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The Bucharest Summit and the Way Forward for NATO

Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Testimony Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Europe
Washington, DC
April 23, 2008

As prepared

Introduction

Chairman Wexler, Ranking Member Gallegly, Members of the Committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Bucharest Summit – the largest in its history – and the way forward for the world’s most successful political-military alliance.

NATO is not just a military alliance; it is an alliance of values that provided the foundation for freedom’s victory in the Cold War. While its core mission remains the same – the defense of its members – NATO is achieving this in new ways. It is evolving into a 21st century role, enlarging the area in Europe where freedom is secure, defending this transatlantic community against new threats and challenges that are often global in scope, and building partnerships around the globe with like-minded countries who want to work together with NATO to face these challenges. The Bucharest Summit further advanced NATO’s transformation in each of these areas.

I will speak today about the Summit outcomes and what these mean for the development of NATO’s operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo, its transformation to address global security challenges, and its membership and relationships with countries and organizations.

The Bucharest Summit was one of the most productive and certainly the most open summit that I can remember. It was certainly the least scripted. Indeed, the Summit Declaration decisions concerning Georgia and Ukraine were only reached by leaders in informal sessions at the Summit itself.

The Bucharest Summit advanced U.S. objectives in a number of areas:

  • Allies strengthened their commitment to operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Iraq, furthering NATO’s transformation from a static Cold War instrument that never fired a shot in anger to an active, expeditionary force capable of projecting power out of area where needed.

  • Allies invited two new members to join them and set out a vision of future membership for others, including an invitation for Macedonia as soon as the name issue is resolved.

  • Allies endorsed the need for strengthened partnerships across the globe with individual countries as well as with other international institutions, increasing NATO’s ability to cooperate across the full spectrum of civil-military measures to address security challenges wherever they might arise.

  • Allies endorsed the need for new defense capabilities to meet emerging security challenges of the future, in particular missile defense, but also cyber and energy security.

  • Despite some differences with Russia, including over Kosovo, Russia’s suspension of its implementation of the CFE Treaty, Missile Defense, and enlargement, Allies took decisions about NATO’s agenda on their own terms while reaffirming their continuing interest in using the NATO-Russia Council to develop a productive relationship with Russia based on cooperation in areas of common interest.

NATO’s Key Operations

Afghanistan

Afghanistan remains NATO’s most important operation and Bucharest was the site of significant progress on a number of fronts.

At Bucharest, NATO brought together contributors as never before. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and President Karzai and representatives from the EU, Japan, Australia, and the World Bank joined NATO leaders and another 14 other non-NATO partners.

But it was not the meeting that mattered so much as the long-term commitment that the assembled NATO Allies and ISAF partners made – to support the Afghan government and people in building an enduring, stable, secure, prosperous and democratic Afghan state, free from the threat of terrorism – through their endorsement of an ISAF strategic vision statement. The vision that these leaders set out not only charts a way forward in Afghanistan, it also demonstrates that NATO, a transatlantic organization, is part of a wider global community committed to tackling the security challenges of our time.

The ISAF leaders’ statement outlines a comprehensive strategy calling for coordinated efforts in the areas of security, economic development, and good governance. Civil-military coordination can and should be better, and NATO welcomed the appointment of the new UN Special Representative, Ambassador Kai Eide – a former Ambassador to NATO and envoy in Kosovo – as an experienced diplomat whose mission includes bringing greater coherence to international civilian efforts, and greater coordination with NATO and the government of Afghanistan.

Through new force contributions, many Allies backed up these words of commitment with deeds. President Sarkozy announced that France will send a new combat battalion to Eastern Afghanistan, freeing U.S. troops to do more to help Allies in the South. In addition to the French contribution, the temporary addition of 3,500 U.S. Marines, as well as further Georgian, Czech and other new contributions by Allies and partners, brings the total to about 6,000 new forces for Afghanistan since the beginning of 2008.

Some Allies, like the Poles, deserve special recognition for increased contributions over the past year. Poland has twice sent in more troops to eastern Afghanistan – first in Fall 2006 when it added 1,000, and then again this winter with a pledge for 400 more troops and an equipment pledge of eight helicopters, addressing a critical shortfall for the NATO operations.

Despite these contributions, however, we still need Allies to do more to provide the combat troops, helicopters, and trainers crucial to the ISAF mission. Achieving success will require surmounting real challenges – operationally on the ground in Afghanistan as well as politically in Europe.

