Updated: 09-Dec-2002 NATO Speeches


21 Nov. 2002


by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
at the Summit Meeting of the North Atlantic Council
Prague, Thursday, 21 November 2002

Within the space of a few years we have witnessed a radical change in the global security situation.

The horrific attack of 11 September 2001 on the people and Government of the United States was also an attack on all democratic societies. It was an attack on our values.

The attacks in New York and Washington, in Djerba and Bali, exceeded every crime we had previously imagined terrorists capable of committing against our societies.

The nightmare of a massive terrorist attack is now for all of us a grim reality.

Nor can attacks involving weapons of mass destruction be ruled out any longer. It is therefore crucial that we also protect ourselves from such asymmetrical threats and that we combat them in a targeted manner.

The Alliance must face up to these new challenges. Only through international cooperation in strong organizations which enjoy international legitimacy can the threat posed by terrorists and warlords be successfully countered.

However, it is more difficult now than ever before to successfully withstand the new security risks using purely military means. We must combat them with a comprehensive security strategy.

Yet, we also know of situations in which political, diplomatic, economic and humanitarian means alone no longer suffice to resolve conflicts but have to be accompanied by military operations.

As we have seen with NATO's operation in Macedonia, the preventive deployment of military forces early on, closely linked with political and diplomatic initiatives, can help to prevent or contain conflicts before violence starts to escalate.

We attach considerable importance to the further development of such comprehensive security strategies. Particularly in the context of an effective fight against terrorism, the close coordination of political and military instruments is absolutely crucial.

Germany has contributed up to 10,000 soldiers to crisis prevention and management in the Balkans, to the international coalition against terrorism within the framework of "Enduring Freedom", as well as to safeguarding reconstruction in Afghanistan as part of ISAF.

This underscores Germany's commitment to the Alliance and to solidarity with our partners.

The decision to participate in these operations demonstrates the will of the German Government to live up to our greater responsibility.

Admittedly, it also has financial limits. The immense increase in the number of German soldiers deployed abroad within the space of a few years has presented Germany with new and difficult but nevertheless necessary decisions which are also taken into account in the context of the fundamental reform of our armed forces.

Our Alliance will only be in a position to successfully pursue military crisis prevention and to effectively deal with the new challenges if we succeed in eliminating deficiencies in key capabilities and in adapting the existing capabilities more quickly to new situations.

We will send the message from Prague that the Alliance intends to face up to the new dangers and risks together. Where capabilities are lacking, we will build them together.

Germany will therefore continue to strongly advocate the implementation of the Prague Capabilities Commitment.

This key initiative sets out clear priorities for developing NATO members' military capabilities such as defence against attacks by weapons of mass destruction.

One main focus here is the quest for joint, multinational solutions: specialization by individual member states and the joint acquisition and operation of material are approaches which will enable NATO to use its resources more efficiently and to achieve synergetic effects.

The proposal that a NATO Response Force be created is also in keeping with our ideas on how to further develop the Alliance. This multinational approach will strengthen NATO as a whole and help to counter the current security challenges quickly and in an appropriate manner.

We want to implement this proposal in such a way that the necessary decisions on the deployment of this Force are made by the North Atlantic Council and that the project is compatible with the efforts of the European states in the European Union.

The legal and strategic foundation of our Alliance is strong and flexible. Today we can state with satisfaction and confidence that it has once again proven its resilience.

We intend to advance the transformation of the Alliance on this basis. The German Government will lend sustained support to the projects agreed upon today and play an active part in bringing them to fruition.

Thank you very much.

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