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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2003 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Remarks at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Orlando, Florida
November 11, 2003

Thank you, Congressman Bereuter, for that warm introduction and your leadership on these issues. And thank you to all of the members of our United States delegation for being here today.

On behalf of Secretary Powell, it’s a pleasure to speak before the NATO Parliamentary Assembly here in Orlando.

I addressed the NPA in Ottawa in October 2001, just weeks after the September 11 terror attacks. Flying up to see this group on an empty plane, I was struck by your courage, steadfastness and solidarity traveling to North America for your meeting at that difficult time. When others cancelled, you stood fast. We also appreciate the commitment you have shown by traveling such a distance to be here today.

The NPA is the forum where North American and European national legislators discuss the vital political and security issues of our time. We’re grateful that you make a regular effort to consult with the Administration and Congress through your frequent trips to Washington. Every initiative that NATO takes requires the guidance, blessing, and support of national legislators and publics.

This morning I would like to focus on the evolution of NATO – where it has been, where it is now, and where we think it is going. And I look forward to hearing your views, so I will try to be brief.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, some said that the Alliance might lose its relevance. It didn’t take long, however, for NATO to demonstrate that it was as vital as ever to ensuring the security and prosperity of the Euro-Atlantic region.

The Alliance established the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in December of 1991 to break down barriers and establish trust between NATO and the countries of what we then called eastern and central Europe.

In 1994, the Alliance introduced the Partnership for Peace to foster defense reform and interoperability among our former Warsaw Pact adversaries. PfP evolved into an organization that helped prepare candidate countries for NATO membership.

Through PfP and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, NATO has succeeded in helping to extend stability beyond its borders. With the accession of the seven invitees at the Istanbul summit next spring, nearly forty percent of NATO’s members will be PfP alumni. Three current PfP members – Croatia, Albania, and Macedonia – are participating in the Membership Action Plan and aspire to join the Alliance.

Seventeen PfP Partners have participated in KFOR; 14 have participated in SFOR. In Iraq, 18 of 26 allies are currently involved in stabilization efforts. In Afghanistan, 14 of the 29 countries participating in the International Security Assistance Force are Partners, and 10 Partner countries are contributing in Afghanistan to Operation Enduring Freedom, the coalition effort to fight remnant Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces there.

NATO’s engagement in the Balkans over the past decade is another example of the Alliance’s enduring value to its members.

Last week, I traveled first to Brussels to consult with the NAC about the Balkans, and then went on to Belgrade, Pristina, Skopje and Tirana and Sarajevo. When you look back at the last ten years of our military, economic and political engagement, we've begun to establish self-sustaining progress towards democracy and success in the Balkans.

We've stopped a war in Bosnia, halted ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and diffused a conflict in Macedonia. Everywhere I went I emphasized our commitment to accelerating the integration of the Balkans into Euro-Atlantic institutions and "hastening the day" when we can leave behind stable, peaceful, multi-ethnic democracies.

A key goal of my trip to the Balkans was to discuss a strategy which will take a major step in this direction by addressing a question at the center of the region: Kosovo.

This strategy will focus Kosovars on achieving standards: on democracy, rule of law, return of minorities, economic reform, and dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. I discussed this plan with people of the region and showed our strong support for the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative, former Prime Minister Holkeri. Everything we are doing is in support of his effort to succeed in Kosovo.

The proposition is that there will be a review of where Kosovo stands in mid-2005.

If Kosovo can meet the UN standards, we would be prepared to begin the process of discussing final status for Kosovo. If, however, they don't meet the standards, we would set a new date.

Our aim is that all of the people of the Balkans become integrated into Euro-Atlantic institutions. For Kosovo, it is important to focus on the UN standards. There can be no decision on Kosovo’s final status until the standards are met. For the United States, all options remain on the table.

NATO is also making headway meeting the capabilities challenges that became so evident during the war in Kosovo.

Last month we launched the Interim NATO Response Force, ahead of schedule. We are on track to accomplish our goal of initial operating capacity by fall 2004 and full operational capacity by 2006. And we have succeeded in our early force generation efforts. We have also successfully streamlined NATO’s command structure, saving resources and further contributing to the agility of our forces.

