10 Nov. 2008


by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer,
at the Annual Meeting of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA)

[Frau Bundeskanzlerin]
Herr Vorsitzender (Karl Lamers)
Meine Damen und Herren,

Lassen Sie mich auf Deutsch beginnen und zu allererst der Deutschen Atlantischen Gesellschaft dafür danken, dass sie uns alle als Gastgeber der ATA Generalversammlung so grossartig hier in Berlin willkommen heisst.

Dir, lieber Karl Lamers, darf ich sodann ganz herzlich zur erfolgreichen Wahl zum neuen Präsidenten der Atlantic Treaty Association ATA gratulieren. Weniger als eine Woche nach den Wahlen in den Vereinigten Staaten haben wir einen weiteren Präsidenten, der - dessen bin ich mir sicher - seine eigenständige Rolle bei der Stärkung der transatlantischen Beziehungen zwischen Europa und Amerika spielen wird.

Es ist nun an Dir, Karl, die nationalen ATA Aktivitäten zu bündeln und mit lebenswichtiger, frischer Energie zu versehen. Ich habe oft gesagt: In dem Maße in dem sich die NATO verändert, muss sich auch die ATA ändern. Die Herausforderung, eine breite Öffentlichkeit für NATO Themen zu interessieren, ihr zu erklären, was die NATO ist, was sie will und tut, und warum dies für unsere gemeinsame Sicherheit unabdinglich ist, diese Herausforderung besteht nach wie vor.
Wir müssen uns weiter um die öffentliche Unterstützung bemühen für eine NATO, die gleichzeitig auf verschiedenen Kontinenten unter schwierigen, und manchmal auch gefährlichen Bedingungen im Einsatz ist. Und wir müssen uns besonders um die Generation bemühen, die nach dem Ende des kalten Kriegs aufgewachsen ist, und die den Erfolg der NATO in der Nachkriegszeit nur aus Geschichtsbüchern kennt. Ich bin überzeugt, dass Du, Karl, dies mit der Dir eigenen Energie anpacken wirst.

Let me at this stage switch into English and let me pay tribute to Ambassador Bob Hunter, who - of course - knows this all and who has worked tirelessly over the past years to raise the ATA's profile and to make it relevant, not just for NATO insiders, but to the successor generation as well. Ambassador Hunter [Bob]: thank you for your commitment and many years of hard work.

Explaining what NATO stands for and what it does is first and foremost the job of our governments and our parliaments.  But in an Alliance of 26 – and soon 28 – democracies, other key actors of civil society can also play an important role.  And chief among these actors are the media and NGOs.  

The ATA is a very unique NGO.  It is an indispensable instrument to familiarise audiences - especially younger audiences - with NATO.  In some of our new member and aspirant countries, Atlantic associations have been instrumental in supporting a bid for membership or partnership through dedicated information campaigns. 

The Young Atlanticist Youth Summits in Istanbul, Riga and Bucharest have been great successes, showing that young people are keen to debate NATO issues.  Trailers in cinemas in Slovenia, the “Globsec” train from Slovakia – these are further examples of initiatives that were both creative and effective.  Some national chapters have now also started to make use of the new media, such as the Internet, chats and blogs.  And it goes without saying that NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division will continue to support such efforts.

We are now rapidly approaching NATO’s 60th Anniversary – or “60A”, as our Public Diplomacy gurus are calling it.  What better opportunity for the ATA to demonstrate its undiminished relevance?  What better opportunity for trying out new ways of reaching out to our publics?

Today, we are launching an exciting new experiment in public diplomacy: the “NATO Talk Around the Brandenburg Gate”. Tomorrow six discussion panels in six Embassies will deal with the key challenges facing NATO. 

This is a truly innovative idea – and I would very much like to thank the German ATA and NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division for their imagination and hard work in laying the foundations.  And I should also like to thank all the Embassies that have helped to put this idea into practice.

All of tomorrow’s panels are made up of high calibre experts, and this should make for some lively and frank debate.  And that is exactly the kind of debate we need.  Because it will help to understand a picture that is much more complex than some NATO-watchers want to make us believe.

What those commentators tell us is that we have to make some stark choices:  We are told that we must choose either enlargement or Russia; that we must choose either an Alliance for territorial defence or an Alliance for missions abroad; that we must choose either a more civilian or a more military approach to our Afghanistan mission; and that we must choose either a European Security and Defence Policy or NATO.  It is not that these people are anti-NATO.  It is just that they believe the best way ahead for NATO is to limit its ambition and activities – and that the Alliance should make these clear and simple choices.

But the world isn’t that clear and simple.  These choices are misleading choices.  Today’s transatlantic agenda is not an exercise in “either-or”.  Far from it. 

