Speech By NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

at NATO's New Strategic Concept - Global, Transatlantic and Regional Challenges and Tasks Ahead - Warsaw, Poland


Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a distinct pleasure for me to be here today in Warsaw and to participate in this third annual international conference on NATO organised by the Centre for International Relations. We have had many conferences on the new Strategic Concept in recent months.

But this exercise would certainly not be complete without a Polish perspective.

What I should like to focus on in my remarks this morning is territorial defence -- what it means today -- and how we continue to implement it and keep it credible.

NATO’s core task was, is, and will remain, the defence of our territory and our populations. But we need, at the same time, to take a hard look at what deterrence means in the 21st century.

We need to decide what kind of capabilities will ensure that no one ever thinks that an attack against a NATO member country can be successful. For our deterrence to remain credible, I firmly believe it must continue to be based on a mix of conventional and nuclear capabilities. And our new Strategic Concept should affirm that.

However, our new Strategic Concept will also need to reflect something else: it will need to reflect that the meaning of territorial defence is changing.

Static, heavy forces won’t deter terrorists bent on destabilising our societies, or computer hackers targeting our critical infrastructure, or rogue states armed with nuclear weapons. To meet these new threats, and to defend our territories, requires a level of engagement. And I want to highlight three areas where we must demonstrate that engagement.

First, if we want to fight terrorism, we must do so where it originates. And that is what we are doing in Afghanistan. We are at a crucial point in our mission.

There has been a significant increase in NATO’s military contribution. And together with an increase in the international community’s civilian contribution, this has produced a real swing in the momentum away from the Taliban.

It is vital that we capitalise on this momentum. Our recent operation in the south of Afghanistan has demonstrated the importance of integrating civilian and military efforts, and that is an area we must continue to focus on.

What it has also shown is the growing ability of the Afghan army to take the lead in security operations, and it is essential that we build on that. That’s why we have decided to assist the Afghan government in expanding the Afghan security forces. We have established a training mission with the aim to train and educate Afghan soldiers and Afghan police. The ultimate goal is to hand over the lead responsibility to the Afghan security forces when conditions permit – district by district, province by province.

A second challenge that we must tackle head-on is cyber security. I am heartened by the progress that we have made in this area over the last few years, with our Centre of Excellence in Estonia and several other response measures. But I am also convinced that we can and must do even better.

Cyber space does not respect national borders. We need a sustained effort to enhance our protection. And if our protection is breached, we need the solidarity of Allies and friends to come to our aid.

Third, we must develop an effective missile defence. In the coming years, we will probably face many more countries – and possibly even some non-state actors -- armed with long-range missiles and nuclear capabilities. Therefore, I believe that NATO’s deterrent posture should include missile defence.

Deterrence works against rational actors, but not all actors that we will have to deal with in the future will be rational.

That’s why deterrence and defence need to go together. And why we have the obligation to look into missile defence options.

If we want to keep NATO’s territorial defence effective, affordable and credible, we must push ahead with the Alliance’s transformation. We need more flexible, mobile and deployable armed forces. If our military is stationary, if our armed forces can’t be moved beyond the borders of each individual member state, the defence of Allied territory will not be effective.

Transformation is also about more efficient use of resources. Allies should work more closely together in acquiring key capabilities and funding operations.

The current financial crisis and the budgetary problems faced by all our nations only make this a more pressing requirement. We need to use the economic constraint as an incentive to eliminate duplication and rationalise our defence procurement.

NATO and the EU should cooperate and coordinate better. By cooperating in areas such as heavy lift helicopters, maritime surveillance and countering road side bombs and other explosive devices we can not only increase security for our troops on the ground but also save tax payers money.

But transformation is not only a military topic. It also has a political dimension. To cope with the new security challenges, NATO’s consultations must be broader and more intensive.

NATO Headquarters must be less of a bureaucracy and more of a streamlined, operational headquarters. A headquarters where staff and resources are realigned to serve the Alliance’s new priorities, not outdated legacy activities and narrow national interests.

We need better intelligence sharing and more situational awareness to deal with emerging crises. And we need, in particular, to overhaul our military command structure, to make it more flexible and deployable.

This is an ambitious agenda. But there is no alternative to keeping NATO strong. History has taught us time and again that security cannot be had on the cheap.

But history has also taught us something else: the more secure our neighbours are, the more secure we will be. And that is why our first line of defence must be to complete the consolidation of Europe as a continent that is whole, free and at peace.

What does this consolidation of Europe entail? For one, it means that NATO’s Open Door policy must continue. It must continue because it provides a strong incentive for the aspirants to get their house in order. And it must continue because it is an expression of a key principle on which any European security order must be based: the free choice of alignments.

