I am very pleased to be today in Budva to discuss this important topic, looking at the future prospects of NATO beyond next year’s Summit and to do so especially here in Montenegro.
Because Montenegro is, indeed, a very active partner for the Alliance and a very important aspirant to NATO membership that in three years since joining the Membership Action Plan (MAP) has made great progress, in the five different areas required when preparing for membership. At the same time, while Montenegro continues its crucial reform efforts strengthening the rule of law, promoting good governance and reforming the defense and security sectors, your country has at the same time been a real security provider in Afghanistan alongside NATO member nations.
We all have witnessed, in the same year in which Montenegro submitted its Annual National Programme for the MAP in 2010, how Montenegro’s contribution to ISAF grew progressively from equipping and training the Afghan National Army to deploying troops under ISAF. More recently, Montenegro decided to offer financial assistance for the Afghan National Security Forces, committing as well to the post 2014 NATO training, advising and assisting mission to Afghanistan.
This leads me to discuss two important missions for the post 2014 NATO.
Firstly, training, advising and equipping Afghan forces and secondly, carry out continued counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda and their affiliates to prevent Afghanistan to become again a safe haven for terrorists, as NATO draws down its forces next year.
At their 2010 and 2012 Summits in Lisbon and Chicago, NATO’s Heads of State and Government and the Afghan Government agreed to transfer full responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the end of 2014. In Chicago they also set an interim milestone for this year to have ISAF’s main effort shift from combat to supporting the Afghan National Security Forces. By the end of 2014, transition will be complete and Afghan Security Forces will be fully in charge for the security of their country.
But the post 2014 international security environment will not necessarily be a more secure one. On the contrary, I would argue that it would be one characterized by a number of new security challenges and threats that our countries will need to address on a transatlantic level.
International terrorism, conflict spill over from failing states, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, the protection of sea lanes of communication and energy supply routes and cyber security, do not know borders and affect us all.
They also require a focused effort to develop the right capabilities to deal effectively with these security challenges and threats.
When looking at international terrorism, for example, we need to reinforce our capabilities to better fight this evolving threat through intelligence sharing, border security, the protection of critical infrastructures, consequence management, improved threat awareness, the development of adequate counter-terrorism capabilities and enhanced engagement between international organizations and with partner countries.
And of course one potential threat that requires our utmost vigilance is represented by the risk that terrorists could acquire and combine weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.
The multiplication of sophisticated cyber attacks across borders makes it, indeed, all the more urgent to develop hi-tech cyber defense capabilities to protect our civilian and defense information and communication systems. Cyber security is, indeed, another emerging transnational security challenge for which we need to develop both in NATO and in the EU the capabilities to secure the digital infrastructure that our economies, public safety and national security depend on.
I am convinced that cyber defense will give in the future a new meaning to both article 5 and article 4 of the Washington Treaty. Because once again an attack against NATO or its members could come from far away and in a total asymmetrical way, from state or non-state actors, through cyber warfare. Therefore as members of our transatlantic security Alliance, we will need to define the requirements for cyber defense of national networks critical to the performance of NATO’s core security tasks of collective defense and crisis management.
Furthermore, when we look at the spill-over from failing or failed states around our periphery, the post 2014 NATO will need to act in a preventive fashion but cannot rule out that it will need to project again military power to achieve political objectives for the successful management of crises directly affecting our security.
This preventive role that I see for NATO after 2014 will include partners, as I will explain later, but it involves as well building on NATO’s experience and expertise, advising and assisting countries requiring help in the field of capacity building. Which means: supporting countries in their efforts to reform security and defense institutions where they exist, or even helping them build security institutions where they do not exist.
Libya is a case in point, since its Prime Minister asked for NATO’s help. But in the future, if we look at developments around areas adjacent to our Alliance, other countries undergoing transition could ask for NATO’s assistance in the security field.
Alongside this preventive role that the post 2014 NATO should play in terms of capacity building, it cannot be ruled out that in a fast changing and unpredictable international security environment NATO could be called again to manage a military crisis. Perhaps, of a lower intensity character than Afghanistan but nevertheless requiring NATO to project its forces beyond the Alliance’s territory.
Our Alliance must therefore have the right capabilities to deal with future military contingencies.
Projecting NATO forces outside our borders could become very difficult if we allow defense cuts to undermine the military capability that, from the lessons learned most recently in Afghanistan and Libya, our Alliance needs the most. These are for example: joint logistics capabilities deployed during operations, precision guided munitions, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, refueling aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, special operations forces and cyber defense capabilities.
This will not only allows us to project military power for crisis management but to maintain adequate capabilities for deterrence and for the defense of our NATO members. At a time of major financial constraints both in Europe and North America, finding the resources to invest in these modern capabilities could prove very hard if defense cuts are carried out indiscriminately by the Allies.
