Center for Strategic Decision Research


Welcoming Remarks

His Excellency Dr. Werner Fasslabend
Minister of Defence of Austria

I will try to find out if there was a way to bring you back from the Flamish and Italian art from the 16th and 17th centuries to security policy in the 21st century and I thought, maybe, I should make a few remarks before. And I thought, the best way to start would be our symbol of this conference, this rider on horseback. Many people probably have asked already, who this is. This is a statue on Heldenplatz. It could be seen immediately to the left to the papal altar, and it shows a very famous man, famous in central Europe, but probably all over Europe. It is Prince Eugene of Savoy, who served three Habsburg emperors. He lived from 1663 to 1736 and he probably was the most successful field marshal in Austrian history. He was of French and Italian descent, his mother was a niece of cardinal Mazarin, who lived at the court of Louis XIV. When he was a young man, he offered his services to the French king, but he did not want him, because he was too small. So he went to Vienna to the Habsburg Family. He was accepted because there was a great need for young and keen men, and because the Ottoman Turks were already on their way to Vienna, which they called the Golden Apple. Sometimes, I remember that New York is called the Big Apple. In those days, Vienna was the Golden Apple for the Turkish people.

Prince Eugene of Savoy became an Austrian officer, and, when Vienna was besieged in 1683, he was already here, and he was very successful. Afterwards, he became the most successful field marshal and officer in Austrian history. As I said, he beat the Turks in many historic battles. The most famous one was the battle of Zenta, where the Turks lost their war treasury. It was never found, but from that moment onwards, Prince Eugene of Savoy was said to be the richest man in Europe. You could see, also in this exposition in this museum, quite a lot of palaces, the Belvedere being one of the most beautiful palaces in Vienna, or the one of Schloßhof near Vienna. It was built by the war architect of Prince Eugene, because he was the man who was not only an absolutly splendid field marshal, but he also was a man of arts. His collection is one of the most important art treasures, for example of our national library up to now. I could tell you so many things, he fought together with the Duke of Marlborough against the French, but what I just want you to know is that he was a man who tried to combine military skills with arts and with diplomatic skills. And I think we should also try, at least a little, to use him as a model for our time, and the same goes for the Congress of Vienna. Now people only remember that they were dancing there, and a new order for Europe was born. But if you look back a year from then, there was the battle of Leipzig. I just want to mention that the commander in chief was Prince Schwarzenberg from Austria, and the chief of staff was our General Radetzky, but what I want to express is, that also the peace that was the result of the Congress of Vienna established a peace order for almost half a century, and this was only possible because there was also a military solution before. In the same way, Dayton was only possible because there was a very efficient activity and mission by NATO just a few weeks before. And that’s what we should learn for the future!

And therefore I’ll try to make a few remarks also to our time. I’m absolutely convinced that last year we startetd to go in a new period. The transformation period in the post-cold war era and period has ended. We are now entering a constructive period, away from transformation. We are going into a construction period. And this means for me not that things have become easier, but we have to look at the goals even more seriously and we will have to do more planning, as we did in the last few years during the transformation period. And if I look at NATO and the goals, and if I look to the European situation, I am still convinced that there is only one option for stability for the coming decades in Europe, out of the three possible options which are: Hegemony of the old style as during the cold war, or the balance of power in the model of the 19th century. The third one is integration. And I’m absolutely convinced that integration is the only way to stabilise this continent and a durable model.

Just think of the fact, that after rhe end of the cold war we have 14 more countries of different sizes in Europe. You will realize that this will not allow to establish a model of balance of power. The way of Integration we be the only one that can be a durable model to stabilize it. And therefore I think that NATO will have a very important task to secure this way of integration, to give Europe a fair chance to develop its own model, to shape this new architecture. And I am also convinced that there are a few preconditions to do it: And one of them is, and I am absolutely convinced that this is necessary, that America and Europe will have to formulate a new strategy for a common future. A common strategy - NATO has one, but I am also convinced that it is necessary that both NATO and the EU formulate a common strategy for the future. The one in the field of security policy, and the other one in the field of economy. Everybody is talking about the fact that security is not only military security any more. Of course it is not, but we should also learn the lesson. This also means that we have to combine these two factors much more closely than we did in the past.

And I am also convinced that we should try to find a well-balanced relationship between America and Europe. I feel that sometimes there is some uneasiness in their relationship, and I think, uneasiness can easily become more than just uneasiness; it can become a danger for a good partnership. And therefore I think we should work on this relationship between America and Europe, and it should be well balanced. This means for me also that Europe has to become and will have to have much more capacity to operate. We don’t have to blame the Americans, they are efficient. They are efficicient in formulating their intentions and also with their instruments. We can learn a lot, and we must, if that partnership really should be a partnership. I think there are also a few more points on our agenda, and I want to be pragmatic. The first way towards a pragmatic agenda for me would be, to bring more awareness to the European people and to the European politicians, more awareness of the vital interests of this continent. If you listen to politicians and to people in Europe, you never will hear expressions of the vital interests of Europe. It seems that they don’t exsist, and maybe, they don’t, because energy questions in the Middle East and in the Caucasus regions are managed by the Americans. But I think that Europeans have to be aware of the fact that those are vital questions also for Europeans. If we gain this awareness it also will be easier to develop a common strategy between America and Europe.

