Updated: 18-Sep-2002 NATO Speeches

18 Sep. 2002


Bruselas, 18 de septiembre de 2002

Mr. Secretary General, distinguished Ambassadors:

I truly appreciate the opportunity which has been provided to me to attend today a regular meeting of the North Atlantic Council and to be able to be present at your deliberations.

My visit to NATO is part of a tour intended to update my own on important defence and security issues in the Euro-Atlantic area. My presence in this session of the North Atlantic Council will allow me to have a first hand experience on how the Alliance proceeds in its everyday Work.

In addition to NATO. Headquarters here in Brussels my program has taken me to SHAPE in Mons, where I had the opportunity to meet SACEUR and the Spanish Military officers who posted there. From Brussels I will fly to Geilenkirchen in Germany to visit the NATO Airborne Early Warning fleet which made a substantial contribution to Alliance solidarity patrolling the US air space in the aftermath of the September 11 events. I will also go to AFSOUTH in Naples which is so efficiently commanding NATO operations in the Balkans. Then, I will travel to the Balkan region to spend some time with the Spanish troops on duty there and to receive from SFOR and KFOR, Commanders a first hand impression on the key contribution those NATO contingents are making to stabilize that region.

It is 10 years now since I last visited this Organization. Many things have. dramatically changed since then: The last remnants of the Cold War have been buried, NATO has taken in new members and is poised for a new round of enlargement, it has developed new and solid partnerships with former opponents and with other countries of the Euro-Atlantic area, it has effectively responded to the security challenges of the 90's in the Balkan region and it has invoked, for the first time in its history, Article V as a response to the September 11 attacks on the United States.

However, it is clear that one of the main features of this Organization remains and will remain essentially the same: NATO is a defence community deeply committed to safe guarding the freedom and security of all Its members. It is determined to act to provide security and to ensure a just and lasting peaceful order in the Euro-Atlantic Area while preserving, our common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Through the years NATO has emerged as the most reliable defence and security Organization and has shown a unique capability to adapt to the changing security environment and to face new risks and threats.

Spain is a Euro-Atlantic nation by geography and by history. We have been closely related to the Americas since the end of 15" century and we are aware of the utmost importance the transatlantic link has today for all of us in NATO as a key feature at the core of our Alliance.

At the same time Spain, as part of Europe, is playing an important role in the process of European integration and has a keen interest in European security issues. That is Why my current tour will also bring me to the European Institutions here in Brussels, namely the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the European Union, to get a sense on how the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) is developing and which are its future prospects and challenges. I will also visit the EUROFOR and the EUROCORPS Headquarters in Florence and Strasbourg, respectively.

Along with its Atlantic and European credentials, Spain is, indeed, a Mediterranean nation and, in that sense, 'we truly appreciate the interest that NATO has been showing in recent years and months on the security and stability in the region through the progressive development of the Mediterranean Dialogue.

I am sure that the Summit of Heads of State and Government of NATO countries in Prague in November will be a defining moment for the future of the Alliance and I am confident that decisions adopted at that Summit will help ensure that NATO continues to be -as it has been since 1949- an Alliance for peace, a source of security and stability well into the XXI century.

Thank you.

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