My idea is that that time has come to agree that defense cuts that the Allies will be forced to make, especially under the pressure of the current economic crisis, are coordinated through NATO.
While respecting national prerogatives, this would nevertheless require coordinated political choices, instead of horizontal cuts, optimizing defense spending, facilitating high-end capabilities, avoiding national duplications and creating economies of scale.
One way to coordinate defense cuts among Allies could be to cut considerably defense spending while investing in new capabilities needed to deal with new challenges. This would allow eliminating old capabilities, while adjusting defense spending to sustain minimal investments in more modern capabilities, in a coordinated way among the member countries of NATO.
While it is indeed true that over-dependence on one country (the US) for critical capabilities is a dangerous trend for all Allies and that the 50% guideline and the 2% GDP goal are crucial part of the burden sharing equation, uncoordinated defense budgets cuts among the Allies risk to undermine those critical NATO capabilities needed to deploy its forces to manage effectively today’s crises.
We should therefore define a threshold of acceptability of defense cuts, defining where gaps are acceptable and where gaps are not acceptable and require fixing of the more urgent short falls in the right time frame. Equally important is to explain to our public opinion why money for the security of our people, even at a time of austerity, is invested and not wasted.
I see these efforts to be conducted by NATO in a complementarity fashion with the European Union, avoiding duplication of efforts, thereby maximizing practical ways to provide security, while minimizing costs to all member countries of both NATO and the EU.
NATO and the EU have 22 members in common. Complementarity between NATO and the European Union is a must, in order to deal effectively with modern security challenges at a time of growing financial constraints. I see, in particular, complementarity between NATO’s Smart Defense Initiative, the Connected Forces Initiative and the EU’s Pooling and Sharing Initiative, as well as with the coordinating role taken up by European Defense Agency to coordinate the development of the EU’s defense capabilities, cooperation, acquisition and research. And we should of course include in this equation, the efforts aimed at providing a coherent, ambitious response to industrial, strategic, economic and political challenges for the organization of defense and security markets within the EU, under the Task Force Defense, led by EU Commissioner Michel Barnier.
We will need to look also with great attention to the EU’s December 2013 European Council on defense issues to identify synergies for the way forward in NATO-EU Complementarity.
In post 2014 there will be as well a need to do more together, promoting and extending the complementarity of efforts between the EU and NATO to all areas of mutual interest, starting with more focused and more regular political consultations.
This requires developing a new mind-set between the two institutions, to multiply regular political consultations at all levels and organize cooperative activities between NATO and the EU. For example, through more regular meetings between the NATO Secretary General and the President of the EU Commission, with follow up meetings of their staffs to explore areas of complementarity between NATO and the EU.
Multiply the occasions in which the NATO Secretary General and the EU High Representative can brief the NAC or the PSC, on the occasion of formal and informal ministerial level meetings. Cascading down, there should be regular working level meetings, between the staffs of NATO and the EU involving the different NATO Divisions and the EU General Directorates, including the regular organization of briefings of NATO’s International Staff and the External Action Service to NATO and EU bodies in all areas of mutual interest. Meetings should also be organized between the Military bodies of both NATO and the EU, especially between the top level military bodies such as the NATO and the EU Military Committees, to be prepared by regular contacts between NATO’s and the EU’s Military Staffs.
These practical measures would help identifying in concrete terms the areas of complementarity and cooperation between the NATO and the EU in areas of mutual interest.
Finally, one crucial area for NATO after 2014 is the one represented by the enhancement of the partnerships that our Alliance has successfully developed with countries in different world regions.
The new NATO Strategic Concept approved by NATO’s Heads of State and Government in Lisbon in 2010 identifies, indeed, three core security tasks to maintain the security of our territory and populations: collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security with a broad range of countries and organizations around the globe.
Cooperative security through the further deepening and possibly broadening of these partnerships and institutions is crucial to NATO’s current and future ability to be an effective security provider. NATO’s partnerships with countries in the Mediterranean Dialogue, in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, or with Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, show how through political dialogue and practical cooperation it is possible to build a new culture of cooperation in the security sphere.
This engagement provides a better mutual understanding between NATO and a large number of countries of different cultures and it helps preventing tensions and therefore preventing conflicts. NATO’s engagement with its partners also helps us build the political consensus and military interoperability required to manage successfully complex crises when they occur.
The political and military contribution of our partners to the successful management of the NATO-led operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya, testifies of the effectiveness of NATO’s engagement with partners and of its contribution to a more secure, stable and peaceful international environment.
The post 2014 NATO must therefore continue to build on these different network of partnerships, because the best way to address the new transnational security challenges and threats of today’s fast changing international environment remains doing so through the multilateral and cooperative approach to security developed by NATO, of which our partners are increasingly an integral part.