Updated: 18-Feb-2004 NATO Speeches

at the German
Marshall Fund
of the United


17 Feb. 2004

Commitment, Capabilities, Consultation:
Putting Transatlantic Unity in Practice

Speech by NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all let me thank you, Bill, for your kind invitation. I have been told that coming to the GMF is a "must" in order to reach out to the "Brussels crowd". And looking at the very distinguished audience here, I am very glad to have been asked to give my first policy speech in Brussels tonight at the GMF.

I have already visited quite a few foreign capitals. And everywhere I went -- whether Washington, Paris, Berlin or London -- I received a strong and clear message: The transatlantic community has important work to do -- and to do together. There is no point in looking to the past.

The challenge now is to exploit this new momentum in transatlantic cooperation to the fullest extent possible. To seize the opportunities that now present themselves -- opportunities for a new quality of transatlantic security cooperation in NATO.

This means more than demonstrating transatlantic unity in the conference halls. It means putting transatlantic unity in practice -- by meeting three crucial prerequisites for success: Commitment, Capabilities, and Consultation.

The first prerequisite is commitment. If NATO takes on a job, it commits entirely. This simple fact must never be put in doubt. When we commit ourselves, we commit for good. We do whatever is necessary to succeed.

We now have made such a commitment to Afghanistan. We have committed to provide security and stability to a country that once was a haven for the world's deadliest terrorists. Our credibility – as NATO, as the Euro-Atlantic community – is on the line. We have no choice but to succeed.

What does this mean? In Afghanistan last week, I spoke to President Karzai and key military people on the ground. Their first message was very clear: we are making progress. Kabul, under the protection of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, is getting safer. And people outside Kabul benefit from stability and assistance brought by the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Moreover, the coalition forces are determined to prevail over the Taliban and Al-Qaida.

The second message was equally clear: we must do more. ISAF must be strengthened. More Provincial Reconstruction Teams need to be deployed into the provinces. We must help this summer’s elections run properly. And all this means that our member countries are going to have to produce more troops and equipment.

I was heartened by the recent commitment by NATO Defence Ministers to contribute to new Provincial Reconstruction Teams. And I am confident that there will be further commitments in the weeks and months to come.

Throughout its long history, NATO has never made empty promises. We have always backed up our words with deeds. My first priority is to ensure that this tradition continues in Afghanistan.

A daunting challenge. No one should be under any illusions about the time and effort it will take to create the conditions for self-sustaining peace and stability in that country.

But we have every reason to be optimistic. A decade ago, we committed ourselves to a better future for the Balkans. Today, that commitment has reaped remarkable dividends. Southeast Europe is re-entering the European mainstream. The situation has improved to the point where we can contemplate reducing our troop presence, and even handing over important responsibilities of our Bosnia mission to the EU. All this has become possible because of one key ingredient: NATO's unflinching commitment.

The second prerequisite for NATO's success is capabilities. Effective military capabilities are the essential foundation of this Alliance. And there is urgent work that must be done if we are to have the forces we need, when we need them, to go where we need them.

We are already making progress in developing such new capabilities. The NATO Response Force is up and running with an initial capability. It will not only give us a fast-moving and highly capable force. It will also ensure that all the Allies can engage together at the sharp end of military operations, so there is no division of labour between those who do the fighting and those who do the dishes.

Together with our new Allied Command Transformation, the NRF will play another vital role as well: as a transmission belt for the latest technology, the latest doctrine, the latest thinking on defence. Because transformation is a challenge for all Allies, not just for a few.

I am glad that many of our member states are looking seriously at the issue of deployability. The recent difficulties in generating enough forces for ISAF have made the headlines, but the problem is not confined to Afghanistan. That is why I want nations to pull their weight and put their money where their mouth is. Because capability equals credibility. At the moment, NATO is supporting Poland in its leadership of a division in Central Iraq. If a sovereign Iraqi government, with the support of the UN, were to request NATO to play a greater role, I do not see how we could abdicate our responsibilities, but we need the capabilities to make it work.

Military reforms will get us a long way toward an Alliance that can meet its new commitments. But there is more to improving NATO's capabilities than improving our military punch. We must also improve the other assets we have at our disposal for shaping security: our Partnerships with other countries and other institutions. These partnerships have become an indispensable part of NATO's toolkit for exporting security. But they, too, have to evolve in line with NATO's new roles and missions.

This is true in particular for our relationship with the European Union. We need a genuine strategic partnership with the EU. Because such a partnership will help us get the best possible synergies from the political, military and economic tools available to the Euro-Atlantic community. And that will significantly increase our ability to shape the strategic environment for the better.

We have a good framework for practical cooperation: The so-called Berlin Plus arrangements. NATO and the EU are consulting on important security issues. The EU has access to NATO’s planning and support to carry out its operations. And the EU has set up a planning capacity in a transparent and complementary manner to NATO.

On the ground, we clearly demonstrated the potential of effective NATO-EU cooperation a few years ago, when we managed to prevent a civil war in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(1) . Last year, the EU took over NATO’s small peacekeeping operation in that same country, making use of the Berlin Plus arrangements.

And after NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia is completed by the end of this year, the EU is willing to deploy a military operation in that country. Again, this mission will operate under Berlin Plus, and we are already discussing with the EU about this transition. NATO will, of course, continue its engagement in Bosnia to help support its reform efforts and aspiration to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace.

All this is good news for NATO-EU cooperation, but we must work even harder if we want to build a truly strategic partnership. We have spent enough quality time on debating the institutional aspects of such a partnership. Now is the time for action -- for concrete NATO-EU cooperation in all areas where our interests converge: combating terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, developing military capabilities, and other areas.

A true NATO-EU partnership will be a major bonus for our security. So will be closer cooperation with the OSCE and the United Nations, which we are also promoting. And the same applies to our relations with our Partner countries.

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. 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.

We are engaging not only Russia and Ukraine, but all our Partners, and promoting more individualised cooperation with them. Cooperation that will respond even better to the interests and concerns of all our Partners, but especially those in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Work is also in hand to strengthen our ties with countries from Northern Africa and the Middle East. To expand the framework of NATO’s existing Dialogue with seven countries in that region. And to contribute both to the Alliance’s and broader efforts to enhance stability and security in the Greater Middle East.

The third and final prerequisite for NATO's success is consultation. During the Iraq controversy, NATO was under-utilised as a consultative forum. I am confident that we learned our lesson. If we want to preserve and strengthen NATO as a central framework for effective multilateralism, we must engage in multilateral debate.

Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction pose new challenges. New security players, such as the EU, are finding their role. Other parts of the world are growing in relevance. We must adapt deterrence and established non-proliferation regimes to the new circumstances. And we must discuss new approaches to the Greater Middle East.

In the face of such massive change, how could we avoid debate -- and more importantly, why would we? NATO is the forum where Europe and North America come together to shape a common approach to these new challenges, including, yes, through the occasional disagreement. That is a vital role -- one we should encourage, not shy away from.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With soon seven new members, and with missions ranging from Central Asia to the Middle East, NATO has clearly entered a new phase in its evolution. This turn of events proves once again that Europe and North America remain a unique and indispensable coalition for peace.

When they work together, they marshal unique political, financial and military resources in defence of our common values and interests.

NATO is the body that binds America and Europe together in an organisation where security dialogue and cooperation are the name of the game. If we focus on the three "C's" that I outlined ?? commitment, capabilities and consultation -- our Alliance will remain an anchor of stability in an unstable world.

1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

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