Updated: 12-Feb-2004 NATO Speeches

At the
Institute for

London, UK

12 Feb. 2004


by NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking the IISS, and John Chipman, for hosting my first speech in the United Kingdom as NATO Secretary General. I am certainly very pleased to be here.

The IISS has always been one of this country’s leading think-tanks. Under John’s leadership, it has worked very hard to build transatlantic bridges when it comes to security. And your publications, including the Military Balance, are on many shelves in NATO headquarters. For all of this, I congratulate you.

I would also like to thank another individual -- Lord Robertson. Lord Robertson steered the NATO ship through some uncharted waters, and around a few mines. And he did a great job.

Because when I took over the leadership of NATO from him, I inherited an organisation in excellent shape. An organisation perfectly placed to seize, and build on, the new momentum in transatlantic relations.

That’s not just my opinion. Over the past five weeks, I have met with some key leaders of NATO countries. And the verdict in Washington, in Paris, in Berlin and today in London is strong and clear. The Transatlantic community has important work to do -- and to do together. There is no point in looking to the past.

As President Chirac said to me, “The tensions of the past must disappear without a trace”.

Last week, NATO ministers met in Munich to discuss the key security issues on our transatlantic plate. And one look at our agenda demonstrates how important it is that Europe and North America work together. Because NATO is at the heart of our common efforts to preserve our common security, and defend our shared values, in the 21st century. And we certainly have a lot of work to do.

We have work to do in Afghanistan. I was just there a few days ago, to witness a change of command ceremony at the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force.

I was briefed thoroughly by the military personnel helping to keep the peace in the country. I also had a long conversation with President Karzai. And the messages I got from all concerned were the same.

The first message was clear: there is hope in Afghanistan. We are making progress. Kabul, under ISAF’s protection, is getting safer. The Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the provinces are helping people to lead better lives, and extending the influence of the central government.

And the coalition that is fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaida is determined that it will prevail.

The second message, however, was just as clear: to succeed, Afghanistan needs more support. More provincial reconstruction teams need to be deployed into the provinces. ISAF and the PRTs must receive all the equipment and personnel they need to do to job. And we must provide assistance to help this summer’s elections run properly.

NATO is already doing its part. And we will do more. In Munich, NATO Defence Ministers made commitments to contribute to new PRTs. I very much welcome the UK Government’s decision to set up a new PRT in the north, and to contribute to a forward operating base as well.

I thanked Prime Minister Blair for that contribution when we met this afternoon. It is just another demonstration that, when it comes to security, the UK continues to punch above its weight.

Prime Minister Blair and I agreed on what I repeat to you now: we know that we cannot afford to fail. And we know that NATO is the best way to succeed.

NATO is also helping the international community to succeed in another important theatre: Iraq. As many of you know, NATO is also supporting Poland in its leadership of a division in Central Iraq. But momentum is growing for NATO to do more.

If a sovereign Iraqi government, with the support of the United Nations, were to request NATO to play a greater role, I do not see how we could abdicate our responsibilities.

The reason that NATO is under pressure to do more is simple. No other organisation can generate, deploy, command and sustain large, multinational military operations like NATO can. Very simply, NATO’s capability makes it a unique resource for the Euro-Atlantic community.

Now, I know that my predecessor’s number one priority was capabilities. As I recall, capabilities were also his priorities two and three. Let me reassure anyone who fears that, as an ex-foreign minister, I will lose this focus. I will not.

I know that NATO’s operations succeed because we have the military resources to do the job. I know that the Alliance is attractive to new members and partners alike because it can back up its words with actions. And I am well aware that Article 5 – the commitment to collective defence – is a commitment which we must always be able to meet.

So let me be clear: for me, capabilities are a priority. We are on the right path, with the NATO Response Force, the Prague Capabilities Commitment, and Allied Command Transformation. I intend to ensure that these blueprints get translated into reality.

Another blueprint I will push to see translated into reality is the NATO-EU relationship. And I believe we have the right blueprint.

Under what we call the Berlin Plus arrangements, NATO and the EU are consulting on a range of important security issues. The EU can make use, and has made use, of NATO’s planning and support to carry out its operations.

And since December – after, I admit, a rather testy debate – the EU’s planning capacity has been set up in a way that is transparent and complementary to the Alliance. I thanked the Prime Minister today for the role he played in ensuring things worked out as they should.

