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Speech by Dr. Javier Solana,
13 May 1998

NATO and European Security into the 21st Century


 (...) Of course, we may still argue over specific policies. That is natural. But we do so within the framework of certain widely accepted precepts. And of these precepts, one of the most important is that NATO is an instrument of fundamental strategic value -- and it is here to stay. Why does NATO remain in business? Because it offers us a unique tool to shape the strategic environment creatively -- and in ways we could not have imagined only a few years ago. 

But we can't just use this instrument aimlessly. It must be task-oriented. It must address and respond to the security challenges of today and in the future. If NATO is to remain as relevant to security in the 21st century as it has been in the second half of the 20th, we must address three major challenges. 

First, to overcome once and for all Europe's historical division by firmly integrating Central and Eastern Europe into our political, economic and security structures. 

Second, to help Russia find its rightful place in this emerging new architecture. 

Third, to provide stability for those areas of Europe where the end of the Cold War has not yet brought the benefits it has yielded elsewhere. 

To manage these three tasks successfully is the key to a stable 21st century. Each of these tasks is far too challenging for NATO to handle alone. Other institutions -- the EU [European Union], the Council of Europe, the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe], the UN [United Nations] -- all have vital roles to play. Yet without NATO, none of these tasks could be tackled with any measure of confidence. 

The opportunity to draw this continent closer together is there. And NATO has created the policies to help us realize it: partnership, cooperation and enlargement. (...)

The fundamental logic of NATO enlargement is now widely accepted. NATO's enlargement is part and parcel of Europe's post-Cold War reconstruction. We have made it clear that enlargement is not a one-off process. No decisions have been made about when further invitations to join NATO may be issued, or to whom. But one thing is clear. NATO's door will remain open. 

This process of reconstruction would remain incomplete if it did not embrace Europe's largest country -- Russia. 

Indeed, how Russia settles herself in this new Europe is perhaps the single most important issue of European security today. That is why our major Western institutions must seek to constructively engage this country. But how? It seems to me that the debate on how to engage Russia is still conducted in extremes -- extremes which I would characterize as the social engineers on the one hand, and the fatalists on the other. 

The social engineers believe that Russia's future is largely determined by Western policies. I find this a highly condescending position. It treats Russia as if she was unable to have a mind of her own. Most importantly, this position holds Europe hostage to Russia's domestic evolution. And it relegates the legitimate aspirations of Central and Eastern Europe to a mere afterthought. (...)