We will not choose between NATO enlargement and Russia, because we need both: we need a Europe where countries are free to choose their own destiny and not have others determine it for them.  This means that NATO will not retreat from its commitment to Georgia and Ukraine that they will one day be members of the Alliance. But we also need a Russia that is a trusting -- and trusted -- partner in this new Europe.  Russia and NATO face a number of very fundamental security challenges – terrorism, non-proliferation, arms control – and we are much better off if we face them together.     If some observers tell us that we can no longer have both an open NATO Alliance and a good relationship with Russia addressing all these challenges, we must prove them wrong.  It may have become more difficult to reconcile both policy tracks, given our differences particularly on enlargement, Missile defence and the CFE régime, but we cannot and will not sacrifice one for the other.

Nor will we choose between a NATO that focuses on territorial defence at home and an Alliance that deals exclusively with missions abroad.  That would be a foolish choice indeed.  In a world in which threats have become global, we cannot confine security merely to the protection of our national borders.  We need a much broader approach – and NATO’s military transformation should provide us with the kind of flexible forces that can prevail across the entire mission spectrum, at home and abroad.

By the same token, we will not have to choose between a military and civilian emphasis in our Afghanistan mission.  Both need to be pursued together.  There can be no civilian development without military security – and that is why NATO must stay the course, why all our member nations need to increase their military commitment, and do more to help the Afghans to look after their own security.  But at the same time, it is clear there can be no long-term security without political and economic development.  And that is why we must not get entangled in pointless debates about “good” civilian versus “bad” military approaches.  Rather, we must bring civilian and military efforts closer together in a comprehensive approach – both in-theatre,  and, as important, at the institutional level. And I very much like the way the comprehensive approach was translated by Bundeskanzelerin Merkel in German:   vernetzte Sicherheit.

Just eight weeks ago, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and I signed a joint UN-NATO Declaration.  This is a huge step towards such a Comprehensive Approach.  With NATO and the UN acknowledging the need for closer cooperation between them, the stage is also set for closer relations between the Alliance and other institutions and key NGOs.  This will be to the benefit of our common effort in Afghanistan – but also help the international community to meet other new and emerging challenges elsewhere.

Last but not least, it makes no sense to couch NATO and a European Security and Defence Policy as two irreconcilable opposites.  A European Union without an ESDP would be incomplete.  A transatlantic relationship without NATO would be unthinkable.  That is why NATO and the EU need to continue to work on their strategic partnership – not as competitors, not as contestants in a beauty pageant, but as two key institutions that have nothing to lose but everything to gain by working closely together.  We are seeing the benefits of such an approach with our respective, and coordinated efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Afghanistan, and our responses to piracy off the coast of East Africa. Let us not forget the very important point: NATO and the EU share 21 Allies/member states.

In a volatile world, with a host of new challenges, and with NATO increasingly acting in concert with partner countries and civilian institutions, it has become much harder for our publics to understand what the Alliance is all about.  As I said at the beginning of my remarks, the ATA can -- and should -- play a key role in helping our publics to understand NATO better.  But I am sure the ATA would not mind if NATO were to make their job a little easier by producing a new, single, consolidated document to explain where we are, and where we are going.  And why NATO remains essential for our common security.

Today, I feel even more strongly that the time has come to prepare the ground for such an all encompassing document at our next Summit in Strasbourg and Kehl.  A “Declaration on Alliance Security“ will help to strengthen the transatlantic community’s sense of common purpose, and will hopefully kick off the process of drafting a new Strategic Concept to define NATO’s role in fulfilling that purpose.  I am sure that the scope and context of such a Declaration will also feature prominently in tomorrow’s “Talk around the Brandenburger Tor”. I hope that the ATA will be proactive in the discussion in the Declaration on Alliance Security.

The Brandenburg Gate provides a particularly fitting background for a discussion on the future of NATO.  For decades, this gate used to be a symbol of division and of political paralysis.  An impressive gate right in the middle of a huge brick wall – but a gate that no one was allowed to pass through – one of the cruellest ironies of the Cold War. 

However, since the 9th of November 1989 -- almost exactly 19 years ago to this day -- the Brandenburg Gate has become a symbol of political change and the irrepressible human desire for freedom. For an Alliance that has both safeguarded and promoted freedom for almost 60 years, the Brandenburg Gate, and the city of Berlin, stand as a powerful testament.  A testament that seemingly insurmountable challenges can be overcome if we remain true to our values: freedom, democracy, and tolerance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These values have always been, and will always be, transatlantic values.  Before long, a new American President will move into the White House. Like his predecessors, President Obama will make a thorough reappraisal of American global policy. And that review will be undertaken against the backdrop of some of the most serious challenges to face an incoming President – the financial crisis, Iraq, Afghanistan, proliferation, energy security, and climate change, to name just a few.

At such moments, it is not surprising that some people here on this continent wonder whether a new US Administration will regard Europe as a privileged partner.  I see no reason to worry. No two continents in this world share more common values than North America and Europe. No two continents in this world trade more with each other.  No two continents in this world have a stronger institutional foundation for their common security: our North Atlantic Alliance – NATO. 

NATO is at the core of the transatlantic community. It is a unique instrument that has proven its strategic value time and again. An instrument that can help not only the new US President and his Administration, but also the Alliance’s other 25 member nations, to meet many of the profound security challenges of our time.  So let us use it – and let us use it well.

Thank you.