Speech by Sergio Silvio Balanzino

H.E. Sergio Silvio Balanzino

Deputy Secretary-General of NATO

On:  CURRENT TASKS OF THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE

Delivered to the European-Atlantic Group on November 3rd 1994

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Sergio Silvio Balanzino

CURRENT TASKS OF THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE

by

H.E. Sergio Silvio Balanzino
Deputy Secretary-General of NATO

Speech to European-Atlantic Group in St. Emins Hotel, Westminster 


November 3rd 1994

Last January, (1994) the Brussels Summit reconfirmed NATO’s core functions and set its agenda into the next Century.  Our leaders put the accent firmly on maintaining the Atlantic Alliance as the essential bedrock of stability in a Europe which has experienced bewildering changes.  Indeed, although there are today a number of organizations dealing with European security issues, NATO remains the only one which can guarantee the Security of its Members, something which it has succeeded in doing better than any other alliance in history.  At the same time, we now want to use NATO’s experience and influence to promote stability to our East.  Our goal is to extend to the new Democracies the peace and prosperity that we have enjoyed for half a century through our Alliance.  Another key task is to enhance our capabilities for effective crisis-management and peacekeeping.  In this respect we will continue to support the United Nations in the Former Yugoslavia.  Finally, we have to address the new Security challenges, particularly from weapons of mass destruction.  NATO’s current agenda is as much political as it is military.  But the problems we face call for practical solutions and these are what NATO is good at providing.

The first, indeed primary task of the Alliance, is to maintain a solid, healthy transatlantic partnership.  Its strength had been questioned by some, particularly last year during the GATT negotiations.  But as the Summit in January 1994 recognized, the transatlantic link remains the cornerstone of the Alliance, and it is basic to our hopes of further developing the construction of Europe.

But the need for strong transatlantic ties is not based on sentiment alone. Rather, North Americans and Europeans have strategic interests as well as democratic values in common, and NATO is the only forum enabling them to consult and develop common views and approaches to security challenges, not only in Europe, but indeed on a global scale as well.  For example, without NATO, we would have lacked the solidarity and even the mechanisms which allowed the United States and its NATO partners to cooperate effectively in the Gulf War.

The transatlantic link is vital to others besides Western Europeans.  It is also the clearly expressed wish of the new Democracies to our East that the United States and Canada continue their direct involvement in the security of Europe.  They see in the transatlantic link an irreplaceable pledge of security and stability for Europe as a whole and for themselves in particular.

This brings me to the second task of the Alliance: working with our Central and Eastern European partners to develop a cooperative approach to security and indeed a widening of our Western Security Community.  The way we can do this is by realising the full potential of Partnership for Peace.  It is no exaggeration to say that Partnership for Peace – launched by Allied leaders at the Brussels Summit – holds the potential to transform fundamentally the relationship between NATO and States that were once its adversaries.  The Partnership will, in practical terms, focus on joint planning, training and exercises that will strengthen the ability of Partner States to operate with NATO forces in fields such as peacekeeping, search and rescue and humanitarian operations.  Together, we will develop common ideas and approaches for peacekeeping and humanitarian support operations to which those forces may be assigned, thereby greatly increasing the pool of trained and NATO compatible assets, which we may draw upon in future Bosnia-type contingencies.  Thus, it is clear that PFP is a two-way street, with the Alliance deriving almost as much benefit as our partners.

Active Partner Countries will also have the opportunity to consult with NATO if they perceive a direct threat to their territorial integrity, political independence, or security.  NATO is thus responding to Partners’ concerns about the possibility of rising tensions and the need for a mechanism for consultation, in the case of emergency.

Today, Partnership for Peace is well on track.  Twenty-three countries have signed up thus far.  We have received and already reached agreement on a half-dozen Individual Partnership Programmes, with others in the pipeline.  Our Partnership Coordination Cell near SHAPE is already up and running. And, the Manfred Woerner Wing of the NATO Headquarters bidding is being occupied with liaison officers from many of our Partner countries.  For the first time in the Alliance’s history, Non-Members are now permanently represented at NATO, working alongside NATO’s Diplomats and Military Officers and sharing their varied and accumulated experience.  Our Partners have come to stay, not to visit.  The first joint peacekeeping field exercises have already taken place – first in September in Poland and then in the Netherlands last week.  A maritime exercise off the coast of Norway was also held in late September.

But there is more to Partnership For Peace than military exercises.  As it develops, PFP will bind Allies and Partners in a closer pattern of activity covering a very wide range of security-related matters.  For instance, we aim to provide our experience and expertise to the new democracies in creating democratically organised and politically accountable Ministries of Defence and military establishments.  We also aim to introduce a planning and review process based on the force-planning system that has played a major part in enhancing Alliance solidarity and underpinning our integrated military structure.  It will, of course, take time to develop PFP; and it will also take money.  But this will be a very well-spent investment with a major pay-off down the road for both Allies and Partners alike.

