Last update: 24-Nov-2003 16:40 NATO Update

11-13 Nov. 2003

Lord Robertson receives highest US civilian award

10/11/2003 - NATO
NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson to visit the United States

Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing

Saying that NATO was the most successful alliance in history President Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Lord Robertson during the Secretary General's farewell visit to the US, 11-13 November.

Some wonder whether NATO could adopt to the new threats of the 21st century. Today, NATO forces are fighting terror in Afghanistan and supporting a multinational division in Iraq , President Bush said when presenting the United States' highest civilian award to Lord Robertson at the White House on 12 November and praising his leadership.

Tribute to Italy

President Bush and Lord Robertson also paid tribute to the Italian Republic, its policemen and carabinieri officers, who had suffered severe losses in Iraq that day. "All of us mourn with the Italian Republic and their families today," said Lord Robertson, adding that these people had "paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of international order ".

During his visit to Washington, the Secretary General also had meetings with Secretary of State Powell, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Rice to discuss key issues including Afghanistan and the situation in Iraq, and with Senators on Capitol Hill.

NATO is now capable of being the permanent coalition of choice for demanding 21st century missions, even at the toughest end of the crisis spectrum. An alliance of first resort, Lord Robertson said at a conference on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of George C. Marshall receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace, where he delivered a farewell address.

Going out of area, not out of business

The Secretary General began his visit on 11 November with an address to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which was holding its 49th annual session in Orlando, Florida.

We have adapted and transformed. Gone out of area instead of out of business. Created a robust platform for dealing with 21st century challenges , Lord Robertson told over 300 parliamentarians from NATO and partner countries gathered for the session.

He pointed out however that key challenges remain; the need to succeed in Afghanistan, to improve the usability of European armed forces and to make a success of the strategic partnership between NATO and the European Union.