I believe firmly that this we have the right blueprint. Of course, NATO remains the foundation of our collective defence. But the EU is developing, and will continue to develop as a security actor.

That is right. It makes sense. Our problem, as a Euro-Atlantic community, is not that there are too many security organisations seeking work.

On the contrary. There is, regrettably, more than enough work to go around.

What we need is a stronger European pillar. More effective capabilities. And more profound, trusting co-operation between NATO and the EU. We have the blueprint. What we have to do is turn it into action.

We will likely do that at the end of this year, in Bosnia. Since 1995, NATO has kept the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And it has been a real success. From the 60,000 troops we needed nine years ago, today we need about one-tenth of that.

And soon, the security environment will have improved to the point that we will be able to declare SFOR a success, and bring the operation to an end.

Does this mean we are abandoning Bosnia? Not at all.

Because the EU has declared its willingness to deploy a military operation into Bosnia after SFOR is completed, likely by the end of this year. That mission will operate under Berlin Plus.

In other words, NATO will provide its support to the EU mission. And we are already in discussion with the EU as to how that transition could take place.

NATO’s engagement in Bosnia will continue after SFOR comes to an end, albeit in a different form. From then on, the challenge for the Alliance will not be to keep the peace. It will be to help Bosnia overcome the hurdles holding it back from joining Partnership for Peace.

My goal is to see those hurdles overcome.

I want to see Bosnia and Herzegovina join Partnership for Peace. That is why we will keep a NATO presence in Bosnia, even after SFOR has left, to assist the government with defence reform and other important tasks.

I would also like to see Serbia and Montenegro do more to meet the requirements of PfP membership.

And for both countries, a key requirement for me, and for NATO, is that they must cooperate with the International Tribunal in the Hague.

It is absolutely vital that those indicted for war crimes end up where they belong.

The Tribunal is within a stone’s throw of my house in the Hague, where it would be easy for me to keep an eye on Mr. Karadjic and Mr. Mladic.

I will insist on this condition for either country to join PfP. Because only by sharing our most fundamental values can countries also share in the benefits of partnership.

PfP has become one of the most important tools NATO has to shape security beyond our borders. And in a globalised world, broader co-operation only makes sense.

That logic is what drives perhaps the most important partnership NATO has with any single country – the relationship with Russia.

One of the great strategic projects of the 21st century is to bring Russia into Europe as a trusting and trusted partner. The NATO-Russia Council, which is where the NATO nations and Russia now sit together, as equals, was created to build a true and trusting relationship.

But it must be more than a talking shop. It must be a forum where we discuss the real issues on our agenda, whether or not we always agree. And that includes the CFE Treaty, and Russia’s Istanbul commitments.

The only strong relationship is one that is open, and which is built on common values. I am determined to help build that relationship with Russia. And I hope to do the same with Ukraine.

There is one further relationship which is garnering an increasing amount of media attention these days: the relationship between the West and what some are calling the Greater Middle East.

I certainly believe that increasing dialogue and co-operation across the Mediterranean is a good thing. NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue is based on that very principle.

Some NATO governments are proposing that we beef up the Med Dialogue, to include more concrete areas of co-operation, including for example more military exchanges.

Others are proposing more co-ordination between the efforts of the EU, NATO and the US to promote reform and democratisation in the region.

This discussion is still in its infancy. All I can say for the moment is this: if NATO can play its part in helping the countries of the Greater Middle East to reform, as part of a broader international effort, then how could we say no?

Over its first forty years, NATO proved to be the most effective guarantor of the security of its members. Over the past fifteen years, the Alliance has demonstrated that it can export security as well.

Today, the Alliance is welcoming new democracies. Building stronger partnerships. And running operations in the Hindu Kush to preserve our peace, and our way of life, here at home.

That is the organisation I took over five weeks ago. My job is to reinforce that success. It is a job I relish.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have said, from my first day in office, that I am an Atlanticist at heart, but with a European vocation.

Few countries understand that dual orientation more than this one. The United Kingdom has always been the consummate bridge across the Atlantic, and no more so than in past months and years.

I congratulate you on that role. It is as important today as ever. We face great challenges, which can only succeed if Europe and North America work together. We are faced with grave threats, against which we can only defend in partnership. To succeed, we must do so together. In Alliance. Through NATO.

Thank you.

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