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Opening Statement

Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council/
North Atlantic Cooperation Council,
NATO Headquarters, Brussels, 10-11 January 1994

NATO has moved to centre stage again. Gone is the headline: "why NATO?" Many want to join our Alliance or at least develop closer ties to it. There is nothing surprising in this. NATO owes its attractiveness to the security which it alone can guarantee to its member nations, because it is the only functioning collective defence organisation on the globe. But this is not the only reason. The transatlantic relationship has been the main link connecting the two most important power centres of the West. It is the key element of stability in a world more and more shaken by instability, crises and conflicts. No new security order in Europe is conceivable without it. NATO continues to serve as the main forum where the West can formulate and coordinate common political decisions. Under its umbrella, the dynamism of European unification can unfold.

In addition to these classical political and military tasks two new post cold war missions have been put on our Alliance's agenda. One is crisis management and peacekeeping. The other is the projection of stability to the East through close cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Aucune organisation internationale ne saurait remplacer l'Alliance atlantique pour remplir ces missions. Grâce à votre leadership, nous avons, au cours de ces deux dernières années, apporté à l'Alliance les transformations nécessaires pour relever ces nouveaux défis. La création du Conseil de coopération nord- atlantique, l'élaboration d'une nouvelle stratégie, l'adoption d'un nouveau dispositif de forces et le renforcement du pilier européen témoignent de la faculté d'adaptation de notre Alliance.

Mais ne nous faisons pas d'illusions. Il n'y a qu'un moyen de maintenir la cohesion de cette Alliance : c'est la volonte politique et la solidarite des pays membres. Il faut bien que nos pays aient une vision claire de leurs objectifs et qu'ils partagent la meme determination d'aboutir. Sinon, l'OTAN pourrait encore etre menacee de stagnation voire meme d'erosion. Notre Alliance a besoin d'un investissement permanent non seulement en ressources et en potentiel humain mais aussi, et plus encore, en energie et en determination politiques des deux cotes de l'Atlantique, pour pouvoir constituer le principal forum de consultation et le moyen le plus efficace d'assurer notre securite et notre defense.

Nous voici donc arrivés à un moment crucial de l'histoire de notre Alliance. La réunion que nous allons tenir aujourd'hui et demain est peut-être encore plus importante que ne l'ont été les Sommets de Londres et de Rome. Les défis auxquels nous sommes confrontés sont énormes :

  1. Premièrement, la relation transatlantique et l'importance que nous y attachons doivent être réaffirmées. Notre soutien à l'identité européenne de sécurité et de défense doit se manifester avec la même clarté et la même fermeté. Solidarité transatlantique et intégration européenne ne sont pas antinomiques, et encore moins contradictoires. L'Europe doit gagner en unité et en puissance pour assumer sa part de responsabilités au sein de notre Alliance. Il y va autant de l'intérêt de l'Alliance que de celui de l'Amérique du Nord et de l'Europe. La reforme de l'OTAN et l'intégration européenne doivent être vues comme deux processus lies l'un a l'autre. Avec une Europe plus forte et une Union de l'Europe occidentale capable d'agir, les responsabilités pourront être plus également partagées entre les membres de l'Alliance sans que cela compromette le rôle de l'OTAN comme principal instrument de la sécurité européenne.

  2. Second, in order to stabilize the whole of Europe we have to give a new quality to the cooperation with our partners. The initiative Partnership for Peace does exactly this.

    We will allow no-one and nothing to manoeuvre our Alliance into a false alternative: to have to choose between Russia and the other Cooperation Partners. Our message to Russia has been consistent and clear ever since after our Summit in London you sent me to Moscow to extend the hand of friendship: "yes" to an ever closer partnership with a democratic and reformist Russia - "no" to any revival of expansionism. Our vital objective remains to build a new comprehensive Euro- atlantic architecture of security with, and not without or against Russia.

    Our message to the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe has been equally consistent: we shall not leave you alone. We care about your security which is of direct and material concern to us. When we extend membership of NATO to new countries, it will be to help stabilise Europe and not to divide it again.

  3. Third, we have to improve our Alliance's crisis management and peacekeeping capabilities. In particular, we should be ready to use NATO as the forum for achieving concerted views early in a crisis. The tragedy of Bosnia-Herzegovina confronts all of us with lessons to be learned if we want to prevent such conflicts in the future. However, it remains true: NATO has done everything which the United Nations have asked of it in the former Yugoslavia and we have done so rapidly and efficiently. We shall continue our support for United Nations' efforts and we remain willing to help implement a peace settlement reached with the consent and good faith of all parties.

  4. Fourth, we have to adapt our structures to allow NATO to fulfil its new missions. A significant level of American forces permanently based in Europe will remain an indispensable component of our common security. At the same time, Alliance structures must be developed in such a way as to enable the forces of European Allies to operate under WEU auspices, if need be. However, more flexible structures will serve our purpose only if we maintain an adequate level of well-trained and well-equipped armed forces backed up by adequate resources. The fewer the means at our disposal, the fewer our options.

  5. Fifth, we have to prepare for the new security risks, particularly from the proliferation of weapons of mass-destruction. Non-proliferation is our priority, but it may not suffice. We have to look also at the appropriate means of protection.

You, the Heads of State and Government of our member nations, have assembled here to respond to the great expectations of our peoples and provide the leadership and decisions that will help take our Alliance resolutely into the 21st century.