- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 10 Apr 1973, p. 368-377
- Luns, His Excellency Joseph, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A joint dinner meeting of The Empire Club of Canada, the Atlantic Council of Canada, and The Royal Commonwealth Society, Toronto Branch at The Great Hall, Hart House.
Actual introduction by Mr. Marvin Gelber. NATO at a crossroads in its approach to East/West relations as well as in the Transatlantic ties. A summary of events since NATO set out its policy of defence and détente in 1967. The Soviet strategy today. Opening up towards détente in the East. The relationship between prosperity and security. Defensive capabilities still necessary. A new era of movement and possible instability. The spirit of compromise.
- Date of Original
- 10 Apr 1973
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- Full Text
- APRIL 10, 1973
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization
AN ADDRESS BY His Excellency Joseph Luns, O.O.N., HON. G.C.M.G., HON. C.H., SECRETARY GENERAL OF NATO
JOINT DINNER MEETING, GREAT HALL, HART HOUSE, The Empire Club of Canada, Atlantic Council of Canada, The Royal Commonwealth Society, Toronto Branch.
CHAIRMAN The President, The Empire Club of Canada, Joseph H. Potts
Before I ask Mr. Gelber to introduce our guest speaker, I just wish to underline how delighted we are to have His Excellency with us, and the Consul General and so many other friends from the Netherlands, although they may not be members of any of the sponsoring programs. I say that because there is, of course, a very warm and friendly relationship between citizens of Canada and the citizens of the Netherlands, the association with the Royal Family here in Ottawa during the war and I suppose also, more particularly, for many of my generation who were in Holland at the end of the war in one capacity or another and the incredible hospitality and the warmth of the welcome we received at that time which I will never quite forget. And perhaps you will permit me a story that exemplifies that hospitality. I was not there very long-I was pretty young-by the time I arrived, or shortly afterwards anyway, everything folded up. But I was a private soldier and I found myself encamped in the diergaarde that's the zoo in Rotterdam and I established a friendly relationship with an American citizen who was in Holland when the war broke out and he told me that a friend of his, a Dutch doctor, and some of his friends were having a party and would I get four, five or six of my friends to go on this particular evening to the party and he would come and pick us up at the gate.
I remember taking quite a long walk through the heart of Rotterdam, which was like a hole in a doughnut. We came to this very very fancy restaurant in the heart of Rotterdam and went up one of two stairs and then we began to wonder what was actually happening-we had felt that this was just a family occasion and my friends said "O.K., Joe, you got us into this then you lead the way," and we walked into a beautiful auditorium-a room like this, and as we walked in, six private soldiers from Canada-500 citizens of the Netherlands stood up and cheered for five or ten minutes. It wasn't so much the fact that they were holding this party for Canadians but the fact that these citizens of Rotterdam selected not captains and colonels but insisted that their guests of honour that night would be six private soldiers from the Canadian Army and that was something for a nineteen-year-old that I have never forgotten and which is an indication of the warmth of the welcome that we received.
Now ladies and gentlemen, I am going to ask Marvin Gelber if he would be good enough to introduce our guest speaker.
MR. MARVIN GELBER:
I got the gist of your remarks, Mr. Chairman. You arrived late but having arrived the Germans then threw in the towel. Coming in from the airport today Mr. Luns remarked that before the war the population of Canada and Holland was fairly even but now we are a country of twenty-three million. I reminded him of the remark of the British writer who said that the Tasmanians who were against adultery were almost extinct.
Mr. Luns is a native of Rotterdam, the birthplace of Erasmus the greatest humanist of them all. I am sure that it would interest Mr. Luns to know that the University of Toronto Press in association with many scholars throughout the world is preparing to translate and publish the entire oeuvre of Erasmus. I understand that very little of his voluminous work has been translated. And this is a very great and important undertaking with which this University is associated.
Mr. Luns is a graduate of the University of Leyden, University of Amsterdam, Berlin University, University of Brussels, the London School of Economics. Erasmus also had his intellectual roots in British Universities. He was very closely associated with Cambridge University as was our Chairman, Joseph Potts.
We owe a great deal in this country to the contribution of the Netherlands to learning scholarship and to the arts. The Netherlands at the last count had won seven Nobel prizes, in Physics, Chemistry, Medical Sciences and one Peace Prize. This really is a monumental achievement.
We in Toronto know the great contribution to the arts. Due to the generosity of Dutch Museums, The Art Gallery of Toronto organized an exhibition and produced what I thought, was a most distinguished catalogue, "The Golden Age of the Dutch Painting". The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Toledo Museum also participated.
On the Centenary of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts a Van Gogh show including both the Kroller-Muller Collection and the Collection of his nephew was organized and shown in Toronto. Recently in Toronto the Art Gallery produced the first one-man show, the works of Piet Mondriaan-a purist and yet a man who did much to influence women's fashions. This past year across Canada an exhibit of the paintings of Karel Appel was held.
The most distinguished Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam has also played here.
