From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO: Today, I would like to talk not just about NATO, but about NATO and the European Union. And about what we Europeans can and should do to ensure that Europe is a powerful global actor, not a global spectator. . . .
We all know those lessons. European nations still don’t have enough of the capabilities that are key to modern missions and operations. Transport planes, air-to-air refuelling, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. We are making some progress, but we need to go further. All our nations face declining defence budgets. So we can only be effective if we work together and coordinate our efforts.
This is not a competition. We are complementary. And there is ample scope for cooperation between our two organisations.
NATO and the European Union have already shown how effectively we can work together to bring freedom and security to our continent. In Central and Eastern Europe. And in the Balkans. NATO has shown its capacity to act quickly and in high intensity crises, while the European Union is able to deploy a wide range of civilian and military expertise to help rebuild nations.
The most recent example is Kosovo. NATO has ensured a safe and secure environment for over a decade, allowing the European Union to use its diplomatic and economic tools to consolidate institutions and the local economy. I welcomed the historic agreement reached between Belgrade and Pristina. I commended Cathy Ashton when she came to NATO Headquarters the very same day, together with Mr. Dacic and Mr. Thaci. They both made clear that, as they work for the implementation of the agreement, they see NATO as the guarantor of peace and security for all the people of Kosovo.
It has been a long and difficult process. NATO, and KFOR, have supported the European Union’s efforts from the very beginning, and all along the way. We have seen over the years that close cooperation between NATO and the European Union, here in Brussels, as well as on the ground, has produced tangible progress.
NATO’s commitment to support the implementation of the agreement remains key for success. And I hope it will soon translate into further improvements of the security situation on the ground in northern Kosovo.
This agreement represents a big step forward for regional peace and security. And it should give new momentum to our shared vision, the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkans.
So NATO and the European Union have to be more ambitious to complement and reinforce each other. . . .
Security is a team effort. The agreement between Belgrade and Pristina shows that NATO and the European Union can work together and must work together for our common security. And I am confident that we will.
Excerpts from remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to the press. (photo: Erik Luntang/NATO)