One point should be made clear.  Partnership For Peace is not a substitute for NATO Membership.  Nor was it designed to delay the moment when the Alliance should take on new Members.  At the January Summit, the Allies made clear they expect and would welcome enlargement.  Our next task is to begin to examine internally the way ahead so that we can prepare the Alliance to accept new Members in a way which enhances European security.  But in the meantime, countries will have time to prepare themselves for the major obligations which Alliance Membership entails.  Partnership for Peace is the ideal vehicle for them to do so.

There is, however, an essential companion to any consideration of NATO’s enlargement: it is that we develop a solid, cooperative relationship with Russia.  We all know that Russia is and will likely remain the single most powerful military power in Europe.  Its active participation and constructive engagement in building a stable security order in Europe is therefore vital.  We cannot build such an order without Russia, much less against her.  This is why we have attached so much importance to Russia’s joining the Partnership last June.  In addition, NATO and Russia agreed to develop a relationship beyond the PFP Framework, a “Summary of Conclusions”, which foresees a “broad, enhanced dialogue and cooperation” in areas where Russia has a unique and substantial contribution to make.  Though the details of such a relationship are currently being worked out, natural topics for a productive NATO/Russia dialogue would include issues such as Nuclear non-proliferation or Nuclear safety, as well as close consultation and cooperation in UN-mandated peacekeeping missions.  However, we have insisted throughout that the Alliance cannot accept any concept of “spheres of influence”, nor vetoes and ‘droits de regard’ over its internal decision-making process.  We have also made clear NATO’s unshakeable position that the new Europe should be built upon the principles of National Sovereignty and the political independence of all Nations.

Let me now turn to another primary task of NATO, indeed one that is constantly debated these days in the media: it is the Alliance’s role in conflict prevention, crisis management and peacekeeping, and, in particular, NATO’s support of United Nations activities in the former Yugoslavia.  This involvement has been seen as the ultimate test for NATO’s assumption of a wholly new kind of mission.

The experience, though a learning one, has been basically a positive one for NATO.  We have buried finally that old artificial distinction between “in area’ and “out of area”, as if our security interests and responsibilities stopped at our borders.  Moreover, NATO has made decisive contributions in three sectors: first, in expanding the range of military options available to the UN; second, in helping to deter attack on UNPROFOR and in protecting UN-designated “safe areas”; and third, in contributing to international Solidarity in responding to the crisis.  Without NATO’s assets and expertise, it would not have been possible to enforce the numerous UN Security Council Resolutions.  Our support began two years ago with the imposition of trade and arms embargoes against Serbia and Montenegro in the Adriatic.  Since the beginning of operations in November 1992, well over 36,000 ships have been challenged, with over 3,400 inspected or diverted.  After the UN Security Council strengthened the economic embargo against Serbia and Montenegro in April 1993, not a single ship has been able to break the embargo.  To be blunt, this operation played a significant role in the recent turnabout of Belgrade’s position on the conflict.

NATO’s involvement has also been decisive in providing military support to UNPROFOR In June of last year, 1993, Alliance Foreign Ministers offered NATO’s air power to support the UN-designated safe areas in Bosnia and to protect UNPROFOR in the performance of its mandated duties in the former Yugoslavia.  Furthermore, NATO Military Authorities have responded to UN requests for assistance in contingency planning, not only in anticipation of an eventual peace settlement, but also on other aspects of UNPROFOR’S military operations in the former Yugoslavia, such as creation of safe areas, prevention of spill-over of the conflict, and establishment of heavy weapons exclusion zones.

NATO’s involvement has thus considerably strengthened the hand of UNPROFOR -in its difficult humanitarian and peacekeeping tasks.  And, importantly, the parties know that any aggression against the designated safe-areas or against UNPROFOR troops runs the risk of a NATO air strike.  Having NATO’s strength visibly behind it has given UNPROFOR not only the protection, but also the necessary additional military means to help fulfil the full-range of its tasks.

We have also declared that, once a peace settlement is achieved, we are prepared to contribute to its implementation, if invited to do so by the UN.  We have developed contingency planning to assist the UN in evaluating the complex military requirements of a peace plan for Bosnia.  Arrangements have already been established to involve potential troop contributors from non-NATO countries in this contingency planning.

I want to emphasize that NATO is not acting independently in Bosnia.  We are doing so in support of the United Nations both to assist their humanitarian mission and to underpin efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement.  Basically, our cooperation with the United Nations has gone smoothly.  There have been inevitable ups and downs, as two very different international organisations attempt to work together for the first time in their history.  But we are united in a desire to achieve a peaceful settlement in former Yugoslavia, and we are laying the groundwork for perhaps more fruitful cooperation in the future.

