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Robertson: NATO Has a Full Agenda

Robertson: NATO Has a Full Agenda

Lord Robertson’s closing Press Conference NAC/D Defence Ministers Meeting; Brussels, December 18, 2001. Source: NATO.

Good afternoon. NATO’s 19 Defence Ministers met today in the shadow of 11 September. But the enemies of peace and freedom are inretreat because of our collective determination to defeat them.

In Afghanistan, the Balkans and in our own countries, terrorism is being confronted and beaten. NATO is playing a key role in this endeavour: contributing immediately by providing forces such as the AWACS aircraft now operating in the United States, and in smashing Al-Qaida cells in Bosnia and Kosovo; and contributing all the time as the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security, defence and military cooperation.

We recognised that the fight is far from over, and we reiterated our resolve for zero tolerance for terrorism.

This is a changed world, with a premium on political and military agility. NATO Defence Ministers understand this and are responding accordingly.

Our agenda concentrated on the Alliance’s continued military adaptation. This is work in progress. But it has taken important steps forward.

In reviewing our defence plans, we agreed to increase the proportion of forces that can be deployed and sustained in operations far beyond Alliance territory.

  • We renewed our commitment to meet the Alliance’s Force Goals so as to give NATO the necessary means to face new challenges.
  • We agreed that our concepts, our policies, our structures and, most importantly, our defence capabilities must be adapted to the new security environment.
  • We endorsed the NATO Foreign Ministers’ agreement 12 days ago to create new mechanisms to allow us to work with Russia "at 20" on a range of issues where our interests converge.
  • On the Balkans, we reviewed our missions with an eye toward possibilities for rationalisation of our forces in the coming year through a regional approach that would guarantee greater efficiencies while maintaining our effectiveness.
  • We continued our consultations on missile defence.
  • We reviewed the state of play on the European Security and Defence Initiative.
  • And last, but certainly not least, we examined the progress made in implementing the Washington Summit’s Defence Capabilities Initiative and agreed to push harder toward reaching our objectives especially on the key capabilities gaps as we head towards the Summit meeting that will take place in Prague next November.

As you can see, we have a very full agenda.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has an impressive record. We are at the moment running three major and successful peace support operations in the Balkans; we are pursuing an ambitious enlargement agenda; we are engaged in the development of a broader, deeper relationship with Russia; and under Article 5, making a significant contribution to the international campaign against terrorism.

Success comes with a price tag. If we want safety for our people, we need additional resources for defence and security, and we need the right balance within our defence programmes. The simple message from NATO Defence Ministers is this you can’t get defence on the cheap.

This was a businesslike meeting of NATO Ministers determined to push forward with NATO’s modernisation. NATO is the most effective and successful alliance in history. Today’s decisions and discussions will help ensure that NATO can continue to play its vital role in safeguarding the safety of our citizens and the values of our societies.

Thank you.


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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).