Updated: 12-Jul-2004 NATO Speeches

At the Manfred-

12 July 2004

NATO’s Agenda Post-Istanbul

Speech by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

NATO Istanbul Summit
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy and honoured to have been invited to speak at this well-established and highly respected forum, which is very much a keystone of NATO life. And it is particularly appropriate that I have the opportunity to speak to you today, ten years after Manfred Wörner’s untimely death. Our Alliance still bears Manfred Wörner’s imprint: in the way NATO has opened its doors to new members; in the way we have reached out and built partnerships all across this continent; and in the way we took action and restored peace and stability in the Balkans.

I have no doubt, therefore, that our recent Istanbul Summit would have been very much to Manfred Wörner’s liking – both in terms of its symbolism and its substance. Symbolically, Istanbul was the place where the NATO Allies demonstrated that, after a difficult year, they were prepared to look to the future rather than to the past. In terms of substance, the Summit gave NATO more and better political and military means to fulfill its mission of projecting stability – a term that was in fact coined by Manfred Wörner almost 15 years ago, when NATO started its outreach policy towards Central and Eastern Europe.

At Istanbul, Allied Heads of State and Government agreed on a series of initiatives, including:

  • The expansion of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan;
  • A decision to offer training for Iraqi security forces, and to consider other options for possible NATO support to the new Iraqi Government;
  • A package of capabilities improvements and counter-terrorism measures;
  • A tasking, to myself and the North Atlantic Council, to take the steps necessary to fully implement the transformation of our procedures and military capabilities;
  • Enhanced partnerships – with Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia;
  • A deepening of our Mediterranean Dialogue and a new outreach to the countries of the broader Middle East through the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative; and
  • The termination of our successful SFOR mission in Bosnia, which will be replaced by a new, distinct mission led by the European Union.

Let me give you a bit more detail on each of these Summit initiatives:

The first major decision was the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. With so much of the spotlight on Iraq, one might have feared that Afghanistan would get little attention at the Summit. But this did not happen. President Karzai’s powerful presence helped to ensure a strong focus on what I have called NATO’s number one priority from my first day in office, which is to get Afghanistan right.

At the Summit, the Allies reconfirmed their strong resolve not to let Afghanistan slip back into chaos or become a safe haven for terrorists once again. We decided to increase the number of Provincial Reconstruction teams, in order to extend the authority of the central government and to facilitate development and reconstruction. And we agreed to provide enhanced support for the upcoming elections, which will be crucial to ensuring long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.

As you know, meeting our commitment vis-à-vis Afghanistan has been quite a difficult exercise for NATO. It has taken nations some time to provide all the forces and equipment that we need for such a challenging mission.

So I am pleased that the Istanbul Summit decided that we should re-examine our approach to force planning and force generation procedures. Because if NATO wants to continue to meet its commitments – in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere – our military means must match our political ambitions.

Another major Summit item was, of course, Iraq. The handover of power to the new Interim Iraqi Government was announced during our Summit, two days before the scheduled date of 30 June.

The decision to bring forward this handover was undoubtedly motivated by security concerns. But it also helped our NATO Summit. Because it made our gathering even more topical. And it highlighted one of the Summit’s decisions: NATO’s offer to provide training for Iraqi security forces.

In addition to continuing to support Poland in its leadership of the multinational division in Iraq, NATO will now play a distinct role in helping Iraq to come to its feet. This role is in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1546, and at the specific request of the new Iraqi Government.

Now, I have seen press reports which implied that our offer to train Iraqi security forces did not amount to much – that it reflected the lowest common denominator. It won’t surprise you that I see things a little differently.

In Istanbul, the NATO Allies not only affirmed unambiguously that a stable Iraq is in their common interest; they also made it clear that NATO has a role to play in bringing about that stability. NATO is going to contribute in an area that is critical to Iraq’s future, and where the Alliance has valuable experience and expertise to share. I consider that to be excellent news, and let’s not forget: it is first and foremost for the Iraqi Government to say what it needs and what it wants. It wants training, so as to become less dependent on the Multinational Force as soon as possible. Training of Iraqi Forces, and supporting the development of the Iraqi Security Institutions, as requested by Prime Minister Allawi, are key.

Last week, a military NATO team visited Iraq to explore the options for NATO assistance in the field of training. Based on their findings, NATO’s Military Authorities will now very soon come up with concrete recommendations on the way ahead.

At Istanbul, we also moved NATO’s military transformation another major step forward. I had the pleasure of being present at the Change of Command ceremony of the NATO Response Force, which will soon achieve its initial operational capability. Our new Multinational Defence Battalion to deal with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear attacks has already become fully operational. And our member nations approved usability targets, committing themselves to be able at all times to deploy and sustain larger proportions of their forces on Alliance operations. These usability targets will be a key driver in the ongoing transformation process.

The Istanbul Summit was the first NATO Summit “at 26”, that is, with the seven countries who joined our Alliance earlier this Spring. It was therefore particularly important to give a strong signal that NATO’s door remains open and to encourage those who want to join the Alliance to continue to pursue the necessary reforms. And this is precisely what we did.

In addition, we launched a new phase in our Partnership policy – with more individualised cooperation, a greater emphasis on defence reform, and a stronger focus on cooperation with the Caucasus and Central Asia. We launched a Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution building. We will soon send two liaison officers to the Caucasus and Central Asia, and appoint a Special Representative for the two regions. And we made it very clear that we look forward to welcoming Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro into the Partnership for Peace, once they have met the well-known conditions, including full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

We were also able to make further progress in our relations with two special Partners – Russia and Ukraine. We have agreed that they will soon support Operation Active Endeavour, our maritime surveillance and escort operation in the Mediterranean. This is another indication of the growing operational dimension of these NATO Partnerships with two countries of major strategic importance.

We also decided at our Istanbul Summit to terminate NATO’s SFOR operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and welcomed the intention of the EU to establish a new mission in that country. That step will give further substance to the strategic partnership between our organisations. And it should promote greater transparency and closer cooperation between NATO and the EU in other functional and geographical areas where our interests converge, and where we can complement each other.

One such geographical area is the broader Middle East. No other region’s development will affect our security more strongly in the years to come. We need a coherent transatlantic effort to engage this region – and, at Istanbul, we made it clear that NATO will be part of such a broader effort.

We agreed to deepen our Mediterranean Dialogue with seven countries in North Africa and the Middle East, and to transform it into a genuine partnership. And we launched a new parallel initiative, the so-called “Istanbul Cooperation Initiative”. Through the ICI, we will offer practical cooperation to countries in the broader middle Eastern region in areas where NATO can make a real difference. This cooperation will take place in a spirit of joint ownership – in other words, we regard the countries in the region as shareholders in a cooperative effort. Several members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have already expressed an interest in working together with NATO, so we are off to a good start.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Manfred Wörner once said that you can only steer the direction of change if you yourself become part of this change. NATO’s Istanbul Summit demonstrates that we took Manfred Wörner’s advice to heart. By pushing NATO’s own transformation, we made sure that this Alliance remains the most powerful force for positive change – in transatlantic security and beyond. I have no doubt that Manfred Wörner would have approved of what we did.

Thank you.

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