Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the first official visit by a NATO Secretary
General to New Zealand, and I have been looking forward to coming here. Let me
tell you that I have been deeply impressed by the very warm reception that I
have been given here, and so have my wife Jeannine and the NATO colleagues who
have travelled with me.
I believe that my visit today comes at a very opportune moment. We may be
literally at opposite ends of the globe, but New Zealand and NATO have come a
lot closer together these last few years. Values that we have shared for many
years democracy, freedom, basic human rights -- have come under threat. Our
security interests have converged to a considerable extent. And so it made
eminent sense for Foreign Minister Goff to visit NATO Headquarters last month,
and for me to come to Wellington today, to discuss those common interests, and
how we can best address them.
Today, I would like to talk to you about the changing international security
environment and the challenges it produces before going on to relate these
challenges to increased NZ/NATO cooperation.
I want to start my remarks to you today with a short trip back down memory
lane. Fifteen years ago, when the Cold War ended, many people predicted the
end of NATO. With the disappearance of the Soviet Union and that of the Warsaw
Pact, many felt that the Alliance could simply declare victory and fold up its
tents as well.
Instead, NATO proved its worth many times over during the 1990s. The Alliance
was instrumental in putting an end to years of conflict in the Balkans. We
engaged countries throughout Europe and into Central Asia in a vast network of
dialogue and cooperation. And by opening up to include ten more member
countries, we helped to create a Europe whole and free, and united in
At the start of this new century, and especially after the events of 11
September 2001, the international security environment changed dramatically
again. And once more, NATO’s role in this new environment was questioned by
some. Indeed, two years ago, when tensions rose over Iraq, quite a few people
predicted a transatlantic divorce.
Since 2001, however, there has been a strong reappraisal of the transatlantic
relationship in general, and of NATO in particular. I have experienced that
reappraisal very personally in my meetings with Alliance leaders during my
first year in office. And it was very clearly also the main message that came
out of the NATO Summit meeting in Brussels last month, right at the start of
President Bush’s first visit to Europe following his re-election.
This reappraisal of the Alliance is really no big surprise. It is based on a
sober assessment of the new security environment; an acknowledgement that a
number of realities in that security environment require Europe and North
America to work together; and a recognition of NATO’s proven record of uniting
America and Europe’s political and military weight behind a common purpose of
delivering greater security.
What are the defining features of the new security environment that Europe and
America are responding to through NATO? I want to highlight three.
Today, providing security means being able to project
stability including to regions outside Europe. We are confronted with a new,
lethal breed of terrorism. We face the prospect of weapons of mass destruction
getting into the hands of irresponsible individuals with evil intentions. And
we must live with failing states causing instability in their own region and
well beyond. These are threats that present themselves around the globe. Threats
that we must tackle when and where they emerge. For if we do not, they will
escalate, and we will suffer the consequences, right on our doorsteps.
NATO has drawn the right conclusions from this new reality. It has turned from
a “Eurocentric” Alliance into an instrument that we can use wherever our
common security interests demand it. Taking control of the stabilisation
effort in Afghanistan was a decisive step in this reorientation of the
Alliance. And we confirmed it by our more recent decision to start a training
mission in Iraq.
Now, let there be no mistake; the Alliance is not turning
into a global policeman -- patrolling the world to root out evil wherever it
may occur. That is something our member countries are neither interested in
nor capable of. But we do all realise that, given the changed circumstances, a
successful security policy cannot be based solely on a regional and reactive
posture. With Afghanistan and Iraq we have taken on two immediate and very
challenging tasks. And we have set in train a comprehensive programme to make
NATO better capable of responding to similar challenges in the future.
Today, forces that are geared mainly to
territorial defence are to put it bluntly -- a waste of money. What we really
need are forces that can react quickly, that can be deployed over distance,
and then sustained over a long period of time to get the job done.
NATO has been pushing that kind of military transformation. We have adapted
our strategy and concepts, our military command and force structures, and our
internal organisation and procedures. With our Chemical, Biological,
Radiological and Nuclear Defence Battalion and the NATO Response Force, we
have multinational force packages in place that are specifically geared to
some of the most pressing requirements. And each of our 26 member nations is
taking a hard look at its own defence programmes and structures, to make sure
that they are relevant to today’s demands.
We have already done a lot to transform our military capabilities, but we
still have more to do. We have to make improvements in areas that are critical
to modern operations, such as strategic lift and air-to-air refuelling. We
have to make sure that a much larger proportion of our military forces are
readily available for operations away from Alliance territory. And we have to
arrive at a better mix of forces capable of performing both high intensity
combat tasks and the kind of post-conflict reconstruction work in which New
Zealand forces have established such an excellent reputation.
reason for this is clear enough. It is because the new risks and threats
themselves defy borders. And because we will only be able to get a grip on
them through a multilateral approach that effectively combines multiple
disciplines, countries and organisations.