But continuing NATO’s Open Door policy is only part of the answer to Europe’s consolidation. We also need a new relationship with Russia.

Indeed, I firmly believe that a much improved relationship between NATO and Russia would be the best reassurance of all, to all our nations.

That is why I have invested a lot of time and effort, ever since I took office, in building better relations with Russia. There has been progress in a number of areas, including our joint review of common threats and challenges. But there is a lot of work still left to do.

We continue to have our differences, not least about NATO’s Open Door policy. There are also profound concerns, all across our Alliance, about Russia’s policy vis-à-vis Georgia.

We think Russia sends the wrong kind of signal by conducting military exercises that rehearse the invasion of a smaller NATO member.

Let me stress, NATO is not a threat to Russia and will never invade Russia. Nor do we consider Russia a threat to NATO. That is why Russia’s new military doctrine does not reflect the real world. It contains a very outdated notion about the nature and role of NATO.

But we must not let these differences hold the entire NATO-Russia relationship hostage.

After all, NATO and Russia also have many common interests – in Afghanistan, in combating terrorism, and in preventing nuclear proliferation.

We need a NATO-Russia relationship that allows us to pursue these common interests, and which will not de-rail every time we disagree. I will continue to work for such a strong, trustful NATO-Russia relationship. And I am confident that NATO’s new Strategic Concept will underline the determination of all our nations to make it a reality.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, NATO is engaged in Afghanistan, in the Balkans, in the Mediterranean Sea, and off the Horn of Africa. This broad spectrum of missions and operations is only natural. Today’s risks and threats are increasingly global in nature, and our Alliance must reflect this fact.

But these new missions of NATO must not – and will not – lead us to neglect what constitutes the very core of this Alliance: the collective will and the collective means to defend each other. An Alliance that cannot provide for collective defence will lose the cohesion to contribute to collective security.

By the same token, a Europe that relegates Russia to the role of a disgruntled outsider will remain incomplete. Such an incomplete Europe will waste too much time on revisiting its past. And in so doing, it may miss the future.

As we prepare for that future, we need to reconcile collective defence with our new expeditionary missions.

And we need to demonstrate NATO’s longstanding commitment to a Europe that is whole, free and at peace – and including Russia. I am confident that our new Strategic Concept will reaffirm this fact.

Thank you.

President Obama and NATO Secretary General Rasmussen



Radek-SikorskiSpeech by Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Mr. Radosław Sikorski

during the conference on NATO’s NEW STRATEGIC CONCEPT Global, Transatlantic and Regional Challenges and Tasks Ahead
Mr Secretary-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman,

Despite numerous debates about NATO’s purpose after the fall of the Iron Curtain, events have proved that we have not reached the “End of History”. The democratic world still has dynamic challenges to tackle, reflecting the ever-evolving security environment. NATO will be called upon to help the world cope. Success will depend to a great extend on the recentlylaunched revision of its basic conceptual document: the Strategic Concept. I hope that it will be comparable to the Harmel Report in terms of its importance to the future of the Alliance. I also hope that as with the Harmel Report, the Strategic Concept will give momentum to NATO’s dual-track policy: combining credible deterrence and a strong defensive military posture in the context of security threats with mutually beneficial partnerships with those who see the Alliance as a partner for engaging with common challenges, and not as enemy.

During this process NATO has shown an unprecedented readiness to consult with partners, think-tanks, non-governmental organisations, scientists and the public at large. The “Group of Experts” is an example of an interdisciplinary exercise, which I hope will conclude its work with a report encompassing a wide range of recommendations to be presented to the NATO Secretary-General. We expect you, Secretary-General, to continue with your leading role in the development of the Strategic Concept, using your characteristic determination and involving all of the Allies in a transparent and inclusive manner.

We are focusing today on the security interests of Central and Eastern Europe. First and foremost, I must emphasise that they are not in any way inconsistent with the security interests of our Western Allies or Eastern partners. In fact they should be seen as facilitating better communication and a building of trust over those disagreements that used to divide Europe. Let me be absolutely clear: we in this part of Europe do not expect any kind of preferential treatment. We just want to enjoy the solidarity and protection that will make us feel as safe and secure as all other Allies. Central and Eastern Europe needs strategic reassurance, and this will be achieved through the new Strategic Concept.

The principle of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty as the cornerstone of transatlantic security is still widely cited and respected. However, today’s priority is to translate theory into practice. We need to make sure that we are capable of resisting any kind of threat that might disturb the stability and prosperity that we have achieved through our common efforts. A fall in the number of “conventional” conflicts in recent times does not mean that this form of threat has disappeared altogether. We should therefore remain vigilant and prepare contingency plans – but this does not mean pointing fingers at anyone in particular. As well as its exercises, NATO should fulfill the promise made by President Obama in Prague last year, namely that every member would be provided with an up-to-date Contingency Plan if it so wished.

