Her Excellency, Benita Ferrero-Waldner
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs for Austria
SECURITY AND INTEGRATION IN EUROPE--AN AUSTRIAN VIEW
Chairman: Julie Hannaford, President, The Empire Club of Canada
Head Table Guests
Diana Chant, Partner, Price Waterhouse and Treasurer, The Empire Club of Canada; Dr. Wolfgang Petritsch, Director, International Relations, City of Vienna; Robert Noble, Director for Central Europe, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Government of Canada; Alan Sullivan, President, Canadian Institute of International Affairs; Walter Lichem, Austrian Ambassador to Canada; Ed Badovinac, Professor, Dept. of Telecommunications, George Brown College and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; The Rev. Canon John Erb, Rector, St. Michael and All Angels Church; Walter Nettig, President, Vienna Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Special Envoy of the Mayor of Vienna for International Economic Affairs; and Frank Stronach, Austrian Consul General in Toronto.
Introduction by Julie Hannaford
For the European Union, the construction of a common foreign and security policy, together with a common defence policy, represents one of the most significant challenges to the constituencies represented by the Union as it approaches the millennium. Nothing could have provided a more stark example of the necessity for the development of a means for responding to international crises than the events in Bosnia. The way in which the European Union, through its intergovernmental conference, develops mechanisms for response rather than an environment for analysis may well become a template for other intergovernmental organisations to manage the need for acting in concert, as global trade and communications inevitably give rise to various crises that require a concerted and integrated response.
When it became a fully-fledged member of the European Union in 1995, Austria committed to participating in the architecture of European security.
Our guest today, Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, honours The Empire Club of Canada by offering Austria's view on the subject of integration and security in Europe. Our guest, however, distinguishes The Empire Club of Canada's podium not only as State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, but also as someone who shall take her place in history as one of the lead architects shaping the design for European security in the 21st century. In 1998, Austria shall assume the presidency of the European Union. Dr. Waldner is charged with the preparation of Austria and Austrian policy for the assumption of this critical role.
In its 93-year history, The Empire Club of Canada has been privileged to have been addressed by statesmen and women of national and international reputation. What we learn from their biographies and addresses is that the three key determinants to statesmanship must necessarily be the intellectual strength derived from a commitment to learning; the courage to lead derived from the application of learning to the business and political world; and finally, the fortitude of perspective, derived from a commitment to the experience of being a leader in the fields of business, politics, and learning. In all three respects, Dr. Waldner excels.
At the University of Salzburg, Dr. Waldner studied law, obtaining the degree of Dr. iuris in 1970. In the business world, Dr. Waldner was the European Sales Director for P. Kaufman Inc. in New York, and the Chief Management Assistant for Gerns and Gahler, Freilassing in Germany. In the field of international representation and foreign affairs, Dr. Waldner represented Austria as First Secretary in Senegal, and in Paris as Counsellor for Economic Affairs and as First Counsellor and Charge d'Affaires. In New York, at the United Nations Secretariat, Dr. Waldner occupied the position of Chief of Protocol. In 1995, Dr. Waldner was appointed State Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Dr. Waldner's commitment to the three virtues underlying statesmanship (learning, the application of learning to experience, and the wisdom derived from perspective) present themselves not only from her biography, but from the commitment that Dr. Waldner brings today to Austria's leadership in the architecture of European foreign policy.
Please join me in welcoming today to The Empire Club of Canada, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs for Austria, Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
Let me first of all thank the President of The Empire Club of Canada for the invitation and the arrangements for today. I am greatly honoured to address this august assembly on a subject that I believe is of relevance not only to Europe but also to our transatlantic partners. I also appreciate the presence of my colleague and friend, Mr. Walter Nettig, Special Representative of the Mayor of Vienna and President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Vienna.
As the Cold War ended, the hope for Europe was for a Europe whole and free, all its people freed from conflict and division, guaranteed their human rights and their economies rebuilt from the ruins of communism to allow everyone a life in decency, dignity and prosperity, however modest.
As Europe presents itself today, we have come from a high-risk situation with great stability to a low-risk situation with less stability. The high hopes of the period immediately following the collapse of communism in Europe and the end of the Cold War have not always been fulfilled. Many new threats to European security have appeared. Ghosts of the past have haunted Europe again causing the bloodiest and most cruel war Europe has had to endure since the end of World War II. Aggressive nationalism, racial hatred and ethnic and religious intolerance are some of the major causes for the Bosnian tragedy and similar crises might erupt again in some parts of Eastern Europe. Present events in Albania which we are following with great concern demonstrate once again the results of decades of suppression of individual liberty, economic mismanagement, lack of opportunity and general disregard for human dignity.
After this rather bleak description of the situation in some parts of Europe, I come back, however, to my first thesis which is that Europe, despite all the problems and dangers, has a realistic historic chance to build lasting peace and stability in a foreseeable future for all its people, based upon democracy, the respect for human rights, the rule of law and free-market economy.