We are indebted to your countrymen for the great contribution made to our own Country. People of Dutch origin have come and settled in Canada and have brought the richness and integrity of Dutch life to this new land.
Some say we Canadians are looking for our identity. Our identity will never be fixed. Our identity will always be coming and the people of Holland have made a significant contribution.
Holland has sent us many fine Diplomats and the daughter of one of the Consuls General became a leading dancer with the National Ballet of Canada.
We salute the great struggle that Holland for centuries has waged for independence and freedom. She resisted the encroachments of the Holy Roman Emperor, she resisted the designs of Charles V, defeating the armies of Philip the Second. She defeated and helped drive out the Napoleonic Regime and in our own day she has suffered under the dictatorship of German armies. Holland today remains a country committed to freedom, individual liberty and we salute your country in welcoming you here today.
Mr. Luns, you were in the foreign ministry of your country then you became a politician, a very successful politician. Then you had two foreign ministers. Some great symphony orchestras have two concert masters-well Holland had two Foreign Ministers. I don't know what happened to the other fellow but you emerged the solitary reaper. You were foreign minister for seventeen years. You have given distinguished and important service and you have held high the flag of world peace and human rights. And today you not only give distinction to NATO by being its Secretary General but you give it moral stature which is good for NATO and good for all the partners including Canada. And we welcome you here today and you do us honour by coming to speak to us this evening.
HIS EXCELLENCY JOSEPH LUNS:
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I say how pleased I am to be here with you tonight and to have had the opportunity to spend a few days in Canada, a country which has made such an important contribution to the North Atlantic Alliance and to our Transatlantic relations in general.
I met with some of the leaders of your Government in Ottawa yesterday and this morning I presided over the opening of the semi-annual plenary meeting of NATO's Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society, which is being held in Canada following the very generous invitation of the Canadian Government. I feel that it is particularly significant that this first meeting of NATO's CCMS away from Brussels should be here in your country. This is not only because in many ways the other member countries of the Alliance have much to learn from Canada with respect to the preservation of our natural environment, but also, in a general sense, because Canada has made and continues to make a special contribution to the Alliance as one of the two North American members.
We in NATO have taken deep satisfaction from the active participation which continues to characterize Canada's role in all phases of Alliance activities. I should perhaps also recognize that Canada is the only NATO country which speaks both of NATO's official languages, and if I speak in English this evening it is only because I think that my audience here in Toronto may be primarily English speaking.
One of the things which has struck me in the last two days is the prosperity which is evident throughout this great country, a prosperity which is shared in general by all our Atlantic countries, and which has been unprecedented throughout the West for the last quarter of a century. All of you know I am sure, as I do, that this prosperity has been made possible by the security we have enjoyed largely as a result of our decision to join in the North Atlantic Alliance and to pool our defence capabilities in NATO.
While we recognize this, it is also true that a quarter of a century of peace and well-being has brought about a situation in which our interests are focused on other needs in our societies, and our security is taken for granted. In many ways this psychology, which has developed in all our countries-European and North American-has brought NATO to a crossroads in its approach to East/West relations as well as in the Transatlantic ties which it embodies.
Since NATO set out on its policy of defence and detente in 1967, our Alliance has steadily pursued the objective of better relations with the East and in our countries we can take satisfaction in the fact that we are now engaged in preliminary talks which we all hope will lead to concrete negotiations with the East and which will improve the situation which has existed between East and West, in Europe, since the end of the last war. In Helsinki, all the European countries plus Canada and the United States are discussing concrete steps which may be made toward a relaxation of tensions in Europe, a greater degree of freedom of movement of ideas and people, and a more cooperative approach to mutual problems. In Vienna, meanwhile, we are discussing with the Warsaw Pact countries possible approaches to a lowering of the level of confrontation of armed forces in Central Europe. The purpose of all these negotiations is to achieve a more stable order in Europe and more freedom for our Eastern European neighbours while maintaining the degree of security which we have enjoyed for a generation. There is no way we can be assured, however, that our objectives can be achieved. Certainly, the Soviet Union has a different set of ideas about the future shape of Europe and will continue to work hard to bring them to reality. They have prepared for this period of negotiations through a massive build-up of military capabilities which they have pursued for several years and which they continue. There is no evidence of any slackening of this military expansion in spite of Russian declarations about peaceful coexistence and rapprochement with the West.
It would seem that Soviet strategy today is to achieve their ends without direct confrontation, and therefore this military power may not primarily be intended for use in an all-out attack on the West. But even so, it provides the Soviet Union with a strong political leverage which, in the absence of Western solidarity, they would exercise over their Western European neighbours.
The Soviet concept of what should result from these negotiations can be inferred from their proposals for some kind of permanent pan-European institutional machinery to be created by a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and which would give them an opening for determining future developments in Western Europe as well as in the East. While pursuing our own aims, therefore, we should be well aware of these Russian goals and should not allow them to divide our Western countries nor to benefit from any divisions in our solidarity.
