Secretary General’s Remarks
At the Geneva Centre for Security Policy
Geneva, Switzerland – 13 October 2003
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to speak at the Geneva Centre for Security
Policy. In less than ten years, this Centre has established a
truly outstanding academic reputation. I am pleased that NATO
has been associated with this work.
It is also a great pleasure to be in Switzerland today. Switzerland
is an important Partner of NATO. Its contributions to Euro-Atlantic
Stability are much appreciated.
Two weeks ago a Swiss KFOR helicopter, operated by an extremely
professional Swiss crew, flew me from Skopje to the village of
Tearce. This village was in the centre of a potentially bloody
crisis in Macedonia in 2001. My visit to what is now a beautiful
and peaceful community showed how successful NATO, and latterly
the EU, have been in using military presence to pre-empt bloodshed
and civil war. It also showed that Switzerland has become an
important part of our efforts to spread peace and stability in
place of internal strife.
We still have much to do in the Balkans. But compared to the
violent years of the 1990s, the region has been transformed.
So, indeed has NATO. In the past decade, and especially in the
past two years, there has been nothing less than a revolution in
the way we view, prepare for, and respond to risks and threats
to our security.
This process of transformation will continue to unfold over the
months and years ahead. It will enable NATO to continue to ensure
This is not undue optimism on my part. NATO has put last spring’s
differences across the Atlantic and among Europeans over Iraq
behind it. Instead of picking over old wounds, we have taken
on new tasks, in Afghanistan and Iraq. And we have got down once
again to the task of turning the rhetoric of transformation into
Last November’s Prague Summit was the defining step forward
in NATO’s transformation. It confirmed a new transatlantic
consensus based on fundamentals that unite the two sides of the
Atlantic. It set out a transatlantic blueprint to meet the security
challenges of this new century – with new members, new
missions, new capabilities, and new partnerships. Our next Summit
in Istanbul next year will consolidate and continue NATO’s
NATO’s transformation is based on the foundations of the
unique partnership between Europe and North America. A partnership
born in common philosophies of freedom and democracy, and forged
in half a century’s fight against tyranny. A partnership
which today stands as a beacon of democracy, toleration, plurality,
openness and order in a world faced by extremism and instability.
It is a partnership which confronts and overcomes temporary differences.
From these firm foundations, the first pillar of our transformation
is the Alliance’s biggest ever expansion. Seven new members
will join NATO next year.
All seven recognised the values of membership of the world’s
most capable and credible security organisation. They have all
worked very hard to implement difficult political, economic and
military reforms. They have made real contributions to our collective
efforts to ensure our safety and security. Prague recognised
their efforts. Istanbul will seal their full accession.
Together with the expansion of the European Union’s membership,
NATO’s enlargement will consolidate Europe as a common
security space, from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, and from
the Baltic Sea to the Balkans. It will be a giant step forward.
And NATO’s door will remain open to additional new members
in the future.
The second pillar of transformation is NATO’s new missions.
The NATO of the 21st century is committed to tackle today’s
new security challenges: terrorism, weapons of mass destruction
and failed states. We are determined to deal with these challenges
from wherever they arise.
We are showing this determination with our leadership of the
International Security Force in Kabul, and our support for Poland
and Spain in post-Saddam Iraq – both complex operations,
well beyond our traditional boundaries. As a result, theological
arguments about whether NATO could or should operate outside
Europe have been confined to the dustbin of history.
There is no doubt that Afghanistan is a big challenge. NATO nations
are all too aware of the difficulties, even as we consider an
expansion of the air presence beyond Kabul. However, this Alliance
has never failed. It is not about to start now.
The third pillar is a fundamental transformation of NATO’s
military capabilities. 21st century threats cannot be defeated
by 20th century armies. So we are implementing a radical overhaul
of our military command structure to make it leaner and more
We are creating the cutting edge NATO Response Force, to be able
to react quickly to the most demanding threats to our security.