Another point is that I believe that NATO will have to remain strong. Strong and efficient. And what I mean is that every new member must bring more efficiency and certainly not less strength. Therefore I am absolutely convinced that there must be a process of integration also in the future, but it must be a step by step process. For quite some time there’ll probably be a mixture of membership, partnership and association, cooperation and other forms of working together. We should not make the mistake to think that all future members must be cloned. They need not have exactly the same shape. I think they must bring something into the alliance, something specific. It would be absolutely wrong, to ask all the countries to bring just the same achievements and the same records and the same profiles as all the others. I think that synergisms should evolve from an untcloned, but diversified pattern of members. Of course, military organisations need a very sound profile, and that is very similar or equal. I think there can be no question about that.

I think we should initiate a process of homogenisation. What does that mean? I think that all EU members should become also members of NATO. In the long run, we should try to have identity in membership, otherwise I could see the danger that these two organisations could grow appart, at least a little bit. And what we could also do is to formulate goals, to find fields of cooperations and instruments and procedures to cooperate between EU and NATO. I am absolutely sure that the EU will not do it. I think NATO should try to do it.

This could be the beginning, a start of a new cooperation between these two organisations. I am also convinced that it will also be necessary to get friends back into this organisation, fully intigrated also into the military structures. Just by the fact that France together with Germany forms the backbone of the EU. And if you want to have an efficient combined structure, you will need them also within NATO. I think the time could be right in the next few years to take this step, and we should back all the French polititians who will try to go this way.

We should prevent crises between NATO members, and of course I am thinking of Greece and of Turkey. The case of missiles in CYPRUS is immidiately before us, and we will have to try to manage it. And when we talked about backing Turkey on its way into the European Institutions yesterday, I am absolutely convinced that Europe made a big mistake in the last few months. A big mistake, because excluding Turkey mentally means for me, that it is a passive and defensive concept, not an active and offensive one for Europe in the long run. Who does not see that, does not understand history. That’s what I am absolutely convinced of.

I was really impressed by the speech of President MERI, President of Estonia, this morning. He talked about his view of Russia. And what impressed me most was that he just compared it with other democracies, pointing out how long it took them to become stabilized. He asked for our patience for the coming two to three decades. That means probably that our concept with respect to Russia has to have many more long term aspects as is the case now.And that means also that we will have to try very, very hard to get Russia into that family, and that we never should abandon principles just in order to get a good relationship. That’s what I’m absolutely convinced of.

The last point is that the success of an organisation also depends on the capacity it has to resolve current problems. And the most current one is Kosovo, a very complex one. Maybe we will have legal problems, problems of mandate, but still, I’m personally absolutely convinced that probably the highest value for NATO will be credibility! Credibility also of the will and of the capacity to resolve current problems. I think, most of us could have a hard time in the coming months looking at this problem because it will not be easy.

But we have to go through! In a manner that we can maintain this position we will take against the views of our children. That’s what I think we are responsible for: To create a world our kids can be proud of, and I’m sure they will not be proud if our generation should admit that there will be a next war in the Balkans. That’s what I am convinced of.

I’ll come to an end now, and may be, it should not be as serious as the part I have talked about now, and so I’ll go back to the symbol of Prince Eugene from Savoy. I don’t know how many of you know the Prince Eugene march. It’s a very famous march and every child in central Europe knows it, and you also know the lyrics which says that he had a bridge built, so that he could reach the city and fortress of Belgrade. This was certainly not an allusion to the current situation on the Balkans. I just wanted to mention it, but we also should be able to smile a little bit about some very serious situations. And so I want to tell you one more story just from the beginning, when we visited the exposition and all these paintings. I was with the first group and after a few minutes we had an alarm as we were looking at a painting by Brueghel. I really was afraid when I saw that this alarm was triggered by the Dutch defense minister! You know, I like Joris VOORHOEVE, he is such a great guy, but of course there are moments you cannot trust anyone. So, I really was happy that I learned a positive lesson. It was just by chance, and I thought there was another lesson I had to learn. In the past, when something in my ministry, or in former times in my company did not work out the way I wanted to, I said to my people, “You have a logistics like in a museum” and from this day on, I have the feeling I will alter, I will change a little bit the pronunciation. In future I,ll say “I think, You have a logistics like in a museum!” If you feel the same way, I just wish that you will appriciate the coming few hours in this museum.


Top of page | Home | ©2003 Center for Strategic Decision Research