The theme of this year's Workshop is "The Future of NATO." Nothing could be more appropriate, since NATO is currently engaged in generating new ideas and fresh approaches to make it effective and relevant in the 21st century. Looking back at our Ministerial meetings in June, I would say that the future of NATO is being made here and now. The decisions we have made will have a profound effect on NATO's evolution. And they show a NATO with more to do than ever, and a NATO determined to be fit to meet the challenge. I would like to take a few moments now to review what we are doing.
Let me first mention NATO's most pressing current priority, which is the IFOR operation in Bosnia. Because of IFOR, this past spring has been the first in four years that has not brought with it a major military offensive in Bosnia. The Peace Agreement is now in its sixth month, and NATO's vital role in leading the Implementation Force has helped both keep and build the peace there.
In our Ministerial meetings, NATO has sent a clear signal that we remain determined to do the job in Bosnia--and do it well. We will maintain IFOR at roughly its present strength right up to and during the elections in September. These elections are the Bosnian people's chance, at last, to have their say. It is their chance to affirm that they wish to see Bosnia develop positively and peacefully and to build a permanent peace together. This is essential for the future of Bosnia. The elections will enable the establishment of the common political institutions the country urgently needs to overcome its divisions, both visible and invisible.
In addition to maintaining IFOR's strength through the elections, we have also decided to maintain IFOR's overall capability until the end of its mandate in December. However, it is up to the parties themselves to pursue the long-term process of reconciliation and to recognize that peace is the only viable option, and that compliance with the Peace Agreement is the means of achieving it. The challenges are immense, and it will take the full effort and commitment of all concerned to make our vision for Bosnia succeed. In the crucial months ahead, the international community can and must do its part to assist, but the parties themselves must take on the responsibility of making peace work.
To me, the significance of IFOR transcends Bosnia. The extraordinary cooperation embodied in the force reflects a new and unprecedented spirit of cooperation across Europe. In my visits to Bosnia, I have been immensely impressed and inspired by what I have seen of the IFOR operation. Take, for example, the Nordic-Polish brigade. It brings together the Scandinavian countries, the Baltic countries, and Poland in a unique demonstration of practical cooperation. Americans and Russians, too, are working side by side, frequently going out on joint patrols together.
These cooperative ventures are just a few examples of a new dynamic, a new mentality at work in Europe. Never before has there been such extensive military cooperation on this continent. And never before, when conflicts have arisen in the Balkans, have so many countries been on the same side--the side of peace. IFOR is the model of an undivided Europe at work; it is a model for the future, from which we must all learn and on which we must build.
The creation of IFOR owes a great deal to the Partnership for Peace initiative. Without PFP it would not have been possible to assemble such a large coalition so rapidly and so effectively. Within two years, PFP has turned into the most ambitious military-cooperation program in Europe. It has created momentum that we need to keep up.
Thus, in our meetings, we agreed to further strengthen the Partnership. In the short term, this will be achieved by deepening the Planning and Review Process and through our work on civil-military relations. In the longer term, we envisage a stronger role for Partners in shaping PFP programs. So PFP is here to stay--as a means to prepare with our Partners for peacekeeping operations, to prepare those countries who wish to join NATO, and to further deepen our cooperation with those countries not planning to join NATO soon or at all.
We have also made major decisions designed to strengthen NATO through the fundamental adaptation of our internal structures. This work will be guided by three objectives: first, to ensure a more flexible, more effective NATO with the capabilities it needs for its traditional mission--collective defense--and its new missions of crisis management and peacekeeping; second, to preserve the transatlantic link; and third, to build a European Security and Defense Identity within the Alliance. All Allies are agreed on the importance of these objectives, and on the fact that they are fully compatible with each other.
One important means to help us achieve these objectives is Combined Joint Task Forces concept, which we have completed in Berlin. This concept will:
A key aspect of the adaptation we are engaged in is the reflection of a European Security and Defense Identity the Alliance. We will develop command arrangements to permit all European Allies to play a larger role in NATO's military and command structures, allowing Europe to assume more responsibility and share Alliance burdens more equitably. With the approval of all 16 Allies, NATO assets and capabilities will be made available to the WEU. We will now get on with the work of making these arrangements a reality.
We will also remain firmly on course for the enlargement of NATO. Opening NATO is part of a wider process of the natural growing together of Europe. It will not create dividing lines or isolate any country. On the contrary, our goal remains establishing ever closer and deeper cooperative ties with our Partner countries. In fact, opening the Alliance would mean continuing an artificial demarcation that no longer corresponds to European realities. As I said in Warsaw during a visit in April: after 1945, when Western Europe was given another chance, it was given an Atlantic chance. The same chance, not a lesser imitation of it, should now be given to the new democracies to NATO's east.
But opening NATO to the east will be neither easy nor cost free. The current NATO Allies must thoroughly assess the impact new members will have on the political and military structures of the Alliance. And those aspiring to become members must thoroughly reflect on membership's implications for their own political and military environment, and how they see themselves contributing to the overall security of the Allies.
That is why we are currently involved in an intensive dialogue with those countries that have expressed an interest in joining NATO. In December, our Foreign Ministers will assess the results and decide the next step. In short, the process of NATO's opening is on track.
A wider NATO will be part of a Europe in which a democratic Russia has a rightful place. Thus, while we are responding to the legitimate expectations of Central Europe to be integrated into the Euro-Atlantic security structure, we also want to address the concerns of Russia and to build a strong, lasting NATO-Russia relationship. We want to embed this relationship deeply into the new security structure in Europe.
The success of NATO-Russia cooperation in Bosnia provides an excellent foundation for our work. Also, in recent months, we have held important consultations with Russia on issues such as the former Yugoslavia, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the CFE Treaty. But NATO wants to do much more. At the 16+1 meeting in Berlin with Russian Foreign Minister Primakov in June, we reiterated our proposal to form a political framework for NATO-Russia relations.
The fact that our proposals for intensifying the NATO-Russia relationship are being examined carefully and with interest gives us cause for optimism. I firmly believe that NATO and Russia make headway in establishing a strong, stable, and enduring partnership that properly recognizes our common interest in security and stability on our continent. Our successful cooperation in IFOR shows the way.
We also intend to deepen our cooperation Ukraine. Over the past six months, this cooperation has intensified through the implementation of the document on enhanced NATO/Ukraine relations that we agreed to last September, and also through Ukraine's participation in IFOR.
As you can see, our Ministerial meetings have opened a bold new chapter in the life of the Atlantic Alliance. Through our strong transatlantic partnership, we are working hard to:
With our Alliance thus renewed, we will be able to face the challenges of the 21st century with confidence.
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