NATO Moving Beyond Traditional European Boundaries
NATO Moving Beyond Traditional European Boundaries
NATO Secretary General, Mr Jaap de
Hoop Scheffer, visited Jordan on January 13, 2005. During his visit, he met
with the King of Jordan HM King Abdallah II, the Deputy Prime Minister and
Acting Foreign Minister Dr Marwan Moasher, the Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Jamal
Sarayreh and gave a speech at the International Affairs Society in Amman.
It is both a great honour and a genuine pleasure for me to be in Jordan today.
His Majesty King Abdallah has shown a very strong personal interest in NATO, and
has visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels twice. My visit today is the first
ever official visit by a NATO Secretary General to Jordan and I am quite sure it
will not be the last.
I have come to Jordan at a time of change. A time of change, both here in the
Middle East and within NATO. A time when new ideas and policies are being
generated in order to remove misunderstandings and foster cooperation. And a
time of great hope and expectation not only about the future of this pivotal
region, but also about the relationship between NATO and its southern neighbours.
Let me say a few words about NATO's transformation first. As you know, while
keeping its core functions of collective defence, the Alliance, after the fall
of the Berlin wall, has got progressively more involved in peacekeeping and
During the 1990s, NATO helped to bring peace and stability to the Balkans. We
took action first in Bosnia and Herzegovina, successfully since we recently
handed over our military operation to the EU. Then in Kosovo, where our Balkan
efforts are currently focussed with a 17,000 strong force contributing to
international efforts for reconciliation in that province. More recently, we
deployed a maritime operation called “Active Endeavour” helping to deter
terrorist activities in the Mediterranean Sea. And, responding to the
dramatically changing international security environment, we took the landmark
decision to move beyond the traditional european boundaries, we took command of
the now about 10,000 strong International Security Assistance Force in
Afghanistan, thereby strongly supporting the emergence of the sovereign and
peaceful country the Afghan people deserve. And finally, we are currently
stepping up our efforts to assist with the training and equipment of Iraq’s
security forces allowing also the people in that country to take their fate into
their own hands as fast as possible.
In parallel to these operational commitments NATO has also developed a
comprehensive network of vital partnerships. With the main institutional actors
of course, the UN, the European Union and the OSCE. But also with countries of
strategic importance such as Russia, Ukraine and partners of Central Asia and
the Caucasus. And last but not least with the countries of North Africa and the
Broader Middle East. A pivotal region for stability and security in the world.
Let me also say a few words about this region, the Middle East. I believe there
are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about its future. There is clear,
positive movement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We can all feel heartened
by the recent elections for the Palestinian leadership. And there has been
renewed political engagement in several major capitals these last few months as
well, both here in this region, in Europe, and importantly -- across the
For many years already, Jordan has played a constructive, stabilising role in
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has consistently sought to involve all the
parties concerned. It has kept alive their faith in the Middle East peace
process, and their hopes for a better tomorrow. And it looks as though that
engagement may now finally pay off.
I believe there are reasons for optimism about the future of Iraq, as well,
notwithstanding the current difficulties in that country. The planned national
elections will be a major contribution to the development of a sovereign, stable
Iraq. And the NATO Allies are resolved to contribute to that process. As I said,
we are assisting with the training and equipment of Iraq’s security forces, and
we will be keeping a close eye on other ways and means to help the Iraqi people.
We appreciate Jordan’s readiness to help to make the Alliance’s mission in Iraq
a success. It is clear that Iraq will require a constructive, long term approach
by the international community, and especially by the countries from the region.
In this latter respect, I also commend Jordan for its efforts, including through
the regional meeting here in Amman last week.
Jordan has been a pillar of strength in a very volatile region, and I have great
confidence that it will continue to play that role in the future. NATO’s
involvement in this region is much more recent, and of a different nature. But I
am persuaded that the Alliance, as well, can make an important, lasting
contribution to security and stability in this region. And that is what we are
trying to achieve with our Mediterranean Dialogue.
The Mediterranean Dialogue was launched back in 1994. It was NATO’s first
attempt at building new relationships across the Mediterranean Sea. After the
end of East-West confrontation in Europe, we all felt that the time had come to
reach out a hand of friendship -- not only to Europe’s East, but also to our
neighbours in North Africa and the Middle East.
Initially, our Mediterranean Dialogue had modest aims. We wanted to create a
forum for confidence building and transparency. We wanted to learn more about
our Dialogue partners’ specific security problems. And we wanted to explain
NATO’s transformation and its evolving operational commitments in support of the
Over the past ten years, as the Mediterranean Dialogue progressed, we also
became more ambitious in enhancing its scope. We gave the Dialogue more
structure, and gradually opened up more opportunities for concrete cooperation,
including military-to-military, civil emergency and scientific cooperation. And
we were very pleased with the response by our Mediterranean partners to these
Ever since Jordan joined the Mediterranean Dialogue back in 1995, it has been a
most active participant. This was, quite frankly, no surprise. It reflected
Jordan’s determination to contribute to security not just in its own region, but
also beyond. And it was in keeping with this country’s most welcome contribution
to NATO’s efforts to bring peace to the Balkans.