We must be sober about the situation: levels of violence are up, particularly in the South where the vast bulk of opium poppies is grown. We know that counterinsurgency and counternarcotics efforts must be intertwined. Because the narcotics trade helps fuel the insurgency and fosters corruption, we cannot succeed in one unless we succeed in the other. ISAF can and should do more, especially in the area of interdiction, to help the Afghans implement an effective counternarcotics strategy.

While we face the challenges with open eyes, it is also important to recognize that progress has been made. In 2001, under the Taliban, only 900,000 children had access to education and it was illegal for girls to attend school. Only eight percent of the population was able to receive healthcare. Commerce was inhibited by the lack of paved roads. The Taliban imposed a destructive and repressive regime on the people of Afghanistan, while terrorists were allowed to continue spreading their extremism across the country and internationally.

But, as President Karzai noted in his speech at Bucharest, Afghanistan is far better off than in 2001. More than 65 percent of the population has access to healthcare, and there are over 2,500 miles of paved roads, up from just over 30 miles in 2001. Today nearly six million children are in school and more than 25 percent of that number is girls. The current government was elected by eight million Afghan voters, on the basis of a constitution approved through an open process, a Loya Jirga, establishing democratic institutions in Afghanistan for the very first time.

Many Europeans are skeptical about the Afghanistan mission – people either believe it does not matter to them, that success is out of reach, or that humanitarian assistance alone should be enough. But the Bucharest Summit helped illustrate that events in Afghanistan do indeed matter to Europe and North America, that NATO is part of a wider international community determined to succeed in Afghanistan, and that our collective efforts to support the Afghan government and people are producing results, despite the serious challenges we face.

Kosovo

NATO’s mission in Kosovo (KFOR) is critical – not just for NATO but for the UN and the European Union. NATO has played a vital role in Kosovo’s security since it led the successful military campaign in 1999 to stop and reverse the ethnic cleansing, and then put in place the KFOR peacekeeping force under UNSCR 1244.

Kosovo is now independent, but NATO will continue its mission there, and at Bucharest NATO renewed its commitment to doing its job: maintaining security and stability, and in so doing, contributing to freedom of movement and protection of minorities and religious sites. NATO made clear that it will continue to play a key role in the establishment of a new, multi-ethnic Kosovo Security Force and a Kosovo government civilian agency to oversee it.

It is important to recognize that KFOR cannot succeed in these tasks alone. Other international organizations, in concert with local governing structures, must continue to be engaged and act responsibly.

The challenges we have seen recently in Kosovo primarily involve Serb-instigated violence by a small number of radicals, supported in at least some instances by authorities – or some authority – in Belgrade. In the first instance, at present, it is the role of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the UN police to control the borders to Kosovo and provide for law and order throughout Kosovo, but KFOR is there to provide general security and back up the UN as needed.

NATO faced a major test for three days in March, when a small group of Serb extremists took over a courthouse complex in Mitrovica. Rightly understanding that mob violence can not be allowed to succeed, UNMIK, with KFOR’s extensive support, successfully retook the facility. KFOR troops – French soldiers mainly – managed this situation with great professionalism under fire, and KFOR’s actions here and throughout Kosovo in support of the UN and other international organizations, have been prompt, correct, and effective. Both sustained injuries – UNMIK had 42 wounded and one fatality, a Ukrainian police officer; KFOR had 22 soldiers wounded.

We must maintain our collective resolve in the face of future provocations and attempts by outside actors to instigate violence. It is particularly important that the UN and EU continue to play a strong, stabilizing role in Kosovo, and that the UNMIK presence gradually transition to an EU-led rule of law mission.

Finally, when we think about Kosovo, it is also important to note what has not occurred following Kosovo’s declaration of independence. There has not been the massive inter-communal violence that we had all feared. There have been no refugees, no internally displaced persons, and no trouble at patrimonial sites. We are not yet past the point of dangerous threats to stability in Kosovo, especially in the North, but we are on the right track and making progress day by day. If we are steady in the face of pressure and provocations, time will be on our side, and on the side of the Kosovo government which has taken seriously its responsibilities following independence.

Iraq

NATO’s Training Mission in Iraq, where NATO provides leadership training to Iraqi Security Forces to help establish a more secure environment, has achieved valuable results since it was initiated in 2004. To date, NATO has provided civil and military staff training, police training, and officer and non-commissioned officer leadership training to over 10,000 Iraqi government security personnel.

At Bucharest, Allies noted their agreement to a structured cooperation framework to develop NATO’s long-term relationship with Iraq, as well as their decision, in response to Prime Minister Maliki’s requests, to broaden the activities of the NATO Training Mission, to include Navy and Air Force leadership training, police training, border security, defense reform, and defense institution building.

