Updated: 13-Jul-2004 NATO Speeches


12 July 2004

“Beyond Istanbul”

Speech by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
at the European Policy Centre

NATO Istanbul Summit

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At NATO’s recent Istanbul Summit, Allied Heads of State and Government built a record of solid achievement. Indeed, I am happy to report that expectations for the Summit were met – and, in some cases, exceeded.

So, what did we achieve in Istanbul and what are the next steps? And where do I see room for further improvement? In particular, how can we strengthen the NATO-EU relationship? These are the questions I would like to touch upon in my remarks this afternoon.

Before I go into the substance of the Summit decisions, however, allow me to make one general point about the character of our meeting in Istanbul.

Istanbul was the first NATO Summit after last year’s rift over Iraq. So it was clear all along that our meeting would be an opportunity to measure the health of the transatlantic relationship post-Iraq. Istanbul was the place where the Allies needed to demonstrate that they would look to the future rather than to the past.

The Istanbul Summit clearly delivered on this count. Everyone agreed that it was time to stop looking in the rear view mirror, and move on. And this is essential because we have a lot of work ahead of us.

What exactly did we achieve at Istanbul, and what are the next steps?
First, Afghanistan, NATO’s number one priority. We decided to expand the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. We decided to increase the number of Provincial Reconstruction teams, to a total of at least 5 in the Northern region of the country, in order to support the authority of the central government and to facilitate development and reconstruction. And we agreed to provide enhanced support for Afghan Government efforts to provide security for the upcoming elections, which will be crucial to ensuring long-term peace and stability in the country.

We are now in the process of filling the requirements for the expansion of ISAF to the Western part of Afghanistan, with a view to establishing more PRTs. And to further back Afghan Government efforts to help provide security during the elections, each ISAF-led PRT will get military reinforcements and we will deploy a quick reaction force in theater.

These are substantial improvements. They will make a real contribution to security, and to Afghanistan’s historic elections. In sum, at Istanbul, we delivered on our commitment to Afghanistan.

Second, Iraq. At 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 train the Iraqi security forces, contributing in an area that is critical to Iraq’s stability, 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.

Third, the Balkans. At Istanbul, we decided to conclude NATO’s SFOR operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the end of this year, given the much improved security situation there. This is, to my mind, the culmination of 9 years of successful work. SFOR helped end the war in that country and has kept the peace there for almost a decade. We owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands of dedicated men and women who served and serve in the NATO mission in Bosnia, and we welcome the intention of the EU to establish a new mission in the country, and we will help to make it a success.

This week, I will travel to Sarajevo, together with Javier Solana. I will underline that successful conclusion of the SFOR mission does not imply NATO’s departure from the Balkans. In fact, NATO is going to retain a Headquarters in Sarajevo, to help with defence reform and in other areas. Because we want to see Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Serbia and Montenegro, in our Partnership for Peace programme. It is clear that NATO looks 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.

The end of SFOR will bring to a close NATO’s first-ever peacekeeping operation. The effectiveness of this mission is testimony to the wisdom of taking a long-term perspective on peacekeeping and reconstruction. With patience and persistence, we can succeed. And it is precisely this patience and persistence that we need to finish the job that is still unfinished – in Kosovo. We will not put ourselves under artificial time pressure. We will stay for as long as it takes. When violence flared up last March, we were able to quickly reinforce our presence and put out the flames. In short, our commitment to Kosovo remains unflinching.

My fourth point: military transformation. In some of my pre-Istanbul speeches I came down pretty hard on the foot-dragging when it came to providing sufficient forces for our Afghanistan mission.
But what counts is that, at Istanbul, we came up with what was needed. Because if NATO wants to continue to meet its commitments – in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere – our military means must match our political ambitions.

Transformation entails much more than force planning, of course. And the Summit delivered across the entire spectrum of military modernisation. Our member nations also approved usability targets, committing themselves to be able at all times to deploy and sustain larger proportions of their forces on Alliance operations. These targets will be a key driver in the ongoing transformation process. In addition, Heads of State and Government asked me and the North Atlantic Council to take all the steps necessary to ensure that our procedures and military capabilities are transformed. I fully intend to push forward with a broad transformation agenda.

