A Changing Alliance in a Changing World
Alliance in a Changing World
Speech by NATO Secretary General
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I had the pleasure of visiting Bratislava
in March of last year, shortly before Slovakia joined the NATO Alliance, and it
is good to be back. I have come to pay tribute to a country that has integrated
very smoothly into NATO, and to discuss with its political leaders how to deal
with the challenges that confront our Alliance. I wish to thank the Slovak
Foreign Policy Association for offering me the opportunity to also address such
a distinguished audience here today.
few months ago, NATO celebrated its 56th anniversary. That is a
respectable age for a person, and certainly for an international organisation.
And yet, the Alliance remains as vibrant as ever.
Several countries are keen to
follow in Slovakia’s footsteps and to become a member of NATO. And the Alliance
is generally recognised -- also by countries who are not at all interested in
joining -- as a valuable anchor of stability in the changed international
submit that the main reason for NATO’s enduring resilience is its adaptability –
its ability to react to changing circumstances, and to deal with new challenges. Every time the strategic environment has changed over the past half
century, the Alliance was able to respond to those changes, and to steer them in
a positive direction.
saw this at the end of the Cold War, when NATO transformed into a catalyst for
dialogue and cooperation across this entire continent. We saw it a few years
later, when former Yugoslavia collapsed into chaos, and when NATO became the
centre of an unprecedented multinational coalition which ended the violence that
threatened to engulf the Balkans. And we see NATO’s ability to adapt again
today, in the way in which the Alliance responds to the latest dramatic shift in
the international security environment.
me briefly set out the major changes in the security environment and the way in
which Slovakia and its 25 Allies are responding to these changes through NATO.
is clear, first of all, that the new security environment demands new security
thinking. Today, providing security means being able to project stability –
including to regions far from home. We are not only confronted with a new,
lethal breed of terrorism. We also have to seriously consider the prospect of
weapons of mass destruction getting into the hands of irresponsible individuals
with evil intentions. And we must deal with failing states that cause
instability in their own region and well beyond.
this era of globalisation, we have to address the new security challenges when
and where they emerge – or they will show up on our doorstep. And that is why
NATO has turned from a “Eurocentric” Alliance into a much more flexible
instrument that we can use to project stability whenever and wherever our common
security interests demand it.
me be clear on one thing though; NATO is not turning into a global
policeman ready to root out evil throughout the world. Our member countries
have neither the political will nor the military means to do so. But we do
all realise that if our vital interests are threatened, if the values that hold
us together are at stake, and if there is consensus among the Allies to act,
then NATO has to be ready.
That is why we launched a maritime operation to prevent terrorists and weapons
from entering our countries across the Mediterranean Sea, called
Operation Active Endeavour. It is why we took charge of the International
Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan -- and Slovakia makes an appreciated
contribution to that operation. It is why we launched a training mission for
the Security Forces of Iraq – in which Slovakia also plays a role. And it is
why the Alliance is now preparing to provide assistance to the African Union’s
peacekeeping operation in Darfur, a new mission on which I will say more in just
a few minutes.
Before I move on, let me make one other
thing clear: As we take on new missions, we do not forget our existing
commitments, notably in the Balkans. During this critical period for the future
of Kosovo, we maintain a robust troop presence there, with a sizeable Slovak
contribution, and we continue to engage in the Contact Group and to support the
Standards Implementation Process. We cooperate closely with Albania, Croatia
and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
in the context of our Membership Action Plan. And we hold out the
prospect of much enhanced cooperation, including Partnership for Peace
membership, with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro – as long as
these countries meet certain conditions, notably full cooperation with the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
second key feature of the new security environment is the need for modern
military capabilities. Today, forces that are geared specifically to the
defence of our territory are simply a waste of money. What we need are forces
that we can send quickly to an emerging crisis, that we can deploy over long
distances, and that we can sustain over an extended period of time, in order to
allow them to return stability and security to the crisis region.
