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The World Has Become a Very Different Place

The World Has Become a Very Different Place

Source: Press Statement by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, at the Foreign Ministers Meeting, Brussels, Belgium, December 6, 2001.

Good afternoon. Since the September 11th attacks, the world has become a very different place. NATO Foreign Ministers met today for the first time since then to discuss how to adapt the Alliance to meet the challenges of that new world.

Terrorism was at the centre of our discussions. On September 12th, NATO invoked – for the first time in its history – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. NATO’s rapid action galvanised nations into joining the fight against terrorism.

Nobody of course expected the Alliance to tackle terrorism alone. But we are playing a big practical role in the global campaign.

We continue to defend the United States by flying NATO AWACS over American cities. NATO forces have smashed Al-Qaida cells in the Balkans. Others measures are less visible, such as the provision of ports, bases and airspace.

But they are, however, equally important to the success of our common efforts to ensure zero tolerance for terrorists.

Today, ministers agreed to develop a package of measures in the run-up to the Prague Summit to strengthen the Alliance’s capacity to respond to this challenge.

A key partner in this respect is of course Russia. The Alliance deeply appreciates the unequivocal stance of President Putin, not only on terrorism, but also on other areas of cooperation. When I met the President two weeks ago, we agreed that there is now a strong "logic of common interests" in NATO-Russia relations.

Today NATO set the goal of creating, in the coming months, a new NATO-Russia body to allow us to work "at 20" on issues where we have a common interest.

Deeper, more concrete cooperation will, however, not be at the expense of NATO’s fundamental objectives. We will retain our prerogative to undertake independent action at 19. President Putin knows this and accepts it of course.

And new structures will not be enough. We need a more constructive mind-set to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to build a new quality to our cooperation.

In the Balkans, NATO working with others, has headed off two major crises.

In Serbia, without fanfare, we oversaw the reopening of the Ground Safety Zone around Kosovo, heading off a predicted major conflict there. Our missions in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1 have demonstrated that a modest number of NATO troops can avert a bloody civil war. Today, we paid tribute to the men and women of Task Forces Harvest and Fox, whose work has been the model of crisis prevention.

In Kosovo, NATO forces have created a peaceful environment without which the recent successful elections, the first free and fair elections in Kosovo history, could simply not have been held. And NATO continues to support the stabilisation process in Bosnia-Herzegovina, preparing the way for an increasing transfer of tasks to civilian authorities.

At the same time, NATO has pressed forward with an ambitious enlargement agenda which will culminate at the Prague Summit with at least one new member.

This is good record. And one which demonstrates that NATO is an organisation of action; an organisation that can deliver; and an organisation that can adapt to new challenges with speed and effectiveness.

Thank you.

1 Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.


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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).