Updated: 05-Dec-2003 NATO Speeches


4 Dec. 2003

Press Conference

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
following the NATO-EU meeting
at the level of Foreign Ministers

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

NATO and the EU have come a very long way together in the last few years. The days when we lived in the same city but in separate universes are over for good.

We have developed this closer relationship for a very good reason. Only by working together – and developing a real strategic partnership – will we be successful in mastering our 21st century security challenges.

Our successful cooperation throughout the Balkans shows us the way ahead. Now we are ready to consider handing our SFOR mission in Bosnia?Herzegovina to the EU next year under our Berlin+ arrangements.

It is only a year since NATO and the EU agreed Berlin+. It was a difficult negotiation but it is an excellent and sensible arrangement for both organisations. We must use it to the full.

Transparency between our organizations is essential. That is why we have discussed today the EU’s plans to strenghten ESDP. I am confident that the end result will avoid unnecessary duplication, and will strengthen both NATO and the EU. As I said earlier today, any other outcome would be senseless.

Another issue is capabilities: the key to the future credibility of both our organizations. This is where we need to focus our energies – not on duplicating any structures.

As we develop our relationship, we must broaden it to cover all the big issues on our security agenda, such as terrorism, countering weapons of mass destruction and protecting our civilian populations.

There was strong support for NATO and the EU working together to produce a common strategic vision on the threats we face and how we should cooperate to meet them, and for a process of reciprocal information sharing on terrorism. I look forward to this work being taken forward.

This is my last NATO/EU meeting. Javier Solana and I, together with successive EU Presidencies, have worked increasingly as a team. Neither of us could have foreseen how the NATO/EU partnership would develop when we took up our posts four years ago. What was then inconceivable is now entirely natural, and rightly so.

Because by the time of our Istanbul Summit next June, the EU and NATO will have 19 common members. So I truly hope that in the months ahead we can develop a substantive strategic vision for that Summit and a work programme that does full justice to the importance of both NATO and the EU in today’s world.

History would not forgive us if we fail. I am confident we will succeed.

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