Solid and credible guarantees of security are especially important at NATO’s periphery, giving inevitability and reliability to the Alliance’s self-defence posture. Defensive capabilities should be maintained through, among other things, proper allied investments into infrastructure related to collective defence, operational capabilities and the allocation of scarce resources into its military infrastructure in order to ensure that the full range of tasks can be fulfilled. We must also remember that a US political and military presence remains the key element of security for many countries in this part of Europe, and is a fundamental element of allied deterrence capabilities.

Allies should also take a closer look at the issue of nuclear weapons in an effort to combine the continued credibility of nuclear deterrence with a need to establish, step-by-step, an armscontrol regime for tactical nuclear weapons in and possibly around Europe.

It is of high importance that we maintain a proper balance between Article 5 and crisis response operations. Crisis operations have to be carried out selectively, and in accordance with a firm understanding of when and where the Alliance should get involved. Tangible security interests and policies agreed amongst the Allies should be our guiding principles. It is no less important to strengthen our commitment to implementing common decisions concerning crisis operations, to make sure that they are conducted in an effective and comprehensive way. NATO crisis-response and stabilisation activities should be based on the principle of solidarity, meaning that all Allies should share the burdens, including those of a financial nature.

Central Europe is vitally interested in extending the zone of stability and security, in line with NATO’s Open Door Policy. I am confident that we will soon be welcoming the conclusion of the process of the Western Balkans’ integration with the Alliance. But we also need to reassure Ukraine and Georgia that our commitments regarding their membership remain valid. They remain firmly anchored in the process of partnership co-operation with the Alliance, which is geared towards their future accession, assuming that all criteria are met.

Let me now elaborate on our regional expectations.

In today’s globalised world we must change our way of thinking about security. Polish citizens have died in terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid and London. Poland and Central Europe understand the nature of the new threats, and do not underestimate them. That is why we are in Afghanistan. Similarly, Western nationals residing in Poland could one day be affected by the security challenges that our region is facing. We therefore have to stay united, in thought and in action. One Ally should fully understand the security perception of another, even if individual national security threat perceptions may differ from time to time.

Our region may seem oversensitive about NATO-Russia relations, but this is a reflection of our desire to develop those relations in a realistic and mutually beneficial manner. Secretary- General Rasmussen’s efforts re-engage Russia are most welcome. Central Europe wants NATO to develop relations with its Russian partner pragmatically and with full respect to the legitimate security concerns of both sides. The precondition of this co-operation is primarily respect for common values uniting the Euro-Atlantic family, to which Russia also subscribes. We have to rebuild mutual confidence and base our efforts on the fundamental notion of reciprocity. In order to avoid further misperceptions we should focus first of all on military predictability, to be achieved through greater openness and transparency in military affairs. Security today is not a zero-sum game, where one’s loss is necessarily to another’s benefit.

Since all Central European Allies are also EU members, we naturally place an emphasis on the proper handling of NATO-EU relations. We need to work out an appropriate pattern of co-operation between these organisations. It is unacceptable that NATO and the EU are not able to act together even when they are standing side by side in solving political and military crises. NATO and the EU have to engage in strategic policy co-ordination as equal partners. These efforts should be based on a shared responsibility for global security and stability. NATO and the CSDP should be mutually complementary. It is in that spirit that I have launched the initiative to develop the CSDP, and to make it a priority for Poland’s EU Presidency next year. Our common interests and values should be reflected in new forms of political consultation and military co-ordination at the strategic (leadership), operational (intheatre) and staff-to-staff (headquarters) levels.
Ladies and gentleman,

It is in our common interest to maintain the Alliance’s strong position in the world. To achieve this, our organisation needs to keep adapting its structures and capabilities to new challenges, whilst fostering its basic defensive functions.

We hope that the new Strategic Concept being elaborated by our distinguished guests will prove a visionary look to the future. This document will help us to tackle all of NATO’s challenges, old and new, and should be formulated in clear and understandable terms. The Concept should offer strong strategic guidance, paving the way for the reforms necessary to maintain NATO’s credibility and to increase its effectiveness. Neither strategy without reform nor reform without a strategy will help the Alliance.

We hope that elaboration of the Strategic Concept will not only be productive but will also confirm our unity and unanimity. The process will reinforce Euro-Atlantic cohesion, even when the road to consensus is not easy. The message from Warsaw for the future of the Alliance is twofold: reassurance for us, and re-engagement for Russia.

Thank you.
Center for International Relations