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Speech by NATO Secretary General at the 41st Annual Session of the North Atlantic Assembly

Miscellaneous Directory

From: Chris Scheurweghs <>

Speech by NATO Secretary General Willy Claes at the 41st Annual Session of the North Atlantic Assembly,Turin, Italy, October 9th, 1995

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased and honoured to have the opportunity to address the Annual Session of the North Atlantic Assembly. I attach the greatest importance to a close relationship between NATO and the NAA -- and I understand you attach much importance to my being here as well!

Security policy is about making choices. However, with the end of the Cold War, many in the West were tempted to believe that the need to make hard decisions had disappeared. It seemed that the critical choice had been made by others - specifically by the nations to our east who had joined with us to build a Europe whole and free. With everyone apparently opting for the same community of values, the establishment of a new European Security Architecture seemed like an easy task. But this was not to be.

Indeed, today we are facing a number of difficult choices, not only on Bosnia, but also in the enlargement process and in the development of our relationship with Russia. The question before all of us -- both Allied governments and Parliaments -- is whether we will be willing to make the necessary investments in peace which can save us from having to make far more difficult choices and sacrifices down the road.

In Bosnia, there is at last a glimmer of hope that this conflict can now be brought to an end. Of course, it has not been easy to arrive at this point -- it took a prolonged enforcement of the economic embargo at sea in order to persuade the leadership in Belgrade last year to accept the Contact Group's peace plan. And it took even longer to persuade the Serbs of Bosnia, who plainly believed that the international community lacked the unity and will to use force decisively. And there was surely some reason for their attitude, given that United Nations forces in Bosnia were deployed strictly for humanitarian and peacekeeping purposes, and were vulnerable to hostage-taking and retaliation in the event of NATO action from the air. Indeed, their vulnerability produced the system of the dual-key, which severely limited the scope for the effective application of NATO air power.

Even in the midst of these difficulties, however, we were learning important lessons for future crisis-management operations: the folly of deploying neutral peacekeepers in a civil war, where there was no peace to keep; the impossibility of combining a peacekeeping effort on the ground with a peace enforcement mission in the air; the need for a clear and attainable mandate from the UN, as well as a sounder relationship between our two organisations; and the need for unity of command.

Last month's Operation Deliberate Force demonstrated that we had indeed learned these lessons well. It was preceded by redeployments of UN forces to more secure positions, and the introduction, for the first time in the conflict, of combat-equipped and trained troops on the ground in the framework of the French/British/Dutch Rapid Reaction Force. And it was planned by UN and NATO military commanders working together not so much with a double key as with a single purpose.

The result was a textbook demonstration of the use of limited force in the service of diplomacy, and the first significant and sustained military operation in the history of the North Atlantic Alliance. I would argue that no other organisation in the world could have used force so effectively and discriminately. We proved that NATO is not a blunt Cold War instrument, but that it can indeed be used flexibly on behalf of tightly controlled political objectives in the profoundly different and more complex security environment of the post-Cold War era. And we proved that it was possible for NATO and the United Nations to work together harmoniously to implement the will of the international community.

For the first time, a cease-fire in Bosnia is on the horizon, and a lasting peace settlement is within reach. But this is not the moment for self-congratulation, because there will be no peace in Bosnia and the Balkans, and perhaps no stability in the wider Europe, if NATO is not prepared to do its part in making this a reality. If we want to translate our success in Operation Deliberate Force into a permanent achievement, we will need a NATO peace implementation force on the ground to make a settlement secure.

I wish I could say that there were some easier, painless or cost-free way to reach our objectives, but there is none. For example, if we were simply to lift the arms embargo without sending a peace force, all the arms in the world would not enable the Bosnians to prevail against their more powerful and populous neighbours, and it would certainly not bring the conflict to an end - quite the contrary. Nor can we avoid our responsibilities because we think a given peace agreement is less than perfect: we cannot allow perfection to become the enemy of the good. Our standard must rather be a peace agreement that is signed in good faith by all three parties and which provides for an independent, defensible and viable Bosnian state, within which the separate communities feel they can pursue their destinies safely and at peace with each other.

Moreover, the North Atlantic Council has already decided that a number of conditions must be fulfilled if NATO is to undertake such an operation. And the first one of these is the most important: NATO troops will not be asked to go fight a war in the Balkans on behalf of one side against another. We will operate under the mandate of a UN Security Council Resolution, and we will go in only if the Bosnian Government is satisfied with the peace settlement and wants us there, and only if all the parties have signed and pledged to respect the agreement as well.

That is a sine qua non of the operation. But it is not the only one. Let me be clear: this will be a NATO-led operation, under NATO command and with robust rules of engagement. We will not go in on behalf of one side, or with the idea that any party is our enemy. But we will be prepared to deal swiftly and effectively with any local instances of non-compliance to the agreement. Indeed, either we go in with adequate force or we don't go in at all.

