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NATO Has Means, Will to React

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 23, 1998 – NATO has the diplomatic, economic and military means to swiftly react "to any unfolding crisis and to suffocate it before it turns into a bushfire," said NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.Speaking at a Rome conference on crisis management and NATO reform June 15, Solana highlighted the alliance's expanded role in European security affairs. Earlier in the day, NATO forces demonstrated exactly that by sending a 120-mile-long aerial convoy of 80 fighter jets, helicopters, and support aircraft over Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The airpower exercise involving 14 nations was conducted to show NATO's concern over the growing crisis in Kosovo and to demonstrate the alliance's ability to swiftly deploy air power.

Solana highlighted NATO's changing attitude toward collective security in his conference address. He said the alliance is pursuing a much broader, cooperative approach to security today than during the Cold War.

The post-Cold War era presents new challenges for the alliance, Solana said. Whereas in the past, defending national territories was the main concern, new instabilities exist as evidenced by the war in Bosnia, the crisis in Kosovo and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"Responding effectively to these new challenges is beyond the capacity and the resources of any one nation," Solana said. "Instead, we must address these collectively."

Bosnia is a case in point, Solana said. More than 30 countries contribute to the on-going NATO-led peace effort in the Balkans. "The idea that one or more countries alone could take on the responsibility for implementing the Dayton Peace Accords was simply not seriously entertained.

Dealing with today's crises requires "an unprecedented degree of multinational cooperation, Solana said. "No single institution possesses all the political, economic and military means for successful crisis management. Only their mutually reinforcing cooperation gives us the full spectrum of tools needed to cope with the challenges of today and tomorrow."

But for collective security to work, Solana said, there must be acknowledged limitations. States have different security interests and take a stronger interest in local affairs than in places farther afield, he said. "They will continue to weigh the costs of indifference versus engagement on a case-by-case basis," Solana said.

Overarching moral principles will not always be enough to generate a response to a challenge, he continued. "The public mood can change suddenly once interventions are seen to carry risks or to last longer than initially expected."Reorganizing European security involves building on existing organizations -- the United Nations, the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe, the European Union, the Council of Europe and others -- and adapting these institutions to enhance cooperation and mutual reinforcement. It also involves developing new patterns of security cooperation among nations.NATO, long experienced in organizing multinational security, has developed cooperative relations among almost all Euro-Atlantic and Southern Mediterranean nations, as well as Russia and Ukraine, Solana said. Opening the alliance to new members "created a powerful incentive for many countries to resolve bilateral disputes with their neighbors," he added.

Operations in Bosnia exemplify a new era of cooperation between NATO and the United Nations and other international institutions, including more than a dozen partner nations and Russia, Solana said. Bosnia vindicated "the strategic logic of NATO's cooperative approach to security" and "demonstrated the continued validity of a well-oiled multinational, trans-Atlantic structure such as NATO."

"Bosnia demonstrates the usefulness of a coherent international approach," Solana said. "I am convinced that this approach will also carry the day in the recent crisis in Kosovo.

"NATO's goal is to stop the violence in Kosovo and help achieve a peaceful resolution. The alliance aims to promote stability and security in neighboring countries, particularly Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Solana called on all sides to refrain from violence and acts of provocation. "NATO is preparing to go further if required to halt the violence and protect the civilian population.

"NATO's collective responses in Bosnia and toward Kosovo "show that we are beginning to understand Europe as a common security space," Solana said. "If we continue to develop this understanding and approach, then we will have a very good basis on which to ensure -- collectively -- peace and stability for Europe in the 21st century."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageNATO Secretary General Javier Solana highlighted the alliance's expanded European security affairs role at a Rome conference June 15. He said NATO is pursuing a much broader, cooperative approach to security today than during the Cold War. Linda Kozaryn  
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