We also continue to make progress in developing meaningful relationships with Russia and the Ukraine.

NATO has moved beyond the "out of area" debate. In Afghanistan, NATO took over leadership of ISAF in August and is moving fast to expand ISAF's mission. And NATO supports the Polish-led Multi-National Division in Iraq.

So, we have done and are doing much to fulfill the transformation agenda President Bush and other leaders set for NATO last November in Prague.

But there are two principal areas – what Lord Robertson has called “usability” and capabilities – where NATO has work to do.

Threats to the security and prosperity of the Atlantic Alliance can come from anywhere. When a terrorist attack can be planned in Afghanistan, refined in Hamburg, and carried out in New York, NATO must have forces that are prepared to deter wherever the threat arises.

Demands on our Alliance will only grow. So I ask you to support efforts to restructure your armed forces to meet these new challenges.

We should all take the Prague Capabilities Commitment seriously. At Prague our leaders committed to filling critical shortfalls in strategic lift, precision guided munitions, air-to-air refueling, and other high-priority areas.

We need to meet those commitments by tackling these deficiencies with timelines and benchmarks. We can’t pretend that we are making progress on these fronts. This is at the heart of NATO's commitment to transform.

NATO also needs to discuss a vision of the future work of the Alliance, especially our relations and operations with the rest of the world.

We believe the Alliance may want to begin discussing security issues with key nations and regions outside of Europe. Istanbul, as the site for NATO’s next summit – which President Bush looks forward to attending – affords a symbolic opportunity for NATO to reach out to the greater Middle East. We should expand cooperation with our Mediterranean partners. We should think ambitiously about how to engage more seriously with these countries.

NATO should also consider refocusing PfP on the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus.

We are now in the process of expanding the ISAF mandate. By next spring, NATO should be prepared to take further steps to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. Allies must be ready to meet the current and future requirements of this expanded mission if we are to succeed. We are grateful for Germany's contribution of a Provincial Reconstruction Team to Kunduz. This PRT joins six other U.S. and UK teams already in place and we hope, with this ISAF expansion, to see more.

With the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1511, we also remain interested in what more NATO can do in Iraq. While much will depend on future developments in that country, NATO Allies can continue to work together to speed the day that Iraq attains stability and democracy.

Before I close, I would like to talk about European Security Defense Policy. I know that this is issue of great concern to you and that you talked about this with Ambassador Burns on Sunday.

The United States supports the development of the European Security and Defense Policy.

Last March the Alliance and the EU completed work on what we call the Berlin Plus Framework, comprising fourteen documents. Some are NATO documents, some EU, and some were NATO-EU documents. Berlin Plus describes how NATO and the EU should cooperate on security matters.

We would like to see NATO-EU relations develop on the basis of these Berlin Plus arrangements and the NATO-EU declaration of December 2002.

We think Operation Concordia in Macedonia is an example of the successful implementation of Berlin Plus.

But since last March, when Berlin Plus was agreed, proposals have emerged within the EU to create separate headquarters and planning structures. Berlin Plus provides a foundation for a strong NATO-EU partnership and also serves as the basis for a credible ESDP. We do not need duplicative structures.

Let me again be clear: the United States supports ESDP. But we are concerned. We support the EU undertaking military operations that conform with Berlin Plus arrangements or occasionally as autonomous operations, when NATO as a whole chooses not to be engaged.

But planning should be anchored at NATO. Our position is that NATO is and should always continue to be the pre-eminent security structure for the trans-Atlantic community.

As Secretary Powell said before Congress, “This great Alliance, which has kept the peace for more than fifty years, is more than a treaty for collective defense. It is the central organizing force in a great web of relationships that hold North America and Europe together.” The Alliance will endure, he said, because “fundamentally, NATO itself binds together nations who share the same beliefs and values.”

Because that’s what it boils down to – a coalition of values.

And with that, I’ll stop and take your questions. Thank you very much.

Released on November 13, 2003

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