We successfully exercised this new capability at the informal
NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting in Colorado Springs last
week. And each of our members is committed to developing specific
capabilities that are essential to modern military operations.
Throughout my tenure as Secretary General I have pushed hard – and
with increasing success – for major improvements in NATO’s
capabilities. I am continuing to push just as hard now for our
Governments to realise that if they do not also have deployable
and useable forces we will have major difficulties in meeting
our increasing commitments.
There is only one pool of forces in Europe. If our Governments
continue to take on new commitments around the world, they must
improve the usability of their armed forces. Today, the 18 non-US
NATO Allies possess 1.4 million regular soldiers and 1 million
reserves. But with only 55,000 troops currently on operations,
many of them say they are over-stretched. If so, then they are
wasting their tax payers’ money. So vastly improved usability
is my strong message to NATO Government.
It is also a message that I repeat to our Partners, like Switzerland,
who are increasingly working with us to face the challenges to
our common security. Is territorial defence really relevant in
the middle of 21st century Europe? Surely security is better
ensured by dealing with threats at their source rather than on
This brings me to the fourth pillar of NATO’s transformation,
our network of partnerships throughout the Euro-Atlantic area.
Even the world’s most successful Alliance cannot, and should
not, work alone. To face transnational threats, we need the broadest
and most effective web of cooperative relations. NATO’s
46-nation Euro-Atlantic Partnership provides just that.
Our Partnership has already been a great success. When NATO first
promoted the idea, at the beginning of the 1990s, there was some
scepticism and criticism.
But we pushed ahead. Throughout the 1990s, we gradually developed
the core mechanisms for Partnership to function. We launched
Partnership for Peace, a practical tool for defence cooperation.
We created the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, a forum that
brings together all Partnership members around the table with
NATO members. The response from our Partner countries was overwhelming.
Partnership has been tremendously valuable, first of all, as
a political instrument. By engaging in discussions at the Euro-Atlantic
Partnership Council we have learned from each other. We have
shared insights on common security challenges, such as the Balkans,
Afghanistan and terrorism. We have built confidence between us.
Together, we have fostered a Euro-Atlantic security culture.
A genuine pre-disposition to tackle common problems by working
together. At no time did this become more clear than in the days
following 11 September 2001, when all our Partner countries expressed
their full solidarity with the US, and undertook to exploit with
NATO the potential of the Partnership in the fight against terrorism.
Switzerland has taken a keen interest in Partnership. It has
taken the lead in fostering cooperation in critical areas such
as International Humanitarian Law. It has also supported Civil
Emergency Planning activities with partners, including consequence
management in the context of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Of course, being pre-disposed is one thing, taking action quite
another. Here too, Partnership has made a real difference. Partnership
for Peace and its Planning and Review Process have been critical
in developing greater interoperability between Alliance and Partner
Again, Switzerland contributed to these efforts, including through
its Geneva Centre in PfP Training and Education and its centre
for Humanitarian Demining.
Improved interoperability has allowed many of our Partners to
make valuable contributions to NATO-led operations. Partner nations
have integrated so much and have taken so great responsibilities
that, for example, Sweden will soon take over the leadership
of a multi-national brigade in the Kosovo Force, from Finland.
The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is
another case in point. Soldiers from 14 NATO and 14 Partner nations,
including Switzerland, work side by side and risk their lives
to help this war-torn country to get up on its feet again. They
are there because all of us agree that today's security challenges
must be confronted at their source. We know that if we abandon
the people of Afghanistan and allow the country to again become
a failed state, the risk from mass terrorism, will increase enormously.
And the opportunity to prevent Afghan opiates from being sold
on our streets will have been wasted.
No, I did not fly in a Swiss helicopter when I visited Kabul
last month – not this time anyway. But Switzerland already
makes sizeable donations for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
The revitalisation of the economy is ultimately what will determine
Afghanistan’s future as a self-sustaining peaceful country.
