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The OSCE and NATO Proceeding on Complementary Tracks

The OSCE and NATO Proceeding on Complementary Tracks

NATO Secretary General's intervention at the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna (Austria), November 2, 2000.

Mr. Secretary General, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here. I am the first Secretary General of NATO ever to have the privilege to speak to the OSCE Permanent Council, and your invitation to me to attend this meeting is a vivid illustration of how security co-operation in the Euro-Atlantic area has changed -- and changed for the better.

It is no surprise that our two organizations were somewhat estranged from each other during the Cold War. Given the political context, there was no other option. But since the early 1990s, we have had the opportunity to move ever-closer together, in two important ways.

First and foremost, NATO and the OSCE have moved closer together philosophically. Of course, the OSCE represents a longstanding framework for Euro-Atlantic arms control, for early warning, for preventive diplomacy, for democracy building and for addressing the myriad of minority issues in Europe. And the OSCE remains the sole organisation capable of setting standards of security behaviour through the commitments and obligations which all OSCE member states take on as they join the Organisation. This in itself has much reduced the scope for go-it-alone, zero-sum security politics -- politics that once were the bane of European history. And throughout its history, NATO countries have supported and participated in the OSCE and its operations -- even as the Alliance itself focused principally on its main tasks of preventing a major regional war in Europe. But now, with the divisions of the Cold War firmly behind us, the tenets championed by this organisation since 1975 have become central to all efforts to building European security: promoting democracy and human rights, conflict prevention, early warning and early response to emerging crises. This broader understanding of security has become the standard definition of security today and widely shared -- across nations and across institutions. Including very much in NATO.

In its Platform for Cooperative Security the OSCE has declared its intention to work with other institutions. And in NATO, the OSCE will find a strong and co-operative Partner. Because NATO, too, has broadened its agenda -- and it has done so in line with the objectives shared by the OSCE.

Through its enlargement process, for example, NATO contributes to overcoming the vestiges of Europe's erstwhile division, in line with the principles of self-determination and the free choice of security arrangements. The special roles of Russia and Ukraine are being taken into account by privileged bilateral partnerships. A new relationship with the European Union will lead to a stronger Europe and to a more balanced transatlantic relationship. And a dialogue with nations from the Southern Mediterranean shores is seeking to build trust and confidence in this important region.

Two other innovations on NATO's post-Cold War agenda are of special significance for furthering the aims of the OSCE: the Partnership for Peace programme and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Because with these mechanisms, the Alliance has created a framework for military cooperation and political consultation that reaches across the entire Euro-Atlantic space.

A major part of the co-operative effort under PfP is to prepare Partner countries to be able to deploy forces alongside Allied ones in possible crisis response operations or peace support operations. In this way, we help to expand the pool of trained peacekeeping forces able to work closely together in the field. This was the logical outgrowth of our 1992 offer to support OSCE peacekeeping operations with NATO assets, on a case-by-case basis. This offer still stands. From the outset, then, the Partnership has been closely connected with the principles championed by the OSCE.

The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) provides a political link with Partner nations. For example, regarding Bosnia and now Kosovo, meetings of the EAPC bring together the troop-contributing nations for consultations on a regular basis. This provides the important political dimension to the close military co-operation already taking place on the ground within SFOR and KFOR.

In the three years of its existence the EAPC has already demonstrated its value as a forum for consultation and cooperation in many areas critically important to European security: regional issues, arms control, peacekeeping, defence economic issues, civil emergency planning, and scientific and environmental issues. In addition, the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre has played a very important role, for example in alleviating the refugee crisis caused by Milosevic last year.

All in all, that is an impressive list for such a young forum -- a list, I may add, that mirrors the aims and aspirations of the OSCE. Indeed, the OSCE has been involved in some of the EAPC's activities.

But there is still much untapped potential. We should use the EAPC's flexibility to explore innovative ways of addressing security challenges. It is precisely the open nature of the EAPC that distinguishes it from other fora -- and this openness could serve us well in contributing to a solution.

The evolution of the OSCE and of NATO is therefore proceeding on complementary tracks. Both institutions have adapted to change by broadening their security agenda; both have reached out to the wider Europe, and both have diversified the specific tools at their disposal to cope with a new set of challenges. And both institutions -- each in its unique ways --have adopted policies of conflict prevention and crisis management.

And it is because of our efforts to prevent or manage crises that NATO and the OSCE have moved closer together not only philosophically, but also practically -- in day-to-day cooperation, with a view to enhancing our joint crisis management capability.

