Updated: 30-Jun-2004 NATO Speeches


29 June 2004


by the Austrian Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel
at the EAPC Summit Meeting

NATO Istanbul Summit

At the outset I would like to thank our host, Turkey, for providing such an excellent venue for the summit, but also for many crucial contributions to security in the Euro-Atlantic area.

Yesterday’s results testify to the significance of this summit. We have taken note of the request by the government of Iraq with regard to assistance in training its security forces. In the police sector, Austria already provides trainers. In addition, today Austria is offering training to the Iraqi armed forces at our facilities.

Ten years of Partnership for Peace – and nine years of rewarding Austrian participation – have become an impressive success story. The Partnership turned out to be an extremely useful instrument for military cooperation. The EAPC provides us with an indispensable framework for consultations and cooperation on the entire spectrum of security related topics. We also value the Partnership as an important forum to promote transatlantic relations.

During these ten years we all have come a very long way together. The recent enlargements of the European Union and NATO are major achievements on this common journey towards heightened European stability and we trust that additional South East European nations will follow. Needless to say that Europe and the whole world have changed. To remain relevant the Partnership too must change. Only in responding to the new threats to our security we will be able to keep Partnership as relevant as it has been to date. We are confident that the PfP will measure up to these challenges.

This is why Austria fully shares the conviction of Allies and Partners that the Partnership needs to be refocused and renewed. We stand ready to make a contribution to this task. Resources and capabilities have to be put to where they are mostly needed.

Without any doubt, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus are regions which require intensified cooperation and consultations. Furthermore, it is our conviction that stronger ties of the Alliance with the countries of the Mediterranean Dialogue and with those of the area beyond will also have an influence on Partnership and – as I do hope – increase security for all countries involved.

At the same time we must not lose sight of those regions within the Euro-Atlantic area where important security tasks are still to be completed. In particular, I refer to parts of the Western Balkans where our common efforts must continue in order to bring peace and security to this still fragile region. Therefore, Austria strongly favours a balanced approach to the setting of priorities by keeping the focus also on the Western Balkans.

I very much welcome the participation of President MAROVIC and Chairman of the Presidency TIHIC in today’s meeting. We do hope that both, Serbia and Montenegro as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to join EAPC and PfP as soon as possible. The Partnership will be an excellent tool to support their reform efforts in the defence and security field and to integrate them further into the Euro-Atlantic security structures. In this context, Austria together with Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the International Secretariat sponsored a seminar on democratic control of armed forces last December in Belgrade. My country is prepared to take the lead in a future Trust Fund Project in the region.

Austria, a large troop contributor to KFOR, immediately reinforced her contingent last March, when the situation in Kosovo deteriorated dramatically. Our strong commitment to KFOR is also visible in Austria’s readiness to take over the command of the Multinational Brigade South West.

We are pleased that the interests of Partners like Austria are well reflected in the document on the future of the Partnership which we are to endorse today. As troop contributor to several NATO-led non-Article 5 operations we attach particular importance to the earliest possible involvement also in the decision-making process and full access to information. The excellent PfP tools used by Austria – such as the “Planning and Review Process” and the “Operational Capabilities Concept” – do not only make us fitter for the Partnership, but also support our performance in the European Union’s ESDP.

As the ESDP develops, we are glad to see the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO in crisis management maturing in an open and transparent manner. The planning for the EU mission post SFOR, which will be an operation with recourse to NATO assets and capabilities, is moving forward according to schedule. In line with our emphasis on the Western Balkans, Austria intends to carry over its SFOR contribution to the European Force (EUFOR) which is due to start in mid-December.

Both ESDP and the Partnership put particular emphasis on developing more efficient capabilities for participation in international missions. As a corollary, Austria has embarked on a comprehensive reform of its armed forces. For we strongly believe that security is indivisible in the Euro-Atlantic area.

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