Willy Claes, Secretary General, NATO
THE NEW NATO--SERVING CANADA'S INTEREST
Chairman: Herbert Phillipps Jr.
President, The Canadian Club of Toronto
Head Table Guests
John Woods, Vice-President of the Atlantic Council of Canada and City Auditor of the City of Toronto; Rebecca Murphy, Department of National Defence Military and Strategic Studies Intern with the Atlantic Council of Canada; Layton Peck, President, The Canadian Club of Ottawa and Director, Domus Software; Commodore Kenneth Nason, Commandant of the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College; MGen. Bruce Legge, Past President, The Empire Club of Canada, Vice-President of Atlantic Council of Canada and Partner, Legge & Legge; Edward Crawford, Chairman of the Atlantic Council of Canada and Chairman of the Board of Canada Life Assurance Company; Ambassador John Anderson, Permanent Representative of Canada to the North Atlantic Council in Brussels; Mrs. Spenser; Dr. Edward Neufeld, Director of the Atlantic Council of Canada and former Chief Economist, Royal Bank of Canada; The Rev. Canon Milton J. Barry, Incumbent, Grace Church on the Hill, Toronto; Barry Campbell, MP, Member of Parliament for St. Paul's Constituency in Toronto and Chairman of the Metro Toronto Liberal Caucus; Cameron Campbell; Prof. Edward Badovinac, Director, The Empire Club of Canada, Director of the Atlantic Council of Canada and Professor of Electronics, George Brown College, Toronto; Dr. John Polanyi, Professor of Chemistry, University of Toronto and Winner 1986 Nobel Prize for Chemistry; Prof. Robert Spenser, President of Atlantic Council of Canada and Professor Emeritus History at Trinity College, University of Toronto and John A. Campion, President, The Empire Club of Canada.
It gives me great pleasure to address such a distinguished audience, in this my first trip to Canada as Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance. I would like to salute The Empire Club and The Canadian Club of Toronto, and thank in particular Professor Bob Spenser for the support of the Atlantic Council of Canada and for arranging my appearance here today.
Arriving in Canada in the winter, especially in the month that "comes in like a lion," usually causes some trepidation on the part of us Europeans. But the warmth with which I have been greeted here has banished any fear of freezing temperatures. This warmth is a reflection of the timeless bond of friendship that exists between Europe and Canada. We Europeans have an eternal debt of gratitude for the sacrifices Canadians have made twice in this century for the freedom of our continent.
Today I wish to describe to you how, in my view, Canada's interests are served by a continued strong, visible commitment to the North Atlantic Alliance. Then I shall set out the agenda of our "new NATO."
We will shortly be marking the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Out of that holocaust arose new institutions which embodied, on the one hand, an internationalist ethic, and on the other hand, the hopes of Western nations for a new order of security that would prevent the recurrence of war among the major powers in Europe.
Canada was more than merely present at the creation of those institutions. It helped shape the post-war order, contributing inspiration, expertise and experience. The United Nations Organisation came into existence in 1945, thanks to the determination and persistence of countries like Canada--specialists, as it were, in constructive diplomacy. And it is not just in the UN Charter where one can see the hand of Canadian diplomacy. Through its dedication to consensus-building and multi-lateralism, Canada--perhaps more than any other power of its size--provided leadership in the creation of the other enduring bulwark of the international security order: the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
During the parliamentary debate on Canada's ratification of the treaty establishing NATO, Lester Pearson explained that the purpose of the treaty was to increase the security of the North Atlantic community and to remove the economic and political causes of war. He went on to say: "That is why this pact is an instrument of peace. It will promote those conditions of stability and security in which peace flourishes." This statement is as relevant today as it was 46 years ago.
I can understand that, from a North American perspective, this quest might seem Eurocentric. There is, of course, a very simple reason for this. Europe, the main area of East-West confrontation for the last 40 years, is now the focus of a new, hopefully lasting, effort at reconstruction and reconciliation. Not surprisingly, the question arises from the Western side of the Atlantic: Can't this be handled by Europeans alone? Hasn't the end of the Cold War also signalled the time to end Canadian and American involvement in European security? Canadian observers especially may ask: "What is in it for us? How does NATO serve Canada's interests?" Let me offer you some answers of my own.
I know full well that today Canada is engaged in a battle of a different kind--against a budgetary deficit of historic proportions. This is a battle that involves livelihoods and personal and public economic security. Other allies face similar pressures. But in waging this struggle against public deficits, we should resist the temptation to cash in the solid, long-standing bonds of Alliance partnership, even under the guise of restructuring and down-sizing. In providing for our defence and security in a more complex and yet still dangerous world, we cannot rob Peter to pay Paul. We cannot imprudently squeeze defence budgets today without exposing ourselves to new and costly dangers tomorrow.
