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Ambassador Djeréjian, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to this prestigious and renowned university today. It is an honour and a privilege to be here.
Yesterday, at the Holocaust Museum in Houston, I received an award on behalf of the people of Denmark commemorating the events of 60 years ago, when many of my fellow-countrymen acted to save our Jewish community from Nazi persecution.
The award bears the name of one of the great sons of Texas, Lyndon B. Johnson. When accepting this award I compared his moral achievement in creating the “Great Society” in the 1960’s to the civic duty preformed by countless Danes in 1943, when they helped rescue most of our Jewish population.
But, of course, Lyndon B. Johnson is not the only great Texan. Another is Secretary Baker.
After a generation of service, at many senior levels of government, he is still an active statesman.
In Europe, he is mainly remembered as one of the chief architects of our security after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany. I think we could safely say that the enlargement of the European Union, which takes effect 10 days from now, may be said to owe a great deal to his steady hand at the helm of U.S. foreign policy during that crucial period.
But his work does not stop there. James Baker was, and still is, active is the troubled area of the Middle East. I would, therefore, if I may, like to say a few words about the present situation in the Middle East before moving on to my second theme, the transatlantic relationship.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I think that we are all agreed that the challenges facing both the United States and Europe today are of a radically different nature than those of the Cold War.
Throughout the 1990’s, we struggled to adapt to a state of affairs without a single adversary or guiding principle to keep our alliance together. In our relief at the end of the Cold War era we were, perhaps, slow in realising that we were being faced with a new crisis. Namely, nationalism, ethnic hatred and instability in South East Europe.
A first, we did not regard the unfolding events as a menace of such magnitude as to warrant the use of force. But we all know what happened and just what it took to restore some semblance of peace to the Balkans. Albeit an uneasy one. We are grateful to the United States for the role it has played in this area from the middle of the decade to the present time.
Terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were certainly in focus during those same years. But, even so, India’s and Pakistan’s acquisition of a nuclear capability and North Korea’s attempts at nuclear blackmail failed to galvanise us into a general reassessment of Western Strategy.
It took the terrible events of 9/11 to do that. Especially in this, your country, where they took place. The emotions and determination felt by the American people post 9/11are deep and lasting. A fact that we, in Europe, do not always fully appreciate, although our initial expressions of deeply felt sympathy and solidarity were, and are, truly genuine. We were all in a state of shock because, for the first time since the darkest days of the Cold War, America was under mortal threat.
In Europe, there was a more mixed reaction to unfolding events. I think that we all felt, and feel, that the new global challenges presented us with problems just as difficult to solve as the long standoff with the Soviet Union. However, there was considerably less unanimity about which of these problems should or could be dealt with by the use of military force. Many Europeans have had their own cross to bear when it comes to military might.
My country, Denmark, is among the nations which have acted on the basis of the conviction that Europe and America have far more to gain as allies than as neutrals, competitors or even adversaries. Especially in a situation just as, if not more, complicated and dangerous than during our shared trials of the past.
Therefore, when the United States requested our assistance in combating terrorism in Afghanistan, we gave a positive response and contributed within our means, which are relatively modest considering that our population is not much larger that that of Houston’s metropolitan area.
Our special forces took part in difficult combat operations and our fighter aircraft provided close air support in the Afghan mountains. We are proud of their performance. Denmark also joined the coalition in Iraq, where we have a contingent in the British sector outside Basra. I recently visited our troops there and can report that they are doing a splendid job.
But working together post-9/11 means more than taking military measures. In tackling the terrorist threat, we have to address its root causes, which are manifold.
Miserable living conditions and poor governance in a number of, mainly, Arab countries have created a sense of hopelessness. Leading to breeding grounds for extremism and fanaticism. A commitment to apply political, economic and social measures is urgently needed to deal with these conditions and their causes.
More, perhaps, than any other single issue, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict demonstrates the limitations of the military instrument in resolving an underlying political issue. The longstanding and tragic situation we see today is undeniably a major contributory factor to islamist terrorism. It has to be faced and dealt with.
Without American leadership this cannot be done.
Despite the all too apparent difficulties in implementing the Quartet Road Map for a two-state solution, adopted after President Bush’s visionary speech in June 2002, it remains the only agreed basis we have for reaching a peaceful and negotiated settlement to this conflict.
We have noted the plans for Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and President Bush’s statement last week. Withdrawals may represent a welcome step towards resolving conflict but this depends on the context in which they take place. They must not leave behind a trail of chaos. Ultimately, a final settlement bringing lasting stability and security to both Israel and the Palestinian people can only be achieved through negotiations. This would include any adjustments to the pre-1967 borders, which was also suggested by President Bush.
The United States enjoys an unsurpassed position of influence with the parties in the region. We rely on, and will strongly encourage and support a renewed American commitment, even in this election year, to use that privileged position to make the two-state solution a reality.
