|A New and Stronger Alliance|
A New and Stronger Alliance
Statement by Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik, Prime Minister of Norway. Prague, November 21, 2002. Source: NATO.
Mr. Secretary General,
Dear friends and colleagues,
We have just changed the political map of Europe. On behalf of the people of Norway, I am honoured to welcome seven new members to join in our common efforts to safeguard freedom and democracy.
Our decision today has a profound impact on so many; for seven countries and millions of European citizens it means that important aspirations have been met. A new step has been taken away from a painful past and towards a promising future.
I am therefore pleased to see our European neighbours from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea among the invitees. We will do our utmost to support them as they take their rightful place among us.
NATO will continue to be an inclusive Alliance. This enlargement will not take place at the expense of other candidates or partners. It will also bring the day closer when additional candidates can join the Alliance. This is a commitment we have made and it is a commitment we repeat on this historic day.
Mr. Secretary General,
Dear friends and colleagues,
The Prague Summit is a defining moment. We are here today to chart the course for a new and stronger Alliance. We are facing entirely new security challenges. This requires a new NATO.
Norway is fully committed to turning NATO into an even more efficient tool in defence of our free, open and democratic societies.
Today we have made a historic decision to enlarge the Alliance, to keep the door open and help additional candidate countries move closer to membership.
During the Summit we will bring our wider Euro-Atlantic partnership of 46 countries to a qualitatively new level, based on the recognition that the partners need us and we need them.
We have embarked on a new relationship with Russia. President Putin stressed Russia's firm commitment to our partnership during my talk with him in Oslo last week.
Our cooperation with Russia must now be brought forward. We have proposed that new areas of non-proliferation and civil emergency planning become parts of our cooperation. Engaging Russia on these issues is important to prevent nuclear material from falling into wrong hands and to protect our population against terrorist attacks.
Today we will demonstrate that there must also be a change in the way we will go about meeting the new challenges ahead of us.
In addressing the new threats, the key two words are readiness and flexibility.
Let me, Secretary General, take this opportunity to thank you personally for your relentless efforts to help us realize new NATO capability commitments, to make our forces more flexible, more modern and able to meet new challenges, when and where they occur.
Norway is committed to contribute significantly in all the identified capability areas. Substantial funds have been re-prioritized to meet NATO's objectives, and the Norwegian defense budget has been and will be increased.
Norway fully supports the establishment of a NATO Response Force. It reflects a new and more acute need to deploy forces quickly. We are prepared to give a significant contribution to such a force, including highly specialized capabilities.
We must enhance the protection of our forces and population against weapons of mass destruction, while striving for closer allied cooperation on civil emergency planning.
New and flexible force structures will require new and more flexible command structures. We are encouraged by the ongoing work in this field. A new and streamlined command structure must make military sense in a changed security environment. We fully support the outline, now taking shape, based on an operational command in Europe and a new strategic command for transformation located in the United States. We need, however, a significant presence of this new command on European soil. Our efforts with regard to forces and structures must reflect the importance of military interoperability and ensure that the Trans-Atlantic partnership grows stronger.
In short, we are committed to the need for change and transformation, and we will contribute fully.
The international community has demonstrated its resolve in the fight against international terrorism. We are facing a global threat, and a broad and sustained international effort is necessary to succeed.
Iraq is on the top of the international agenda.
Iraq must comply with all demands from the international community. And we must continue to exert maximum pressure on Iraq, and that must also be the clear message from us today - as proposed in the draft statement.
Military means can never be the only tools in protecting our security and common values. We must make full use of political, diplomatic, legal and economic tools as well. We can only ensure collective security together, through joint action, coordinated and decisive action in full accordance with the principles laid down in the Charter of the United Nations.
We must demand from ourselves and from all our partners, a constant and dedicated effort to respect international law, to build democratic societies and to respect and safeguard the rights of their peoples.
And to succeed we must work with others, the UN, the EU and the OSCE in an even closer partnership.
We have enlarged the Alliance. We have committed ourselves to provide new and essential capabilities. But above all we have reaffirmed the Trans-Atlantic ties and NATO's essential role in providing security for us all.
Our historic decisions in Prague today build on President Havel's legacy and his personal commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights. As we now move on to implement our decisions, we must and we will succeed.