Speech

Address by the Prime Minister of Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen The Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington May, 9, 2003

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Thank you, Mr. Metzner Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me here to speak today. The dedication of this impressive centre to the memory of President Wilson - a friend of Europe and one of the architects of the Europe we know today - seems to me to be an excellent opportunity to share a few of my thoughts on the subject of relations between Europe and the United States as I see them today.

First, the Euro-Atlantic Community as I see it.

I think it is true to say that America and Europe have reached a crossroads in their relations. It could be argued that this is the case regardless of the recent diplomatic crisis over Iraq in the United Nations Security Council and in NATO. I say this because recent events were preceded by a number of changes in the world order as we have known it since the end of the Second World War. The end of the period usually described as the Post Cold War Era has come to an end. In a very real sense, this marks a major staging post of a journey begun under the internationalist statesmanship of Woodrow Wilson in his work to solve the problems raised at the end of the First World War with his famous Fourteen Points. The Wilsonian vision for Europe after the Great War, developed at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, was of a free Europe of sovereign states, self-determination for a reborn Poland; the establishment of new nation-states such as Czechoslovakia, the Baltic countries and nations arising from the ashes of the Hapsburg, Czarist and Ottoman Empires. However, the journey has been a long one. Longer than he could ever have imagined. For who could have foreseen the Nazi scourge or the vast Communist Empire which swallowed so many of these new nations of Woodrow Wilson’s creation? But now his vision has been fulfilled. Perhaps also in a way he could never have imagined. For a start, many of these nations are now members of NATO. Something which we, here, could never have believed possible only 10-15 years ago. A membership now confirmed by the ratification of the enlargement of NATO, just passed by the U.S. Senate.

In place of the old empires, the totalitarian states, the bloody unrest of the 20th Century, the nations of Central and Eastern Europe have now received from America a guarantee for their freedom and democracy. A century of uncertainty for the nations situated between Germany and Russia, the region that sparked two World Wars, has ended. Their security is assured. However, another major achievement for Europe was reached almost simultaneously at the European Union Summit, over which I had the honour to preside in Copenhagen last December. For, having freed themselves of the yoke of totalitarian government, the same countries freely took the step to join their fellow Europeans in the European Union. We solemnly formalised this step with 25 signatures under the Accession Treaty in Athens a few weeks ago, thus ensuring unity and prosperity for our continent. Although these two processes were quite different in nature and scope, they surely were related in their ultimate aim: creating a stable and peaceful Continent of Europe. However, having secured this achievement, we can by no means say that we have reached an end state in the construction of the Euro-Atlantic community. We cannot rest on our laurels. As I said before, we have reached a crossroads, not the end-station.

The European Union will grow stronger on the global scene because we in Europe want to take our share of the global responsibility. A stronger European Union will be a better partner to the United States in achieving our common goals.

* * *

“Out of area or out of business” was the slogan used by senator Richard Lugar in the middle of the 1990’ies to describe what lay ahead for the Atlantic Alliance. He was right: NATO’s main task in the last half of that decade was to bring peace and stability to the Western Balkans, outside the area of application foreseen in the Treaty. Indeed, such an application would never have been envisaged when the alliance was formed. Until recently, the notion of NATO taking on a security role in Afghanistan would have been rejected by most as both unrealistic and undesirable. Yet it is happening. I believe we should be ready to consider further such roles for NATO, if they can be found, as part of the stabilisation of Iraq and in solving the seemingly impossible task of bring peace and stability to the West Bank/Palestine. Needless to say, establishing a meaningful presence of the Alliance at such distances is an ambitious undertaking. It underscores the need to fulfil the commitments made at the Prague Summit to enhance the capabilities of NATO. Not necessarily to spend more on defence, but do it in a more effective and targeted way.

To some in the U.S. administration, “the mission determines the coalition, not the other way around”. For Denmark, and most of our partners in Europe, this line causes some concern. We are attached, indeed committed, to multilateralism for the simple reason that, as individual nations, we are in no position to stand alone in matters of international security. For the United States, too, the availability of allied forces able to function together under well-rehearsed procedures in common structures retains considerable political value. Even with its overwhelming military potential, America can and does benefit by including its allies in security operations. And I have no hesitation in saying that I have always believed that the United States is both a friend and an ally. And you don’t turn your back on your friends. So, within the relatively modest means at her disposal, Denmark has joined U.S.-led coalitions of the willing on many occasions. At the same time, we stress the need to use the various forums of the Alliance for political consultation. This framework was created over the course of many years and it has served us well. On the other hand, we have to come to terms with the fact that the lack of unity seen in the UN Security Council also fully manifested itself in the North Atlantic Council. Greater flexibility in Alliance decision making may be worth considering, at least on issues marginal to the Treaty. In particular, we could consider the notion of coalitions of the willing inside the Alliance. I accept that more flexibility would probably mean a certain loosening of NATO, but that might be preferable to deadlock.