The increased U.S. presence in the central part of the Middle Eastern region is obviously a factor which cannot be ignored in this equation. No stone must be left unturned in overcoming the present setbacks and easing Iraq’s transfer to sovereignty on the basis of the Transitional Administrative Law. Denmark intends to stay the course and maintain its military presence in accordance with Security Council resolution 1511– this is the view of all major parties in our parliament.
I agree with the recommendations of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force report (“Iraq: One Year After”), to which you, ambassador Djeréjian have contributed. These recommendations are as relevant in the difficult phase in which we now find ourselves as when they were first written. The modernisation and reform of the Wider Middle East begins in Iraq.
Progress in the Middle East Peace Process - and in Iraq - would go a long way towards facilitating the other tasks that face us in the region as a whole. Yet it has become clear to most observers that the long term challenges posed by the underlying problems extend much further than today’s conflicts. They should therefore not be allowed to block progress in solving the broader challenges.
In the wider area, covered by North Africa, the Levant and the Gulf, conditions vary, but most societies cry out for modernisation and reform. To a large extent this important region has lost out on the opportunities presented by globalisation. Present regional trends in respect of governance, rule of law, market economics, education, demographics, the role of women and human rights in general are far from encouraging. Ladies and gentlemen, this situation is untenable. Domestic reforms must happen. I hope that, with our help, they will.
It is encouraging to note that most countries in the region show a commitment to buck these trends. I believe we should actively support positive changes by engaging in strong partnerships with the local forces for reform and modernisation.
I see here another field for active cooperation between America and Europe in working together with those countries of this region who need a genuine sense of ownership to make the necessary changes in their societies.
Much attention is focused on the series of summit meetings in June – G8, EU/U.S., NATO - as venues for coming to grips with these challenges.
For its part, the European Union, has been undertaking regional engagement with the Mediterranean and the Middle East for some time. It is, after all, our immediate neighbourhood. The Barcelona declaration of 1995 set in motion a process of dialogue - and aid and assistance to a value of more than $1 billion has since been distributed annually. We intend to target these funds at supporting political, social and economic change.
As an integral part of its new security strategy, the EU now looks with greater urgency and increased focus at a long term partnership for reform in the region including: - an enhanced security dialogue, - increased support for internal political, economic and social reforms, backed up by performance-driven conditionality in assistance, - promotion of WTO membership and improvement in the business environment for all countries in the region. A plan of action is due to be presented at the EU summit in June in order to put this new strategy in operation.
Our aim is for complementary, coordinated EU and U.S. initiatives to remedy the problems plaguing these countries and societies so that they can eventually turn their back on stagnation and measure up to the demands of the modern world.
Our motive is certainly to strike at the recruiting of potential Islamist terrorists but also, more generally, to achieve good neighbourly relations in the interest of all.
But detailed plans and summit declarations are not enough. It has occurred to some of us that it might be useful to draw upon the experience of the Helsinki process (CSCE) in the 1970’s and 80’s as we go about the necessary tasks together with the countries in this region, which lacks cooperative structures in the area of security, economic development and the human dimension (the Helsinki process’ original three “baskets”).
The kind of review mechanisms that made CSCE commitments stick in Europe would be especially useful.
Naturally, a “CSCM” for the wider Middle East must be particular to the region and developed accordingly. No existing model can be imposed. But the CSCE experience does demonstrate the value of a regional cooperative process. Such a process can only be set in motion by the region’s own governments.
Together with Canada, Denmark is presently undertaking a mission throughout the region, including Israel, Turkey and Iran as well as most Arab nations, to shape the awareness of policymakers and civil society of the merits of a regional Security Charter. Reactions have so far been varied but, on the whole, quite encouraging.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let us now move from the specific to the general level.
Joint policies and initiatives concerning modernisation and reform in the wider Middle East are an obvious and, in view of the magnitude of the task, appropriate subject for American and European post-9/11 cooperation.
But, in my opinion, this is but one of several areas ripe for transatlantic cooperation under new conditions.
The increased awareness of global challenges represents an opportunity we must seize to renew our strategic relationship.
The European Union is about to enter the world stage in a new shape and size. As of 1st May of this year, the EU will have 25 member states and 450 million inhabitants. Its combined GDP will total over $11 trillion, making it the world’s biggest economy.
At our June summit, we hope to reach agreement on a new Constitutional Treaty which will provide us with the means to act in a more unified and determined manner in foreign and security policy.
Improved decision making is, of course, necessary for realising our ambition to contribute to solving tasks of a size and importance comparable with our increased weight in world affairs. Our present construction was designed for the original six member states and working methods suitable for a much smaller organisation. Reforms are urgently needed.
In the words of the security strategy presented last year by the EU High Representative for foreign and security policy, Javier Solana, “the European Union and the United States can be a formidable force for good in the world when acting together”. It is my firm conviction that we, in Europe, must place our relations with America at the very heart of our efforts in strengthening the position of the EU in global affairs.
This does not entail reinventing the wheel. The successful adaptation of NATO to the defence and security environment of the early 21st century means that the Alliance will remain the cornerstone of transatlantic cooperation in its new areas of responsibility, such as Afghanistan. The same goes for classic defence of our territories.
