Updated: 30-Oct-2006 NATO Speeches


20 Jan. 2005

Introductory remarks

by the Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, Günther Altemburg at the 2005 PfP Symposium, Oberammergau


Ladies and Gentlemen

I should like to start by welcoming all of you to Oberammergau. The town is familiar to many of you, but the facilities we are using today are new. This year's PfP Symposium is the first event to be held in the improved NATO School, and we are most grateful to our hosts for their hospitality.

But the facilities are not the only new aspect of this meeting. This is the first symposium organised under my supervision as ASG for Political Affairs and Security Policy. And I am grateful to the staff for all their hard work in arranging it. I am also very grateful to you for leaving your desks in your capitals and in Brussels and coming here. There are a lot of you –which is excellent to see - but this will require you to show organisational discipline in order to keep to the schedule. But you also represent the best minds involved in Partnership matters. And if we are to achieve the objective of a substantive but informal debate, then we need your minds to be undisciplined and freed of bureaucratic routine. I am sure you will live up to the challenge of disciplined bodies and undisciplined minds.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The decisions taken at the NATO Summits in Prague and Istanbul have changed Partnership. We now have clear guidance from our leaders on its objectives and priorities. We have given it a truly political dimension. We have complemented our traditional focus on interoperability with the focus on defence reform. We have paid due attention to Partners in the Caucasus and Central Asia. And we have constructed more efficient and more comprehensive mechanisms of cooperation. In summary, I believe that we have achieved a lot in a relatively short period, but more remains to be done.

Oberammergau has always been a source of new ideas. Many times, informal remarks made here have inspired Nations and evolved into official policies approved by their Heads of States. This meeting is our first chance since the Istanbul Summit to informally reflect on its results and on how to improve our efforts to implement them.

Since Prague, we have been putting increasing emphasis on defence reform, as part of our larger effort to support democratic transformation across the Euro-Atlantic area. We have launched two major initiatives to support it - IPAP and PAP-DIB, but we still need to see their fruits. We have moved PARP to the centre of defence reform and Partnership itself. But we have not yet tested it in this new role and need to measure our progress carefully. We also need to make sure that other PfP instruments are well tuned to serve our priorities. Paradoxically - as our tasks become more complex - our instruments need to become simpler and more user-friendly. Outside of this room you will find exhibits on how the new improved PRIME, developed by our Swiss friends, can help this happen.

I am sure that you will agree with me when I say that it is easy to talk about reform - but it is very difficult to carry it out. Partners need help in undertaking reform and in dealing with its consequences. In a perfect world, this help would be well tailored to each Partner’s individual needs, and well co-ordinated. In the real world, there is a lot to improve in both respects. We have been disappointed with the PfP Clearing House mechanism. But with what do we replace it? Is search for effective and co-ordinated assistance to individual Partners an elusive quest? I hope not, and hope you will tell me why.

I think you would agree that education is crucial for the success of Partnership. But do we have what it takes to support our priorities? Do we have the means to help prepare civil servants and military leaders to launch, support, and manage change in their defence establishments? We do have TEEP and PfP Training Centres, but they were devised to serve military interoperability. We have the NATO Defence College in Rome, the NATO School here, and the Consortium of Defence Academies, but do their curricula and student profiles match the priorities agreed in Istanbul? Do we need a new momentum, a new initiative? I will welcome your views on that too. And as you reflect on this, you will be supported by the "marketplace" organised by the Consortium of Defence Academies and Security Studies Institutes which I am sure you have already spotted. I invite you to learn about the Consortium, as it may be instrumental in taking our education agenda forward.

However, defence reform is not a replacement for interoperability at the core of Partnership. The two go together, and will be the essential parts of Partnership. The interoperability business is not finished. It will never be - as we have to constantly look for ways to develop Partner's capabilities to keep in step with those of NATO. But the nature of interoperability is changing: as our Partnership matures, it is about more than a mere ability to work together - it is about the ability of Partners to provide high-value, essential contributions to NATO-led operations. We need to see how these contributions can be enhanced and what NATO should do to facilitate this change. We will devote the second day of our meeting to this question.

Finally - a word on combating terrorism. We are not here to address this issue directly. However, whatever we do in reforming our defence and security systems and in developing modern military capabilities, will have a positive impact on our ability to counter terrorism. In a month, in Lugano, the EAPC community will reflect in detail on this issue. We hope that the Lugano Conference will become a turning point in the implementation of PAP-T and I encourage Allies and Partners to make maximum use of it.

In summary, change is on the way. NATO is a moving train and Partnership must keep on track with it. We need to focus our work on the three priorities identified at Istanbul: defence reform, operational capabilities, and counter-terrorism. And these three priorities should be served by a renewed effort in education and training. In such a way, we shall ensure that Partnership, which will be increasingly focused on regions of strategic importance to us, will be more relevant than ever before.
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