular efforts that I awarded you two NATO medals in the North Atlantic Council this morning.

But you can take credit for NATO's success in many other areas as well: the development of our practical cooperation with Russia and other Partner nations; the deepening of practical relations with the European Union; managing the next round of enlargement; and of course, helping to guide the quickening development of NATO's military capabilities - all of these landmarks, and many others, have been shaped and guided in no small part by you as Chairman of the Military Committee.

The Prague Summit, this November, will mark a milestone in NATO's transformation. And while you will not be there as Chairman of the Military Committee, your mark will certainly be felt. Because over the past three years, you have laid the groundwork to ensure that this great Alliance enters 2003 fighting fit and ready to take on the challenges of the future.

Admiral Venturoni, you are retiring after 50 years of distinguished military service to your country and to NATO. You will now embark upon a very richly deserved retirement. I would say that you deserve the relaxation, but I know that you have nine grandchildren, and I expect that they will keep you and Giuliana quite busy. They might even prove more of a challenge than the North Atlantic Council!

So let me simply thank you, on behalf of the North Atlantic Council, for your distinguished service, and wish you and Giuliana a very happy future. We owe you much and you will always be in our memories.


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