What it does mean, in my view, is creating a more action-oriented global partnership between the U.S. and the EU in which due account is taken of our relative assets and strengths. We could explore the great potential of a positive transatlantic dialogue in policy areas not previously covered by our cooperative structures. We could then envisage drawing up a Charter with this in mind, alongside the North Atlantic Treaty. At present NATO is the only formal framework for our dialogue.
We must ask ourselves, “Which areas would be covered in such a reinvigorated transatlantic partnership?”
Well, Firstly, counterterrorism : Recent events have reminded us yet again that we face a common security threat. Our response must go beyond military cooperation into the Homeland Security domain, where the EU has just named a coordinator who can act as the counterpart of the new U.S. Department. Measures against financing of terrorist activities remain a central objective and should be further developed. We need improvements in joint law enforcement, intelligence-sharing and other precautionary measures. Since the threat is global, we must actively monitor and assist third party implementation of commitments under United Nations’ SCR 1373.
Secondly, non-proliferation : We should seek a more coordinated approach to preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. This means strengthening the provisions and inspection rules in place under the United Nations regime in its Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Utilising our comparative advantages when dealing with the issues at hand such as Iran. Enhancing the role of the Security Council with regard to preventing the spread of WMD to non-state actors. Funding joint projects such as the destruction of chemical stockpiles in Russia. Supporting the naval search and seizure programme (the Proliferation Security Initiative) initiated by the U.S., among others, by ensuring EU-wide implementation of interdiction principles.
Thirdly, irresponsible states Terrorism, possibly combined with the possession of non-conventional weapons, becomes especially threatening if sponsored or used by states willing to challenge the international order. Europe and the United States should seek to develop compatible policies to deal with such irresponsible states. Such states are, by definition, less amenable to dialogue and negotiation on our terms. Practice has, however, shown that they can be won over by inducements as part of a policy realistically balanced with coercive measures. In view of recent events, there is a need for more clarity with regard to the legitimacy of military intervention, including preventative intervention. In the words of Kofi Annan, we “need to begin a discussion on the criteria for an early authorisation of coercive measures to address certain types of threats”.
Fourthly, development aid and sustainable development : We can never be secure and healthy in Europe or America if the majority of the world’s population remains impoverished, sick and without hope. We can therefore allow ourselves no respite in the fight against world poverty, epidemics - most particularly HIV/AIDS - and for sustainable development, including ensuring and securing a clean and viable environment. We carry a joint obligation to ensure that the benefits of globalisation are shared by all mankind. Our efforts can be enhanced through common action. The U.S. has significantly raised its aid budget, while the EU remains the world’s largest donor. Africa merits special attention. We should, and must, launch programmes of assistance earmarked for combating terrorism in developing countries.
Finally, trade : The U.S. and the EU entered the current trade round of talks in Doha on a joint platform. We should maintain a common drive for free trade and market access to re-launch the round with the aim of facilitating growth in the developing world. Legislation and regulation on both sides of the Atlantic does not fully take into account the degree of our economic integration. We share a vital interest in a smoother management of our mutual trade to reflect the fact that the bulk of transactions pose very few problems. We should commit ourselves to responsible methods of the settlement of disputes and expand cooperation regarding rules, regulations and other issues. Our long term aim should be to create a transatlantic free trade zone.
So, to sum up, we seek a substance-driven expansion of the transatlantic agenda to cover global problems beyond security policy in the stricter sense. I firmly believe that these are areas of cooperation in which the EU can offer added value on the basis of its experience and resources. A start could be made at the June EU/U.S. summit in Dublin.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the direction I propose we take in giving new impetus to our transatlantic relationship.
The need to provide such new momentum is there for all to see. We have just been through a crisis as severe as anything since Suez. Policy discord over Iraq did, admittedly, have an intra-European aspect. Denmark found itself on one side of the argument with a number of partners while others remained on the other side of the fence. However, there is now a widespread desire to re-group and move on.
Other disagreements - on climate change, the ICC and trade in GMOs to mention but a few – have set us more neatly apart on both sides of the Ocean.
We should not assume that we will always be able to avoid serious turbulence in our shared road ahead. It may be along and winding one and there are disagreements in the best of families. But we should approach the issues with an open mind and take as our point of departure a shared desire to achieve progress.
America and Europe share a political and cultural heritage. We share our destiny. Faced with new global challenges, we should seek to cooperate with other emerging regional centres of power and influence. We can hope to establish strong links with them as we struggle to overcome problems affecting us all equally.
It is in the nature the world political stage for prominent actors to seek to secure their vital interests. So will we. In addition, we will always be conscious of our responsibility to uphold our ideals of freedom and democracy.
This is why I am convinced that we owe it to ourselves to re launch our cooperation, possibly on new foundations while preserving and developing our well-tested Alliance.
Ladies and gentlemen, Thank you for your time and thank you for your attention.