NATO Enlargement and Open Door Policy

Adriatic Charter Countries

At Bucharest, membership invitations were issued to Albania and Croatia, and Allies reiterated that the door to NATO membership remains open. Allies also determined that Macedonia meets NATO’s performance-based standards and will receive an invitation as soon as the dispute with Greece over its name is resolved. As President Bush noted, “America’s position is clear: Macedonia should take its place in NATO as soon as possible.”

Bringing Albania and Croatia into NATO’s fold will advance security and stability in the Balkans. In just over one decade, Croatia has moved from war to peace, and both countries have strengthened their democracy and achieved internal stability. Both are already valuable contributors to NATO’s missions and will now continue as NATO Allies.

The United States was frankly disappointed that the Republic of Macedonia was not invited. We will continue to support UN-negotiator Matt Nimetz to help Macedonia and Greece find a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute as quickly as possible. The United States is working with Greece, other Allies and with Macedonia to support this process.

In Zagreb, immediately after the NATO Summit, President Bush met with the leaders of all three nations, Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, to celebrate the invitations already issued, reiterate our commitment to Macedonia’s future NATO membership, and offer our help to Macedonia to resolve the name issue as soon as possible.

Georgia and Ukraine

In one of the most interesting and complicated discussions of the Summit, leaders also declared unequivocally that Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO. The declaration language reads: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agree today that these countries will become members of NATO.”

In saying this, NATO made a momentous strategic decision that avoids drawing a line in Europe. It is true that Georgia and Ukraine have a lot of work to do. They know this and they acknowledge that they are not ready for NATO membership today. These countries have the responsibility to meet NATO’s standards. But NATO’s decision means that their membership in the Alliance is a question of when, not whether.

Thus, leaders made the major political decision. What was not agreed was the technical step – an offer to help these countries in their reform efforts through participation in NATO’s Membership Action Plan. Allies made clear, however, that this is the next step in their relationship with NATO, and leaders explicitly stated that NATO’s Foreign Ministers, who meet in December 2008, are authorized to take decisions about MAP participation.

Over the next months, we will continue to work closely with these aspirants and with our Allies with the objective of reaching consensus on the timing of their admission to the Membership Action Plan.

Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia

Allies also invited Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro to begin an Intensified Dialogue relating to their membership aspirations and, at the same time, conveyed their desire to develop a closer relationship with Serbia when Serbia is ready. NATO’s cooperation with these countries will further increase stability in the western Balkans.

NATO’s enlargement has been one of the most successful U.S.-led initiatives in the post-Cold War era, and it remains a driving force for aspirant nations to undertake difficult reforms. The United States will continue to provide leadership in enlarging the Alliance. NATO enlargement has been a bipartisan effort from its beginning – and the work of the last three Presidents. In his address to the Croatian people just after the Bucharest Summit, President Bush said, “Today the people of Europe are closer than ever before to a dream shared by millions: A Europe that is whole, a Europe that is at peace, and a Europe that is free.”

Partnership

As a larger NATO tackles 21st century security challenges that know no geographic limits, NATO is increasingly working with partners who share this desire to meet today’s security challenges.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, NATO was an Alliance of 16 members and no partners. Today, NATO has 26 members – with 2 new invitees, prospective membership for others, and over 20 partners in Europe and Eurasia, seven in the Mediterranean, four in the Persian Gulf, and others from around the world.

Through the creation of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace after the Cold War, NATO provided the political and practical cooperation necessary to help newly free nations of Europe consolidate their regained sovereignty and integrate into the transatlantic community.

NATO matched the Partnership for Peace with the establishment of the Mediterranean Dialogue, and, in the aftermath of 9/11, NATO realized the need to reach out to new partners around the world on the basis of shared security interests and democratic values. This included establishing the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative to reach out to nations of the Persian Gulf. In addition, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and now Singapore are making valuable contributions to NATO operations, especially in Afghanistan.

At Bucharest, Allies endorsed the need for NATO to strengthen its relationships with partners across the globe and reaffirmed that we remain open to developing relationships with additional countries.

Enhancing Capabilities, Including Missile Defense

At Bucharest, Allies endorsed NATO’s development of the capabilities necessary to meet the challenges of a new century. These include updating the NATO Response Force to make it more usable and deployable if the need arises, boosting the effectiveness of Allies’ special operations forces through increased coordination and training, and enhancing NATO’s airlift capability – through a consortium of Allies and partners procuring C-17s and through work to increase the number of deployable helicopters available for theater airlift, particularly in Afghanistan.