Partnership has also played an increasingly important role in
helping Partners with democratic reform and the establishment
of effective institutions. This includes the challenge of bringing
security services and military establishments under democratic
control. It also includes assisting in downsizing large and inefficient
military establishments and in re-educating redundant personnel.
Switzerland has been very interested in assisting other Partners
through mechanisms available in the Partnership. The Geneva Centre
for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces has been very helpful.
Switzerland is also a key contributor, under the PfP Trust Fund,
to projects to destroy Anti-Personnel Landmines and munitions
These contributions are tremendously valuable, to the Partners
which benefit from them directly, and to the broader, common
cause of the Euro-Atlantic security and stability. And they come
on top of Switzerland’s traditional strong efforts in the
humanitarian field, which of course also benefit international
So today I thank the Swiss authorities for their initiative,
generosity and hard work, and encouraged them to continue their
NATO, meanwhile, is doing its part to further develop and deepen
the Partnership. We are engaging all our Partners in the fight
against terrorism and against the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
We are offering them greater opportunities for individualised
cooperation that is better geared to their specific interests
and concerns. We are also encouraging Partners to work both with
NATO and each other to deal with security problems such as organised
crime and illegal migration.
Of course, NATOs’s web of partnerships goes beyond PfP.
For example, we have a special NATO Partner in Russia. During
the 1990s, NATO and Russia had a nervous relationship that was
burdened by lingering Cold War suspicions. But 11 September 2001
triggered a radical change as it confronted us with a dramatic
new challenge which both sides knew that they had to tackle together.
We have been able to build on this new momentum in our relationship.
In May last year we created the NATO-Russia Council, where 19
NATO countries and Russia sit as equals. Over the past year and
a half our common agenda has broadened to a wide range of issues,
from combating terrorism to preventing proliferation, and including
close cooperation between our militaries.
That is a pattern of constructive cooperation that we want and
will maintain – not just in the interest of NATO and Russia,
but that of the entire Euro-Atlantic community.
Aside from these well-established Partnerships, we are also strengthening
our 7-nation Mediterranean Dialogue. These seven countries – Algeria,
Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – are
keen to cooperate with NATO more closely. Incidentally, our so-called “19+7” meetings
bring Israel and the other six Mediterranean Dialogue countries
together around one table in a constructive not destructive relationship.
Let me finish my tour of our web of partnerships with our growing
relationship with that other great organisation of the European
landscape, the European Union.
For a long time our relationship was problematic because we worked
in isolation from each other. Two organisations based in
the same city but living on different planets. But that has now
We are developing a genuine strategic partnership between our
Early this year we completed the vital “Berlin plus” agreement
that provides a blueprint for practical NATO-EU cooperation without
unnecessary duplication or destructive competition. This has
already allowed the EU to follow NATO’s operation in the
former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia last Spring. It should
also help the Union to gradually assume more responsibility for
security in the Balkans, starting perhaps in Bosnia.
Cooperation in crisis management is a first important step in
the right direction. But we must go further. We must explore
cooperation across the whole spectrum of our shared interests.
This, after all, is what a true strategic partnership is all
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the face of complex, deadly threats, that can fester far away
and then strike with little warning in our streets and homes,
there is simply no substitute for a transatlantic security partnership
that is based on open consultation and profound military cooperation.
In other words: NATO.
All of the transformation that I have described – in the
Alliance’s membership, in our missions, in our capabilities,
and in our partnerships – will strengthen NATO’s
ability to deal with the security challenges of this new century.
Last week, in Colorado Springs, at the end of the latest Alliance
meeting of Defence Ministers, I was given a T-shirt with the
very American message: “This is not your daddy’s
NATO”. Not perhaps the way I would normally put it but
Because NATO has proved its worth in a very different world from
that in which it was designed.
And our transformation will have effects well beyond our membership.
It will maximise the power and the influence of the entire Euro-Atlantic
community, to build peace, stability and security. I am confident
that Switzerland will continue to play a major role in that joint
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