NATO is an important platform for that kind of cooperation. In recent years we
have given fresh impetus to our Partnership relations with 20 countries all
over Europe and into Central Asia. We are helping many of our Partners with
the reform of their security sectors, and the development of effective,
democratically controlled defence institutions. And we have also made the new
security challenges a major focus of cooperation with all our Partners
including our special Partners Russia and Ukraine and their response has been
We have, at the same time, been working hard to enhance our cooperation with
other international organisations. This applies to the United Nations and the
OSCE, with whom we have cooperated increasingly effectively in the Balkans
over the past ten years. But it applies in particular to NATO’s relationship
with the European Union.
The European Union is developing as a security actor which is not only
natural but also desirable. It is now widely acknowledged on both sides of
the Atlantic -- that a stronger Europe will widen our arsenal of response
options to the new security challenges. And it is widely accepted in Europe
that a stronger security role should not amount to a duplication of what is
already available through NATO. NATO and the EU are making rather good
progress in coordinating the development of modern military capabilities. I am
optimistic that we can extend our cooperation to additional areas where we
have a common security interest, where we can complement each other, and
reinforce each other’s efforts. And here I mean functional areas such as the
fight against terrorism as well as geographical areas such as the Caucasus
and Central Asia.
One region that is bound to affect our security for the foreseeable future is
the southern Mediterranean and the broader Middle East. Luckily, we have seen
quite a positive dynamic in that entire region over the past few months. NATO
is keen to help sustain that momentum, and to promote greater stability for
all. Which is why we are working hard to deepen our Dialogue with seven
countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East. And why we have launched a
new initiative last year to build new relationships with countries in the
Persian Gulf region. Both programmes have met with a very positive response
from the countries concerned.
Given the fact that NATO troops are now
deployed in Afghanistan, it is no surprise that countries such as neighbouring
China and Pakistan have shown interest in talking with us. We are always open
to developing such contacts and promoting better mutual understanding. At the
same time, however, the active, practical cooperation of this country -- New
Zealand with the Alliance, is of quite a different order and very welcome
For many years, New Zealand has shown a strong realisation that its own peace
and security cannot be seen in isolation from developments elsewhere. A
realisation, also, that even a relatively small country can make a significant
contribution to security and stability -- in its own region and well beyond. And
a keen awareness that working together with other nations in a larger
organisational context can be a real force-multiplier. As a Dutchman, I can
very well identify with that security perspective. As Secretary General of
NATO, an Alliance which has always been keen to broaden the base of its
peacekeeping operations, I wholeheartedly commend your engagement.
In the Balkans, soldiers from this country have stood shoulder to shoulder
with NATO forces for well over a decade. Together, we have helped to end the
bloodshed in the region, and to create a brighter future for all its citizens.
Following the handover of NATO’s peacekeeping responsibilities in Bosnia and
Herzegovina to the European Union late last year, the Alliance’s activities
are now mainly focused in Kosovo. It speaks volumes for your country’s
engagement that you retain a presence both in Bosnia and in Kosovo.
New Zealand has also deployed forces to Afghanistan. Your country recognises
-- like the NATO Allies and the United Nations Security Council -- that a
failure to stabilise and return democracy to Afghanistan would enhance the
risk of terror threatening our societies and of even more drugs being planted
and ending up on our streets. And so you are contributing to the United
Nations’ efforts in Afghanistan and those of the NATO-led International
Security Assistance Force. You are assisting with the training of military
and police officers, and you are helping the Afghan Government to extend its
authority by leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province.
Those are all very valuable contributions by New Zealand. They have helped to
build greater confidence and security as was demonstrated by the particularly
high voter turn-out in Bamyan for last year’s presidential elections. At a
time when Afghanistan is moving to crucial parliamentary and provincial
elections later this year, your decision to extend your PRT through September
shows genuine commitment.
NATO will be there with you, to see through our common effort. Building on
our many years of effective cooperation in the past. Determined to uphold our
common values and to guard our societies against crime and terror. And
confident that, together, we can help to build a better future for
Afghanistan, and deal a decisive blow to terrorism.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The NATO that I have described to you is an Alliance in action. An Alliance of
26 democratic nations who understand the realities of today’s volatile
security environment who realise the need for Europe and America to work
together in responding to those realities -- and who are using the NATO
framework to give shape and direction to that response.
We realise that NATO alone cannot meet the new global
threats to our security. That we need to work together with other nations and
organisations for our contributions to international security to have maximum
That approach has found resonance here in New Zealand. Time and again, your
country has proved able to define its security interests clearly and
consistently, and to act accordingly. Your own response to the latest changes
in our security environment has been typically steadfast. We are privileged to
be working together with you, and look forward to continuing our cooperation
in the future.