In recent years, Jordan has been especially active in the Mediterranean
Dialogue’s military programme. This includes training at NATO educational
establishments, port visits by NATO vessels, as well as other meetings involving
the Jordanian military and their NATO counterparts. Moreover, Jordan has also
expressed great interest in border security, civil emergency planning and
counter-terrorism. And I see considerable further potential for mutually
beneficial cooperation in those areas, given the new phase which the
Mediterranean Dialogue has now entered.
Last June, at NATO’s Istanbul Summit, the Allies agreed, in close consultation
with Jordan and the other Mediterranean Dialogue countries, to move from
dialogue to partnership -- from the still fairly limited contacts we have to
more focused cooperation. It was agreed, in particular, to take a close look at
NATO’s other major cooperation framework the Partnership for Peace and then
apply suitable elements of this framework to the Mediterranean Dialogue.
Partnership for Peace was developed in a specific, largely European, context.
But several elements of PfP appear very valuable to our southern neighbours, as
they have proven to be to our neighbours to the east. This applies, for example,
to cooperation on defence reform and joint training; to cooperation in
intelligence sharing in the fight against terrorism; but also to actual
operational cooperation to defend against terrorism such as possible
participation in NATO’s maritime operation in the Mediterranean. Basically an
Understandably, it will take some time to work out the specifics of our enhanced
cooperation. But there has been a generally very favorable response to the new
opportunities on offer, and a strong determination to explore them.
Just last month, we held a first-ever meeting at Ministerial level between NATO
and its Mediterranean partners, which Minister Khader attended on behalf of
Jordan. The meeting was a major step forward. It demonstrated that the political
will is there in all our countries to move our cooperation forward. It concluded
that there is still work to be done in particular to bring our publics along.
And it showed broad agreement on three basic principles on which to build our
cooperation. Let me highlight these principles briefly for you.
This has always been a guiding principle
for the Mediterranean Dialogue. It simply means that the Dialogue is not about
imposing ideas on other countries; that it respects and takes account of the
specific regional, cultural and political context of the respective partners;
and that the countries in the Dialogue should see themselves as shareholders in
a cooperative effort. In short, our Mediterranean Dialogue must be a two-way
street since only a genuine security partnership across the Mediterranean will
Jordan has shown repeatedly that it is a responsible international actor a
country that is able to define its security interests clearly and consistently,
and to act accordingly. Jordan has worked together successfully with NATO in the
past, and has made clear its strong determination to continue to build upon that
cooperation. I am sure that we will be able to do so.
Jordan works with, and through, many
other important organisations, in particular the European Union and the OSCE.
That underlines the need for complementarity for organisations to play to their
strengths, rather than to duplicate each other’s efforts.
Practical cooperation is where NATO’s comparative advantage lies. The Alliance
is an organisation where 26 member states and dozens of other countries are
engaged in political and military cooperation and coordination on a daily basis.
It is the combination of political dialogue and practical cooperation that makes
all the difference. That is the approach we have always taken within NATO, and
with considerable success. It is this approach which we now wish to widen to the
It is obvious
that, while we face a number of common security challenges, these challenges may
be perceived differently from country to country, and from region to region.
Moreover, in addition to this difference in perception, there are and will
remain differences in the ways and means that each of us has available to take
action. In NATO, we understand very well that there are differences for instance
between the Maghreb and the Middle East, and also that the needs of, say Marocco
and Jordan, may not necessarily be the same.
Therefore, while the Alliance will maintain a degree of coherence in its
relations with its Mediterranean Dialogue partners, we are keen to work with our
partners on an individual basis. To sustain a dialogue with individual partners
on their specific security concerns and requirements. And to define together how
best to meet those needs. Which, of course, has also been a major objective of
my visit here today.
These are the three key principles that I believe will guide the development of
the Mediterranean Dialogue, as well as the Alliance’s future relationship with
Jordan. They are the same principles that will also guide the development of
another, distinct yet complementary NATO initiative, which is our Istanbul
Cooperation Initiative or ICI. Through the ICI, we seek to build new ties with
interested countries from the region that is sometimes called the “Broader
Middle East”. Several Gulf States have already expressed an interest in
cooperating with NATO, and we are currently working out the modalities of our
future relationship. But, always on the basis of the three guiding principles as
In the past, the Mediterranean Sea has been both a barrier and a bridge. It has
been a region where different cultures and religions met sometimes violently,
but far more often peacefully. And at all times there were intense trade
relations between the shores of the “mare nostrum”.
Today, the role of the Mediterranean as a bridge is more evident than ever.
Because demographics, economics, and energy needs create an ever closer
interdependence between us. And because new threats -- such as terrorism, the
proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and transnational organised crime
-- affect us all and require a common response.
Enhancing the Mediterranean Dialogue, and developing it into a genuine
partnership, is one major step in this process. It opens a new chapter of our
cooperation. And it provides us with new ways and means to address the serious
security challenges before us.
NATO is keen to explore those new opportunities. Given its strong reputation as
a responsible international actor, a country that is keen to contribute to
security in its own region and beyond, I am confident that Jordan, as well, will
not fail to grasp the new opportunities.