Preserving national interests and security, while at the same time retaining influence and respect, does not come cheaply. Yet the smaller Alliance countries can pool resources and wield influence in a way that would simply not be available if those same countries worked on a national basis alone. Plainly speaking, NATO is an insurance policy that is affordable and reliable. For countries like Canada, it is an influence-multiplier.
Fundamentally, however, Canada's stake in NATO can best be measured in terms of the thousands of young Canadians who gave their lives in Europe during the First and Second World Wars. For all those who, like myself, do not believe that history has ended and that the peace of Europe is secure, NATO's purpose is to ensure that those young men and women did not die in vain, and that new generations of North Americans and Europeans will not have to repeat their sacrifice.
But what about the other side of the coin? What do the European allies derive from a visible Canadian commitment to NATO? To me the answer is clear. Canada brings ideas and expertise. It brings an enviable reputation for finding and encouraging compromise, and for providing measure and balance. Moreover, Canada represents a special dimension to the North American pillar of this Alliance, and to the transatlantic link. Despite being next-door neighbours to the United States, your history, culture and diplomacy are different. This provides an important contrast, much appreciated by the smaller European allies. And Canada also brings us an appreciation of the demands and requirements of security in the waters and on the territory of the Alliance's northern regions.
In short, what we derive from Canada's commitment is the profound reassurance that a chief designer of, and contributor to, the North Atlantic community remains at our side as we seek at last to bring about a peaceful and united Europe. This reassurance is all the more important now that the old "verities" of the Cold War are gone. Instead, there are new challenges to security and stability for which NATO has developed a new agenda, one which directly addresses both the threats and opportunities which now characterise the European landscape.
Let us start with the former Yugoslavia, where we are confronted not only with a humanitarian tragedy, but with a conflict that threatens to spread throughout the Balkan region and engulf other European countries, and even to undermine our wider efforts to create a new and lasting security order. Several of our allies, Canada of course included, have committed troops to the UN Protection Force. They have performed a difficult and thankless mission with courage and skill. But they have been confronted with a challenge far greater and more dangerous than what has traditionally been the case with UN peacekeeping, and so have turned to NATO for support.
There is no doubt that this support has made a difference in the former Yugoslavia. First and foremost, NATO has helped prevent the conflict from spreading throughout the Balkans. NATO has also put constant pressure on Belgrade through its enforcement of the UN-imposed air and sea embargoes. And now, with the possibility looming of an UNPROFOR withdrawal from Croatia and perhaps from Bosnia, too--a prospect which we ardently hope will not occur--it is the Alliance's military authorities who have done the essential, and exceedingly complex, contingency planning for a possible NATO rescue operation.
I realise that a number of important questions have been raised about the involvement of the UN and NATO in former Yugoslavia, and the relationship between our two organisations: Are NATO's enforcement capabilities compatible with a peacekeeping mission? Is peacekeeping even possible in the midst of ongoing conflict? And should NATO risk placing its most precious asset--its credibility--in the hands of another organisation?
I know that in Canada, a country with a proud tradition of international peacekeeping, these questions have been subjects of parliamentary debate. In response, let me make several points:
First, by the time the international community turned to NATO, it was too late to attempt a military solution to the Yugoslav conflict. Instead, a diplomatic strategy was chosen; backed up by the pressure of trade and arms embargoes, the aim in the first instance has been the delivery of food and medical supplies to a beleaguered civilian population. Ultimately, however, our aim has been to contain the conflict and to bring the parties to realise that the only real solution is a negotiated one.
But there is no question that the Yugoslav crisis has been a learning experience for the international community in general, and for NATO in particular, and that we ought to be drawing the right lessons for our involvement in future such contingencies. The most important lesson is that NATO should be prepared to intervene at an earlier stage of a conflict, before the costs of overturning aggression have become unacceptably high. We must also avoid attempting to perform two obviously incompatible missions, peacekeeping and peace enforcement. We need clearer mandates for NATO's involvement. We need clearer divisions of labour between institutions. And if our military forces are expected to undertake complex and dangerous operations, they need a unified chain of command.
An old adage tells us that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The final lesson of the former Yugoslavia is that we need preventive measures to obviate the requirement for peacekeeping and peace enforcement. Here, the Alliance is indeed making an important contribution: the Partnership for Peace.
