I would like to present the Slovak Republic's basic attitudes toward the Partnership for Peace program, considering the establishment of a direct link between my country and NATO and the importance of PFP in European security, respectively.
Just as many Central and Eastern European countries have undergone great change over the past several years, NATO is in the process of adapting its structures and policy to meet the needs of the newly formed security environment. One key element of this process, and a basic precondition for establishing confidence in an acceptable security system on our continent, is to develop dialogue and collaboration between NATO and Central and Eastern European countries and, also, with other member-states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Countries that stood on opposite sides of the ongoing ideological conflict between the East and the West just a few years ago must now come together.
The first step on the road to establishing these new relations was the creation of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) in 1991, through which an important multilateral political forum evolved. NACC's success, combined with the increasing need to accelerate rapprochement, led to the Partnership for Peace idea. The development of the PFP program was the next important step in establishing broad contacts between NATO and new Partners. But Partnership for Peace is not only a framework for developing multilateral security relations in Europe; it is also a means for achieving bilateral cooperation. This is because each country that enrolls in this program enjoys the possibility of direct relationships with NATO countries.
I am glad to say that, since its establishment as a sovereign and democratic state, Slovakia has been using its best human, financial, and military means to develop cooperation with NATO. NACC and Partnership for Peace activities in which the Slovak Republic has taken part, our active participation in U.N. and OSCE peacekeeping operations, and our support of regional security cooperation are ample proof of the will and ability of this country to contribute to European security in an active way.
The Slovak Republic was one of the first countries to join PFP. We undertook this step with the goal of becoming a full member of NATO, a priority of Slovak foreign policy. We do not view membership in PFP as a substitute for membership in NATO, but as a way to reach it. We are aware that expanding the Alliance is a long-term process and that acceptance of new members will be the result of political decision making by both individual NATO countries and the heads of the Alliance. We therefore see Partnership for Peace as an important testing mechanism that will affect the selection of NATO member-candidates. In our opinion, successful participation in Partnership for Peace may become a major factor in a candidate country's acceptance in NATO.
On the other hand, PFP should not be thought of only as a starting position for gaining full membership in NATO. The program's major benefit is to permit the development of transparent relationships and cooperation between the Alliance and countries that most probably will not become its members in the near future. Thus, even if the Slovak Republic acquires NATO membership, it will continue to support Partnership for Peace as an important element in security cooperation. The Slovak people view the successful development of PFP as a safeguard for preserving peace and stability in Europe.
We do expect, however, that the Alliance will continue to approach applicants from Central and Eastern Europe. Due to our own historical experience, we are convinced that the absence of direct security guarantees for Central European countries may cause instability and a re-division of Europe. We believe, therefore, that effective security guarantees provided by NATO membership should not be the privilege of only some countries. Slovakia, together with neighboring and reforming Central European countries, has greatly progressed in transforming its political and economic systems and in democratizing its society. We now have the rare chance to become a democratic and prosperous European country, and one of the signposts of this endeavor would be membership in NATO.
In anticipation of this goal, the Slovak government is in the process of building modern, democratic armed forces that are compatible with those of Alliance countries. This process includes gradual implementation of a national defense system planning and strengthening the mechanisms of civil control of the armed forces. New laws will have to be passed to reach compatibility in the defense sphere with the standards of advanced democratic countries.
While in 1994 the Slovak Republic was only preparing for participation within PFP, we have already carried out a number of concrete activities today. Our bilateral Individual Partnership Program for 1995 gives priority to mutual military cooperation such as building communication systems, organizing military planning, and reaching compatibility and standardization in military technology and logistics. For the current year, the government of the Slovak Republic has provided 1%, or $4.3 million, of its military budget for activities within Partnership for Peace against a total military budget of 2.8% of our GNP.
In late April 1995, the Slovak Republic joined the Planning and Review Process (PARP) of the conventional arms and technology identified for use within Partnership for Peace. Slovakia also welcomed the proposal of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between NATO countries and Partnership for Peace countries, the aim of which is to define the legal status of NATO and Partnership for Peace armed forces in case they must be sent into another state's territory. The Slovak Republic will do its best to sign this agreement; our armed forces have already participated in several military exercises within this program. We also plan to build information channels for direct contacts with NATO authorities and, among other things, to extend our PFP Liaison Office at NATO Headquarters in Brussels as well as at SHAPE in Mons.
So far, the contacts we have had with authorities and structures of the Alliance within Partnership for Peace have been mostly of a consultative nature. In the next collaboration stages, we hope such contacts will help solve specific security problems of mutual interest. We believe that our developing relationship will create a sufficient framework for reaching the required level of compatibility and interoperability of armed forces, and foster conditions that will gradually interest the Alliance in solving the security problems of participating Partnership countries--especially countries that are primary candidates for enrollment in the Alliance. We also see the need for strengthening the political dimension of Partnership for Peace in the very near future. Extended political dialogue may remove some of the distrust that still appears from time to time on both sides.
Our country does not conceal the fact that it has some problems in planning activities within Partnership for Peace. In particular, we lack certain legal preconditions concerning the participation of army personnel in joint exercises, and we especially lack funds. We therefore do not plan to organize larger joint exercises in the Slovak Republic. Rather, the Slovak army intends to organize smaller military exercises in the near future with the participation of observers and units from Partnership countries. During 1995, we will organize, within our Individual Partnership Program, the "SKY COOPERATION" air force exercise in U.N. peacekeeping troop protection. Our other problems include the Slovak army's lack of foreign language knowledge, its inadequate special training of commanders, and its reliance on poor communication technology. We are aware that we should take the initiative to solve these problems.
One Partnership for Peace domain on which we put special emphasis is regional security cooperation. Recently, defense ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and the Slovak Republic met for the third time in Hungary in order to achieve closer cooperation within Partnership for Peace; the general staff of the Slovak army also organized an exercise with their colleagues from Hungary and Austria. In addition, the Slovak Foreign Ministry has initiated bilateral consultations with experts from the Foreign Ministries of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to coordinate steps towards NATO membership.
The trustworthy security relationships that are currently being created in Europe will be of substantial importance in solving international crises in the future. Despite initial skeptical views, the Partnership for Peace program has proved to be a dynamic mechanism for removing the dividing lines of the past and preventing new lines from forming in the future. The positive development of Partnership for Peace activities, as assessed by participating countries, is the best proof of the program's importance in the new global security collaboration. The Slovak Republic's goal is to fully engage in Partnership for Peace activities and create ever-closer links with NATO in order to gain full membership in the Alliance and, through this effort, to contribute to strengthening the overall stability of democracy in Europe.
Go to Top
Return to Dresden '95 Page
Return to Home Page