Center for Strategic Decision Research


European Security: Problems, Risks, and Challenges

His Excellency Robert E. Hunter
United States Ambassador to NACC


I suspect that we are wearing out the terms "history" and "historical." But after our meeting in Prague Castle, which itself has seen so much history, and thinking about the effort to build lasting security in Europe, I believe that, with a bit of humility and a lot of inspiration, we are finally--after some 379 years since the Thirty Years' War began a few meters from Rudolph Hall where our Workshop sessions took place--looking for a better way than the balance of power to build security. At NATO we believe that we have found that better way, and with the help of every single person in this room and every single country represented, we think we have a chance to do it. Since May 27, 1997, we have begun to define what we do--not in relationship to the past, undoing or overcoming the legacy of not one but three wars on this continent in this century--but in relationship to the future, a future that we share in common and that we must work toward together to make effective.

As we meet, NATO is going through the most extraordinary period of change in its history, a 44-day period that began on the 27th of May and that will end in Madrid on the 9th of July. During that period, we have been reviewing the extraordinary success that the NATO-led IFOR and now SFOR troops have been having in Bosnia--troops from 16 Allied, 14 Partner, and 4 other countries. We have also been following an extraordinary agenda, composed of eight separate but totally linked items attempting to build a coherent strategy for security and that will culminate in the NATO Summit.

We will invite countries to join NATO. My country supports three in the initial round: Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. However, for the United States, the early admission of these three countries is intimately and inevitably linked to keeping the door open to further NATO enlargement. There will be more rounds of enlargement, defined by one simple proposition in the U.S. view: the door to NATO enlargement stays open so long as there are European countries ready and willing to shoulder the responsibilities of NATO membership. So for us, three countries now, but other countries later. At the Summit, we will make that open door very clear, very realistic, very palpable.


To that end, we are moving forward with our new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, involving all members of the Partnership for Peace. We are taking the Partnership for Peace, the most successful, indeed the flagship venture, of NATO, and making it even stronger, both as a vehicle for the preparation of applicant countries and as a vehicle that will provide a deep, permanent, close relationship between our NATO family and those countries that will not join NATO now, or that perhaps never will seek NATO membership.

We have also concluded, and will make effective over time, the NATO-Russia Founding Act, recognizing that Russia's security is as important as everything else that we are doing, and underscoring the effort to draw Russia out of its isolation to play a full and legitimate part in European security. The NATO-Ukrainian Charter, now initialed, will also be signed at Madrid. And the restructuring of the Alliance, following the long-term study, will both prepare the Alliance to deal with the future and enable the Western European Union to become effective for the first time.

Our eight-part agenda, plus our efforts in Bosnia, constitute a single package with a single theme: security for all, deeply engaged, with the U.S. remaining here as a European power now and forever.


While we are moving steadily forward, there are problems, risks, and challenges.

  • First, we must ensure that what the 16 Allies are trying to do is cemented in the political structures and public opinion of our countries. NATO enlargement is not about governments; it is about parliaments, it is about peoples. We need a two-thirds vote in the United States Senate: we will succeed in the United States. But it is important that we succeed in each and every one of the Allied countries.

It is equally important that there be strong public opinion, strong political support, in the countries that are seeking to join NATO. This will ensure that these countries join wholeheartedly and without reservation, and that their commitment is sustainable politically beyond the drama of the moment.

  • Second, the Allied countries must be willing to commit those resources necessary to make enlargement effective. Not only must we be willing to meet those requirements in each of our 16 countries, but each Ally, each one, must fulfill the commitments we have already made to implement a policy of reinforcement if that is required. Without resources, there can be no serious enlargement.
  • Third, the new Allies must be willing to show a tangible commitment to security and to playing their full and equal roles as Allies. But we are not asking them to prepare to fight or to engage in a new Cold War--this is precisely what we are attempting to prevent by building security for all. However, all of the new Allies and aspirants must show they are prepared to adopt NATO's standards, become interoperable with us, provide for their own security, and show that they are serious about this relationship. For the U.S., they must be able to demonstrate to our Congress that they are serious about joining the NATO Alliance.
  • Fourth, as we look to the future, we must be certain that we do not see a hollowing out of this great Alliance. We must meet our military commitments, and we must continue to build and to sustain in the public as well as in the private sector defense industries and defense engagements that will give us a solid basis for the future. We can have no renationalization of defense, but we can also have no hollowing out of the defense relationship. This means we must build a transatlantic defense relationship in the private sector to sustain what we do in the public sector. Indeed, I would argue that the role of the private sector, in Central Europe and beyond, is going to be equal to if not more consequential than what is done by the public sector.
  • Fifth, we must put into practice the work we have just begun. Most important in terms of innovation at NATO will be the functioning of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, building a deep and solid Partnership for Peace, ensuring that the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council is a serious venture, and ensuring the primacy of the North Atlantic Council for making decisions for the Alliance and putting them into effect.
  • Sixth, SFOR has a year left in Bosnia to get it right--to continue the extraordinary success that we have had for more than 550 days, but also to make sure that the civilian side will support the military effort so that the peoples of Bosnia will have a chance to look towards a positive future.
  • Seventh, we must look to new challenges. We must face up to the rising risks of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, of the challenges coming from new directions. Yes, we must look towards the south and towards the east in Europe and in the Mediterranean region as new challenges arise.
  • Eighth, the European Union must also fulfill its role, its destiny, in this part of the world, or what we do at NATO will not succeed.
  • And finally, ninth, as part of the very rich, very daunting, but very positive agenda, we must work in the future as diligently as we are working today. Because this agenda has a purpose--no less than building for the 21st century a common security that can in some part redeem the tragedies of the 20th century.


I have no doubt that every Workshop participant is part of that agenda. And I have no doubt that we will meet history's test, so that in 50 years people will look back and judge us as we judge those of 50 years past, and say that we recognized our historic responsibility and that we were equal to it.







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