This Partnership, launched a year ago, has made great strides in transforming security relations in Europe by putting former adversaries on an irreversible path of cooperation and ever-closer relations. Through it, we are developing common ideas and approaches for peacekeeping and humanitarian support operations. This will greatly increase the pool of trained and NATO-compatible assets which we may draw upon in future peacekeeping contingencies.
There is, however, more to Partnership for Peace than military exercises. As it develops, the Partnership will bind allies and partners in a close pattern of activity, covering a wide range of security-related matters. For instance, we will assist our partners in creating democratically organised and politically accountable ministries of defence and military establishments, which they did not have under communism. We also aim to introduce a planning and review process based on the force planning system that has played a major part in enhancing Alliance solidarity and underpinning NATO's integrated military structure.
Our efforts in building a new security order do not stop with Partnership for Peace. A year ago, NATO's heads of state and government pledged to open the Alliance's doors to new members as part of an evolutionary process. We have decided to initiate a process of examination inside the Alliance to determine how NATO will enlarge, the principles by which to guide this process and the implications of membership. Of course, the outcome of this study will be a matter for our 16 member countries to decide. There are nonetheless several principles which, in my view, need to be fulfilled:
• enlargement must enhance security and stability in the whole of Europe without drawing new dividing lines;
• it must strengthen and not dilute the Alliance, and ensure the security of its members;
• the costs of enlargement should be fairly and proportionately shared;
• enlargement should be an exercise in extending our community of shared values, not one of exclusion.
In our approach to enhancing stability in Europe, we have sought to constructively engage Russia in a way that acknowledges her weight in European security and her legitimate security interests. To date, this has taken two forms. First, Russia has joined the Partnership for Peace. Secondly, we have agreed to undertake with Russia an improved dialogue and co-operation in areas where she has unique and important contributions to make. Despite recent Russian hesitation and the serious setback in Chechnya, the Alliance's offer of closer practical co-operation remains on the table. It is up to Russia to make up her mind about the relationship she wants to have with NATO. But I am confident that Russia will realise--as we do ourselves--that there can be no stable European security architecture without Russian participation, and without a healthy Russia-NATO relationship.
Another challenge facing allies is the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means. Next month's renewal conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will require a strong, concerted approach by supporters of the international non-proliferation regime if the Treaty is to be extended. Meanwhile, we have put the non-proliferation issue on the NATO agenda, and we are also examining how our defence capabilities within NATO can be improved and in what other ways we can support or influence international diplomatic efforts to block the spread of such weapons. Finally, let me mention the Alliance's southern region. The Gulf War and, more recently, the conflict in former Yugoslavia, have made it absolutely clear that Europe faces instabilities to its south as well as to its east.
We cannot be indifferent to these challenges. The North Atlantic Council has therefore agreed to establish a direct dialogue, on a case-by-case basis, between the Alliance and Mediterranean non-member countries, with a view to contributing to the strengthening of regional stability and to achieve a better mutual understanding with the ambassadors of Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Mauritania and Morocco. We must explore the possibilities for this dialogue.
I believe that the agenda of the "new NATO" makes clear that the Alliance continues to occupy the centre stage in European security--with new roles, new missions, and new partners. While there are many reasons for this successful transition, one in particular stands out--the enduring value of the transatlantic relationship. This relationship is not only the key to peace in Europe, it is the key to global stability in the years and decades to come.
At the risk of sounding like Cassandra, however, I must warn that our collective future will not be secure if there continues to be a seemingly endless string of cuts in Allied defence budgets. We are on the verge of cutting too close to the quick and of trying to do too much "on the cheap." Even our ability to perform the new range of peacekeeping missions will be compromised if we allow a degradation of defence capabilities. These, after all, remain the core function of this Alliance.
My friends, I am pleased to say that, as was the case half a century ago, Canada is present once again at the creation of a new order--this time a co-operative security order that has eluded us in the wider Europe until now.
Your experience in multilateral co-operation is even more required and more valuable today than in the past. This is what Canada brings to the "new NATO." And with cooperative security comes a consolidation of the democratic values that will enhance stability across the whole of Europe, to the greater benefit of our collective political, economic and security interests. Canada has much to gain from the success of these endeavours--that is, from a new NATO which is serving Canada's interests. Thank you very much.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Prof. Robert Spenser, President of Atlantic Council of Canada and Professor Emeritus History at Trinity College, University of Toronto and Herbert Phillipps Jr., President, The Canadian Club of Toronto.