I cannot think of a better place to hold the NATO Workshop than the capital of Poland. Whenever Europe has been divided, Poland has paid a high price. But it has been the Polish people who, as early as the 1970s and early 1980s, filled us with hope for overcoming the arbitrary divisions of our European continent. Their courage and sacrifices have proved an inspiration to the surrounding countries and a surprise and relief to most people in the West. Their efforts have set change in motion.
I would like to focus on two issues that relate to that changeNATO's opening up to new members and its adaptation to the new Europe; and the contributions to security and stability in Baltic region made by Denmark.
The objective of opening up the Alliance to our Eastern neighbors should be self-evident after witnessing the Yugoslavian tragedy unfold and seeing the tension in other parts of Europe. Europe has simply experienced too many wars and seen too many arbitrary lines of division cut across people and their common culture.
Although democracy, respect for human rights, and a market economy are considered much desired goals, the transformation of societies focused on achieving these standards is often turbulent and filled with surprises. Economic setbacks are bound to arise when the planned economy is replaced by the market mechanism. And political stability may be difficult to maintain when democracy suddenly replaces the totalitarian rule of the Communist Party. In other words, stability can be in short supply.
Our best tools for stabilizing new democracies are cooperation and integration. These strategies worked for the West after the Second World War, when the United States set the direction by launching the Marshall Plan. Today the odds of succeeding are even better.
It is important that the process of opening the Alliance to new members remains gradual, steady, and transparent. It is also important that we keep in mind the right of sovereign countries to seek their own security arrangements; this basic principle of international relations must be respected. When Denmark was a front-line state, it reaped the benefits of a security guarantee as a member of NATO. I would have a moral problem if I were to deny new, stable democracies in Central and Eastern Europe the same guarantee.
In opening NATO, it will remain our foremost responsibility to ensure that no country is put in jeopardy; it will be unacceptable if some countries are put in a less secure position. If we cannot avoid putting countries at risk, opening NATO will be without purpose. All Partners should be given an equal opportunity to qualify for membership.
It seems a bit ironic that those countries that might need a security guarantee most may be less likely to join in the first round than countries that are less in need of membership. Some will claim this point to be realistic. But I say there is nothing logical about it. We should not treat any country differently just because the rulers of the former Soviet Union decided to make it a Soviet republic and not a satellite state.
Even with equal opportunity, some countries likely will not obtain membership as fast as others. This must never be interpreted as a lack of interest by NATO in the security, stability, and well-being of these countries. The burden of proof lies on our shoulders, and we must convey a clear message that cannot be misinterpreted; namely, that these countries are not up for grabs. There can be no return to the notion of spheres of influence in Europe. I am sure that everyone here will agree to that.
So, then, what should we do to ensure that those countries not accepted in the first round remain secure? First, we should state that the Alliance remains open. But this alone is not sufficient. We will have to back our statement with action--action that rules out any misunderstanding about the indivisibility of security on the European continent. We must come up with a substantial and credible solution.
I foresee a special package for those countries that want NATO membership but are not among the first new members. This package should go PFP and contain new elements and offers, not be just a repackaging of existing elements of cooperation.
One of the elements could be decentralization of PFP. This could include placing Partnership Coordination Cells in the NATO Headquarters in the area and establishing PFP Coordination Offices in Partner countries. Another element could be increased cooperation in exercises within the PFP framework. A third element could be more frequent and regular individual consultations between NATO and potential new member-states.
I am aware that Russia in particular is concerned about the opening of NATO. I also know Russian history and culture, and the huge price Russia has paid in ensuring its own security. Based on this history, it is possible to understand some of Russia's concerns about NATO's opening toward Central and Eastern Europe. In other words, Russia's uneasiness is a real problem, and we should address it accordingly. In fact, we are not only prepared to address it, we are already working on it.
We must completely convince Russia that opening NATO to the East is not directed against any country. To this end I would like to stress that NATO has no plans to deploy nuclear weapons or establish military bases in new member-states. After all, we have just recently removed all land-based missiles from European soil. But because we plan to engage in meaningful cooperation with new members--including peace-support operations and PFP tasks--I believe that new member-states should be integrated within the Alliance's command structure. Surely this would be useful before engaging in new IFOR-like operations.
In my opinion, Russia's relationship with NATO in the long run depends upon whether the Alliance is relevant to the security of Russia as well as to the security of other countries. To achieve this goal, we must increase cooperation with Russia in all areas and work together on decisions concerning European security. The latter we have already done, for example, in the Implementation Force in Bosnia; a significant Russian element of that force is contributing to the very success of IFOR. The IFOR operation is thus displaying the possibilities for European cooperation and for Russian cooperation with NATO. It is clearly an area to elaborate upon. Russia-NATO cooperation can also be strengthened through non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, and counter-drug trafficking efforts.
