My speech at the Security and Defence Agenda 2013



Thank you very much Jaap for your kind words of introduction. I would like to make four points that are in view crucial to the common security challenges and priorities of our transatlantic community.

The first dimension is collective defense. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is about solidarity among the 28 NATO Allies and it is about the obligation to come collectively to the defense of any of the 28 Allies if attacked. Nobody should doubt the credibility of Article 5 and the resolve of NATO member countries, because all NATO Allies would defend any Ally that should come under attack.

But it is evident to me that new security threats such as for example cyber security will certainly give in the years to come a new meaning to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, as it will bring about a new definition of what constitutes an attack to a NATO member country. 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 minimal requirements for the cyber defense of national networks critical to the performance of NATO’s core security tasks of collective defense and crisis management, as well as a common doctrine for cyber security. 


Second dimension: crisis management. NATO must maintain and develop the defense capabilities to manage effectively modern security crises affecting the security of its members. Complementarity between NATO and the EU is crucial to develop modern capabilities needed for our core security tasks of collective defense and crisis management, especially if NATO and the EU are to continue to promote international security and stability for the years to come.

A real game changer in this process has been, indeed, the current international financial crisis. 

Projecting NATO forces outside Europe for crisis management could become very difficult if we allow defense cuts to undermine the military capabilities that, from the lessons learned most in our operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya, our transatlantic Alliance is very much in need of. Finding the resources to invest in these capabilities will be very hard if defense cuts are carried out indiscriminately by the Allies. 

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. 

Certainly, no NATO country can shoulder alone the responsibility and burden for our collective security. There is indeed much scope for transatlantic coordination. I do believe therefore that time has come to agree that defense cuts that the Allies will be forced to make, as a consequence of the current economic crisis, are coordinated through NATO, without undermining the prerogatives of sovereign states. 

This would require coordinated political choices,instead of horizontal cuts, and so optimize defense spending, facilitate high-end capabilities, avoid national duplications and create economies of scale. The global crisis, in short, shouldn’t affect the primary good represented by the security of our states and citizens. One way to coordinate defense cuts among Allies could be to cut defense spending while investing in new capabilities needed to deal with new challenges, delivering value for money. This would allow eliminating old capabilities, while adjusting defense spending to sustain minimal investments in more modern capabilities.

Consequently, there is a growing need to start discussing within NATO, among Europeans, the US and Canada, how to ensure that the defense cuts that our countries will have to make, will not end up undermining our ability to deal effectively with future unpredictable security challenges and threats. 
We should 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 shortfalls in the right time frame.
Equally important is to explain our public opinion why money for the security of our people, even at a time of austerity, is invested and not wasted. 

A third, crucial component which will assist us in redrawing the security map of our transatlantic community is cooperative security. That is to say: the partnerships that NATO has developed with countries from different world regions and from different security background and cultures. 

NATO has developed political dialogue and practical cooperation in the security and defense fields with a broad range of partners, through tailored individual cooperation programmes. This cooperation can be particularly useful, if partner countries so wish, to assist them in reforming security and defense institutions where they exist, or to assist them in building security institutions where they need to be developed.

A case in point is Libya, whose Prime Minister has recently requested NATO’s advice and assistance in this field. NATO’s expertise can certainly complement the cooperative efforts made by other international actors and organizations, in advising and assisting Libya where NATO and its partners in the region have to win the stabilization and the building of the state. 

NATO’s partnerships with countries in the Mediterranean Dialogue, in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, or with more global partners such as Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, show how through political dialogue and practical cooperation we can build a new culture of cooperation in the security sphere. 

These partnerships help us promote a better mutual understanding between NATO and a large number of countries of different cultures, thereby preventing conflicts but they also help us build the political consensus and military interoperability required to manage successfully complex crises when they occur. This is particularly evident through the political and military contribution of our partners to the successful management of the NATO-led operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. We should also think creatively on how to involve partners in the development of modern capabilities for crisis management. 

Fourth, I am convinced that we need a New Transatlantic Bargain between Europe and the United States of America. 

A strategy aimed at cutting defense expenditures today, in a coordinated fashion, while investing in new and more modern capabilities, is certainly a more effective way to cope with changing technological realities, emerging new threats and declining defense budgets. But it requires a major political and strategic decision by NATO countries. 

The new US national security strategy outlined in January 2012 by President Obama places special emphasis on the Asia Pacific region. A region that is also of security interest for the other member countries of NATO.

At the same time both Europe and the United States have an interest in stability and security in North Africa, because instability and insecurity could spread from there to the broader Middle East region.A New Transatlantic Bargain is therefore needed. One that would not only confirm the commitment of the United States to European security under article 5 but that would commit the US in supporting through NATO the European Allies in managing crises in North Africa, in exchange for European commitment to support the United States in the management of crises in the broader Middle East.

The crises management operations of the future while necessitating the consensus of all 28 members may imply a high degree of flexibility regarding the conduct of the operations that could involve NATO member countries and partners alike. Partners, as I mentioned earlier, as diverse as those in North Africa, in the Middle East, in Asia, or such as Japan, Australia and New Zealand. 

Finally, I would like to stress the importance to include in this new security equation the establishment of a free trade transatlantic space between the United States and the European Union. This free trade transatlantic agreement will help us not only boost jobs and growth on both sides of the Atlantic but will also help us develop in NATO more wisely the defense capabilities both Europe and the United States need to deal with future crises.

In closing my remarks, I would like to say that I cannot see a better partner for Europe than the United States and a better partner for the United States than Europe.
Thank you very much.

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