Updated: 28-Nov-2006 NATO Speeches

Rīga, Latvia

28 Nov. 2006


by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
at the opening of the NATO Summit transformation exhibition

28-29 Nov. 2006 - NATO
NATO Rīga Summit

Madam President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to say a few words at the opening of this exhibition devoted to NATO’s transformation.

Let me first of all thank all those who have been involved in setting up this exhibition: Latvian hosts, Allied Command Transformation, Allied Command Operations, and my colleagues on the NATO International Staff. I have had a sneak preview and I think they have done a great job.

This exhibition demonstrates very clearly that, for NATO, “transformation” is much more than a catchphrase. Over the last few years we have worked very hard to adapt our Alliance – to be better able to safeguard our democratic values and our security wherever they are threatened.

We have already made very good progress in this adaptation process. And the broad range of displays at this exhibition gives a good insight – both into what we have already achieved, and the work that is still ongoing.

Our missions and operations are the most visible demonstration of the Alliance ’s transformation. Not that long ago, it seemed unthinkable that NATO would ever take action outside its Treaty area.

Today, more than 50,000 NATO troops are deployed in different types of missions and operations on three different continents. And Latvia , which only joined NATO a few years ago, is making a valuable contribution to that common effort, as you will see in the display on Latvia ’s role in ISAF in Afghanistan .

All 26 NATO Allies realise that the new security environment demands different, more modern capabilities – more useable and deployable military forces – and better protection of our populations, forces and critical infrastructure.

That modernisation process is another important dimension of NATO’s transformation. It is duly highlighted at this exhibition. For example, you can take a look at the some of the gear that the soldier of the future needs in order to prevail in combat; you can explore NATO’s role in the defence against terrorism; or pay a visit to Allied Command Transformation without having to travel all the way to Norfolk , Virginia . In short, you can see with your own eyes what defence transformation entails.

It is often said that transformation is a process, not a single event. I couldn’t agree more. That is why NATO’s defence modernisation will receive another boost at our Summit here in Riga . Let me mention just a few of the steps we will be taking. For example, the NATO Resonse Force should reach its Full Operational Capability. This force will play a vital part in the Alliance ’s response to rapidly emerging crises. Several Allies and one Partner will unveil a new initiative on acquiring C-17 strategic transport aircraft. This initiative will represent a quantum leap in our strategic lift capacity.

And we will take measures to increase the ability of our special operations forces to work together.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In today’s world of multiple threats and challenges, institutions are no longer judged by what they claim to represent. Institutions need to deliver concrete results. This exhibition, as well as the Riga Summit, is ample proof that NATO is an Alliance that delivers – by providing security in new ways and in new places.

Thank you.


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