Updated: 30-Oct-2006 NATO Speeches


28 Sept. 2006

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
to the Model NATO Participants

Informal Session of the Ministers of Defence in Portorož

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

It is great to be here. As NATO Secretary General, I have a pretty busy schedule, including here in Slovenia. But I have made it a rule that, whenever my calendar permits, I will try to meet with university audiences. Because I sincerely believe that meetings with the so-called “successor generation” are critically important in building and sustaining a true security community.

This event here today is truly special. You have demonstrated your interest in international security and NATO in perhaps the strongest way possible: by simulating the “real” Atlantic Alliance.

Simulating NATO certainly isn’t easy. After all, you have had to re-create an Alliance:

  • that brings together 26 nations, from two continents – nations that range from the United States, with the world’s most powerful military forces, to Iceland, a country with no military forces at all;
  • an Alliance that acts only on the basis of consensus, so that no country, however big or small, can be marginalised by others;
  • an Alliance that now maintains relationships with 20 Partners in Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia; 7 partners in Northern Africa and the Middle East; and 4 partners in the Gulf region; and that is currently looking at ways to build closer ties with countries even further a field, such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea;
  • and last but not least, you had to simulate an organisation that is conducting some very demanding operations and missions on three continents – a job that requires the particular attention and leadership of the NATO Defence Ministers who are gathered here today and tomorrow.

So now to the key question: Did you manage? Does your Model NATO correspond to reality? Of, course, I could not be part of your proceedings, but judging from your conclusions and recommendations, I can only say: mission accomplished. Congratulations.

What you say about Afghanistan, the NATO Response Force, the need for Allied solidarity and other issues shows a very good understanding of the challenges before us.

I am very heartened by all the work that you have done. To me, your “Model NATO” clearly shows that not only is there a successor generation, but that it is also a very engaged one. And I hope that for you, it has become even clearer that our Atlantic Alliance is a most valuable instrument for protecting and promoting our common values and security interests.

Of course, I am now all the more curious to see if the “real” NATO Defence Ministers will do as well as you have done. In a few minutes, when our Defence Ministerial begins, I will have the opportunity to find out.

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