Speech by Minister of State Werner Hoyer at the SWP Conference on NATO's New Strategic Concept, 16. 9. 2010

17.09.2010 - Speech

Minister of State Werner Hoyer held the following speech on NATO's New Strategic Concept at the “XXI. NATO Strategic Review Conference” organized by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin on 16 September 2010.

-- Translation of advance text--

First of all I would like to thank you, Ambassador Dezcallar de Mazarredo, for hosting this dinner, as well as the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik for organizing this important and very timely conference. The SWP Strategic Review Conference has a remarkable tradition to discuss major security policy issues in an informal setting.

The moment of this year's gathering could not have been chosen better. I am delighted to have the opportunity tonight to share with you some ideas on NATO's future set-up.

At its Summit meeting in Lisbon in November, NATO will agree on a new Strategic Concept. The Secretary General is expected to present a first draft by the end of this month. He has set his preference on a brief and concise document that can be understood by the general public and yet provide a clear strategic guidance for NATO's foreseeable future.

So what can we expect from the new Strategic Concept?

The founding ideals of the Alliance and the key issues of the current Strategic Concept of 1999 are still valid. In spite of that, the world is facing new, increasingly global threats such as international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and cyber-attacks.

It is against this background that the new Strategic Concept will have to give guidance and forge a new strategic consensus where the Alliance should go in the next 10 to 15 years. On the basis of these general considerations I would like to make more specific remarks on five key issues we have to face in our work on a new Strategic Concept.

First: How much Article 5 does NATO need ?

None of NATO's member states questions that the Washington Treaty remains the solid base on which the Alliance rests. The Washington Treaty has set out the essential and enduring purpose of the Alliance: to safeguard and defend - by political and military means - the security and freedom of its members.

The core commitment as embodied in Article 5 will remain the clear frame of reference for the Alliance. Given political geography and the different historic experiences of NATO member states, it is understandable and legitimate that Allies differ with regard to their need for reassurance.

However, NATO is more than a defensive Alliance. It is a security Alliance. Our ambition should be to strengthen further pan-European security. The clear focus on deterrence and reassurance should not in any way neglect other elements of cooperative security, namely partnerships, confidence and security building, arms control and disarmament.

Reassurance and cooperative security with Russia go hand in hand. In the recent past, there are encouraging signs to cast off the ballast of history and to embark on a more sober and pragmatic relationship with Russia.
We should also cautiously examine the implications of considering Article 5 in connection with new threats and challenges, such as cyber-attacks.

In order to keep the Article 5 guarantee credible, it will be important to maintain a clear distinction between collective defence operations and other Alliance action. Participation in non-Article 5 operations must be decided on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the national constitution and laws, in particular as regards the role of Parliament in the decision process.

Second: NATO's perimeter of action: focus on Euro- Atlantic security or global security provider ?

It is beyond any doubt that the Alliance has a role to play with regard to new and emerging challenges. NATO must have the capacity to act as and where required. Often, an effective defense against new threats must begin well beyond its territory. But the Alliance is by no means the sole answer to every problem affecting international security. We do not believe that NATO has a universal responsibility. And quite simply it also does not have unlimited means.

The Washington Treaty does not provide for responsibilities at a global scale. NATO's action must therefore remain clearly linked to safeguarding the security of the Euro-Atlantic area in order to ensure the greatest possible support at home. Despite the need to adapt NATO's strategy to global security risks, we firmly believe that international legitimacy is key. The Alliance must be committed to the purposes and principles of the UN-Charter and to international law. And we should say so in the new Strategic Concept.

We should also reiterate the Alliance's continued willingness to use its capabilities in peacekeeping measures under UN auspices.

Third: The future of NATO's nuclear deterrence and a renewed commitment to arms control and disarmament.

Security can not be assured by military means alone. Since the Harmel Report, NATO has always followed a broad approach to security, which recognizes the importance of political and other factors in addition to the indispensable defence dimension.

After a period of neglect, disarmament and arms control have gained new momentum in the last months as highlighted by the signing of the New START agreement.

The US Nuclear Posture Review with its reflections on reduced salience of nuclear weapons and President Obama's vision on global zero have set further goal posts, while deterrence remains an essential element in the security equation. These elements should be reflected in the new Strategic Concept.