Bosnia and Kosovo have demonstrated that our two institutions not only pursue common goals, but can actually pursue them in common. A great deal of practical cooperation in theatre has developed between IFOR/SFOR and OSCE in Bosnia over the past years of cooperation in implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement.

This was reinforced in the period between October 1998 and March 1999 when NATO and OSCE were assigned complementary verification tasks under the Holbrooke/Milosevic Agreement on Kosovo. NATO supported the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission, and staff relations in the field and at Headquarters were taken to a qualitatively new level of depth.

Unfortunately, that novel form of co-operation was cut short by Milosevic's ethnic war. But the entry of both KFOR and OSCE into Kosovo has seen the start of a new phase of cooperation, as each discharges its own responsibilities in this troubled region. NATO, together with troops from many Partner countries, is taking the lead in creating a safe environment. The OSCE, by organising and supervising elections and by running the Kosovo Police Academy, is helping to create the foundation for a functioning civil society, and thus for true reconciliation. UNMIK-KFOR relations are a good example of how institutions can bring their unique capacities to bear to make progress in extremely challenging situations.

This unique division of labour reflects the principles on which institutional relationships should be built: cooperation instead of competition, synergy rather than hierarchy.

Bosnia and Kosovo are valuable examples of real cooperation on the ground. But we should not have to wait until a real crisis forces us to cooperate. If we are serious about our common aim of preventing crises, then our practical cooperation on the ground should also be reflected on the institutional level. Indeed, one of the central lessons we learned from Kosovo was that NATO should develop more institutionalised relationships with relevant international organisations.

Such closer cooperation between our institutions is only logical. After all, strengthening the OSCE's operational capability has been a consistent policy of NATO's Allies. From the very early ideas of institutionalising the CSCE process, NATO nations have been at the forefront of giving this body an operational dimension. The Charter for European Security, the emphasis on the OSCE's role in peacekeeping; the implementation of the REACT concept; the strengthening of the Secretariat and the Conflict Prevention Centre -- much of the conceptual input for these important steps has been provided by NATO countries.

Now that the OSCE's operational dimension has been enhanced, the stage is set for the OSCE and NATO to explore and deepen the areas of concrete cooperation.

We do not have to start from scratch. The Alliance has engaged operationally with the OSCE in peace building in the Balkans, is working with the OSCE on confidence-building measures for the Bosnian armies and has worked on conceptual aspects of conflict prevention and peacekeeping in general. Moreover, the OSCE participates actively in the work of the EAPC Ad Hoc Working Group on Peacekeeping. And, as part of regular staff-level contacts, the OSCE's Operations Centre has already established contact with NATO's Situation Centre. These are mechanisms on which we can build as we deepen our relationship further. The opportunities for making further progress are plentiful: enhancing informal personal contacts; increasing the number of mutual visits of senior officials of both organisations; considering arrangements for more regular briefings on NATO activity here at the OSCE Permanent Council; building up existing arrangements for pragmatic, informal staff consultations, holding joint NATO/OSCE staff seminars on key issues such as civil-military relations, public security in peacekeeping operations, and early management of a crisis.

Some of these ideas may be implemented in the short-term, some may take a longer time to come to fruition. But one thing is clear: closer NATO-OSCE relations are a strategic imperative. We live in a time when democratic norms are acquiring an ever greater weight in international relations. The OSCE remains the standard bearer of these norms. This organisation is thus bound to play an ever more visible role in European security. But like NATO, it cannot achieve its goals in isolation. Only in the broader framework of a system of interlocking institutions can NATO and the OSCE bring their unique capabilities to bear effectively. That is why the strategic Partnership between our two institutions is becoming ever-more valuable.

Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Ten years ago, when the Cold War came to an end and institutions started to adapt, some concerns were raised that we might enter an era of institutional rivalry. My presence here today shows how wrong those fears were.

Today, we can see more clearly. Our institutions are not rivals but partners. The emerging Euro-Atlantic security architecture is not a system of competing institutions, nor is it a Darwinian system of "survival of the fittest". Of course, our institutions are continuing to evolve; and of course, the relations between them are evolving as well. But this is a very positive evolution: towards common philosophies, common approaches to problem solving, and -- I hope -- regular institutional links between our two organizations. Because nothing could be better for Euro-Atlantic security than a truly effective Partnership between NATO and the OSCE in pursuing our common and complementary goals together.


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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).