Center for Strategic Decision Research


Confronting the Security Challenges of the New NATO

His Excellency Dr. Javier Solana
Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

I was delighted to give the keynote address to the 15th NATO Workshop. The Workshop provides an important forum for taking stock of what we have achieved and, more importantly, for looking ahead.

Europe has entered a new security era. Most nations on this continent are now displaying a remarkable sense of common direction and common purpose. Integration has become a defining characteristic of today’s security environment, with institutions opening up to embrace new members. New mechanisms of cooperation enable all countries to have a seat at the Euro-Atlantic security table. And a common security space from Vancouver to Vladivostok is no longer a distant goal—it is a work in progress.

NATO’s agenda reflects this cooperative spirit, this ethos of adaptation and partnership. Yet, as the theme of this year’s Workshop implies, the Alliance also faces new challenges. Two of the most crucial of those challenges are identifying the new risks and instabilities in today’s Europe, and developing and consolidating the tools that enable NATO to cope with these risks.


Most likely you have already heard about the risks posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and by social unrest and environmental degradation. I will therefore focus on what I consider the most urgent challenge we need to overcome: regional conflict in the Balkans. The fragile peace in Bosnia and the crisis in Kosovo remind us that there are still parts of Europe plagued by instability. Such instability not only poses a moral dilemma for us, but also represents a concrete security challenge. Our continent simply will not find lasting peace and stability if the Balkans remain volatile.

In Bosnia, we have been able to break the fateful cycle of violence. The NATO-led Stabilization Force that has worked together there is a unique and unprecedented example of what true, effective cooperation can achieve. Together, many nations and many institutions continue to help—sometimes push—Bosnia towards a sustainable peace. While we are still a long way from true reconciliation, if the international community stands firm, we will make the conflicting parties realize that cooperation remains their only viable option.

The Alliance is showing its commitment to this goal by continuing SFOR’s presence in Bosnia. By extending SFOR’s stay, we are sending a clear message to all concerned: we will not leave before the job is done. The positive situation in Bosnia demonstrates the importance of a coherent international approach to crisis management and the need for close interaction between institutions. It also points out the crucial role NATO plays in helping the international community implement a wider strategy.

Such an international approach must also be taken toward Kosovo. Clearly, Kosovo is not Bosnia; no two crises are the same. But the events taking place in Kosovo display many of the characteristics that have become all too familiar in the Bosnian conflict, most notably the cruel practice of “ethnic cleansing.”

We must put an end to this outrage. A new Europe based on shared values can be built only if we are ready to uphold these values whenever they are threatened. In Bosnia, we have seen that we can make a difference if we follow a coherent strategy combining political, economic, and military pressure. There is no reason why such a comprehensive approach should not also defuse the Kosovo crisis. While it is the conflicting parties themselves who are ultimately responsible for their future, if violence continues, then the international community must take action and help create the conditions for serious negotiations towards a political settlement.

NATO stands ready to play its role in this effort, just as we did in Bosnia. During the weeks prior to the XVth Workshop, we demonstrated our readiness to back up international diplomacy with military means. The successful air exercise in mid-June demonstrated our ability to project air power rapidly into the Kosovo region. Our military authorities are looking now at a wide range of options. And no option—I repeat, no option—is being ruled out.

Now is not the time to lessen our pressure. The international community must push forward with efforts to reach a peaceful settlement. The U.N., NATO, EU, OSCE: all institutions must play their full part in preventing another Bosnia.


Bosnia and Kosovo bring home the fact that deterrence and territorial defense are no longer enough. Coping with the risks of a Europe in transition requires an entirely new set of tools and instruments.

One of the most important that NATO has put into place is Partnership for Peace, an initiative that has provided us with new ways to cooperate across the Euro-Atlantic area. PFP has enabled 27 countries with different security policies and traditions to cooperate on security—from Austria to Romania, from Hungary to Finland. Each Partner can decide the degree of its Partnership involvement; each country can tailor its participation to its specific needs and interests. Such a setup gives PFP tremendous potential. It is the first step towards a wider security culture on this continent and beyond.

The major focus of the Partnership is enhancing our ability to work together—be it on humanitarian operations or peacekeeping missions. But the Partnership has also demonstrated its value in projecting stability in a crisis. In the Kosovo crisis, both Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have made use of the consultation opportunities provided by PFP. We will be holding PFP exercises in both of those countries, and we have advised them on how to control their borders and cope with the influx of refugees. In June we also opened a Partnership Cell in Tirana. All of these measures have helped to prevent the crisis from spilling over, and have reassured both Partners that NATO will contribute to their stability in an emergency.

