Updated: 02-Dec-2003 NATO Speeches


2 Dec. 2003

Meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
in Defence Ministers Sessions

Opening statement by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson

{Text}Welcome to this meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Defence Ministers’ Session.

We meet today to consolidate our unique Partnership, 46 countries united in their determination to act together to build peace and security; the world’s largest permanent coalition. We will consider the further adaptation of this continuously evolving Partnership in the run-up to next year’s Istanbul Summit. We will review progress, define our priorities and set new goals.

Next year, seven of our Partners will join NATO. This is the best possible vindication of the value of Partnership in preparing nations to reach high standards in defence and military reform, interoperability and reforms in other fields. I am confident that the seven new Allies will remain active members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and that they will continue to share their experiences with other Partners.

Partnership brings real benefits to all of its members. That is why it is deepening. Practical cooperation is bearing fruit from Kosovo to Kabul.

Partners today provide well over 10% of the total forces in NATO-led operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Moreover, as Partnership matures, a new quality to our cooperation is developing. For example, in Kosovo, Partner countries have now assumed “lead nation” responsibility in one of KFOR’s multinational brigades.

However, our relationship has always been a two way street. While Partners are contributing to Alliance goals, NATO and its members are assisting Partners to develop their defence capabilities.

They are doing so through a wide spectrum of activities: the Planning and Review Process, the Operational Capabilities Concept, the Training and Education Enhancement Programme, and a multitude of specially designed exercises and other practical activities.

Our ability to work together has never been more important. The recent attacks in Istanbul have confirmed once more the gravity of the terrorist threat. These crimes have strengthened our resolve to stand fast together against terrorism. Today we will consider how to further invigorate and enhance our practical cooperation. We have the blueprint in our Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism. Now we need to do more to implement it, including more effecttive intelligence sharing.

While the Partnership is changing, the Alliance itself is also in the process of transformation. We will evaluate the implications of this transformation for the Partnership. We must make sure that the opportunities for further cooperation are used to their fullest extent.

I look forward to a fruitful discussion on all these issues and I hope that this debate will guide us in preparing for the Istanbul Summit.

As I prepare to leave my post, I would like to put on record the importance which I attach to Partnership. To have built the world’s largest ever permanent coalition is an extraordinary achievement of which everybody involved should be proud. But it must never be taken for granted. That will require commitment and hard work from every one of the 46 nations represented around this unique table.


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