Updated: 24-May-2005 NATO Speeches

Åre, Sweden

24 May 2005

Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC)
Security Forum

Informal Working Dinner
for EAPC Foreign Ministers/Heads of Delegation
Welcoming remarks by Laila Freivalds,
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden

Biography of Laila Freivalds

Dear friends and colleagues,

It is an honor and joy to welcome you all to Sweden and Åre. We are truly delighted to have been given the opportunity to host the EAPC Security Forum. We have interesting discussions ahead of us.

One hundred years ago – when the union between Sweden and Norway was breaking up – Åre was on the front line of a European war in making. Negotiations seemed to lead nowhere… Tensions grew…

Fortunately reason prevailed. Norway was given its full independence. The crisis was resolved to mutual satisfaction. …This was of course before the Norwegian oil was discovered…

Seriously, let me start off the evening by charing some thoughts for our discussion tonight.

When Yugoslavia in the nineties faced calls for independence, history was as graceful as in the case of Sweden and Norway. Instead it took the common efforts of Europe and North America to contribute to ending the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are proud to have participated in IFOR and SFOR. And we are equally proud to do so under EU command in Operation Althea.

The Strategic Partnership between NATO and the EU in the field of crisis management is essential. We need to develop this cooperation further if we are to deal with the security policy challenges of today. The current limitations in the scope of cooperation do not reflect our full potential.

Dear colleagues, SFOR brought stability to Bosnia and Herzegovina and changed the way we conceive international crisis management. Robust peace enforcement operations - as part of a wider multifunctional civilian and military involvement - are now an important instrument in the toolbox of the international community. But there is no room for complacency. We need more determined conflict prevention. Our responses to crises must be much quicker. Our instruments for safeguarding and restoring human security must be more effective. The international community must be more coherent solving the underlying political divides.

As a strong supporter of the United Nations, I fully stand behind the Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s ongoing efforts to reform and strengthen the organization. And I share the recommendations outlined in his report to reach a broader international consensus on collective security.

To achieve this aim, we need to further increase cooperation between the UN and other organizations – the EU, the OSCE, NATO and regional organizations across the globe. These organizations can and should play a key role in support of the UN. Just as clearly as we, as members in different regional organizations, need the United Nations, the UN needs the support of the regional organizations.


A lesson of the nineties was that inactivity is not an option in the face of conflict. A lesson of our globalized 21st century might be that distance and location are no guarantee for protection. In Afghanistan, NATO and PfP countries work side-by-side, improving security for the Afghans and for ourselves: Createing order where there was none. Supporting freedom where guns used to rule. Confronting terrorism where it had a safe haven.

The needs of Afghanistan are truly enormous. Looking back, I think we can agree that the resources for crisis management in Afghanistan were needed earlier and in greater quantity. Shortage of resources is however neither new, nor unique for Afghanistan. The launching of IFOR and KFOR were perhaps an exception rather than a rule. But we must stay committed and improve our ability to deliver the troops needed. It is a political challenge indeed. But without those resources there will be no security. And without security there will be no development. Of course our commitment should not end with troops – but be focused also on economic recovery and sustainable development.

Sweden is committed to contributing actively to conflict prevention and crisis management. Our own current participation, on-the-spot, in Afghanistan is proof of this determination. Furthermore, Sweden is currently exploring the possibilities of eventually taking on a lead role for the PRT in Mazar-e-Sharif.

Together with NATO Members, the partners in this Partnership contribute substantially to peace and stability. We, the partners, could probably do more. And NATO could also involve us more in questions that concern the operations that we participate in. The progress in this field since Istanbul has been promising. But more can be done.

Dear colleagues,

Today, we are faced with new and unresolved conflicts. We are confronted with the prospect that a small group of people – terrorists or warlords – may cause damage, death and suffering on a scale that was historically only possible for states or armies. Preventing such horrifying scenarios is one of the key challenges of our time. I believe that there is no room for complacency if we are to prevent and to tackle the threats of today. In finishing, let me therefore leave you with a few questions:

The International Community almost only reacts strongly when a crisis becomes acute – How could we change that, and act early?

In a world where conflicts are complex, and perhaps political more than military – How do the organizations involved cooperate in finding political solutions? And how do we organize ourselves so that our efforts are more supportive of the work of the UN?

The strategic partnership between EU and NATO in crisis management is important, but the practical cooperation can still be improved. Why don’t we have a “concerted approach” more often?

Mr. Secretary General; dear friends,

Let me leave you with these questions. Hoping that they might add to sincere and interesting discussions among us tonight. Please let me once again welcome you to Åre and to this dinner. Thank you!
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