Austria sees the main challenge in the field of security in the setting up of effective European crisis-management structures. As both an EU member and an observer in WEU, Austria concentrates her efforts in both forums on improving the mechanisms allowing WEU to carry out crisis-management tasks initiated by the EU.
As a member of the European Union, Austria has accepted without restriction the political and economic aims of the Maastricht Treaty which established the European Union in 1992. We are therefore not only observing the shaping of Europe's future which in view of our geo-strategic position in the centre of Europe is of immediate relevance to our own security, but we are actively participating. It is the basic principle of Austria's European policy-enshrined in the programme of the present government which is, as you know a coalition government between the Christian-Democratic and the Social-Democratic Parties--to participate actively and in good faith in all matters of European integration and cooperation. More than 60 per cent of the Austrian population that voted "yes" to Austria's accession to the European Union in 1994, accepting all the aims and purposes of the Treaty, wanted Austria to be an active and equal partner.
There are many reasons why Austria, which for centuries has been situated at the critical crossroads between east and west and has been accustomed to think in trans-national terms, has no other choice but to belong to the core of European integration. I already mentioned our geographical position which places us right in the centre of today's security concerns. The distance from Vienna to the western border of Ukraine or to Sarajevo is shorter than to Zurich. When war first broke out between the armed forces of the old Yugoslavia and Slovenia which had just declared its independence, Yugoslav warplanes came within several hundred yards of Austria's southern border and one could observe the fighting from the border with the naked eye. It is in our own interest to be a part of the European security structure, to participate actively and with a sense of solidarity in the integration process and to be of service to the international community for the benefit of peace and stability.
A country like Austria can only profit from being an integral part of a strong and dynamic European Union. This is certainly true from an economic point of view but it is also true in a political sense.
It is only logical that Austria belongs to those member states of the European Union that advocate strongly further integrative steps in the course of the ongoing Intergovernmental Conference which was convened last year. It has as its primary goal to make the necessary political, institutional and technical adaptations of the Union as laid down in the Maastricht Treaty in order to prepare for the coming enlargement. As a matter of fact this conference which is hoped to end before summer, is necessary in order to create the institutional environment conducive to an enlarged EU.
A positive attitude towards the enlargement of the European Union by the states of Central and Eastern Europe is another principle of contemporary Austrian foreign policy. We support the accession of those states because this in our view not only makes sense economically but it is also an important contribution to peace and stability in Europe. We do, however, not underestimate the problems connected with such expansion.
It is necessary for the 15 member states themselves to first get their own house in order before new members can be admitted. Issues like freedom of movement of persons, the common agricultural policy of the EU, the subject of financing the organisation as a whole and more particularly its regional funds need to be discussed and solutions found first among the present members of the Union. This does not, however, change our basic attitude that enlargement should take place. I am optimistic that at least some of the candidates can be admitted into the European Union within a foreseeable future in a first round. For Austria which will assume the presidency of the Council of the Union in the second half of next year as the first of the three new member States the enlargement will certainly represent one of the priorities.
Ladies and gentlemen, the supreme goal of any foreign policy is to create security, preserve peace and where necessary to restore peace. A European security system, like any other regional system designed for the same purposes, must be defensive by nature but must also have the capacity to act forcefully when the circumstances warrant. This is one of the lessons to be drawn from the Bosnian tragedy. I am certain that had an efficient European security system already been in place, a solution could have been found much earlier. Europe must, better sooner than later, equip itself with the necessary tools to settle disputes once hostilities have broken out.
The European security structures, which will eventually lead to a comprehensive security system equipped to cope with the challenges I have just mentioned, are presently going through a phase of fundamental change. At the core of the system are the three organisations--EU, Western European Union (WEU) and NATO-operating in a reciprocal triangular relationship. The Berlin summit of NATO in June of 1996 has brought the EU, WEU and NATO closer together, particularly by stressing the developments of the European security and defence identity within the alliance. Since NATO views the co-operation with WEU in European-led crisis management as an integral part of this identity, this will in time also require political co-operation between the EU and NATO.
Other European organisations will continue to play important roles. OSCE, as we can see in the case of Albania, is able to make a meaningful contribution to resolve conflicts before hostilities actually break out. Its strength lies in conflict prevention and dispute solution. I would also mention that the Council of Europe, an organisation where Canada has acquired observer status only recently, also has to play an important role in setting up what is generally called "democratic security" in all of Europe.
Because time is limited, let me just state some basic principles that I believe will govern a European security system.
First, for some time to come, several international organisations and institutions will be responsible for safeguarding European security. This is certainly useful and allows for a high degree of flexibility because it permits states to determine their own pace according to their own necessities. In a somewhat longer perspective and as enlargement of the various organisations progresses, interaction between those organisations will have to intensify. In the long run stability will depend on European states basically belonging to the same organisations since varied membership in the different organisations lead to imbalances in the decision-making processes.
