Updated: 24-Feb-2004 NATO Speeches

At the European
Committee on
Foreign Affairs,
Human Rights,
Security and
Defence Policy


24 Feb. 2004


by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by saying how pleased I am with the opportunity to appear before this distinguished committee. One of my key priorities as the Alliance’s new Secretary General is to continue to reinforce the NATO-EU relationship. And I appreciate the contribution by the European Parliament in moving this relationship forward.

The challenge of bringing security and stability to the Balkans is adding momentum to cooperation between NATO and the EU. A lot has been achieved in the Balkans these last few years. And I think that our two organisations can take considerable credit for that progress.

The way we cooperated, together with the OSCE, in preventing civil war in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(1) three years ago was a real breakthrough. So was our cooperation in April last year on the Ohrid Platform for Border Management and Security in the Western Balkans. And the concerted approach we agreed just a few months later for that same region.

Again in Macedonia, last Spring, we first implemented our groundbreaking Berlin+ arrangements – with the successful transition from NATO’s Operation Allied Harmony to the EU’s Operation Concordia.

And we are now looking for the European Union to take over more of the Alliance’s responsibilities in Bosnia, as well, during the course of this year.

Transition in Bosnia will again be on the basis of Berlin+. This will ensure that NATO and EU will work hand in glove. They must work in the closest cooperation, and NATO and EU must demonstrate a commonness of purpose. Any less than this will weaken the effort of the international community as a whole.

At our summit in Istanbul end of June, I expect NATO to take the formal decision to end SFOR and thereby open the way for an EU operation. But NATO will establish a headquarters and continue to assist Bosnia in such areas as defence reform, search for war criminals, and the fight against terrorism. NATO will be there to further assist and encourage progress in Bosnia, and to draw that country closer to us.

This is what we are working for. Progress in the further stabilisation of the Balkans region, and its reintegration with the rest of Europe. Real progress, also, in the ability of our two organisations to work together in dealing with serious, concrete security issues on this continent.

But this is no ground for complacency. Because the potential for effective, meaningful cooperation between our organisations is far greater than crisis management in Europe alone.

In December 2002, we reaffirmed the strategic partnership between our two organisations. In order to give real substance to such a partnership, I believe we must both be ready to broaden our cooperation to new areas – functionally, and geographically.

Combating terrorism, curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, civil emergency planning, building new military capabilities – these are just some of the areas where we each have considerable expertise. They are also areas where we have a clear interest in sharing that expertise. To complement and reinforce each other’s efforts. But also – and here I can’t deny my Dutch pedigree -- to get more value for the scarce resources that we all have available. At the Istanbul summit, I would very much hope for a joint NATO-EU declaration on terrorism, highlighting the goals we share, what we can do together and where NATO and EU complement each other.

Indeed complementarity is what is required, and not mutual anxiety. Soon we will have not just 11, but 19 members in common, and that should help reduce the certain nervousness that arose last year. By working from both sides, including from this house, I believe that we can overcome this -- and cooperate more transparently and effectively, across a broader spectrum of issues of common concern.

One thing is certain. However much we intensify our cooperation, neither one of our organisations risks going out of business. Because there is, regrettably, more than enough work to go around.

J'en arrive ainsi à mon plaidoyer en faveur d'une extension de la portée géographique de notre coopération.

L’OTAN et l’UE travaillent ensemble de façon exemplaire dans les Balkans. Parce que nous avons réalisé que l'Europe et l'Amérique du Nord doivent s'employer résolument à faire face aux difficultés de la situation dans cette région clé. Et nous allons continuer à bien coopérer sur le terrain - en y mettant nos forces à contribution et en complétant mutuellement nos efforts respectifs là où il est si manifestement important de le faire.

Nous avons aujourd'hui besoin de ce même engagement commun, de cette même unité de dessein - en Afghanistan. C'est le cas parce que la stabilité de ce pays est cruciale pour nous tous - aussi cruciale qu'elle l'est dans les Balkans. Et aussi parce que l'Afghanistan connaît de graves problèmes du genre de ceux auxquels nous nous sommes révélés capables de faire face dans les Balkans - l'anarchie, la criminalité organisée, la drogue et l'insécurité des frontières. Au demeurant, l'Afghanistan occupe une place essentielle dans notre lutte contre le terrorisme - après tout c'est là qu'Al?Qaida a eu son quartier général pendant plusieurs années. Nous devons veiller à ce que ce pays ne puisse pas redevenir l'endroit où les terroristes viennent se cacher.

L'OTAN est pleinement engagée en Afghanistan - elle y étend sa présence stabilisatrice et aide la population à avoir une vie meilleure. L'Union européenne, qui est déjà l'un des principaux donateurs, a elle aussi un rôle majeur à jouer pour l'avenir de ce pays. Mais pour que cet avenir prenne forme, il faudra un engagement soutenu de notre part. Veillons donc à ce que nos efforts communs produisent le maximum d'effet. Je me réjouis à la perspective de voir se tenir, les 31 mars et 1er avril, la Conférence de Berlin sur l'Afghanistan, pour un nouvel engagement de tous les acteurs internationaux vers notre réussite commune.

L'Afghanistan est une priorité immédiate, c'est évident. Mais il est tout aussi clair que l'ensemble du Moyen?Orient et de la région méditerranéenne exige une plus grande attention de notre part. A l'heure actuelle, l'OTAN s'emploie activement à examiner les moyens d'accroître le dialogue et la coopération dans l'ensemble de la Méditerranée et peut?être au?delà. Nous examinons également la possibilité de rechercher une meilleure coordination entre nos efforts et ceux de l'UE.

Je me rends bien compte qu'il faudra du temps, des efforts et une volonté politique pour que cette notion prenne corps. Mais vous ne serez pas surpris d'entendre que le moment me paraît venu d'aller dans ce sens. Cela correspond à ma vision d'une coopération plus large entre nos organisations. Et j'espère que l'idée exercera de plus en plus d'attrait non seulement parmi les membres de l'OTAN, mais aussi parmi nos amis de l'Union européenne.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are at an important juncture in the NATO-EU relationship. Following our agreement on Berlin+ late in 2002, we made some excellent progress last year in deepening our cooperation. This coming year, I believe we have a real opportunity to take our relationship to a qualitatively new level.

I am confident that we will be able to ensure a smooth transition in Bosnia. But I hope that we will be able, also, to extend our cooperation both functionally and geographically. I will do everything within my power as NATO Secretary General to make that happen. Because I consider it critical to developing the NATO-EU relationship into a true strategic partnership. Thank you.

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

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