Finally, we will have an exit strategy. This will not be an open-ended commitment. This will not be intervention in a civil war - as in Vietnam; it will not be an exercise in nation-building - as in Somalia. Our mission will be limited in scope and duration. Essentially, we will oversee the pull-back of forces to agreed demarcation lines and monitor the resulting zones of separation. We will give confidence and security to all the parties as they implement their new constitutional relationships and restore their economic ties to each other, and as international reconstruction efforts begin to go forward. And then we will leave.

Again, I do not say that there will not be risks or costs to this operation, or that success is guaranteed. But, I do know that there will not be an independent Bosnia unless NATO does the job of securing the peace. And when I say NATO, I mean all the NATO Allies sharing equally in the burden of risks and responsibilities. I do not believe that the current division of labour, with only the European Allies on the ground, is something we can sustain in the context of a NATO-led peace implementation force. The European Allies simply do not have the resources, capabilities and manpower to do the job alone -- but neither will the US be asked to go it alone. We will need, in short, the allied solidarity which for almost 50 years now has made this Alliance great and made it successful. It is simply a fact of life that NATO only functions well when the United States and Europe are together - as we demonstrated throughout the Cold War, the Gulf War and during the recent air campaign in Bosnia.

* * * * * Mes chers amis comme je l'ai dit en commencant, nous nous trouvons aujourd'hui devant des choix difficiles, non seulement en ce qui concerne la Bosnie, mais aussi au regard de nos Partenaires des democraties d'Europe centrale et orientale et de la Russie.

Je crois vraiment que nous avons l'obligation historique de stabiliser la region qui s'etend a l'est de la zone de l'OTAN et qui, pendant des generations, a ete traitee comme un "no man's land" - une region ou de grandes puissances en quete d'influence se sont affrontees et ou des differends locaux ont souvent debouche sur des guerres de grande ampleur. Si nous parvenons a amener les nouvelles democraties d'Europe centrale et orientale dans la communaute de securite de l'OTAN, nous en tirerons un double profit : premierement, nous reduirons pour l'avenir les risques pesant sur notre propre securite, et en second lieu nous augmenterons sensiblement, a terme, les ressources et les capacites dont l'OTAN pourra disposer pour assurer sa defense collective et ses nouvelles missions, ce qui permettra de partager les charges sur une base plus large. Autrement dit, elargir l'OTAN n'est pas un acte de charite, c'est une demarche axee sur notre interet bien compris.

Mais le fait d'enoncer avec fermete le principe de l'elargissement n'implique pas que celui-ci pourra se produire immediatement, ni meme que la chose sera aisee. L'elargissement n'a de sens que si les nouveaux membres, au bout du compte, apportent une contribution reelle a notre defense commune et aux nouvelles missions de l'Alliance. Mais pour autant, il ne faut pas que l'elargissement de l'Alliance cree de nouvelles lignes de division en Europe ni qu'il soit un moyen d'assurer une securite a certains tandis que d'autres seraient exclus. C'est pourquoi le Partenariat pour la paix prendra encore plus d'importance apres l'elargissement, car il constituera la communaute de securite la plus large possible tant pour les membres de l'Alliance que pour les pays non membres. Et c'est pour cette raison que nous avons entrepris une etude sur l'elargissement, dont les resultats ont ete presentes a nos Partenaires de la cooperation il y a deux semaines a Bruxelles.

L'etude souligne les obligations que les nouveaux membres auront a assumer, s'agissant par exemple de respecter les normes de la democratie, de fournir des forces armees appropriees, selon les normes de l'OTAN, pour la defense commune, et aussi de placer ces forces sous controle civil. Par ailleurs, l'etude met en relief les depenses et les transformations auxquelles l'OTAN devra faire face sur le plan interne. L'article 5 du traite, c'est-a-dire la garantie de securite, s'applique de la meme facon a tous les Allies. Par consequent, si nous etendons la garantie, nous devons le faire pour de bon. Etendre une garantie de securite vide ou offrir cette garantie sans conviction n'apporterait rien a l'Europe centrale et orientale; ce serait aussi la fin de l'OTAN, car a partir du moment ou la securite d'un Allie serait differente de celle d'un autre, la confiance et la solidarite qui constituent le fondement de l'OTAN ne tarderaient guere a s'effondrer. L'elargissement comporte donc obligatoirement des couts. Nous avons raison de demander aux futurs membres potentiels de faire leurs preuves en s'employant a respecter certaines normes. Mais nous devons etre prets a engager de notre cote un effort equivalent en affectant nous-memes des ressources supplementaires.

