Dealing with Impending Crises
General of the Armed Forces Jiri Sedivy
Former Chief of Defense of the Czech Republic
For the first two days of this workshop, the topics we discussed mostly centered on how to improve our security, a political question that must be transformed into military reality. We found that many issues need to be solved—how to prepare our forces, train them, have them react quickly, move them, and support them on their mission—and that our decision makers have to make decisions.
It is easier to try to define the relationship between NATO and the EU, as we discussed during the session that was chaired by Ambassador Harri Tiido, the Estonian representative on the North Atlantic Council, and during the session chaired by the minister of defense of the Republic of Albania, Fatmir Mediu. But we also must find ways to face non-military threats, including the spread of avian influenza. Up until today, this was more a medical problem, but now we are aware of the potential worldwide disaster.
In the past we have been successful helping nations that have suffered from earthquakes, tsunamis, and the consequences of drought; we have deployed forces rapidly and fulfilled our obligations because we were prepared, and we will be ready if avian influenza spreads to large areas and if there are mutations. But we also must be prepared, even on our own territory, to use military forces to minimize consequences, as Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, and some other countries have done. Large-scale disasters can sometimes lead to economic and political instability as well as violence, terrorism, and mass migration.
Energy security is also a very important topic that we cannot split from critical infrastructure protection. This point was mentioned several times by SACEUR General Jones, and he was not the only one to discuss the importance of this matter. Energy is vital for all human societies. However, prices are climbing and several statesmen, for example, Russia’s President Putin, have said that, if Europe does not approach Russian companies, Russia will turn to China. President Chavez, the president of Venezuela, has used energy and oil as arguments against the U.S., and of course there is the very problematic decision concerning building a new gas pipeline and the agreement between Russia and Germany. Poland and the Baltic States feel that Russia is pressuring them, and even the minister of defense of Poland, Mr. Sikorski, called the agreement between Russia and Germany a new Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. Not only resources but supply lines must be protected. However, this topic is the domain of the Norwegian Ministry of Defense State Secretary Espen Barth Eide.
I would like to conclude by saying that energy security is becoming increasingly important, especially because it sometimes is used as a weapon by some improper state leaders and some of our opponent states. However, the European Union has been working very intensively on the topic and in March 2006 issued a green paper called “A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive, and Secure Energy.”