We should also be conscious of the fact that these developments-that is to say the continued prosperity of our countries and the openings toward detente with the East-will not necessarily contribute to the stability which we have enjoyed for so long. On the contrary, the greater freedom of movement between East and West which we hope to bring about will throw into focus the sharp differences between the opportunities and material benefits of life in the West and the rigid control and limited possibilities open to the ordinary man under the Eastern European communist regimes. We should realize that this situation contains many de-stabilizing elements, the results of which are not easy to predict.
But I also spoke at the opening of my remarks of the new situation with regard to our Transatlantic links, and I am sure that this group has this consideration very much in mind at the present time. You doubtlessly are aware of the disruptive effects on the Transatlantic relationship of Transatlantic problems in the economic, monetary and commercial fields, and you know as well as I do what these difficulties mean for the continued prosperity of countries which are so dependent on international trade. What I would like to call your attention to, however, is the interdependence between these Transatlantic economic ties and the security relationship among the member nations of the Alliance. Without the peace and security our countries in the North Atlantic area have enjoyed for 25 years, the material benefits which our societies now enjoy, and the standard of living which prevails in the West, would not have been possible.
But if it is true that our security brought about our prosperity, the converse unfortunately is not necessarily so. Prosperity does not of itself provide security. Indeed, if anything, the prosperity we have known has made many of our citizens regard the burdens of self-defence as irrelevant and unnecessary. Unfortunately, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have not yet arrived at a stage in East/West relations when our security can be ensured without the unified defence structure of NATO. And until the negotiations on which we are embarked lead to full concrete results and will eventually lead to a completely different ideological and military set-up and outlook of the communist bloc, we will have no choice but to maintain our defensive capabilities.
Nor is there an alternative to the Atlantic defence system. Certainly, the participation of the North American countries is an essential element in Western European defence and no thinking European would argue to the contrary. But Western European defence is every bit as essential to the security of the North American Allies. Your interests in Europe are fundamental. They are, of course, political and military, and also include financial, commercial and cultural aspects. But they are deeper than that, and are rooted in the ethnic relationship between the old countries of Europe and these vast and powerful North American countries which have been built by their immigrant sons.
All of these factors point toward one inevitable conclusion. During this great period of movement and possible instability; during this period which may bring important changes for both Europe and North America, and during these negotiations, both between East and West and across the Atlantic, we must do everything in our power to preserve the unity which we have maintained in earlier periods of difficulty and trial. This will be especially important during negotiations on monetary and economic problems with the enlarged Common Market, and I profoundly hope that those who will conduct these discussions will use the greatest understanding and moderation. This spirit of compromise will be essential if our Western solidarity is to be preserved and if the outcome of our talks with the East is to be in keeping with our ideals of stability, freedom and independence.
Perhaps I might ask General Legge, representing the Toronto branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society tonight if he would express the appreciation of all of us to his Excellency. General Legge.
Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. The Secretary-General did well to begin his words of wisdom to us tonight by noting the prosperity and the friendliness of Toronto. This is apparently an ethnic failing of the Dutch because another very famous Dutch person, Xaviera Hollander, "the happy hooker," followed the same practice and came to Toronto last week. I think the Secretary-General did this for entirely different reasons but you did well to put your words in the context of the young and particularly in the setting at this famous University. The young really don't comprehend the past and they have a difficult time with the present, perhaps this fable will illustrate. It concerns the University of Toronto of course . . . there was a particularly scurvy looking bearded fellow of unkempt appearance and ragged clothes who was a student here and he had tremendous resources of wealth and his more aggressive and attentive fellow students said-how can you possibly have money and look so awful, you don't work and you seem to be poor and he said well, the secret is this-I practise looking so awful and so unkempt and so dirty because my father always sends me money. And his friend said "well why would your father send you money when you behave so badly?" and he said "well it is really quite simple-I merely threaten to come home." In the case of the young, SecretaryGeneral, the horrors of war have never come home to them. How can they know the truth of Plato that only the dead have seen the end of war. How can they know what your distinguished predecessor Paul Henri Spaak knew that Stalin was the father of the North Atlantic Alliance. How can they know what you said which is that the party in Russia and in the Communist Countries is really a priority over the Government and therefore more absolute and more dangerous. These are things that the North Atlantic Council, The Royal Commonwealth Society and The Empire Club of Canada, stand for.
We were impressed with your plea for detente, we remember what you said about the Helsinki talks but like the Finns, in Canada we are pretty convinced that a small country will always have an army, its own or somebody else's, and in Canada we prefer to have our own. I think, Sir, that you can be certain that everyone in this room espouses the cause of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and that every one in this room will try to persuade Canadian Governments to support as they have in the past NATO of which you are the most distinguished Secretary-General. Thank you very much, Sir, for coming.
There are some Generals in the Canadian Army, Your Excellency, who not only are expert military men but also have a very gifted tongue and General Legge is certainly one of these. He has expressed, I know, more adequately than any of us could our appreciation for your being with us this evening.