However, as our new Secretary General, Willy Claes, said last week in The Hague, NATO is not a sub-contractor to the United Nations.  We are a Sovereign Organisation and we have a duty to discuss the conditions for our support, which is why a NATO team recently visited UN headquarters in New York to urge a more effective use of our air power.  We pushed hard to persuade the UN that adopting more rigorous standards for airstrikes was essential to make NATO’s use of force more effective and to protect our pilots.  We now have an agreement on those standards and look forward to its implementation.  In the final analysis, NATO’s credibility is our most valuable asset.  It is the fruit of four decades of effort and vigilance during the Cold War, and it remains essential to the preservation of peace in the wider Europe.  Therefore, we cannot allow the credibility of this Alliance to be squandered.

To remain relevant, NATO has to deal with the real security concerns of its members.  Today these are not limited to the risks and instabilities that persist on our European continent.  Technology has shrunk the globe in more ways than one, making Europe increasingly vulnerable to events beyond its borders.  The diplomatic struggle over the inspection of North Korean Nuclear facilities and the aftermath of the Gulf War have underscored the increasing danger from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Moreover, the fact that North Korea and Iraq were both parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty indicates that the problem will persist even if an indefinite extension of this Treaty is agreed in May 1995.

The 1994 Summit put the topic of proliferation firmly on the NATO agenda.  Our first aim is to reinforce the existing diplomatic means of prevention of proliferation, such as the non-proliferation regime established by the NPT.  We will also use the North Atlantic Cooperation Council to consult with our Cooperation Partners, with the aim of fostering common understandings and approaches to this issue.

Beyond that, our Summit leaders have endorsed the development of a policy for defence in case prevention fails.  We will examine in detail the current and potential threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  If necessary, we will seek to improve our defence capabilities and to consider how NATO’s defence posture can support diplomatic efforts to prevent or reverse proliferation.

Let me turn finally to the task of adapting further NATO’s “internal” structures and procedures.  As NATO today is taking on a larger number of tasks in cooperation with other organizations, and even non-allies, we have correspondingly adapted our military structures to permit greater flexibility.  In particular we are developing multi-national rapid reaction forces.  In line with decisions taken at the Brussels Summit, we are planning for increased military flexibility through Combined Joint Task Forces.

This concept – the CJTF – envisages using the Alliance’s existing Headquarters structures as a basis for establishing deployable multiservice Headquarters.  These would be mobilised when required for peacekeeping operations and for training and exercises.  NATO attaches great importance to this work, which will enhance the Alliance’s operational to respond to crises.  The CJTF concept will provide us with a new, flexible peacekeeping tool.  Through it, we shall be better prepared and ready to operate with Partners as well as Allies in responding to future crises.

Last, but not least, we are engaged in the task of strengthening of the European pillar of the Alliance.  At the Brussels Summit, Allied leaders gave their full support to the development of a European Security and Defence Identity.  As the Western European Union is being developed as the defence component of the European Union, we need to ensure the closest cooperation between NATO and the WEU, on the basis of complementarity and transparency.  As the WEU is developed, as it must be, no one should have any doubts that NATO is, and will remain, the guarantor of its Members’ security.  Its collective defence capabilities are unique, and without NATO both Europeans and North Americans would be less.  At the same time, the WEU is the European pillar of NATO and all European members of NATO, including Iceland, Norway and Turkey, are represented in it in one way or another.  For our part, we have stated our readiness to make collective assets of the Alliance available, on the basis of consultations in the North Atlantic Council, to the WEU for operations undertaken by our European Allies in pursuit of their Common Foreign and Security Policy.  We have developed close relations and our Councils meet regularly together.  All the elements are in place for the fruitful, mutually reinforcing relationship we all want to have.  We need to go forward and it is the intention of Secretary-General Claes to develop fully the capabilities of this relationship.  Once again the Combined Joint Task Foxes concept is essential.  CJTF would allow NATO assets to be put under WEU command in those cases where NATO has decided not to act.  This will enable the European Allies to take greater responsibility for their security and defence, by providing “separable but not separate” military capabilities within NATO that could be employed by the Western European Union.

The above agenda is ambitious.  Supporting the UN in former Yugoslavia, developing Partnership for Peace, addressing the proliferation threat, and further adapting NATO’s political and military structures, will take up most of NATO’s time and activities over the next few years.  However, these are tasks that address the vital security issues confronting us today and in the years to come.

The Alliance is and remains the essential element in the development of a new European security order.  Through change and adaptation, it has developed into a state of the art model for building security, indispensable not only to its Members but also – and increasingly – to its partners and others.  By keeping our Alliance strong, we are keeping bright our hope for a secure future.  It is exactly this contribution which is possibly the most significant and important that the Alliance can make in extending peace and stability in an unsettled World.