That is the kind of military transformation which NATO has been promoting these
past few years. 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 -- requirements
that most Allies could not meet alone. And each of our 26 member nations –
including Slovakia -- is taking a hard look at its own defence programmes and
structures, to make sure that they are relevant to today’s demands.
have already done much to transform our military capabilities, but we still have
more to do. Each NATO member must be able to make a contribution to the full
spectrum of operations and make sure that a larger proportion of its military
forces are readily available for operations away from our countries.
critical challenges before all the Allies – and I count on Slovakia to continue
to do its part in meeting them. Your country has a good record in defence reform
and I am confident of your leaders' commitment to continue to implement these
reforms and to allocate the necessary resources (2% of the GDP).
third feature of the new security environment that I wish to highlight is the
need for the broadest possible cooperation between states and institutions. The
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 comprehensive, multilateral approach that effectively combines
multiple disciplines, countries and organisations.
NATO is an important platform for this kind of cooperation. We have made the
new security challenges a major focus of Partnership relations with 20 countries
from Sweden to Kazakhstan. We are helping many of our Partners with the reform
of their militaries, and the development of effective, democratically controlled
defence institutions. We have taken a number of specific measures to increase
cooperation with our Partners in the Caucasus and Central Asia. We are
intensifying our Mediterranean Dialogue with seven countries in Northern Africa
and the Middle East. And we have launched a special initiative to build
cooperation with countries in the broader Middle East region, notably around the
the same time, we continue to intensify our relations with our special Partners
-- Russia and Ukraine. I visited both these countries over the last few days,
and I came away with a very favourable impression from both. In Moscow I
discussed the tangible progress in NATO-Russia cooperation, including Russia’s
contribution to NATO’s maritime operation in the Mediterranean Sea, and I was
struck by the genuine interest of my Russian interlocutors to build on that
progress. In Kyiv, I welcomed the Ukrainian Government’s aspiration to
integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures. I noted the Government’s primary
responsibility in introducing the necessary reforms to make that aspiration a
reality. But I also assured my interlocutors of the Alliance’s strong
commitment to assist Ukraine with these reforms, because their success is in the
interest of Ukraine's longer term future and that of our relationship.
addition to enhancing our relations with individual nations, we have also been
looking to establish more structured relationships with other international
organisations. This applies to the United Nations, the OSCE and the many
Non-Governmental Organisations, with whom we have worked increasingly
effectively in the Balkans and more recently in Afghanistan. But it applies in
particular to NATO’s relationship with the European Union, which, regardless of
the fate of its draft constitution, will continue to be a major international
Just a few weeks ago, NATO and the European Union decided to help the African
Union to expand its peacekeeping mission in the troubled Darfur region in Sudan. Darfur is a good example of the kind of crisis which NATO and the EU must be
able to deal with in the future – working pragmatically with each other, with
the United Nations and with other international actors. For that kind of
effective cooperation to become the norm rather than the exception, we must
establish a true strategic partnership between our organisations – a transparent
partnership that extends to all areas where we have common security interests,
where we can complement each other, and reinforce each other’s efforts. I believe that, as a new, self-assured member of both NATO and the EU, Slovakia
can do much to promote such a strategic partnership.
Finally, it is my conviction that we need to further strengthen the Alliance as
an essential forum for transatlantic strategic and political consultation. As we
face new and complex challenges to our security – terrorism, proliferation,
“failed states”, it is imperative that we debate these issues in the NATO
context. NATO’s work here in Europe is far from being done, but we are also
reaching out to other parts of the world in dialogue and cooperation – Central
Asia, the Caucasus, Northern Africa, the broader Middle East. And we must
continue to adapt the ways and means in which we do our business to the changing
is vital that those challenges are discussed in NATO. That the Allies share
views and shape consensus -- and that they are ready, if necessary, to take
action together. All our capitals will maintain bilateral relationships. It is
normal, and indeed desirable, that the European Union’s dialogue with Washington
and Ottawa intensifies. But the transatlantic Allies need a structured,
permanent forum to discuss the key security issues that they face together. NATO is not just an instrument for effective action, but also a forum for that
kind of structured political debate. Slovakia can do much to preserve, and to
strengthen, both these vital functions of the Alliance.
world is changing, and NATO is changing with it. The Alliance today is quite
different from the organisation which Slovakia set out to join well over a
decade ago. We know, however, that Slovakia understands the need for NATO to
continue to evolve, in order to remain an anchor of stability in a dramatically
different security environment. What is more, Slovakia not only understands the
need for NATO to change -- it is also willing, and able, to play its part in
that transformation. That, I believe, is a strong vindication of all those who
saw the future of this country in NATO, and who worked so very hard to make that
vision a reality. It is also why we are glad to have Slovakia on the NATO team