Speech

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's speech at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the NATO Summit in Prague, November 21-22 2002

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Today is truly a historic moment. Today we leave the remains of the cold war division of Europe behind us. But we also make an investment in the future security and integration of the Euro-Atlantic area.

I wish to warmly welcome our coming new members.

It is truly remarkable that three of the invited countries, namely the three Baltic countries, were republics in the former Soviet Union.

History has changed. And so indeed has the agenda of NATO. Let me stress: Our enlargement is not directed against Russia. It is an effort to heal and integrate Europe. We all have an interest in this process. Russia will also benefit.

In three weeks, many of us will gather again in Copenhagen for an EU Summit. We aim at concluding negotiations with up to ten candidate countries, enabling them to join the European Union.

Prague and Copenhagen will indeed be of unprecedented historical importance for European integration, for freedom, peace and prosperity on our continent.

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We all want NATO to remain our core security provider. That is why we are here. We need to adapt our Alliance to the new security environment. We need military capabilities that enable us to defend against threats and challenges whenever and wherever needed.

In today’s globalised world those who intend to do us harm are no longer discouraged by geography or by traditional deterrence. Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and missiles are the new threats. We have to guard against that.

NATO is the core of transatlantic relations. In a world where attacks on our societies can come out of the blue, the Alliance must provide credible security to both Europe and North America. The cohesion of NATO is a reflection of our will to act. We must meet the challenge of providing credible military capabilities for any given operation.

To that end, we are today making a number of important and far-reaching decisions.

The establishment of a NATO Response Force will provide us with the capability of instant action. This Response Force will be a visible and credible expression of our determination to act as an Alliance against any threat. Flexibility is also the reason why we need new NATO command arrangements.

We need capabilities to our future tasks. We need multinational cooperation, pooling of resources and careful specialisation. Such solutions will also contribute to making our Alliance even more coherent and integrated. Denmark stands ready to make her contribution.

Our territories and populations are the potential targets of the new threats. With the military concept for defence against terrorism, we are making it clear that we are determined to do what is possible to counter any act of terrorism. We are also taking important steps to examine missile defence options to defend against the full range of missile threats. Denmark supports this open and multilateral process. And we support anchoring missile defence in NATO.

In adapting our defence, we must never lose sight of the basic principles upon which NATO is based. We are founded on the principles of the UN Charter, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. We came into being because of the need to protect the humane and legal order that rose out of the ruins of World War II. This moral legacy is as valid as ever.

Enlargement and the enhancement of our military capabilities and structures to counter threats against our territories and populations are crucial and necessary contributions. So is our partnership with Russia and other partners. These initiatives secure that NATO will continue to be the most successful Alliance in history.