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To Fight Terrorism Co-operation Is the Only Way Forward

To Fight Terrorism Co-operation Is the Only Way Forward

Speech by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson at the conference on "International Security and the Fight Against Terrorism" Vienna, Austria, June 14, 2002.

Chancellor Schüssel


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking the Austrian authorities for taking the initiative to host this conference. And I am very pleased indeed to see so many representatives from NATO, Partner and Mediterranean Dialogue countries.

This broad participation reflects a simple fact. The new security challenges in the international arena threaten us all - North America, Europe, Central Asia, the Mediterranean region, and beyond. Terrorism is no longer a domestic problem. It is now a threat to international security.

Defeating this challenge will require the broadest possible coalition, and the deepest possible cooperation.

For me, today's event comes hard on the heels of critical NATO meetings in Reykjavik, Rome and Brussels. Foreign Ministers, Presidents and Prime Ministers, and Defence Ministers have successively addressed different aspects of the Alliance's adaptation agenda. Their discussions relate directly to our topics today.

So let me convey to you the same message that I heard at these meetings. The international community must act against the scourge of terrorism with a sense of urgency. That is why NATO is moving forward energetically, on multiple fronts.

NATO's approach to all security issues is based on the concept of cooperative security, the strong conviction that common security challenges must be tackled by working together.

Terrorism is clearly such a common security challenge. As underlined in UN Security Council Resolution 1373, terrorism requires a comprehensive approach, one that unites the broadest possible coalition of nations, but that also encompasses effective coordination between all of our international institutions.

NATO can contribute in a number of different ways. Its comparative advantage is centred on its military clout, but it is certainly not limited to it. Let me illustrate this by briefly setting out the scope of our current role.

The NATO Allies have first of all proved a strong political coalition, united in their solidarity with the United States, and determined to help fight terrorism. The invocation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the Alliance's collective defence mechanism, was an electrifying demonstration of this. It was followed up by the rapid deployment of forces, including the NATO airborne early warning aircraft which spent 8 months patrolling American skies.

In the Balkans, the Allies have cracked down on a number of terrorist cells, and made strong efforts to assist the countries in the region in dealing with border security issues.

NATO has also proved its value as a platform for coalition operations. The Allies are making key contributions to the two continuing operations in Afghanistan - the US-led military operation against Al-Qaida, and the International Security Assistance Force deployed in and around Kabul. They are able to do so effectively only because of the years of developing common procedures within the Alliance.

For the longer term, we are focusing more systematically on the protection of our forces and populations against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, on the dangers of proliferation, and on ballistic missile defence.

And there is a concerted effort underway to sharpen the Alliance's terrorist-fighting potential even further - including its procedures, its capabilities, and its cooperation with Partner countries.

To bring all this together, NATO's Prague Summit in November is expected:

  • to endorse a military concept for defence against terrorism;
  • to outline NATO's role in managing the consequences of terrorist attacks;
  • to affirm NATO's determination to act decisively against terrorism,
  • including supporting - on a case-by-case basis - future international coalitions; and
  • to approve an Action Plan that will set out how NATO and Partner countries can act against terrorism together.

Let me give you an idea of just how far-reaching these changes are in practice. Take for example the political guidance for NATO's concept for defence against terrorism:

Just last week, Defence Ministers decided that NATO should be ready to help deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorist attacks, or threat of attacks, directed from abroad against our populations, territory, infrastructure and forces, including by acting against these terrorists and those who harbour them.

Similarly, if requested, we should be ready to provide assistance to national authorities in dealing with the consequences of terrorist attacks, particularly where these involve chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.

We agreed that NATO should be ready to deploy its forces "as and where required" to carry out such missions.

And we agreed that, following a case-by-case decision, NATO might provide its assets and capabilities to support operations undertaken by or in cooperation with the EU or other international organisations or coalitions involving Allies.

These are fundamentally important decisions, which give NATO a clear way forward to tackle terrorism in a comprehensive way. Indeed, those of you who recall the rigid debate about whether NATO had a role "out of area" will recognise that this is a major shift of policy.

NATO is not about to become the world's policeman. But it can now be used much more effectively in support of our common international fight against terrorism.

NATO is, of course, much more than an alliance of 19 nations. It sits at the centre of a web of partnerships that allow us to engage and work with a wide spectrum of countries throughout the Euro-Atlantic community and beyond.

Our most comprehensive effort is that which pools the significant knowledge, assets and capabilities of our 27 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Partners with that which we have in NATO. Austria is an important contributor to and beneficiary of this process.

It is no exaggeration to say that the EAPC is the world's largest and most effective permanent coalition. At the political level, it was striking that the EAPC statement in the wake of September 11 was as robust as that of NATO itself.

At the practical level, we are already making good progress, notably in sharing information on the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, and in compiling an inventory of capabilities for use in response to a possible terrorist attack with such weapons.

The fight against terrorism is also a key priority for the newly created NATO-Russia Council. The Rome Summit that created this Council was a truly historic occasion, bringing an end to half a century of confrontation and mutual suspicion. The fight against terrorism is a key component of the new relationship, starting with a joint NATO-Russia assessment of the terrorist threat to our peacekeeping forces in the Balkans.

Finally, NATO's seven Mediterranean Partners have also stood with us since 11 September. We owe it to them - and to ourselves - to enhance our Mediterranean Dialogue by injecting it with further opportunities for practical cooperation, including in the fight against terrorism. And that is something we are also actively developing.

Cooperative security means more than developing relations between NATO and like-minded countries. It means good working ties with international organisations operating in the same or similar fields. The terrorists do not respect bureaucratic distinctions. Neither should we.

What does this mean in practice for NATO's cooperation with the UN, the OSCE and the EU? Like NATO, these organisations are evolving all the time, and that means that we must be pragmatic rather than dogmatic.

NATO certainly has taken a pragmatic approach. There are frequent working level contacts between NATO staff and UN, OSCE and EU to explore the scope for further cooperation. And on the ground in the Balkans there is a real and effective working partnership.

The UN has an obvious general oversight role, notably in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373. We had Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the Chairman of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee, at NATO HQ last week for a very useful discussion with the North Atlantic Council.

One of the things that emerged from that discussion is that NATO is particularly well?placed to help tackle the intersection between terrorism and trans-national organised crime, including the illegal movement of nuclear, biological and chemical materials.

As far as the OSCE is concerned, I welcome the identification by the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on Terrorism of policing, border monitoring, anti-trafficking and financing, as areas where this organisation can make a particularly valuable contribution.

Within the framework of the Platform for Cooperative Security, NATO and OSCE staff are exploring how we can better work together in the fight against terrorism. Given the considerable overlap in membership, the delineation of efforts between the OSCE and the EAPC clearly is one thing we have to keep a close eye on.

Meanwhile, NATO's relationship with the EU continues to take shape. The fight against terrorism is obviously high on the agenda of the growing number of meetings between our organisations, at various levels. And a NATO-EU Foreign Ministers' meeting in Reykjavik last month reaffirmed the importance of cooperation in this area.

Civil Emergency Planning has emerged as a particularly promising avenue for practical cooperation, given the considerable expertise and capabilities available through NATO on this issue, and the possibility of involving Home Affairs and other Ministries and Agencies in the EU context.

Henry Kissinger wrote recently that we should turn tragedy into opportunity. September 11th has given us the opportunity to break down for good out-dated or ideological barriers between former foes and international organizations.

In responding to the threat of terrorism, cooperation is not just the best way forward - it is the only way forward. That is why events like this, which spread mutual understanding and the culture of cooperation across the international community, are so important.


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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).