Second, against the background of what I just said, a merging of EU and WEU must eventually be discussed. It would be unrealistic to think that such a decision might be taken already at the actual IGC. I, however, expect consensus at the IGC that the "Peterberg operations" (so called after the town near Bonn in Germany where the decision was made by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Defence in 1992) which involve measures to preserve and restore peace, humanitarian actions and rescue and relief operations will be incorporated into the Union treaty. This is also Austria's position. It will give the EU the option to ask WEU to carry out operations which might also involve the deployment of military forces which in turn might be made available by NATO according to a decision made by the NATO Council in 1996 in Berlin. The EU would thus become a powerful political instrument to preserve and if necessary restore peace in the region.
Third, the political role of the European Union must be increased and developed. The provisions of the Maastricht Treaty on common foreign and security policy were without any doubt a big step forward. But the Union still remains relatively powerless when it comes to play a political role in the international arena. Europe today is an economic giant but a political lightweight. The question is only partially one of improved structures and procedures. Of course, it will be necessary in the course of the IGC as such issues are being discussed to make certain decisions in this respect and there are some very useful proposals on the table. But what really counts in the end is the political will of the member states, particularly of the larger states, to come to a common position on a given issue and then stick to what has been agreed upon. In this respect I would just add that Austria is very much in favour of allowing majority decisions if there are no military implications of a given decision in order to facilitate progress in the CFSP.
Fourth, the enlargement of NATO will be a contribution to peace and stability in Europe. As a non-member we think that the enlargement process falls within the sovereign decision of the organisation, its member states and the candidate states. We are nonetheless very much aware that an expansion of NATO will directly affect Austria's own geopolitical environment.
The summit meeting in Madrid of heads of states and/or of governments of NATO countries will officially launch the process of enlargement and will review the progress in establishing a "European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance." This refers to the question of "Combined Joint Task Forces," integration of France and Spain into the integrated military command and will decide on key elements of the future relationship between NATO and France and Ukraine.
If this "package-deal," also paraphrased as the "new NATO," becomes reality, it will represent a decisive step on the way to a comprehensive order of peace and stability in Europe.
The fact that NATO is being shaped into something fundamentally new is of the utmost importance also for Austria. The key elements of this "New NATO" are the commitment to partnership, to take on new tasks (e.g. IFOR, "Combined Joint Tasks Forces) and to a European Security and Defence Identity. The success of IFOR is a milestone in these developments. On January 30, 1997 the Austrian Parliament agreed to the request of the federal government that Austria will continue to be represented in the framework of IFOR.
The enhancement of the Partnership for Peace of which Austria is a member can add value to these positive developments and is therefore supported by Austria. Austria sees the proposed "Atlantic Partnership Council" (APC) as an opportunity to strengthen stability in Europe and therefore welcomes the recent proposal of NATO's International Staff as it builds on basic principles of transparency, inclusiveness and self-differentiation.
As far as Austria's future security policy is concerned, the present federal government decided that it will present during the first quarter of 1998 at the latest a report to the Austrian Parliament on all forward-leading options in the field of security policy as well as the necessary measures to be taken. We believe that the picture will be much clearer after the NATO summit in Madrid in July this year. We will have named the countries eligible for accession to NATO, among them most likely one or more neighbouring states of Austria. Besides the question will also have to be posed in this context, if the first round of enlargement will be followed by a second one. Therefore, Austria will have to discuss openly and thoroughly all options. Possible full membership in WEU is already one of the options mentioned in the government agreement and in view of the transformation of NATO into a "new NATO," and the membership of neighbouring countries, this option must also be considered.
Fifth and last, I would like to point out that reform of NATO structures and the enlargement of the organisation are not to be isolated from the overall picture of European security. Thus there is a close relationship between NATO expansion, the revision of NATO's internal structures, the pan-European co-operation within the framework of the OSCE, the establishment of a new partnership with Russia and Ukraine as well as the revision of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. In particular the question of future relations with Russia is of the utmost importance for European security. Although there is no formal link between enlargement of NATO and the conclusion of some sort of arrangement with Russia and there can of course be no veto by any third country against the autonomous decisions of the organisations, the two are closely linked in political reality. Russia and Ukraine should be able to participate in the new stability that we aim to create in Europe. We therefore welcome the ongoing negotiations between NATO and the Russian federation to come to some sort of understanding, in a legally binding or any other satisfactory form.
Contrary to our eastern neighbour the question for Austria is not to "return to Europe." We have never left it. The question for us is to participate fully and as an equal partner in all decisions concerning Europe's future. We now must secure what we have achieved and progress in those areas where we still experience serious problems. We are ready to assume responsibility and I believe the majority of the people see the need to take bold measures to better the destiny of our own countrymen and of all Europeans.
Thank you very much.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Diana Chant, Partner, Price Waterhouse and Treasurer, The Empire Club of Canada.