Let me turn to our Partnerships. At Istanbul, we launched a new phase in NATO’s Partnership policy – with more individualised cooperation, a greater emphasis on defence reform, and a stronger focus on cooperation with the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The next steps are clear. We will soon send liaison officers to the Caucasus and Central Asia. We are going to appoint a Special Representative for the two regions. And I intend to visit these regions in the near future. We are also currently finalising the modalities of Russia’s and Ukraine’s contribution to Operation Active Endeavour, our maritime surveillance and escort operation in the Mediterranean. And we are moving ahead with our new Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building.

We also addressed the Mediterranean and the broader Middle East. The long-term development of this region will profoundly affect our security in the years – and perhaps decades – to come. That’s why we need a more coherent transatlantic engagement with this region. And, at Istanbul, we made important progress in this direction.

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. Just last week, we held a Council meeting with our seven Mediterranean Dialogue Partners, and their reaction was quite favourable. We are now beefing up the Dialogue’s work programme, for example by increasing the number of activities, and looking at specific tools from the Partnership for Peace on which we might draw.

We also launched a new initiative, the “Istanbul Cooperation Initiative”. Through the ICI, we offer practical cooperation to interested countries in the broader Middle Eastern region, in fields 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. Again, we will use the coming weeks to develop a concrete set of offers, drawing from our experience with the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Partnership for Peace. We will then pay visits to interested countries in the region to flesh out the details of our cooperation. Because we see this as a real two-way street.

So much for the Istanbul Summit decisions, and the next steps of implementing them. But I promised you at the outset that I would also touch upon areas where I see the need for further improvement.

I will confine myself to just one such issue – but it is the issue with perhaps the most significant long-term implications for our security. I am talking about the relationship between NATO and the European Union.

I already referred to the EU’s intention to follow NATO’s SFOR operation with an operation of its own. This is clearly a most welcome development, and it demonstrates the complementary nature of our efforts in the Balkans. But here comes the issue: in my view, our cooperation currently remains too limited.

NATO and the EU have common interests beyond crisis management in the Balkans. They can and should work together, complement each other, and reinforce each other across the entire spectrum of security management: peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction; combating terrorism; preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction; developing the right military capabilities.

Here are the facts: Since the recent enlargement of NATO and the EU, 19 members belong to both organisations – the greatest overlap ever. A European Security and Defence Policy is finding its feet – and NATO is actively supporting it by granting the EU recourse to NATO assets for EU-led operations. We all realise that each nation only has one set of forces, and we neither want nor can afford duplication. And there is an increasing awareness, also on the other side of the Atlantic, that a strong EU and a strong NATO are not contradictory, but complementary goals. I would go even further: in my view, an EU that can take more responsibility in security matters is key to a healthy transatlantic relationship in the 21st century.

All these facts lead to only one conclusion: strong and trusting NATO-EU relations are a strategic necessity. And yet, NATO-EU relations remain caught in an ambivalence that prevents both organisations from working closer together. Why? Because, in my view, there are still too many who look at NATO-EU relations from the angle of competition rather than cooperation. And this view is keeping NATO and the EU at arms’ length from each other.

This must change. If we are serious about the need for a truly comprehensive approach to security – if we are serious about the need to combine political, military and economic instruments – then we should practice what we preach. We should move NATO-EU relations forward, beyond the Balkans. And get the full range of benefits –including a stronger, more equitable transatlantic relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Istanbul Summit demonstrated that there is real momentum in transatlantic security cooperation. NATO remains the major instrument for that cooperation, both within and beyond the Euro-Atlantic area, in Afghanistan, and now even in Iraq. And we are working hard to implement the important decisions that were taken in Istanbul. We will become more operational and more capable. We will reach out to our partners, both old and new, to help build security.

We must also use this new momentum in transatlantic relations to tackle the issues that are still outstanding. Above all, we must broaden the NATO-EU strategic partnership and exploit its full potential. The success of Istanbul should give us the confidence that we need to succeed.

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