* * *

This leads me to another of our great institutions, shaken to its roots by a distressing show of disunity. I deeply regret that it proved impossible to maintain the unity of the Security Council in the face of Saddam Hussein’s blatant refusal to render the immediate, active and unconditional cooperation required by resolution 1441. The months which have passed since President Bush made his case in New York on September 12th of last year should have been sufficient to deal with Iraq’s failure over the preceding 12 years to comply with the demands of the international community. Had the Security Council faced its responsibility, the use of force might well have been avoided. As it turned out, the coalition took action to finish the job Saddam Hussein never intended to complete. In the opinion of the Danish government, the military action was based on sufficient authority and legitimacy under existing resolutions. It was the right course to take. We therefore not only supported the operation. We participated with naval assets. And now, an army contingent is preparing to take part in the stabilisation force currently being established. We will also contribute by providing Danish police, and we have offered to pay our fair share of the costs for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. Will the diplomatic failure in the Security Council mean that the United Nations will suffer the fate of the League of Nations, and fade into irrelevance? I really hope not. This is certainly not the outcome we favour. So what can we do? Together with our European partners, we advocate a central role for the UN in the future of Iraq, making use of the organisation’s capacity for post-conflict nation building and the expertise of its specialised agencies in relief and other operations. The expertise is there, the organisational skills are there, let us use them. However, some tasks in Iraq have to be tackled immediately without waiting for decisions in New York. We have therefore decided that the Danish contingent in the stabilisation force will be dispatched to Iraq as soon as possible. The needs of the Iraqi population come first. Sanctions should be lifted now – immediately. We should concentrate on the first priority – namely feeding and caring for the Iraqi people.

* * *

The Danish government believes that there is a central role for the United Nations to play in Iraq. However, we also feel bound to admit that the defeat of the Security Council in this crisis should make us consider the role of the UN in our age.

We have to face facts. In to-day’s world, one power – and one power alone - has a total and global reach. Of course, there are also other major powers. But they enjoy only partial or regional dominance. We must keep this in mind and be thankful that this one superpower is a great source of democracy, freedom and human rights.

And, when we look at the reality of our world today, we see one superpower surrounded by a number of regional powers or political unions. The US may play a global role in ensuring peace and stability – but it does so through interaction and cooperation with one or more of these regional powers.

However, this relatively new world order makes far heavier demands than before on our leading powers. I don’t believe in sweeping institutional reforms which risk “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. But, on the other hand, we need some principles or rules to act as guidelines for the conduct of major powers if freedom, peace and stability are to take root across the world. I would summarize these rules of conduct in four points:

1. The United States should remain committed to multilateralism. None of us doubts that the US has the economic and military power to handle conflicts on its own, if necessary. But it is surely in its own interest to ensure the political and moral legality of its actions. Through sticking to the principle of rule of law in international politics, the democratic super power will act as a good example to others when the use of force is required. Tyrants and those with less noble motives and a lack of respect for internationally accepted norms will then have no excuse for taking the law into their own hands.

2. The major powers should actively secure the ability of the Security Council to make necessary decisions. Deadlock leads to paralysis - and the inability to reach a decision then blocks the multilateral road. It is time for the major powers to realize their common interests and responsibilities.

3. Regional powers should combine their efforts with those of America in order to solve regional conflicts. As China does in the case of the Korean Peninsula. Or the European Union which has just taken over the peace keeping force in Macedonia, and, possibly, the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia. No one really stands to gain from a perceived American “imperial overstretch”.

4. America should wield its “soft” power to the same extent as its “hard” variety. This means utilizing the vast resources and expertise of the United States in solving the problems of world poverty and compromised environments. In encouraging and contributing to nation-building whilst maintaining respect for national preferences and cultural traditions.

How to formalise such working relations in the UN is by no means obvious. However, I promise to do my utmost to improve the effectiveness and credibility of the Security Council if Denmark is entrusted with the responsibility of a temporary seat in 2005-6.

Europe and America cannot afford the recent sharp disunity in the Security Council. Our interests are best served in the framework of reinforced multilateral cooperation and a rules-based international order.

* * *

In 1914, president Wilson said: “When properly directed, there is no people not fitted for self-government”. That is as true now as it was when he uttered those words those many years ago. When people are granted real freedom of choice, they choose democracy over every other form of government. The military campaign in Iraq should be the prelude to a concerted transatlantic effort to help improve political, economic and social conditions in the Greater Middle East. In this perspective, it is crucial that reconstruction in Iraq and the transition to self-rule be successfully managed by the United States and the international community. The long-term goal must be to bring about more democratic, just and tolerant methods of governance in the region as well as a strengthened basis for dialogue between cultures. Such a modernised Greater Middle East should cease to be a breeding ground for political or religious extremism and terrorism. But this can only be achieved by a combination of good governance and mutual tolerance – not one-sided tolerance. This exercise in conflict prevention is strategic in its scope and will require a major investment in resources, time and perseverance. It has been set in motion by the Bush administration, which deserves credit for formulating its policy in appropriately broad terms. There are many substantial ways Europe can cooperate in this long term project. America and Europe should join forces and engage the region in an effort to

  • improve educational systems, notably with secular programmes
  • develop the private sector through the opening of markets and targeted programmes for small and medium-sized businesses
  • develop the social sector
  • assist in improving democratic and human rights’ standards
  • reform judicial systems, anticorruption measures
  • trengthen civic society, and
  • help strengthen gender programmes with a view to increase the participation of women in society.

