Updated: 17-Oct-2002 NATO Speeches

At the VII


17 October 2002

"NATO Reform"

Speech by the Deputy Secretary General

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased indeed to be here today, at the VII. International NATO Conference organized by the Hungarian National Assembly.

I was asked to address "NATO reform ideas before Prague". A fitting subject. After all, reform will take the centre stage at the NATO's Summit in Prague next month. Only a year ago, many of us believed that the Prague Summit would be an "Enlargement Summit". After 11 September, however, it became clear that this Summit would have to achieve much, much more: it has to be a "Transformation Summit" -- a visible manifestation of an Alliance ready to face the new challenges of the new century.

I believe that Prague will live up to these expectations. It will be, in a very real sense, the decisive step for the new, transformed Alliance.

Let me begin with the subject that clearly concerns us most these days: terrorism. And let us be clear. NATO is not, and will not be, solely about terrorism. But NATO is about security -- and we are in an age where terrorism has gone from being a domestic police issue to a matter of national security, and international security. Which means that the Alliance has a key role to play in meeting this challenge, today and into the future.

NATO is already making a major contribution to the war on terror. You all know that the Alliance invoked its collective defence agreements for the first time on 12 September of last year. You are also aware that NATO aircraft patrolled US airspace for months. You might also know that Allies provided overflight and basing assistance for the operation in Afghanistan.

But you might not be aware of soldiers from NATO countries conducting cave-clearing operations in the Afghan mountains, or reconnaissance, air-defence, in-air refuelling and combat missions. Or of the deployment of carrier-led task force alongside American ships patrolling the Indian ocean.

NATO made all of this multinational cooperation possible. Common NATO doctrines, so that the right information was shared. Agreed equipment standards, so that British refuelling nozzles fit US aircraft. Joint training, to allow for Allies to work well and quickly with each other. Interoperable, secure command and control for real time information and data sharing. All these were essential to mission success in Afghanistan. And, might I add, all essential to ensuring the US didn't have to do everything alone.

And once victory was achieved and the time came to organise the international security force to provide stability, European NATO allies supplied the vast majority of forces, under first British and now Turkish command. Nearly half of the 13,000 troops in Afghanistan come from NATO Allied countries other than the US. And we are considering giving NATO itself a more direct role in the maintenance of a long-term security force in Afghanistan.

But of course, terrorism has been around a long time, and it will not be defeated tomorrow. To take on this threat effectively, we need long-term vision and long-term engagement. And the Alliance is developing measures to do just that.

A military concept for defence against terrorism, which will provide guidance to NATO's military planners, is being developed for the Summit. Intelligence sharing is being beefed up. And NATO is looking at developing critical capabilities required for deterring terrorist activities and potential attacks, and for countering them if they occur.

This complements a second area of improvement: protecting against weapons of mass destruction. Since 11 September 2001, we all understand that there are criminal organisations, individuals, or potentially even states, which cannot be contained through traditional deterrence. Al-Qaida, most obviously, continues to seek mass casualties, and its operatives are not afraid of death. For that reason, we have to be better prepared to deal with chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear weapons in very dangerous hands.

The Alliance is taking significant steps forward in order to counter this threat as well. Again, relevant intelligence sharing will be enhanced. Our soldiers will be better equipped and trained to deal with attacks when they deployed on missions. They will also be better able to support civilian authorities if such attacks were ever to take place on home soil. And, moreover, NATO is developing collective capacities, including mobile detection teams, mobile expert response teams, and vaccine stockpiles.

These are only some of the counter-terrorism measures under discussion. Those agreed by Allies will be presented, as a package, to our Heads of State and Government in Prague as part of NATO's broader new effort to make across-the-board improvements to Alliance military capabilities.

The requirement for improving NATO's military capabilities is clear. To meet 21st century threats we need new kinds of capabilities. Lighter, rapidly deployable forces. With modern, secure command and control, so that they can work together effectively. With high-tech capabilities such as precision-guided munitions, to prevail with the minimum number of casualties. With protection against weapons of mass destruction, so that they cannot be held hostage to the whim of a madman with chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear weapons.

The forthcoming Summit will make concrete progress on developing these capacities. We will focus on four key operational capability areas:

1. defending against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks;
2. ensuring command, communications, and information superiority,
3. improving interoperability of deployed forces and key aspects of combat effectiveness and
4. ensuring rapid deployment and sustainment of combat forces.

Nations will undertake clear commitments to develop specific capacities within defined time-frames. And these commitments will have the public backing of all 19 Heads of State and Government, which is the best possible way to ensure that we get the results we need.

At the same time, we will consider innovative new ways, for example through role-specialisation for smaller countries, joint procurement projects, or pooling of assets. And now, as you are undoubtedly aware, there are intense discussions under way to create a new NATO Rapid Reaction Force, at brigade size, bringing together the most capable and advanced forces within the Alliance for ultra-quick response to security threats. And we will see to it that our efforts tie in with the European Union's efforts to bolster its capabilities.

Prague will be transformational in yet another major way. At the Summit, NATO's Heads of State and Government will issue invitations to countries wishing to join the Alliance as full members.

