Updated: 05-Dec-2003 NATO Speeches


5 Dec. 2003

Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
at the EAPC Foreign Ministers Meeting

Welcome to this meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

This is my last EAPC meeting. As I prepare to leave my post, I want to tell you how proud I am of our Partnership. This is an exceptional forum of multilateral co?operation that ranges from Vancouver to Vladivostock. We work politically to deal with today’s security issues, and we work together on the ground to bring and to bring peace to conflict-stricken regions.

Together, we have built a genuine Euro-Atlantic security culture. Together, we deal with common 21st century threats to our societies. Recent attacks in Istanbul and elsewhere have been a stark reminder that terrorism can strike anyone, anywhere, at anytime. That is why we must continue to work together to deepen our Partnership and to defend our populations and common values.

One region that has undoubtedly benefited from our common action has been the Balkans. This is a real success story.

Together NATO, NATO countries and Partner countries have worked hard and successfully to bring peace and stability to a region, which has now moved from chaos and conflict back towards the European mainstream. Because of the commitment of countries around this table, the Balkans are overcoming their divisions and looking to the future with hope.

I am therefore particularly pleased to welcome here today the Foreign Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro who join our meeting as observers. Both Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina have made tremendous progress to leave behind the destructive nationalism of the 1990s and create modern European states. This is an extraordinary and welcome contrast to the Balkan tragedies which dominated the 1990s.

Both countries have made clear their desire to join our Partnership. NATO Ministers underlined yesterday their hope that both will be able to do so by the Istanbul Summit next year, once they have fulfilled the necessary conditions.

Co-operation with Partners now extends well beyond the Balkans. NATO has now taken over the challenging task of helping Afghanistan to build security and reconstruct its society. Partners are already contributing to NATO’s mission in Kabul and as we plan to extend our operation, we are very grateful for Partner contributions and would welcome more of them.

Partnership for Peace will continue to evolve. As seven Partners prepare to join NATO next year, there will be for the first time fewer Partner countries than NATO countries in the Partnership. NATO’s door will remain open. We will further focus the Partnership on channelling assistance and co-operation to specific Partners or regions, in particular the Caucasus and Central Asia. The new, specially developed tools we launched at last year’s Prague Summit will be very useful in this respect.

As we approach next year’s Istanbul Summit, we will further adapt the Partnership to fully take into account the transformed NATO. NATO members meeting yesterday to discuss the Istanbul agenda placed such an initiative high on their list of priorities.

We have accomplished a great deal over the past years. But we must remain committed to maintaining and improving the vitality of the Partnership. This is the responsibility of all countries represented here today.

You all belong to a unique body: a Partnership which is the word’s largest – and largest ever – permanent coalition. My successor, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, is no stranger to these meetings. I have no doubt that under his chairmanship, this coalition of Partners will continue to flourish, to evolve and to strengthen. That is my hope and I know it is his commitment.


Go to Homepage Go to Index