It is particularly important to make sure that our work in the Islamic world will not be perceived there as cultural imperialism, or the imposition of alien “crusading” values. Renewal must take place on terms acceptable to the people concerned or it will never succeed. I would argue that we have been through a similar long term process before - and with success. In the 1970’ies and 1980’ies, the East was engaged by the West (including the United States) in Greater Europe in the CSCE – conference on security and cooperation. It was largely due to this process that the political, military, economic and human barriers of the Cold War were removed. Without it, the Wall might never have come down peacefully in 1989. History never exactly repeats itself. But we may allow ourselves to be guided by the achievements of the past. It would be eminently sensible to make another attempt at engaging the countries in the Greater Middle East in a similar process. Organise it in the same three “baskets” on issues of security, economic liberty and human rights. Point the region in the direction of a modern success story building on its strong economic and human potential.

* * *

For this positive scenario to be realised, there is a major and immediate hurdle to overcome. In order to gain confidence in the Arab/Islamic world, a breakthrough in solving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has to take place, and soon. In the eyes of the Arab world there can be no peace in the Middle East without a solution to this problem. It is the key to peace and stability in the entire area. We all know what needs to be done. President Bush made it clear in his visionary speech in the Rose Garden on June 24th last year. During the Danish EU Presidency we worked together at translating that vision into a Road Map explaining the steps each side had to take in order to achieve the end goal. Two states, Israel and Palestine, living along side each other in peace and security. In December last year the Quartet agreed on the joint Road Map which was eventually handed over to the parties last week. Now is the time to start implementing the two-state solution. Since the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians re-escalated more than two years ago, more than 750 Israelis and over 2000 Palestinians have died. Both peoples are in urgent need of peace, security, relief from economic and social misery. The proposed solution would benefit all but the extremists. As in all genuine solutions, both sides must be prepared to give and take. The Palestinians must maintain the course toward political and administrative reform and establish a single security structure acceptable to Israel. And, vitally, the use of terror must be abandoned forever. This must be made crystal clear to all concerned. Israel, on her part, must take concrete steps to support the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and work quickly towards a final status agreement. As president Bush has stressed, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end. New settlements must be dismantled. Israel must accept the rights of the Palestinians and make its own citizens understand that they do not have the divine right to take that which isn’t theirs. Unlike the Oslo process, the Road Map is time and performance based. It will come to a standstill if either side fails to live up to its obligations. It has the support of the international community, who should monitor its implementation through an appropriate mechanism. We all know that the United States holds a unique position in relation to the parties of this negotiation. President Bush has our support in his efforts to convince them to follow the course and the timeline set out.

* * *

Ladies and gentlemen,

As I have already noted, America and Europe cannot afford the kind of disunity shown recently. We have lots of common concerns and must address them together. Many of them are life-and-death problems that will not be solved by any single country, even one as mighty, benign and influential as our main ally, the United States of America.

We know these pressing tasks all too well. Besides the ones I have mentioned, there is the continued fight against terrorism; the need to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction; bringing the WTO Doha development round to a successful conclusion; fighting global poverty.

So how does a country like Denmark fit into all this? History and geography have made us what we are. A northern member of the European Union and a founding member of NATO with a strong attachment to a national identity that, at times, in the more or less distant past has come under threat. This attachment has sometimes been translated into positions of reservations, opt-outs and footnotes. There have been many reasons for this, too numerous to go into now. But the bottom line is that my government wishes to depart from this tradition of reluctance. We feel that we have a role to play and we wish to play it. Denmark has been at the forefront of NATO’s peace-support operations and the outreach to Central and Eastern Europe. We take an ambitious view of the role that the new, enlarged EU can play in domestic and world politics. At the same time, our commitment to transatlantic cooperation is undiminished. For Denmark, European integration and Euro-Atlantic cooperation are two parallel policies which can and must be followed at the same time. They are two parts of the route to peace and are by no means mutually contradictory.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to close on the following note: We, Europe and the United States, may have had a rather serious family quarrel – but this does not mean that divorce is in the air. I found myself on the one side of this disagreement. What unites us, though, is still stronger than what may, at times, divide us. We still have our shared goals, our visions and hopes. So let us unite in adhering to the rules of conduct I have presented here, today. Let us make a concerted effort to achieve the unity of views and purpose that will allow us to progress along the road to reach our final destination. The ultimate defeat of the League of Nations, of Woodrow Wilson’s hopes for a peaceful world order in the 20th century, warns us not to take such progress for granted.

The journey started with his dream. We may stumble, or lose our way, but we must never lose sight of our ultimate goal – a world united in peace and unity. Let’s not let him down.

Thank you for your attention.