At the Summit in Strasbourg and Kehl
on 4 April 2009, NATO Heads of State and Government tasked the Secretary General to develop a new NATO Strategic Concept. The current Strategic Concept
was approved at the Washington Summit in 1999.
But what is the Strategic Concept and why it is important? The Strategic Concept is the authoritative statement of the Alliance’s objectives and provides the highest level of guidance on the political and military means to be used in achieving them. It also describes NATO’s fundamental security tasks and is the basis for the implementation of Alliance policy as a whole. It is therefore, one of the key policy documents of the Alliance.
The process leading to the new NATO Strategic Concept was launched yesterday, July 7, 2009 at the major security conference in Brussels under the authority of the NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. This process will engage all Allies in a major intellectual exercise and will examine all aspects of NATO in the run-up to the next summit.
The conference was attended by NATO's current Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who gave a introductory speech, NATO Secretary General designate, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen and a broad range of representatives from Allied and Partner governments, NATO structures, international organizations, civil society, including parliaments, the corporate sector, NGOs, think tanks, academia and the media.
Some interesting excerpts from the Introductory Remarks of Secretary General (you can also watch a video on NATO Channel here):
"First and foremost, I hope the new Strategic Concept will finally lay to rest the notion that there is any distinction between security at home and security abroad. Globalisation has abolished the protection that borders or geographical isolation from crisis areas used to provide. Article 5, as I have said, can apply outside NATO territory as much as inside. Today the challenge is not to defend our territory but our populations; and they, unlike our territory, move around. Our challenge is not just to make our populations secure, but feel secure – a much more complicated task which, to my mind, necessitates a much better job of communicating NATO’s activities and real achievements to our publics. "
"Massive budget deficits are going to make it harder for governments to sustain long and costly foreign interventions or state reconstruction missions. Our publics will also be more demanding in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan that we really do have the right motivations and the right strategies before we launch interventions. In the second decade of the 21st century the bar will be higher than it was in the 1990s at a time when war was supposed to be without tears. So for our governments, the choice between sending soldiers abroad or buying modern equipment will become even more acute. We will need to do a better job of avoiding crises and interventions where we can. This has always been a desirable objective but it will increasingly be a financial one as well. NATO is good at responding after the fact; but it is not so good at anticipation and prevention. A stitch in time always saves nine. It is a lesson we need to absorb by doing better in consulting about deteriorating situations and potential flash points and improving our overall quality of political consultations and debate. We also need to share much more intelligence in the Alliance and have more political discussion of – and action on – the many good analyses that the civil and military experts in NATO Headquarters regularly produce."
On NATO's Partnerships: "One of the things that I am most satisfied with during my watch has been the continued growth of NATO’s partnerships, particularly outside Europe, in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf, and the Asia-Pacific region. A NATO without Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue, or the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative has become unthinkable. Many of our partners are with us today and will take part in our Strategic Concept debates. Rightly so, for Partners are no longer outside the NATO community, but inside; making indispensable contributions not only to the Partnership activities but also to NATO’s core business, such as military operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo or the Mediterranean. But I believe we are far from getting the best value out of our partnerships. Our political consultations beyond operations have too often become stale and ritualistic when there is so much quality analysis and experience that we should be exchanging on a regular basis. The value of our Partners to us must not be linked only to how many troops they contribute to ISAF or KFOR. Partners have an intrinsic value in their own right and we need to be much more imaginative in cooperating on other challenges: energy security, proliferation, cyber, terrorism – to name but the most obvious. Here again the new Strategic Concept has to move partnerships to the next generation."
About NATO-EU relationship "Our missions, our geographical areas of interest, our capabilities – even our problems and our deficiencies – are increasingly overlapping – not to speak of our memberships. Our definition of the security challenges and the means to tackle them is also increasingly a shared one. " [...] "But I will leave my office in three weeks’ time frankly disappointed that a true strategic partnership that makes such eminent sense for both organisations has still not come about, even though many of the old obstacles – the hesitations about the ESDP, France’s non-integration in the Alliance – have now been lifted. I am convinced that if – in a world where wealth, power and influence are more diffuse and where there are new global powers emerging outside the North Atlantic area – North America and Europe are to defend their values and interests and solve the challenges, then we will need to do a much better job of combining the complementary assets of NATO and the EU. We should work together where necessary, not just where we can."
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