The fact that so many non-NATO countries have contributed significantly and successfully to SFOR in Bosnia, and that so many are indicating their readiness to help support the enhanced Partnership activities in Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, testifies to the success of the Alliance’s effort to build new ties of partnership and cooperation with countries throughout the Euro-Atlantic region. These ties will be further strengthened by our cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The EAPC brings together all NATO and Partner countries to consult on all issues of European security, from peacekeeping to terrorism to regional cooperation. Like the Partnership for Peace, the EAPC has already demonstrated its value as a means of crisis prevention. Just weeks before this Workshop we inaugurated the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center in Brussels. This Center is already playing its part in addressing the Kosovo crisis by supporting the UNHCR in carrying aid into the region.

PFP and EAPC are NATO’s most visible multinational instruments for shaping Euro-Atlantic security. But they are not the only ones. Our dialogue with Southern Mediterranean countries is helping to foster new relationships in this vital region. And, last but not least, our distinct partnership with Ukraine offers new avenues for cooperation with a country of crucial importance to stability and security in Europe.

Partnership with Russia

But there is yet another instrument that we need to develop further if our goal of a comprehensive Euro-Atlantic security architecture is to become a reality: the new partnership with Russia. One cannot build such a comprehensive architecture without Russia, let alone against it. Bosnia and Kosovo have made it crystal clear: if the international community is to act effectively in European crises, Russia must be on board.

The mechanism to have Russia on board is at hand: the Permanent Joint Council. This organization gives NATO and Russia a unique forum in which to consult on all issues affecting their security: peacekeeping, nuclear safety, NATO-Russia cooperation in SFOR, armaments-related cooperation, terrorism, and the retraining of retired military personnel, to name just a few. We are also enhancing our military-to-military contacts, adding to our very successful cooperation in the Stabilization Force in Bosnia.

Our major common concern at the moment is, of course, Kosovo. At the June 18 meeting of the PJC, both NATO and Russia reaffirmed their support for the international efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution of this conflict. We also hope that assurances given by President Milosevic during his recent meeting with President Yeltsin will be transformed into deeds. We have not got much time left.

This growing NATO-Russia relationship is perhaps the most innovative of the many new instruments NATO has created over the course of this decade. It signals most dramatically how much Europe—and NATO—have changed. But Europe is continuing to change in many more ways. The European integration process is only one example of how the region is not only widening but deepening.

A Stronger Europe Within NATO

This point brings me to the last instrument I would like to elaborate on today: a stronger European personality within NATO. Monetary union is only the latest step in Europe’s evolution into a unified strategic actor. A common foreign and security policy is also being shaped. And a European Security and Defense Identity is being developed within NATO. While the transatlantic link is and will remain absolutely vital to the continued success of the Alliance, a new NATO requires a new balance of responsibilities. It requires that Europe play a role in achieving security that is in line with its economic strength.

Such a rebalancing is fully in line with interests on both sides of the Atlantic. The United States will not always want to take the lead in each and every crisis in Europe; there may be situations where a supporting role in a European-led coalition may seem more appropriate. That is why all Allies fully support the development of a European Security and Defense Identity.

With such agreement and support, it has been possible to make rapid progress in creating new political and military options. NATO’s ever-closer relationship with the WEU has provided us with new options for European-led peacekeeping and crisis-management operations drawing on NATO assets and capabilities. And later this year we will start the process of testing these arrangements, with a full trial projected for the year 2000.


NATO has set the stage for Europe to play a security-enhancing role that is more in line with its economic and political strengths. This achievement will be NATO’s contribution to a new transatlantic bargain, a bargain that better corresponds to the political, military, and economic realities of the 21st century.

Talking about security risks and challenges is not an expression of pessimism. Indeed, compared to previous transition periods in European history, this continent is doing remarkably well. NATO’s discussion of risks is a discussion of how to solve them. No problem is insurmountable, provided we approach it with the right instruments. NATO offers many of these instruments: partnership and cooperation, military competence, and transatlantic solidarity. This is a formidable combination. If we make full use of these instruments, NATO and its Partners can, together, cope confidently with any contingency the future may hold.



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