NATO should not stay on the sidelines but rather join the discussion actively. We need to think whether nuclear deterrence will give us the right answers in the future. One of the strengths of the Alliance has always been to adjust its policies and posture. Adaptability is not in contradiction to effective reassurance, quite the contrary.

In this vein, the Foreign Ministers of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany have initiated substantial discussions at the Informal Foreign Ministers Meeting in Tallinn in April, including the issue of substrategic nuclear weapons. The aim was to start a broad debate on NATO's nuclear policies.

The new Strategic Concept will give important guidance on NATO's nuclear policies. It will not close the debate, neither at the international nor at the domestic level. We are well aware of – sometimes diverging - discussions in Member States on the issue. Nevertheless, let me share with you my conviction that a clear commitment by the Alliance to embrace the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons as a long-term political objective would strengthen our credibility.

Another feature to take into account is the emergence of new conventional capabilities, namely missile defense. Missile defense could complement and strengthen deterrence while further reducing the reliance on nuclear weapons in NATO's overall strategy. I look forward to a follow-on process initiated by the Lisbon Summit; a process of in-depth consideration of issues such as transparency, confidence-building, arms control and adaptation of NATO's posture.

Fourth: NATO's role in crisis management - the comprehensive approach.

Since 1999, the Alliance is confronted with new and often hybrid risks and challenges and has engaged in complex operations in Europe and at strategic distance. Especially the experience in Afghanistan provides NATO with valuable lessons learned – sometimes the hard way.

Stability cannot be achieved by military means alone. And NATO is by no means well suited for every task. Successful crisis management requires an integrated and comprehensive approach. NATO is willing to play its role and has made remarkable progress in cooperating with other actors. Key responsibilities for stabilization and reconstruction regularly lie with other actors, notably local governments or the United Nations. On the other hand, NATO may be required in support of these other organisations.

Therefore, NATO needs to enhance its capacity to cooperate with other international actors, especially the EU and the UN, as well as with NGO's and other civilian actors. However, the Alliance does not need to develop its own civilian capabilities, but must develop its capacity to interface effectively with other partners.

Unfortunately, the current state of NATO/EU relations does not allow for this cooperation to achieve its full potential. We must change this and overcome this completely inacceptable situation. Blockages must be resolved. A large overlap in memberships and interests call for a close and strategic cooperation in particular in crisis management.

Fifth: Building cooperative security - a new chapter for NATO-Russia relations.

Russia and NATO are neighbours and partners in a world of complex and globalised threats. The last 10 years have seen substantial “ups” and “downs” in our relations - to name but a few: cooperation in combating terrorism, the foundation of the NATO-Russia Council, the second round of NATO enlargement or the Georgian crisis.

Although NATO members might view Russia from different perspectives, which is more than understandable, there is no alternative to building a strategic partnership. And this is true beyond issues of immediate concern to NATO such as Afghanistan. Russia is an important actor in international security and – take Iran as an example – in many ways a constructive partner.

The NATO-Russia strategic partnership must be based on shared interests, mutual confidence, transparency and predictability. The NATO-Russia Council provides the framework for consultation that we have to fill with concrete substance. Therefore, the Alliance should fully exploit the potential of dialogue, cooperation and concrete joint action with Russia.

Despite all political controversy on the broader issue of missile defence, the cooperation on theatre missile defense has been successful in the past. The Obama Administration has started with a fresh approach to missile defense in Europe offering another chance to turn a divisive issue into a cooperative one.

We have the major opportunity to open a new chapter in NATO-Russia relations. We must seize this opportunity and pragmatically cooperate with Russia as far as possible, including through concrete new projects.

In conclusion: NATO has always been more than a defence alliance. It has been a community of partners sharing the same values. NATO's success rests upon two pillars: the concept of the indivisibility of security in the Euro-Atlantic area and the two-fold approach to security, that is to say military strength and confidence-building through dialogue and cooperation.

The Alliance has met the challenges in the past. I am confident that the new Strategic Concept will provide NATO and its Allies with the required strategic guidance in order to continue to fulfil challenging tasks in the future.

Thank you.

Related content


Top of page