Center for Strategic Decision Research


Indivisibility of Security and Austrian Contributions to European Security

His Excellency Thomas Klestil
President of Austria


The XVth NATO Workshop was held at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna at a very propitious moment. On June 21, only a few meters away, His Holiness Pope John Paul II reminded us of the spiritual dimension of the greater Europe. On June 23, I left Vienna to join other heads of state and government at the Central and Eastern European Economic Summit in Salzburg to discuss European Union enlargement. And on July 1, Austria assumed, for the first time, the presidency of the European Union.

This panorama of events is symbolic of the new Europe. It shows that we are building what a great European once called “a Europe full of doubt and faith, a Europe full of diversity and unity, a Europe full of freedom and order.” This great European was the famous philosopher Salvador de Madariaga, the great-uncle of the present Secretary General of NATO. I am very happy that Javier Solana Madariaga has been able to attend the Workshop, considering his outstanding role in making NATO a key element of the new Europe.


NATO’s enlargement, the Partnership for Peace, and the NATO-Russia Founding Act are also key elements of the new Europe. But along with these positive elements, the new Europe confronts us with new risks and perils, with ethnic strife and major regional conflicts—and here NATO has repeatedly proved to be the last source of hope.

More than anything else, the tragic experience of Bosnia—and now the conflict in Kosovo—underline the importance that the new NATO and the new cooperative Alliance structures have for the security of Europe. The tragic fate of the Balkans has also taught us that Europe’s security is indivisible and that we can only safeguard it through common efforts and by joining forces in a spirit of solidarity.


In the face of these new realities, Austria has taken major steps to demonstrate its solidarity. We have joined the European Union, which for us is not only a marketplace but a community of common destiny, and we actively participate in the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. We also are serving in the NATO-led multinational peace operation in Bosnia, and will continue to do so. Additionally we participated in the “coalition of the willing” in Albania.

Because of our central geographic location, Austria has also been able to make another important contribution to solidarity and to the success of IFOR and SFOR. We have done this by permitting convoys through and flights over Austrian territory since the beginning of this operation. You can rest assured that we will continue to support our Partners on other occasions as the need arises.

I have long been convinced that our position at the heart of the new Europe entails specific responsibilities as far as European security is concerned. The fundamental changes in Europe have transformed our security environment. It is therefore incumbent upon us to respond actively and constructively to the new situation.


At NATO Headquarters in Mons, the emblem bears the motto “Vigilance is the price of freedom.” Austrians of my generation can still remember the times when NATO’s vigilance also helped us to safeguard our freedom.

But the threats of those times belong to the past. Vigilance, solidarity, and functioning European security structures, however, remain necessary if we want to strengthen stability in the new Europe. I say “we” because each and every European nation must participate in keeping Europe secure and stable. And you can be certain that we Austrians will not stand aside when freedom and European values are at stake.










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