One Foot in Europe and One
in North America
Speech delivered by Jaap de Hoop
Scheffer, NATO Secretary General, at the 42nd Munich Conference on Security Policy.
Munich, (Bavaria), February 4, 2006.
2006 Munich Conference on Security Policy.
Dr.Angela Merkel and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer -
Photo by Kai Mörk
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I always participate in the Munich Security Conference because this is one of
the best places to take the pulse of the transatlantic relationship. Today, I
want to focus on a few key areas:
- The broader and more intense political consultations at NATO on issues
ranging from the Balkans and Afghanistan to Africa and the Middle East, and
now also energy security
- Our growing operational commitments, in particular expansion in
Afghanistan but also new categories of missions, such as support for the AU
in Darfur and a major humanitarian mission in Pakistan
- Progress on transformation, to meet both old and new demands on the
Alliance, including achieving full operational capability for the NRF,
strengthening our access to strategic lift, and better funding mechanisms
- The need to work more effectively with current partners and reach out to
new ones, and in particular the importance of building a pragmatic,
strategic partnership with the European Union. This is essential for both
- And bringing these various themes together at the NATO summit in Riga
(From left) US-Senator John McCain, Prof.Dr. Horst
Teltschik, and Dr. Franz-Josef Jung, Federal Minister of Defense, Germany.
Photo by Kai Mörk
All of the above issues are of keen transatlantic interest. Of course, as
NATO Secretary General, it's my job to have one foot in Europe and one in
North America. This is not always a comfortable position, and, as you can
imagine, I am very sensitive to continental drift! This year, I'm happy to say
that the state of the transatlantic union is good. In fact, more than ever,
NATO is in demand and NATO is delivering.
In the past few days, some of you might have had some doubts about NATO
continuing to deliver in Afghanistan. I had no such doubts. This Alliance has
made a long-term commitment to the Afghan people, and to the UN. We will meet
those commitments, for as long as necessary. Because Afghanistan is making
progress. It is a success. And we will reinforce that success.
Afghanistan is not just a success story. It also illustrates how far NATO's
transformation has come - even if a lot remains to be done, and I will come to
that in a moment.
NATO's operation in Afghanistan shows that the Alliance has already made huge
changes to meet the security challenges of the 21st century. We have broadened
our strategic horizon far beyond Europe. We have begun tackling terrorism as a
main mission - indeed, in Afghanistan, we are engaging terrorism at the
source. We are projecting and sustaining forces well beyond our traditional
area of operations. We are working at the core of a team that includes the UN,
the EU, the G-8 and non-NATO countries as well. And we are taking on tasks
across the military spectrum, from soft to hard power.
That is the new, transforming NATO. But I say "transforming", rather that "transformed",
because there is still unfinished business. We need to make more changes to
the way NATO works, if this Alliance is to maximize its potential as the place
where Europe and North America come together to project stability.
As you know, NATO will hold a summit in Riga this November. For NATO, summits
are not regular events. When they happen, they are important transformational
moments. Which is why I believe we need to work, in NATO, from now until Riga
to make progress in a few key areas.
First: the NATO Response Force. The NRF is a critical military asset. We used
it to deliver aid to Pakistan quickly after the earthquake, and we saw its
potential. It also raises the standards of all NATO militaries - it is the
high tide that floats all the NATO boats. We are going to test its operational
capability this summer. I will push hard to ensure that we get it, and that by
Riga, we can announce full operational capability.
The NRF deployment to Pakistan highlighted a second area where we need to make
progress by Riga: funding. Now, I know that using the word "funding" is not
the best way to make an audience prick up their ears. But modernizing the way
we pay for things in NATO is critical, because it will make it easier to do
what we need to do: project stability.
Right now, participation in the NRF is something like a reverse lottery: if
your numbers come up, you actually lose money. If the NRF deploys while you
happen to be in the rotation, you pay the full costs of the deployment of your
forces. This can be a disincentive to countries to commit to participation in
the NRF. And that is something that the alliance can't afford. That is why we
need more solidarity in the way we pay for our operations. We need to share
the costs more fairly. When Turkey had to ship some helicopters to
Afghanistan, Luxembourg paid for their transport. That was solidarity. In the
case of the NRF, I believe we should aim for the common funding of at least
the initial deployment.
