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Unconventional Threats Require Unconventional Answers

Unconventional Threats Require Unconventional Answers

Statement by Philippe Welti State Secretary of Switzerland at the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Defence Ministers session. Brussels, December 19, 2001.

Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, "Improving Co-operation and Capabilities to address Terrorism and other Non-Conventional Threats to Security" is the central topic on our agenda, The tragic events of 11th September call for unconditional condemnation.

Our societies have to dedicate focussed and well co-ordinated attention to fight terrorism. EAPC has to take up its share. Let's concentrate on areas of comparative advantages. We support the new Chapter "international Fight against Terrorism" in the EAPC Action Plan 2002-2004 and are looking forward to the Seminar in Poland to define more clearly the EAPC's role. We think there is room to debate the question of defining the limits of military and non-military co-operation.

Terrorism also brought back to our minds the relevance of effective co-operation in civil emergency planning. EAPC - allowing for a close civil-military link - has a role to play; we support the idea of including protection against weapons of mass destruction.

While staying focussed, we should not lose sight of deeper roots of terrorism. Terrorism grows on certain grounds and under certain conditions; lets address them based on our common values of democracy, civil rights and open societies.

Today's security environment in the euro-atlantic area is very much shaped by unconventional threats. Let me highlight two points:

  • Response to these threats can not only be given by the military but calls for new links and enhanced co-operation between all relevant civil and military actors,
  • Nevertheless, there remain tasks that have to be addressed specifically by the military. Their response cannot or can only be partially derived from traditional preparations to defend national sovereignty with heavy military material or from peacekeeping abroad.

Unconventional threats require unconventional answers, also by our ministries of defence. There has to be creative thinking and planning to give our armed forces a role adapted to the new circumstances.

We believe that the EAPC offers added value to address these challenges, it is a unique forum for fostering military co-operation under political guidance and with strong civilian involvement.

Switzerland is ready to support the reflection processes lying ahead of us. To this ends we are glad to continue supporting the respective otters of the Geneva Centres.

Let me turn now to the NATO-led Presence in the Balkans, which has been critical in contributing to stability and political progress and continues to be successful. Time is not ripe for disengagement. The Swiss government will continue to contribute its part by supporting KFOR, which - along with SFOR - plays a crucial role for stability in the region. After a referendum last summer, armed Swiss troops are authorized to participate in peacekeeping operations under a UN or OSCE mandate. Moreover, Swiss Parliament decided to extend the mandate of the Swiss unit until the end of 2003 and to augment the contingent. In addition, the unit will be supported by helicopter transport capacities.

Switzerland is looking forward to the analysis of current Operations in the Balkans from a theatre-wide perspective. This will complement the spring KFOR and SFOR reviews and facilitate a newly focussed long-term military strategy in the Balkans. We acknowledge the common efforts undertaken by NATO, SHAPE and ail Commanders.

Switzerland is committed to a strong engagement in the area of humanitarian demining and will continue to support the activities of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, to co-finance mine clearance projects in the theatre and to make experienced personnel as well as the necessary equipment available to particular programmes. For this purpose, army personnel is being specifically trained for international mine clearance activities.

Furthermore, Switzerland considers offering to the international community the services of more experts in mine clearance or supervisors, on a permanent basis. Therefore, the Ministry of Defence is currently studying new centralised training infrastructures in Switzerland.

EAPC/PfP has started out with the search for interoperability in peace support operations. We have gone a long way but the Enhanced and more operational Partnership still has to be pursued vigorously. EMOP will result, in the years to come, in a substantial increase in the demand for education and training, Advanced Distributed Learning will help, in the long term, to save costs, while at the same time multiplying the opportunities for coordinated or even joint development and use of educational modules - a precondition to achieve interoperability. Switzerland has actively participated in the ADL Policy development Ad Hoc Working Group and is determined to increase its involvement in this field.

Among the various cooperation programmes Switzerland is undertaking with South-Eastern European countries, I would like to particularly highlight the VETOXA project in Albania, which has been successfully completed last September. The mobile plasma furnace was running during 5 months and 20 tons of toxic substances have been destroyed. 1 would like to mention the good cooperation with the Albanian NBC Protection Regiment, the Albanian Central Army Chemical Laboratory and the Albanian Army, The NATO-PfP Cell in Tirana and the Governments of Italy and the United Kingdom joined forces to support this endeavor. This high-tech project could show the way for similar operations aiming at eliminating similar ecological threats in other regions on the continent.

Finally, the PfP stock taking and review process to be undertaken next year will provide a framework for making recommendations on adapting the Partnership to the new security environment.

Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

2002 will be a year of substantial changes. NATO will enlarge and forge a new relationship with the Russian Federation. We hope that EAPC/PfP will remain a substantial forum for security co-operation and able to contribute to enhance the relations between NATO and Non-NATO-members through complementarity between them. Switzerland is ready to contribute its share.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).