Denmark welcomes and supports the notion that the strengthening of European Security and Defense Identity must be done within NATO rather than outside in competition with it. This will make it possible for Europeans to take on a larger share of the responsibility. It will also establish a sound basis for preserving transatlantic partnership, which remains crucial to our security.
The adaptation process must take a broad approach to the complex set of challenges facing Europe in the future. Without losing sight of its core functions, NATO must increase its ability to carry out a diverse range of tasks together with--and in the interest of--all European countries.
To this end, Denmark warmly welcomes the agreement on Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) Framework Document. It is a much needed step toward building CJTF capabilities in the headquarters of the new command structure. Our decision in Brussels to conduct two CJTF exercises is putting flesh on the bones.
One of the crucial features of the CJTF concept is its provision for the participation of Partner countries in the new missions of the Alliance. The NATO exercise named Cooperative Guard, which will deal with both CJTF elements and Partner participation, could be viewed as a forerunner for CJTF exercises. Cooperative Guard is built around Baltic Approaches (BALTAP), and will take place to a great extent in November of this year and May of next year. I believe valuable lessons will be learned from it.
Adapting NATO's command structure is one of the most important tasks we have in front of us in the coming months. Let me point to one aspect of this adaptation that the Danish government finds of particular interest--the role of Partner countries.
A large number of our Partners are participating in IFOR and will undoubtedly wish to take part in future NATO operations as well. In my view, the future command structure should particularly focus--in addition to the traditional Article V tasks--on CJTF and PFP tasks. With the expected increase in decentralized Partnership activities, the new command structure should also establish Partnership Coordination Cells in connection with relevant NATO Headquarters in the area. This would give European Partner countries the opportunity to participate actively in the day-to-day work that goes on in NATO Headquarters concerning the planning, training, and exercises needed for future operations within the new missions of the Alliance.
An all-important synergy has developed between cooperation in exercises, training, and dialogue within bilateral and multilateral frameworks and cooperation that occurs in actual peace-support missions like IFOR. For example, cooperation within PFP activities helped to provide the foundation for the Nordic-Polish brigade. This brigade consists of forces from two non-aligned countries (Sweden and Finland), two NATO countries (Norway and Denmark), and four Partner countries (Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). The composition of the brigade shows that PFP and bilateral cooperation are investments in our common future.
Denmark has embarked on a comprehensive military cooperation program with countries from Central and Eastern Europe; this program is a good start on the road I believe we will travel over the next several years. Our first bilateral cooperation agreement within this program, which I signed as Defense Minister, was an agreement with Poland. Since that agreement was signed we have moved in only one direction--forward, toward even more comprehensive cooperation between our two countries. This cooperation has been complemented and strengthened by our trilateral cooperation with Germany. Thus we have embarked on a substantial relationship of cooperation among the Danish Division, the 14th German Division, and the 12th Polish Division.
The BALTBAT project is another important example of our cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries. Together with our bilateral cooperation agreements with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, this project has produced some very visible results in a very short time. In June, I visited Bosnia with the Danish Parliamentary Defense Committee, and we were escorted by Lithuanian soldiers around the Zone of Separation. Platoons from Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia are part of the Danish battalion in the Nordic-Polish brigade.
Our cooperation with the Baltic countries has also promoted Baltic defense cooperation, involving Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in close cooperation with other European states. In addition, BALTBAT has proven to be a vehicle for maintaining keen interest in Baltic security and defense among a large group of Western nations.
Denmark has also concluded a bilateral cooperation agreement with Russia, but so far cooperation has been fairly limited compared to that with other Baltic Sea states. I believe, however, that this situation exists for many other NATO countries cooperating with Russia; we hope that IFOR will help to improve these cooperation ties.
I was very encouraged by my last visit to IFOR in the former Yugoslavia. IFOR is making a real difference in Bosnia. People in Sarajevo are now replacing the plastic in their windows with real glass. Many fields that used to be mined are in the process of being cultivated. And reconstruction is gradually getting started.
IFOR's success in bringing an end to the war in Bosnia is a testament to the importance of the new tasks the Alliance has taken on. However, IFOR in its current configuration could not have been possible without PFP. And it surely would not have been so successful. The peacekeeping exercises and the development of common standards in the Planning and Review Process have been excellent preparation for Partner countries.
NATO has never been simply a traditional military alliance. Members share the will to defend and promote what we consider to be basic values: freedom, democracy, individual rights, and the rule of law.
The peoples of Central and Eastern Europe have clearly demonstrated to us that we are not alone in cherishing these values. Realizing this, we must keep in mind the very reason for our Alliance, and that this reason is as valid as ever. However, the tasks needed to defend and support our values are different now. That is why NATO has changed, and that is why it must continue to adapt to the new Europe.
Central and Eastern European countries have now enjoyed for nearly seven years the freedom they gained by their desire for this most fundamental right. The time has now come for the rest of Europe to further support their efforts, and to make sure that these new democracies are not let down, and that their courage has not been in vain.
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