Speech by Mrs Michèle Alliot-Marie, Minister of Defense, at the NATO Chiefs of Staff Dinner in Cannes
Our Strategic Target Is not Winning Battles, but "Winning Peace"
Speech by Mrs Michèle Alliot-Marie, Minister of Defense, at the NATO Chiefs of Staff Dinner in Cannes. September 9, 2003. Source: DICoD, Paris.
Mr. Mayor and Deputy,
Mr. President of the military Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcoming for the first time the NATO Chiefs of Staff in a beautiful city like Cannes is an exquisite pleasure.
NATO is considered as an Anglo-Saxon club and moreover as a military club. The number of women among NATO Chiefs of Staff could still be increased. Therefore, I feel specially honored to share this dinner with you.
I hope that this meeting will be friendly yet studious. This gathering occurs at a time of serious concerns for the international community.
New patterns of terrorism are being developed, as dramatically illustrated by the events of September 11. There is an increased risk of a worldwide multiplication of weapons of mass destruction. Mondialization produces both wealth and inequality, and occasionally sparks off violent oppositions against western cultural patterns. Therefore, although the threats because of which the Alliance was created are slackened, the international security grows weaker. Facing up these new threats requires a strong transatlantic friendship. Some NATO rules have to be rethought so as to maintain the legitimacy and the relevance of the Alliance.
1. – Reform of the Alliance
Reforming successfully the Alliance implies that we develop three major fields:
- the transatlantic defense-oriented assignment,
- the joint fight against terrorism and random attacks,
- the common actions of peace-stabilisation
1.1. Prague and the reforming process
During the Prague Summit, the Alliance took on these fields by launching adequate transformation and modification processes. These processes include reforming the command system – with the creation of the Norfolk Transformation Allied Commander, and restructuring the forces. I have always encouraged unhesitatingly the idea of NATO action forces. These forces aim at fulfilling the American and European worldwide assignments. These initiatives were promptly managed, and have already produced more flexible, displayable and responsive NATO services. Furthermore, these achievements will help preventing the use of unnecessary resources within permanent departments.
1.2. Diversifying the Alliance’s assignments
The Alliance has already diversified some of its actions, thanks to its services increased responsiveness.
In the Balkans, thanks to the close transatlantic relationship, the European Union successfully took over from the NATO troops in Macedonia. Merging the SFOR with the European Union troops will be the next logical step in Bosnia. In Afghanistan, NATO troops also took command of the United Nations soldiers.
1.3. The rank of France.
It is a recognized fact that France fully committed itself to NATO reforming processes and yet kept its specific views. France has played a major role in NATO decisions and will therefore significantly participate in the new reaction force. There are many French troops in the Balkans. France is the first contributor to the KFOR. France has also allocated a substantial budget to its military resources, in order to optimize its military efficiency and availability. President Chirac often asserts that European Defence relies on NATO Defence policy. France is determined to play a major part in NATO responsive force, which is clearly demonstrated by relative French proposals. That implies that the number of French representatives within the NATO Chiefs of Staff should be increased. A French representative should thus be proposed to join the ACT at a significant position
2. – Ambiguousness of the reform
There are some unclear points about the reform, especially issues regarding our strategic targets, the improvement of our resources, and the relationship between NATO and the EU.
2.1. Need for an overall political project
Our strategic target is not winning battles, but "winning peace" wherever there are NATO troops.
As demonstrated by the Alliance’s previous operations, worldwide peace-stabilisation requires definite strategic processes.
In Kosovo, we must focus on implementing a constitutional state under the United Nations trusteeship before debating about the country sovereignty.
We have to watch over the Afghan democratisation processes by providing support to the Bonn Agreement, namely by organising elections.
The solving of the Irakis crisis also requires that Irak quickly regains its national sovereignty under the United Nations supervision.
2.2. Mobilizing resources
As I said, we have to put the emphasis on NATO resources. The current planning and pre-operative processes have already proved to be efficient. I do not think that allowing quicker military decisions, without the approval of the existing institutional processes, would significantly improve this efficiency. We cannot achieve our operations without having defined joint strategic targets. This definition is the essence of a fair alliance between sovereign and equal states.
2.3 Relationship between NATO and the EU
The relationship between NATO and the EU significantly improved with Berlin Plus, and should therefore play a key-part in addressing the issues raised by the diversification of conflicts.
The EU has a wide panel of resources, including not only military forces but also police, legal, economical and financial assets. These resources make the EU a valuable partner for the peace stabilisation operations. Besides, the Europeans have the required ability to lead by themselves some of the operations which are not commanded by NATO. These operations rely on a single supply of forces, which is available at a national, European or NATO level.
This strategy does not aim at copying the NATO action processes, but at ensuring overall security. Those who have objected to the plans for a European Defence should budge if the EU shows an unambiguous strategy, as proved the Artemis Operation.
Your current works are finalised at the right time. We are now entering in a key-period for the Alliance’s reform, the European Defence reinforcement, and the strengthening of the transatlantic friendship.
I am sure that your works will provide the Ministers’ meeting in Colorado Springs with a great support. Until that day, I wish you a great time in France. I would very much enjoy to attend the air-sea display which you will see tomorrow, but unfortunately will not be able to join you. I sincerely wish you an excellent evening and a pleasant day tomorrow.