Why is NATO enlarging? In the capital of one of the newest NATO member countries, one does not have to elaborate much. But let me give you several simple reasons.

First, because it is the right thing to do. Democracies that can meet NATO standards, and that can make a contribution to Alliance goals and missions, have the right to be considered for membership. To refuse would be to perpetuate an archaic division of Europe that died a decade ago.

Second, because enlargement promotes reforms in aspirant countries. The incentive of NATO membership has been a powerful force in encouraging countries across Central and Eastern Europe to undertake political, economic and military reforms -- reforms that might have not otherwise been made or might have taken much longer to accomplish. Aspirants have been working hard to resolve border disputes, change electoral laws to ensure minority rights, root out corruption, discard old and dangerous weaponry, reduce arms sales to unstable regions, streamline bloated military-industrial complexes and encourage democratic transition. In all of these areas, the desire to meet NATO standards and join the Alliance of democracies has been an important motivation.

There is no agreement yet among NATO's members about which countries will be invited. There is, however, already agreement on the steps that will have to come after Prague. Very simply, the invited countries will continue to make improvements to meet NATO standards as the accession and ratification processes move forward in all the capitals. Only when the ratification process is complete in all the countries - members and invitees alike - will the invitees become full members, together, as a group. We anticipate that this will happen in about two years, before NATO's next Summit.

Of course, enlargement is more than a selection process. Managing enlargement also means keeping the door open for future members. And it means continued engagement with all our Partners, whether they aspire to NATO membership or not. This is why another element of NATO's agenda, at Prague, will be to enhance and adapt the Alliance's political and military Partnerships with countries across Europe and into Central Asia.

Over the past decade, NATO's Partnership initiatives have paid off their investment many times over. Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council 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, as we saw in the wake of the 11 September attacks.

We need to ensure that post-enlargement, this value is retained and enhanced, for all concerned -- Allies and Partners alike. At Prague, we will deepen our cooperation in new areas, such as on terrorism and the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. We will focus more on regional issues, for example in the Caucasus and Central Asia. We will deepen cooperation on security sector reform. And we will continue to tailor the Partnerships even more closely to specific needs of the individual Partner countries and to the challenges we all face today.

This redefinition of Partnership is going hand in hand with an ongoing redefinition of NATO's relationship with Russia.

11 September created an entirely new context for NATO-Russia relations. It highlighted the fact that NATO and Russia share common interests and concerns -- and that they need to address these concerns together. In a sense, it has given us the opportunity to put an end to outdated Cold War suspicions, and get down to work on practical cooperation.

A new forum for this cooperation, in which we can decide and act "at 20", is already up and running. We are already discussing how to cooperate on issues of common interest, such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, theatre ballistic missile defence, and search-and-rescue at sea. And we intend to go further -- to work constructively together on all the issues where we have what President Putin calls "the logic of common interests".

Now, I harbour no illusions that this will always be easy. I know we will not always agree. On the one hand, I do not expect Moscow to enthusiastically welcome NATO enlargement. On the other hand, NATO countries will continue to be robust critics if we disapprove of Russia's policies and their implementation, including in Chechnya. And we will ensure that cooperation does not undermine NATO's cohesion and autonomy of action.

But this initiative does give us a chance to take advantage of our new cooperation after 11 September, and transform the strategic picture for the better. To paraphrase Henry Kissinger: we will take a tragedy and turn it into an opportunity. That is a goal worthy of a transformation summit.

In closing, let me point you toward a completely different area of NATO reform: internal adaptation. At the risk of appearing bureaucratic-minded, I would argue that if NATO is to retain its central role as a political-military instrument, we must also take a hard look at the organisation's working methods.

Let us be clear: NATO's decision-making and consultative machinery was designed for a much smaller Alliance - an Alliance concerned primarily with a single, unambiguous threat. It is simply unrealistic to believe that we could just continue with these same working methods in an Alliance of 20+. So we must improve the process of reaching consensus, and we must streamline the machinery for consultation. And we must do all of this in a way that ensures that all NATO members continue to have confidence in the speed and effectiveness of consultation and decision-making, especially in times of crisis.

What does this mean? It certainly does not mean giving up the rule of consensus. But it does mean leaner management, a reduced number of committees, and more streamlining of decision-making. That way, the Alliance will continue to remain state of the art - with 19, 20 or many more members.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have, I hope, demonstrated that Prague will be a real "Transformation Summit" for the Alliance.

It will deliver on all the key issues that affect European and transatlantic security alike. It will result in an Alliance geared towards the new challenges posed by terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. And it will fine-tune NATO to pursue its wider agenda: creating long-term stability in the Balkans; helping to overcome Europe's Cold War division by offering membership and enhancing partnership; drawing Russia closer to the Alliance; and improving defence capabilities.

This is a comprehensive and substantive agenda for change. Which is why Prague will not only break new ground for the Alliance. It will also ensure that NATO can continue to play, into the future, the role it has played for the past five decades - as the key foundation for Euro-Atlantic peace and security.

Thank you.

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