Updated: 21 May 1999 News Articles

in the
12 May 1999

NATO: United to Succeed

Article by the Secretary-General of NATO

The world has changed dramatically in half a century. The Cold War is over. Globalisation has affected all aspects of our lives. The concept of security embraces economic, social and humanitarian issues.

NATO has changed too: the new NATO that emerged from the Washington Summit is ready for the next millennium. In all of this our core principles remain constant: in 1949 the founder members of NATO signed the North Atlantic Treaty to defend democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. These remain directly relevant to the world of today, and proclaiming them is not sufficient. The Kosovo crisis obliged us to take action to defend them. This challenge is every bit as great as those we faced 50 years ago. Our New Strategic Concept approved in Washington helps equip NATO for such new challenges. We have a moral responsibility to act to defend our values once the efforts of diplomacy have failed. And we are doing so with the determination that has become our characteristic since 1949. This has not changed. Our action in the Balkans is the latest chapter in a long history of standing up for these principles. Principles that will help ensure Europe enters the next millennium a peaceful and stable place.

The Washington Summit endorsed our continuing action in Kosovo. It showed that the resolve of the international community is getting stronger; and it encouraged us to intensify this action with immediate effect. We will do so. And, more than ever, I am totally confident that we will succeed. We have three key strengths: unity of spirit; clarity of purpose and the right strategy.

Our unity of spirit could not be stronger. At the Washington Summit, more than 40 countries stood shoulder to shoulder : not only the 19 Allies but also our Partners with whom deepening our cooperative relations is one of our top priorities. And the countries neighbouring Yugoslavia asked us to follow our efforts through to the end. They do not enjoy living next door to the policies of the Milosevic regime. We value their help to us - both in the military and humanitarian effort. It is vital to the success of our operation. NATO will respond to any challenges made to them by Yugoslavia as a result of this.

Our aims remain clear. The Washington Summit wholeheartedly confirmed NATO's continuing commitment to them. We welcome the continuing diplomatic efforts of the international community. I am in close contact with Kofi Annan. I also welcome the efforts of Viktor Chernomyrdin. Russia will be central to the lasting solution in the Balkans that we are all seeking. But let us be clear - the aims we set out on 12 April are not negotiable.

And our longer-term strategy remains the achievement of a lasting political settlement, based on the Rambouillet agreement. After that, I look forward to the day when we will be able to welcome a democratic Yugoslavia back into the European family, as part of a stable Balkan region.

Our strategy is working. Day by day we are gradually degrading Milosevic's war machine, cutting off his ability to sustain his forces in Kosovo. The air campaign has so far made a dramatic impact: the air-defences are weak; the airforce no longer takes to the air - many aircraft have been destroyed; and fuel is in short supply - as most of the storage capacity has been eliminated.

In Washington we had one simple message for Milosevic: NATO's resolve is unshakeable. You have the power to end the campaign. Meanwhile, the damage to your country's infrastructure, and every single casualty, is your responsibility.

But our military goals must not deter us from our humanitarian mission. Indeed we are committed to helping those who have suffered as a result of Milosevic's actions. Over 700,000 refugees have now fled the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. Our troops will go on working in support of the UNHCR and other agencies in the refugee camps. 12,000 troops are helping with the humanitarian effort in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 5,000 are doing the same work in Albania. They have helped in the delivery of over 3,000 tons of food, 800 tons of medical supplies and 1,500 tons of tents.

The Allies will work with the rest of the international community to help provide the investment to rebuild Kosovo once the crisis is over: the IMF and the G7 are among those who stand ready to offer financial help to the countries of the region. We want to help ensure proper coordination of aid and to help countries to respond to the effects of the crisis. This should go hand in hand with the necessary structural reforms in the countries affected - helped by budget support from the international community.

Our ultimate aim is to build lasting peace in the Balkans. We are already working for this. Serbia is an integral part of that effort. It must be at the centre of any attempt to bring stability to the region. We will help the Serbian people recover from the situation to which Milosevic's actions have led them. The people of Serbia are not responsible for their present condition. The blame sits squarely on the shoulders of the Milosevic regime. It is thanks to a decade of Milosevic and his policies that a bankrupt Serbia is now isolated in the world. This is another tragedy of this crisis. What right does one man have to doom a nation to this fate? His slaughter in Kosovo is mirrored by his systematic destruction of his own country and people.

I must stress once again to the Serbian people: our quarrel is not with you, it is with your leader. Milosevic has brought you to economic ruin; and has made your country an outcast in the international community. NATO is determined to reverse that. To help achieve this we agreed in Washington to pursue an initiative targeted at South-Eastern Europe. We are determined to play our full part in contributing to building a secure and cooperative relationship with and between the countries of the region.

To this end, the Alliance will establish a consultative forum to consider security issues with the countries of the region, building on the Euro Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace. This will include full consultations between the North Atlantic Council and each of the countries of the region; the promotion of regional cooperation; targeted security cooperation programmes, regionally focused PfP activities and exercises; and better targeting and coordination of Allies' and Partners' bilateral assistance to the region.

And we welcome the efforts of the European Union, and other international organisations, to build lasting stability in the region. In particular we look forward to the forthcoming EU Conference on a Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe on 27 May 1999. Coherence and coordination between all initiatives in the region is vital. We must all work together to achieve our common aim.

The Washington Summit showed that NATO is ready for the next millennium. The values we agreed in 1949 are also the values of the next millennium. We now have a framework to move forward; and to play our part in ensuring a safe and stable Europe for tomorrow.

In this context the Kosovo crisis is a challenge to the international community which makes us turn words into deeds. We are determined to succeed. Our unity and tenacity will help enable the Balkan region to play a full part in the peaceful and stable Europe we are building for the next century.

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