Updated: 25-Oct-2002 NATO Speeches

At the NATO


24 October 2002

Opening Remarks

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thanks for your invitation to address your "grand gathering".

The purpose of today's meeting is to bring together scientists and officials from NATO and its Partner countries. To encourage you to exchange views and experiences. But also to inform you about the effort that is underway to adapt the Alliance to the full spectrum of 21st century security challenges. And to engage you in this ongoing effort.

NATO is the most successful alliance in history -- and much of its success is due to its ability to adapt. This capacity to respond to changing circumstances enabled NATO to play a key role in safeguarding the safety and security of its members throughout the Cold War. And it allowed the Alliance to continue to play a leading role in re-shaping European security after the end of the Cold War - through its enlargement process, its various partnership initiatives, and not least its strong engagement in the Balkans.

Events on and since September 11th of last year have ushered in a new era of instability and uncertainty. They have challenged NATO to take its adaptation yet another decisive step forward. And so, NATO Heads of State and Government will meet in Prague next month for what will be a real transformation Summit.

Our Prague agenda is broad, and it is ambitious. Let me sketch some of its main elements for you.

We want, first of all, to enhance NATO's capacities against terrorism. 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. And this means that the Alliance has a key role to play in meeting this challenge - by beefing up our own preparedness, but also by engaging our Partners, and working with other international organisations.

Important work has already been done to help the Alliance play such a more prominent role. A military concept for defence against terrorism, which will give guidance to NATO's military planners, is being developed for Summit endorsement. Intelligence sharing is being enhanced. 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. We want to equip and train our soldiers to be able to deal with attacks by weapons of mass destruction when they deploy on missions. They should also be better able to support civilian authorities if such attacks were ever to take place on home soil. And we are developing collective capacities as well, including mobile detection teams, mobile expert response teams, and vaccine stockpiles.

These are only some of the measures under discussion. Those agreed among the nations will be presented, as a package, to our Heads of State in Government in Prague. That counter-terrorism package will be part of NATO's broader new effort to make across-the-board improvements to Alliance military capabilities. And in so doing, to arrive at a better, more sustainable balance between Europe and North America.

Apart from this concerted effort to beef up our capabilities, Prague will be transformational in a second major way as well. Because at the Summit, NATO's Heads of State and Government will issue potentially up to nine invitations to countries wishing to join the Alliance as full members.

NATO enlargement means the definitive end of Europe's division. NATO membership locks in the progress that aspirant countries have made in political, economic and military terms. And it will spread the burden of security on more shoulders. That is why the enlargement process will take another decisive step forward at Prague.

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 a third element of NATO's transformation agenda, at Prague, will be to enhance and adapt the Alliance's partnerships with countries all over Europe and Central Asia, as well as across the Mediterranean.

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 September 11th attacks.

We need to ensure that post-enlargement, that value is retained, and enhanced, for all concerned -- Allies and partners alike. And hence, 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. And we will tailor the EAPC and PfP - as well as NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue -- even more closely to the challenges we all face today.

Hand in hand with the redefinition of our Partnerships in general, the Alliance has also been interested in broadening and deepening its special relationships with Russia and with Ukraine. Especially with the first of these two countries, Russia, we have been able to make considerable progress over the past year. And a fourth element of our Prague agenda will be to welcome and give direction to this process.

September 11th created an entirely new context for NATO-Russia relations. It highlighted the fact that NATO and Russia share common interests and concerns -- and that we 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 has called "the logic of common interests".

The fifth and final element of our Prague Summit agenda that I want to briefly highlight concerns our strong commitment to peace, stability and cooperation in the Balkans. Prospects for a brighter future throughout the region are much improved, and NATO and its Partners can take considerable credit for this success. But we must stay the course to help the region rejoin the European mainstream, which is where it belongs. And I am convinced that the NATO leaders will want to underline this commitment in Prague as well.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have sketched, with broad-brush strokes, our Prague Summit agenda. Again, it is both comprehensive and ambitious. It will take the transformation of our Alliance a decisive step forward. And it will reinforce NATO's unique capacity to promote peace and security right across the Euro-Atlantic area.

But how does this all relate to you? How can the NATO Science Programme -- and your individual efforts in the context of this programme -- contribute to the broad political objectives that the Alliance is trying to achieve?

NATO's Science Programme has always been at the leading edge of efforts to broaden the definition of security. Of reaching out even in areas where diplomats and soldiers hesitate to go. To make new contacts, and to build new bridges all across the Euro-Atlantic area.

So I don't need to convince you of the merits of adaptation. But let me just make a few suggestions as to how you might adapt now. To adapt in a way where you will not just be able to benefit from the Alliance's ongoing transformation, but also to make a constructive contribution to this process.

First of all, I hope that you will make an effort to stay abreast of the new challenges and missions of the Alliance -- and that you take due account of these challenges and missions in any new scientific projects that you plan to undertake in the future.

Second, I suggest that, in exploring new avenues for scientific research, you look out in particular for projects that may have a concrete, beneficial impact on the economic and social systems of our Partner countries - and that will help to bring them closer to our Alliance.

Third, I suggest that you look for ways in which, through your work, more young people in all our countries take an interest in science, and are motivated to study and pursue a career in science - including by working together across national borders as you are doing.

Fourth, in this same cooperative spirit -- and mirroring what the Alliance does at the political level -- I suggest that you also avoid territorial reflexes, and that you look for synergy and complementarity with scientific work undertaken under the aegis of the United Nations, the OSCE and the European Union.

And finally, of course, your efforts are valuable only to the extent that they are understood and appreciated. Therefore, while I would not want to distract you from your scientific work, I do think there is tremendous merit in making known, to as wide an audience as possible, the motivations for your work, the progress you are achieving, and especially the concrete benefits that you think your work will have.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These are just five broad recommendations - suggestions that I hope you will be able to develop further during your meeting here today. They are by no means exhaustive, and I would strongly encourage you to do here today what you also do in your daily work - to defy conventional thinking, to use your imagination, and to think "out of the box", as they say.

As an Alliance, we face a multitude of complex security challenges. Science alone cannot and will not provide the solution to each and every one of them. But thanks to greater awareness, greater involvement, and greater efficiency, I am sure the NATO Science Programme can adapt once more, and further enhance its relevance to the Alliance. Because the basic rationale for the Science Programme remains as strong as ever; that progress and cooperation in science and technology will strengthen political solidarity.

Thank you.


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