Updated: 22-Nov-2002 NATO Speeches


22 Nov. 2002


by the President of the Rupublic of Croatia,
Stjepan Mesic at the EAPC NATO Summit

Mr General Secretary,
President Havel,
Distinguished Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen,

There have been a number of important and crucial moments, even turning points in the history of the NATO. I am convinced that I share the view of us all if I say that today, here in Prague, we are sharing and witnessing such a moment.

The world has changed fundamentally since the West founded the NATO. It has changed so much that today we neither think nor speak in terms of the East and the West. Bipolarity is a thing of the past, and so are military alliances, that is, to be more precise, military-political alliances such as the NATO at the time of its foundation and throughout the greater part of its existence.

The NATO has survived. For one, single reason, I am sure. It has survived because its member states, at the time of disappearance of the bloc division and of the fall of the communist system, felt the historic wind of change and understood the need for adjusting to the changing world.

That is, the world has changed, and the NATO is changing. The changes started in 1997 with the decision on member enlargement. Two years later, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland became members pursuant to that decision. Today new states are entering the Alliance, which is charged in the different international conditions with new missions, essentially different but no less important. The Republic of Croatia welcomes their achievement.

For us, a country which has identified membership in me NATO as its priority task along with membership in the European Union, it is important to see the NATO door open. We are knocking on that door.

We are aware of the tasks facing us: the adoption of NATO standards; the meeting of a number of political, economic and military criteria; the restructuring of our armed forces and their complete and unquestioned depoliticization... That is, we are aware of our commitments, aware that without meeting them we shall not be able to realize our aspirations, and that any hesitation, which could be interpreted as our questioning the 5eriousness of our fundamental commitments, could cost us dearly.

I am taking advantage of this forum to state quite clearly and decisively, on behalf of the Republic of Croatia, that we are not desisting from our policy adopted after the elections in 2000.

Our world has not become a better place over the past decade. We are faced with new challenges and new dangers. They also face the NATO. Global terrorism ranks first and foremost among them. The need for combating terrorism, I believe, requires no special emphasis.

I am similarly sure that no one needs to be separately reminded of the fact that the NATO, through its recent achievement in the former Yugoslavia, has also demonstrated its efficiency as a factor for establishing and preserving peace and security. We have particularly appreciated NATO's involvement in our region.

My country is an active member of the international antiterrorist coalition. We are convinced that the war against global terrorism must be waged on two tracks: through direct operations on the ground, through strikes against terrorists, their strongholds and helpers, but also by longer-term action focused on eliminating the environment which breeds terrorism and sustains it. In my mind the redefined NATO operating in a different world has a role to play in both.

In conclusion, let me just make the following point: in a world in which democracy and civilization are jeopardized by global threats, the NATO, which will operate band in hand with the European Union, but in defence of the global values defined by the United Nations Charter, the Alliance is not only required and also unavoidable.

The Republic of Croatia sees its own place in that Alliance. Thank you!

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