Historical archive

Statement by H.E. Mr. Jan Petersen, Foreign Minister of Norway at the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, 4 December 2003

Historical archive

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(04.12.03)

Statement by H.E. Mr. Jan Petersen, Foreign Minister of Norway at the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, 4 December 2003

Dear George,

In Washington recently you quoted the text on a T-shirt you had received. It said; this ain’t your daddy’s NATO. That is quite right. We faced a choice between irrelevance and transformation. Thanks to your energy and talents, today nobody can doubt that the Alliance is relevant. It is a new NATO – and we are profoundly grateful to you.

The question has been raised if the Istanbul summit should be a consolidation summit or a forward looking summit. It must be both of course; demonstrate that we have taken the Prague commitments seriously and reflect that so much is happening as we meet in Istanbul, in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in the Balkans.In Istanbul we must take stock and show that we have a vision.

Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a credibility test. The main challenge is state-building. So, the Bonn-process must stay on track. We need a successful Constitutional Loya Jirga and we must push ahead with the election process. Both are of critical importance in order to create the broad sense of inclusion in the political process. And that sense of inclusion is needed to dry out support for warlords and extremism.

Greater security is a precondition for bringing the political process forward. We have heard the appeals, Mr. Chairman, for more resources from Kofi Annan, President Karzai and yourself. And we take them seriously. Norway has just deployed a company of 200 men and women to Kabul to assist in securing the Loya Jirga. These troops will stay on following parliamentary approval. We are examining the question of PRT – participation and look forward to studying the new military recommendations. And we are planning to send additional police trainers. (On the financial side, we have given Afghanistan partnership status in our development program. That implies a significant and longterm commitment.)

We favour a unified and well co-ordinated network for the PRTs under ISAF command. They must function as a magnet for other urgently needed activities. Together such efforts will contribute to bringing the authority of the central government to the regions. But a significant part of the problem lies in and around Kabul itself. Therefore, a successful DDR process in the capital will be an important test.

President Karzai urgently needs more support. We have limited resources available. Therefore, the resources we can mobilize must be used in a coherent way. The idea of a Bonn II conference has been raised. We would support that, provided that it is what the Afghan government wants and that we feel confident that it would bring the players together and revitalise our common efforts.

By Istanbul, we must be able to show that ISAF is fully up to the challenge and that we all have a coherent strategy.

Partnership.

Our relationship to the Central Asian countries has been of great value and will continue to be so. They are particularly vulnerable to instability in Afghanistan. And their assistance is critical to our success. This illustrates that we must keep our partnership concepts under transformation. Clearly, strong and differentiated partnership programmes are the right way to go. The US and the UK have table intresting ideas. We support a more permanent NATO presence in Central-Asia. And we would like to see a stronger NATO engagement in training and in reform efforts, paving the way for closer cooperation on the ground. Let us by Istanbul show that we have upgraded these ties.

We should also intensify our efforts towards the countries of the Caucasus. The events of the last weeks underline how important this is.

The Balkans.

The progress on defense reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina is indeed a breakthrough. And the wideranging reforms carried out by Belgrade are impressive. Nevertheless, it is too early to declare success. I am worried by the increased support for nationalistic forces in Serbia and Montenegro. And, of course, the unsolved Kosovo status issue has significant potential for spill-over outside Kosovo.

There can be no doubt that we need a reform- and western-oriented government in Belgrade with broad public support which can carry the heavy burden of Kosovo status negotiations.

Norway supports the integration of Belgrade into the PfP-framework. A policy of isolation is risky. Reform-oriented forces must be seen to have our full support. I hope that conditions will be met so that we can all agree to invite both Belgrade and Sarajevo to join the PfP in Istanbul.

NATO- EU relations.

The Istanbul summit should demonstrate that the strategic partnership between NATO and the EU is a strong and dynamic partnership.

To us there are two basics: First of all, that the Alliance will remain our main organisation protecting the security of its members. And second; that the strategic NATO-EU partnership is by far the most important relationship the Alliance has established. These fundamental facts must guide us.

The Berlin Plus arrangements represent a breakthrough – and a very recent one. It happened less than a year ago. Our experience so far with these arrangements, stemming from Operation Concordia, is positive.

Now, we must solidify these arrangements. Their potential must be exploited.As the Secretary General has said; Berlin Plus is a bargain – for the EU and for NATO. It offers the best guarantee for an efficient use of scarce resources, avoiding confusion or competition.

Norway will – in this spirit - support an EU-led military operation, based on Berlin Plus, in Bosnia and Herzegovina when NATO decides to terminate SFOR. We will consider to participate in this operation in accordance with the Berlin Plus arrangements.

With regard to the important work now underway in the EU, let me emphasize the need to ensure mutual contact and liaison arrangements between the two organisations. Access and transparency are of key importance to the success of our strategic partnership.

Allow me also to raise the new armaments agency now being established by the EU. Norway is a long-standing and reliable partner in European armaments cooperation and I would ask EU-partners to ensure that we can continue to play our role fully.

The Mediterranean dialogue and beyond.

We favor a deepening of the dialogue with Mediterranean partners. It would be wise to move forward step by step and first concentrate on deepening our co-operations with existing partners.

The Istanbul summit represents an opportunity to give a wider and convincing message of partnership. It should be a message of building bridges between ethnic groups, between religions and civilisations; an inclusive message. And no venue is better suited than Istanbul for such a message.

The challenges of the Middle East are not primarily of a military nature. Nevertheless, working together with other international organisation, NATO can play a constructive part.

It is of crucial importance to reinvigorate the peace efforts between the Palestinians and Israel. The vision of a two state solution is not coming closer – it is becoming more distant due to developments on the ground.

This trend must be reversed. If not, an important source for extremism will remain. This will continue to undermine other efforts we may make at overcoming divisions and combating new threats.