To defend against new threats on technology and energy, NATO also adopted a cyber defense policy that enhances its ability to protect its sensitive infrastructure, allows Allies to pool experience and capabilities, and permits NATO to come to the assistance of an Ally whose cyber infrastructure is under threat. Members of Congress played a key role in focusing attention on this issue following the cyber attacks against Estonia. Looking ahead, NATO will develop a single cyber authority for Allies to consult on cyber defense issues and exercise its new policy in NATO Crisis Management Exercises.

NATO’s engagement to improve energy security will now enable Allies to share energy related information and intelligence, assist with civil expertise and disaster relief in the event of an energy-related incident, and support the protection of critical energy infrastructure via maritime surveillance. NATO will also advance regional cooperation by promoting political dialogue on energy security among its partners.

In a major step forward, NATO also endorsed the protection of Alliance territory and populations against missile threats. Allies recognized that ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat, that missile defense forms part of a broader response to counter this threat, and that the U.S.-proposed system will make a substantial contribution to protecting Alliance territories and populations.

NATO tasked further work to develop options for the protection of all Alliance territory and populations, and reiterated its desire to work together with Russia on missile defense, including the potential for a joint architecture including elements of United States, NATO and Russian missile defense systems. Given the history of this issue, including the skepticism with which Allies initially approached missile defense, this was a considerable achievement.

NATO-Russia Relations

NATO continues to seek to work together with Russia to address common interests such as nonproliferation, counterterrorism, and counternarcotics with respect to Afghanistan. While our cooperation has not lived up to the expectations we had when the NATO-Russia Council was created in 2002, we remain no less committed to overcoming the zero-sum, Cold War mentality of the past and focusing on genuine security cooperation on issues of mutual concern. Russia’s offer of land transit for NATO’s non-military supplies to Afghanistan shows that cooperation is possible.

At Bucharest, Russia’s concerns focused on NATO enlargement. The Russians have expressed their opposition to NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine in strong terms, both publicly and in private meetings. But Russia has nothing to fear from NATO enlargement. Its concerns are, in our view, vestiges of the past, rooted in notions of and perhaps ambitions about balance of power and spheres of influence, rather than 21st century concepts of fostering human development through free, prosperous, secure societies. In our view, democratic and peaceful countries on Russia’s borders are a threat to no one, and make good neighbors for Russia, and for us all. In fact, thanks in part to NATO enlargement, Russia’s western frontiers have never been so secure and benign.

On some issues, such as Kosovo and the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), we continue to have serious differences with Russia. On CFE, NATO has endorsed the U.S. parallel actions proposal to end the deadlock over CFE. We regret Russia’s unilateral suspension of its obligations under this binding treaty, and we want to maintain the viability of the CFE security regime. To that end, we are seeking to achieve ratification of the Adapted Treaty by all States Parties as well as Russia’s fulfillment of remaining Istanbul commitments related to withdrawal of its forces from Moldova and Georgia.

Russian President Putin’s participation in this Summit highlighted that NATO can seek to work together with Russia, while taking its own decisions for the benefit of NATO and Euro-Atlantic security as a whole. Our challenge in coming years will be to narrow these differences, and work together to address emerging security threats, even as certain areas of disagreement will undoubtedly remain.

Conclusion

NATO faces genuine challenges. It always has. And while the Bucharest Summit successfully addressed some challenges, many more remain. But the strength and enduring character of the Alliance comes from our ability to face these challenges together. As Winston Churchill said, “the only thing worse than fighting with Allies is fighting without them.”

Fifteen years ago, NATO was an alliance which had never actually engaged in operations anywhere, though it was prepared to do so. Today, NATO is both a larger alliance and an alliance taking action to meet security challenges around the world. While NATO’s mission remains the same – the defense of its members – how it fulfills this mission is evolving. Today NATO is becoming the transatlantic community’s security arm for the 21st century, and is transforming its defense capabilities commensurate with its mission.

NATO’s 60th Anniversary in April 2009 will be an historic milestone celebrated with a Summit on the Franco-German border in Strasbourg and Kehl. As part of this 60th Anniversary Summit, we look forward to the fulfillment of President Sarkozy’s vision of a France fully reintegrated into NATO’s military structure.

NATO has served as the security umbrella under which centuries-old rivalries within Europe were settled. Its very creation provided an essential precondition for the European Union, a united Europe, to take shape, and it continues to be the anchor for our vision of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace.

Mr. Chairman, Representative Gallegly, and other Members of the Committee, in the months ahead, we look forward to continuing this work with you.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to your questions.



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