Updated: 13-Feb-2004 NATO Speeches


11 Feb. 2004


by H.R.H. Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark

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Mr. Secretary General, distinguished ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you very much for your kind words of welcome. I truly appreciate this opportunity to attend a meeting of the North Atlantic Council.

This is my first visit to NATO headquarters. I have, however, over the years had ample opportunity to acquaint myself with the mission and importance of the Alliance. Not least through my service in various branches of the Danish armed forces I have had many opportunities to experience the practical importance of NATO.

This year NATO will be celebrating its 55th birthday. The Alliance has long since reached middle age. I am pleased to be able to say that it is aging well indeed. It has been graced by the wisdom and perspective that comes from experience, without losing the vigour and flexibility of mind usually reserved for the young. No doubt this is due to the fact that it has been the most successful alliance in history.

When the Iron Curtain descended across the continent, raising once again the spectre of war, NATO took upon itself to prepare for a conflict on an almost unimaginable scale in the heartland of Europe. That courage and determination helped keep the peace in Europe, and indeed the world.

Nombreux étaient ceux qui pensaient que la fin de la Guerre Froide signerait l'arrêt de mort de l'OTAN. Ils avaient tort! Ils avaient tort parce qu'ils n'avaient pas compris que l'OTAN était beaucoup plus qu'une alliance. Pendant plus de cinquante ans, les membres de l'OTAN ont été liés, non seulement par un engagement de défense collective, mais aussi par des valeurs communes. Des capacités militaires crédibles au service de la paix, de la démocratie et de l'état de droit: Voilà la clé du succès de l'OTAN!

Circumstances change. Sound principles do not. It is testimony to the foresight and wisdom of those who crafted the North Atlantic Treaty more than 50 years ago in very different historical circumstances that the principles enshrined in the Treaty remain today as relevant as ever. The enlargement with seven new members later this spring only confirms the sustainability of these founding principles.

Once, staying true to those principles demanded the preparation for war. When the Cold War ended, those same principles made NATO extend a hand of friendship across and beyond the dividing lines of the past. Through enlargement, as well as Partnership for Peace, and new cooperative arrangements with Russia and the Ukraine NATO has turned former adversaries into friends. That is a striking achievement.

As the plains of Europe ceased to be the world’s strategic centre of gravity, and instability and new threats appeared, NATO also adjusted its focus from traditional large-scale warfighting to crisis management. NATO has played its role in stopping the bloodshed in the Balkans – and bringing the region closer to the Euro-Atlantic structures. When the terrorists struck the United States on 11 September NATO resolutely invoked Article 5. NATO ships are today patrolling the waters of the Mediterranean, and NATO has taken over the lead of ISAF in Afghanistan.

Mr Secretary General, distinguished ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen,

For Denmark, the transatlantic relationship remains as important today as in the past. In successfully confronting the new threats to our countries and way of life, NATO remains the central forum for security cooperation between North America and Europe. A strong transatlantic relationship based on trust, shared responsibility and mutual respect continues to be the key to security in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond.

In a few months NATO Heads of State and Government meet in Istanbul. Important decisions lie ahead on NATO’s role and future development. I wish you all a successful summit.

Thank you

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