Il est donc de l'interet des deux parties - les seize Allies actuels comme les candidats a l'adhesion - que nous ne prenions pas de decisions hatives sur la selection des futurs membres et la date de l'elargissement. Nous devons agir progressivement et avec determination. Nos Partenaires de la cooperation, qui partagent notre interet pour une OTAN forte et performante, doivent prendre le temps d'analyser notre etude sur l'elargissement. Dans les tout prochains jours, nous allons envoyer dans les capitales de ces pays une equipe de l'OTAN chargee d'approfondir avec eux les conclusions de cette etude. Les Ministres des affaires etrangeres des pays de l'Alliance examineront alors, en decembre, les resultats de ces contacts et decideront de la voie a suivre.

Qu'elle qu'en soit la valeur intrinseque, l'elargissement de l'OTAN n'est pas en soi une panacee pour la securite de l'Europe. Il ne servirait a rien d'etendre notre protection a certains pays si nous devions, par la, nous en aliener d'autres ou faire d'eux des adversaires potentiels. C'est pourquoi l'OTAN developpe parallelement, en complement de son futur elargissement, une voie d'importance egale, a savoir le partenariat avec la Russie. Notre offre de partenariat avec ce pays n'est pas un lot de consolation. C'est une ouverture authentique qui tient pleinement compte du poids et de la taille de la Russie dans le contexte de la securite europeenne et donne a ce pays des avantages reels : une relation privilegiee avec l'OTAN, ainsi qu'une cooperation concrete. Je reconnais que le climat politique n'a pas ete favorable, ces dernieres semaines, a un developpement harmonieux des relations entre l'OTAN et la Russie. Cependant, je suis intimement convaincu que la Russie n'a rien a gagner en s'isolant; elle n'a, d'ailleurs, rien a craindre de l'elargissement de l'OTAN, qui n'est pas dirige contre elle. Bien au contraire : une Europe centrale et orientale democratique et stable, dont les politiques de defense et de securite n'auront pas une orientation nationale mais seront fermement ancrees aux structures integrees multinationales de l'OTAN, offrira le cadre le plus propice a la reussite des reformes politiques et economiques de la Russie.

C'est pourquoi j'espere qu'a mesure que se developpera notre cooperation avec la Russie, ce grand pays surmontera ses suspicions un peu irrationnelles vis-a-vis de l'Alliance et qu'il comprendra mieux la vraie nature profonde de la transformation operee par l'OTAN ces six dernieres annees. En considerant la Russie comme un partenaire veritable et en ayant avec elle des consultations franches et frequentes, l'Alliance fera tout ce qui est en son pouvoir pour accelerer cette evolution. C'est la raison pour laquelle nous avons negocie un deuxieme accord, allant au dela du Partenariat: celui d'un vaste dialogue, contenant aussi bien les elements d'information mutuelle, que de consultation et de cooperation dans les divers domaines de securite. Dans ce cadre, nous venons de formuler des propositions concretes a Monsieur l'Ambassadeur Churkin. Mais l'etablissement d'une relation etroite entre l'OTAN et la Russie ne devra pas se payer par un veto russe ou un droit de regard de ce pays sur notre processus interne de prise de decisions.

* * * * *

My dear friends, achieving both NATO's evolutionary enlargement and a strong NATO-Russia relationship simultaneously will not be easy. But there is no alternative to this dual track approach and the prize is great indeed: a European security order built not on a fragile balance of power but on democratic values and durable cooperation.

We have a unique opportunity to begin building this security order now, in Bosnia, by bringing this conflict to an end. Think what we might achieve through a successful implementation of a peace agreement in former Yugoslavia, aside from the intrinsic benefits of bringing that conflict to an end.

It would, as the largest and most complex operation in NATO's history, confirm the Alliance as the cornerstone of our common Euro-Atlantic Security Structure in the post-Cold War era.

It would provide an opportunity for our Central and East European partners, who want to contribute to the operation, to demonstrate their commitment to our wider security community, and develop compatibility with NATO standards and procedures.

Finally, if we are able to devise mutually acceptable arrangements to allow for Russian contributions to the peace implementation commensurate with that nation's role and status as a great power - and I am confident that we can - then we will demonstrate that it is indeed possible for NATO and Russia to develop an equal partnership in the service of peace in Europe.

So let us go forward, with North American and European Allies standing shoulder to shoulder. That is the way we kept the peace throughout the second half of this century. And that is the only way we will be able to continue securing the peace in the years and decades to come.

Thank you very much.

NATO - OTAN Tel.: (32)-2-728.4599 EXECUTIVE SECRETARIAT FAX : (32)-2-728.5229 NATO INTEGRATED DATA SERVICE (NIDS) Chris SCHEURWEGHS E-MAIL: Leopold III laan 1110 BRUSSEL, Belgium Moderator E-MAIL NATOSCIENCE: haaaj01@blekul11.bitnet of NATODATA & NATOSCI
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