Expanding Security in Europe Through Military and Non-Military Means
His Excellency Valdas Adamkus
President of Lithuania
It is always a great pleasure and an honor to take part in this conference and its thought-provoking discussions. During the five years that I have had the opportunity to attend this workshop, I have been reassured of its valuable contribution to a deeper understanding of European and global security issues. Today, my particular thanks go to the organizers, the Center for Strategic Decision Research and the German Aerospace Industry Association, for their untiring effort to keep this seminar going, and to the German government for its gracious welcome.
POST-SEPTEMBER 11 CHALLENGES
During last year's workshop, there were many references to global security threats. However, the tragedy of September 11 and subsequent events have sharpened our thinking and our attitude concerning global security and its challenges. A number of reasons have led to this transformation:
- First, the scale and the form of the September 11 attacks were unprecedented. Prior to that time, the free and democratic world could hardly contemplate the scale of terrorism's outrage and destructiveness or the enormous threat that this evil poses to the global community.
- Second, we have learned that terrorists are willing to use any method, even the most barbaric, to achieve their destructive designs. According to them, the higher the death toll and the greater the material damage, the quicker they will reach their goals of intimidating people and governments and of forcing them to comply with their requirements. Actually, they thank God for killing more people than planned!
- Third, we have realized that terrorism may strike anywhere and at any time. In fact, it may acquire forms that in the past existed only in theory. However, terror assaults are not random acts, but part of a well-planned and well-thought-out scheme.
- Fourth, we have seen that by manipulating the idea ls of freedom and religion, terrorists can mislead people and recruit supporters. Just think of the persuasive power of their influence on people leading normal lives who don't realize that in a few years they will commit suicide and kill innocent people.
Our response to these challenges of terrorism must be unity and solidarity. I happened to be in Washington, D.C., just a few miles from the Pentagon, when those terrible acts happened in America on September 11. I am convinced that the unity and solidarity of the American people during that day and those that followed were the best possible response to the terrorists.
The unity and solidarity of the international community were equally important. The tragic events of September 11 united nations across the continents. Now this unity must be reinforced and expanded at all levels-national, regional, and international.
In this context, I want to emphasize the efforts of Central and Eastern European nations that immediately extended moral support and made practical contributions by joining the anti-terrorist coalition. The counter-terrorism conference that was held at the initiative of Polish President Kwasniewski in Warsaw in November 2001 demonstrated the resolve of our countries to support, on both moral and practical terms, the fight against the new challenges to global security.
Effective defense is crucial in the fight against international threats. On this front, the North Atlantic Alliance has played and will continue to play a significant role. During its more than 50 years, NATO has proved its effectiveness as a defense organization by successfully defending the Euro-Atlantic community from the threats of the Cold War and by stimulating the process of European unification. Now, in the face of 21st st -century threats, NATO is contributing substantially and, I am certain, will continue to contribute to both European and global security. Further integration and the robust enlargement of the Alliance are therefore tasks of the utmost priority.
THE POSITIVE EFFECTS OF ENLARGEMENT
On the way to Prague, we have spent years discussing the pros and cons of NATO enlargement. Looking back, I see how important and valuable this discussion has been. It has helped us to broaden our understanding of the Alliance and pushed us to look beyond the technical side of expansion and center on "whom" and "what for." Today, it is generally accepted that enlargement is a positive development for Europe and that it shouldn't stop until all qualified candidates from the Baltic to the Black Sea are included.
I must admit, however, that a certain amount of skepticism still remains concerning what the candidates will actually contribute to collective security. Therefore, I would like to present my views on how the candidates can consolidate and reinforce the security of the Euro-Atlantic area.
The Military Aspect
Ten years ago, Lithuania and other Central and Eastern European countries were starting from ground zero. Today they can offer fully operational units capable of joining NATO missions! Moreover, these countries have shown an impressive aptitude for applying the latest technologies.
In addition, a soldier from a candidate country can replace a NATO soldier, who can then be sent on another mission. For example, during the past decade, almost 1,000 Lithuanian soldiers have taken part in various peacekeeping missions in the Balkans. Because of that, 1,000 NATO soldiers have been freed up for other assignments, including the ongoing campaign in Afghanistan. My country is also committed to sending its military and medical units to join Operation Enduring Freedom along with Czech and Danish forces.
Today, we must focus on mobility, interoperability, and cutting-edge technologies. I have no doubt that my country, whose 10,000 strong, well-equipped regular forces have been trained under Western standards and which spends 2% of its GDP for defense, will make a tangible contribution to NATO's collective defense. That contribution will be even more substantial after NATO includes all applicants that have met membership criteria.
Non-Military Means of Increasing Security
Scientific cooperation. Scientific cooperation is an especially promising area. Across our region, one finds scores of young and talented scholars who are already contributing to our understanding of science and the development of new-generation technologies. For example, Lithuanian scientists are involved in four NATO projects that focus on new applications for lasers and biotechnologies. I am certain that this kind of cooperation will only expand after Lithuania joins the Alliance.
Political Cooperation. The countries of the Vilnius Ten Group, both individually and on a regional basis, have expanded their influence well beyond the borders of the region. Thanks to solidarity and cooperation, Central and Eastern Europe have become distinct places on the continent, with ample membership commitments overlapping and expanding. This solidarity is extremely valuable, and will continue after the next round of enlargement. The post-Madrid process has shown that new members are remarkably efficient in enhancing NATO's cooperation with bordering countries and regions. For example, in March of 2002, Vilnius hosted the summit of the Baltic and Polish presidents, and in late April 2002 the three Baltic presidents met with President Havel in Prague.
Our solidarity and experience cooperating with neighbors will reinforce NATO's collective security. Actually, it is already doing so. NATO is currently building on our region's experience in forging effective cooperation with Russia. A closer partnership, we hope, will also develop between the Alliance and Ukraine, a country of great importance to European security and stability.
Economic Prospects. During the past few years, the prospect of Euro-Atlantic enlargement has invigorated our reforms and, in the case of Lithuania, contributed to doubling our GDP. I therefore hope that the economic potential of the candidate countries will be given more realistic consideration in the near future. For example, it has been forecast that, after enlargement, the Baltic Sea region will become the fastest-growing region in Europe.
Democratic Principles. As we discuss the issues of enlargement, it is most important to remember that we are all members of the same family. Our values and the basic principles of freedom, democracy, and a free market economy are widely shared both in the eastern and western areas of the continent. Above all, people in the candidate countries are well aware of the importance of commitment and responsibility. We have proven this, persistently and loudly, during the turbulent years of reform and transition.
Enlargement is mainly about the hopes and the future of people. It is not a mechanical process aimed, as some critics argue, at new territories and strategic gains. Basically we care about the opportunities for development, integration, and contribution-opportunities that our countries lost when Europe was divided some 60 years ago.
Today, our solidarity and our contributions are not only welcome but necessary. After September 11, the moral need to enlarge NATO has been reinforced with a practical purpose. We must enlarge the area of shared principles and commitments to shrink the space available to terrorists. In fact, the larger the area of freedom, democracy, and prosperity, the more certain will be our success. This concept was supported by the 1997 decisions in Madrid.
Let us continue in this direction in Prague!