Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO, was speaking at a morning Carnegie Europe event on 19 September. In the sumptuous rooms of the Concert Noble, with the crème de la crème of participants, the now 4 years in term NATO SG spoke about flagship moments of his tenure: NATO’s new Strategic Concept, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and the Alliance’s future.
Syria was naturally on top of the agenda. Welcoming the US-Russia initiative to place Syria’s chemical weapons stocks under international control, Anders Fogh Rasmussen commented that such an agreement could not be reached without a strong military option. In his opinion, this threat not only facilitated the political and diplomatic process between the US and Russia, but also the acceptance of this option by Syrian authorities. However, he underlined that although the military option should remain on the table, it would not resolve the conflict as it could contradict regional dynamics and balances. In any case, “there is no doubt that the regime carried out the attacks of 21st August”.
Aghanistan is the longest coalition in modern history. Not only did it improve the security of the Euro-Atlantic area, but it is also a flagship of what modern collective defence is about. Taliban attacks are declining while the capacity and capability of Afghan security forces are increasing. NATO SG expressed himself confident that the ANSF will be able to assume full responsibility for the country after the withdrawal of ISAF troops. In addition, a long-term partnership will be established with Afghanistan subsequently to international troops’ departure.
What NATO for the future?
NATO remains the foundation on which any Member State can build an alliance, given the common experiences and infrastructures that create a “special bond” amongst participating states. But more importantly, NATO is a community of values, which requires credible military capabilities to efficiently defend them. In this perspective, NATO must:
– Maintain robust defence and deterrence capabilities
– Reaffirm the bond between Europe and North America, and rebalance the relationship
– Bolster the Alliance’s global perspective and work with partners to defend common values of democracy, Human Rights and rule of law.
Arguing that “some capabilities we have we don’t need, and some capabilities we need we don’t have”, NATO SG called for more, better, and coordinated spending in defence: prioritising, specialising and maintaining are the keywords of Smart Defence. He particularly underlined the need for Europeans to reinforce their intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, but also to acquire large transport and air-to-air refueling aircrafts. Indeed, the equation goes: “Strong NATO” = “Strong Europe”. He therefore expressed that he expected the December Council to express a strong commitment to the Commission’s position on defence.
Gently blinking to the uneven share of burden with Europeans and to decreasing defence budgets, Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that visiting South Korea and Japan, he realised that “these partners understand interdependence” and what cooperative security is.
All in all, it is the image of a confident, positive, and open Alliance that the SG conveyed. NATO is to be Ready, Robust and Rebalanced for the future, cooperation with regional organisations is aimed to increase (Arab League, GCC, African Union), within the framework of a newly developed truly global perspective on security.
Read Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s full speech here