Signor Presidente, Mr. Secretary General, Ministro La Russa, Amm. Di Paola, General Loeser, Ambassadors, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
My sincere gratitude for the kind invitation to join the NATO Defense College at such an important ceremony. Celebrating this 60th Anniversary is like making a journey back through our memories of times that have in many respects been exceptional.
Gathering in this venue – where generations of civil and military leaders and civil servants have been formed – is an ideal way to reaffirm our commitment to the Alliance’s founding values of freedom, democracy and solidarity. The wind blowing from Northern Africa today is steeped in these same values, and that is why it has to find convinced support in our world.
The establishment in 1951 of the Nato Defense College, the fruit of General Eisenhower’s farsighted vision, provided the Alliance with a crucial tool to achieve greater internal cohesion and a stronger institutional footing.
At the time, strengthening the ability of our military personnel to operate in an integrated armed forces context was, of course, an urgent priority. But it was also necessary to raise the profile of NATO as a community of values and uphold the significance of a choice of loyalty that would be decisive for the fate of humanity.
Education and training thus became crucial tools for the Alliance, the pillars of a technical and military supremacy – respectful of democratic and constitutional values – that would lead to victory almost four decades later.
On this anniversary we celebrate Nato Defense College’s growing ability to support and accompany the intense transformation the Alliance has come through in order to better cope with new international challenges and threats.
The approval of the new strategic concept at the Lisbon Summit was made possible also thanks to the work of the NATO Defense College. And it will be also thanks to its activity – that is education, analysis, civil-military cooperation and the involvement of external partners – if we manage to display all the potentials of the post-Lisbon NATO. The NATO that has shifted the frontiers of security beyond the limits of continental geography, prepared itself to nurture an intense dialogue also with countries “at strategic distance” and made the “comprehensive approach” the key to interpreting the reality.
Training within these walls goes far beyond matters of military interoperability. Transformation requires a sharper focus on the value of human resources, close study of the strategic aspects of a crisis, and continuous training to promote a real culture of security.
The NDC engagement in favour of military and civilian personnel from the Alliance’s members, but also from other partners and friends, will help strengthen the Alliance’s dialogue and outreach dimension, crucial elements of modern crisis management.
Military force continues to play a remarkable role on the most delicate international scenarios. But it no longer exercises that leadership role only through firepower. Today’s military instrument also acts as one arm of the humanitarian action and reconstruction effort. It is a vehicle for the transmission of know-how and a mechanism for dissuasion.
In other words, NATO forces are a landmark for our security but can also be an increasingly important instrument for a wide diplomatic action provided they are carefully trained with a view to achieving enhanced cooperation and acquiring a full understanding of the political, economic and social contexts of intervention.
NATO Defense College is an irreplaceable tool for stimulating strategic thinking and dialogue.
I am delighted to express my warmest congratulations for the great achievements over its first sixty years. My congratulations and my best wishes that it may retain its long-standing ability to promote the conditions whereby our men and women dedicated to civil and military service, can achieve excellence in all of their endeavours.