I think we also need to increase our collective capabilities. Let me give you
an example: AWACS. In a few weeks, NATO AWACS will help protect the Olympic
Games in Turin. This summer, NATO AWACS will patrol over the World Cup here in
Germany. This model works. It puts a critical capability at the disposal of
all allies, including the smaller ones; it allows everyone to share the costs;
and it helps to keep our people safe.
I believe this is a good example of our potential if we do more together. A
NATO Air-to-Ground Surveillance capability, for example, makes sense. Commonly
operated strategic lift makes sense as well, because it is crystal clear that
we need more lift at our disposal, including at times of crisis when leasing
is not an easy option. And we need to make progress on joint logistics,
because it is a waste of time and effort to have ten supply chains for ten
national contingents in the same NATO operation. I think that by Riga, we
should make progress on all these fronts.
I mentioned already that, in Afghanistan, NATO's partners are playing a
critical role. I saw myself the Swedish C-130 parked on the tarmac in Kabul,
alongside the Danish and UK aircraft. Interestingly, I noticed that the
Swedish plane said "Royal Swedish Air Force", and the Danish one said "Royal
Danish Air Force", but the UK Hercules simply said "Royal Air Force". I won't
comment on what this might imply about UK self-image…
Afghanistan illustrates a new reality - in the new security environment, our
Partners make a critical contribution to our shared objectives. That is why
the links with our partner countries - from Austria to Finland and from
Armenia to Kazakhstan - are a true strategic asset. We need to ensure that we
have the closest possible partnership with those countries that can, and are
willing to, help defend our shared values. To my mind, that means also
building closer links with other likeminded nations beyond Europe - nations
such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea or Japan. NATO is not a global
policeman, but we have increasingly global partnerships.
In Europe, NATO's partnership policy has been a major success. But for some
nations, partnership is only a step towards the ultimate goal of NATO
membership. The prospect of joining NATO has been a major incentive for many
countries to tackle the challenge of reform. It has helped to foster stability
and democracy. This logic of integration remains as valid as ever, especially
in the Balkans. But it also means that when nations have performed, when they
have done what NATO asked them to do, the Alliance cannot hold out on
accession. When aspirant countries are ready, we must let them enter NATO's
open door. I expect Riga to bring that message home - loud and clear.
One final point: transatlantic security dialogue. That was the theme of last
year's meeting, and as I mentioned, we have definitely deepened our political
discussions within NATO on issues of concern to all 26 Allies. Everyone can
agree that this makes sense.
I believe that there are more issues that we should consider bringing to the
NATO table. And one that leaps to mind is energy security. NATO's Strategic
Concept includes the protection of vital supply lines as one area critical to
the security of allies. Today, for reasons that are obvious - including the
potential of terrorists targeting our energy supplies - it makes sense to me
that the allies should discuss this issue.
But deeper transatlantic dialogue within NATO isn't enough. We also have to
build a pragmatic, strategic partnership with the EU. Because I will say
bluntly: we are not doing nearly enough.
It is obvious that NATO and the EU share common strategic interests. Look at
Afghanistan, where both NATO and the EU are heavily committed. Look at Kosovo,
where the same is true. Look at the Middle East, to which both NATO and the EU
are reaching out. Look at defense procurement, which costs billions of Euros.
19 countries belong to both organizations. One would think that they would all
insist on the highest degree of complementarity and cooperation. But we have
not achieved this goal. To be sure, there are institutional, political and
technical reasons with which we are all familiar. This means that we are
working past each other. It means that we are duplicating each other's
efforts. And that we are wasting taxpayers' money.
I want to see a strong and vibrant European Union. I want it to grow in
partnership with NATO as a major security actor. This is in all of our
interests. We have to put pragmatism above dogmatism. We must build a true
strategic partnership between NATO and the EU. I will work hard to help make
that happen as soon as possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today's security environment bears no resemblance to the
Cold War - when deterrence took care of our security needs, and when our
solidarity was never tested in operations. This era has gone for good. Today's
challenges are very different. They require us to act - sometimes in faraway
regions; where we know our soldiers' lives will be at risk; where the costs
can be high; and where the engagements can seem long.
In this new world, solidarity is the key: political, military and financial
solidarity. NATO has always embodied solidarity between Europe and North
America. We are demonstrating it today, including in Afghanistan. I think we
can do better - in the way we operate, in the way we pay for what we do, and
in the way we work with the wider world. And I believe that the Riga Summit
will prove it.