Munich Conference on Security Policy, speeches, 8 - 10 February 2008
Full details of the conference are available at: http://www.securityconference.de/
Thank you for that introduction. I would also like to thank the
people of Munich for once again allowing us to gather in this
There is little doubt that the mission in Afghanistan is unprecedented. It is, in fact, NATO's first ground war and it is dramatically different than anything NATO has done before. However, on a conceptual level, I believe it falls squarely within the traditional bounds of the Alliance's core purpose: to defend the security interests and values of the transatlantic community.
During the 1990s, even as we tried to predict what form the threats of the 21st century would take, Afghanistan was, in reality becoming exactly what we were discussing in theory. Subsequent events during the intervening years have shown that:
Due to NATO's efforts, as Minister Jung pointed out yesterday, Afghanistan has made substantial progress in health care, education, and the economy - bettering the lives of millions of its citizens.
Through the Afghan mission, we have developed a much more sophisticated understanding of what capabilities we need as an Alliance and what shortcomings must be addressed.
Since the Riga summit, there has been much focus on whether all allies are meeting their commitments and carrying their share of the burden. I have had a few things to say about that myself. In truth, virtually all allies are fulfilling the individual commitments they have made. The problem is that the Alliance as a whole has not fulfilled its broader commitment from Riga to meet the force requirements of the commander in the field.
As we think about how to satisfy those requirements, we should look more creatively at other ways to ensure that all allies can contribute more to this mission - and share this burden. But we must not - we cannot - become a two-tiered Alliance of those who are willing to fight and those who are not. Such a development, with all its implications for collective security, would effectively destroy the Alliance.
As many of you know, a Strategic Vision document is being drafted that will assess NATO's and our partners' achievements in Afghanistan, and will produce a set of realistic goals and a roadmap to meet them over the next three to five years. We continue urgently to need a senior civilian - a European in my view - to coordinate all non-military international assistance to the Afghan government and people. The lack of such coordination is seriously hampering our efforts to help the Afghans build a free and secure country.
The really hard question the Alliance faces is whether the whole of our effort is adding up to less than the sum of its parts, and, if that is the case, what we should do to reverse that equation.
As an Alliance, we must be willing to discard some of the bureaucratic hurdles that have accumulated over the years and hinder our progress in Afghanistan. This means more willingness to think and act differently - and quickly. To pass initiatives such as the NATO Commander's Emergency Response Fund. This tool has proven itself elsewhere, but will, for NATO, require a more flexible approach to budgeting and funding.
Additionally, it is clear that we need a common set of training standards for every one going to Afghanistan - whether they are combat troops conducting counterinsurgency operations; civilians working in Provincial Reconstruction Teams; or members of operational mentoring and liaison training teams. Unless we are all on the same page - unless our efforts are tied together and unified by similar tactics, training, and goals - then the whole of our efforts will indeed be less than the sum of the parts.
I also worry that there is a developing theology about a clear-cut division of labor between civilian and military matters - one that sometimes plays out in debates over the respective roles of the European Union and NATO, and even among the NATO allies. In many respects, this conversation echoes one that has taken place - and still is - in the United States within the civilian and military agencies of the U.S. government as a result of the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns.
For the United States, the lessons we have learned these past six years - and in many cases re-learned - have not been easy ones. We have stumbled along the way, and we are still learning. Now, in Iraq, we are applying a comprehensive strategy that emphasizes the security of the local population - those who will ultimately take control of their own security - and brings to bear in the same place and often at the same time civilian resources for economic and political development.
We have learned that war in the 21st century does not have stark divisions between civilian and military components. It is a continuous scale that slides from combat operations to economic development, governance and reconstruction - frequently all at the same time.
The Alliance must put aside any theology that attempts clearly to divide civilian and military operations. It is unrealistic. We must live in the real world. As we noted as far back as 1991, in the real world, security has economic, political, and social dimensions. And vice versa. In the future, the E.U. and NATO will have to find ways to work together better, to share certain roles - neither excluding NATO from civilian-military operations nor barring the E.U. from purely military missions. In short, I agree entirely with Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer and Minister Morin's comments yesterday that there must be a "complimentarity" between the E.U. and NATO.
At the same time, in NATO, some allies ought not to have the luxury of opting only for stability and civilian operations, thus forcing other Allies to bear a disproportionate share of the fighting and the dying.
Overall, the last few years have seen a dramatic evolution in NATO's thinking and in its posture. With all the new capabilities we have forged in the heat of battle - and with new attitudes - we are seeing what it means to be expeditionary. What is required to spread stability beyond our borders. We must now commit ourselves to institutionalize what we have learned and to complete our transformation.
Just as we must be realistic about the nature and complexity of the struggle in Afghanistan, so too must we be realistic about politics in our various countries. NATO, after all, is an alliance whose constituent governments all answer to their citizens.
My colleagues in Vilnius and those in this room certainly understand the serious threat we face in Afghanistan. But I am concerned that many people on this continent may not comprehend the magnitude of the direct threat to European security. For the United States, September 11th was a galvanizing event - one that opened the American public's eyes to dangers from distant lands. It was especially poignant since our government had been heavily involved in Afghanistan in the 1980s, only to make the grievous error - of which I was at least partly responsible - of abandoning a destitute and war-torn nation after the last Soviet soldier crossed the Termez bridge.
While nearly all the Alliance governments appreciate the importance of the Afghanistan mission, European public support for it is weak. Many Europeans question the relevance of our actions and doubt whether the mission is worth the lives of their sons and daughters. As a result, many want to remove their troops. The reality of fragile coalition governments makes it difficult to take risks. And communicating the seriousness of the threat posed by Islamic extremism in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, and globally remains a steep challenge.
As opinion leaders and government officials, we are the ones who must make the case publicly and persistently.
So now I would like to add my voice to those of many allied leaders and speak directly to the people of Europe: The threat posed by violent Islamic extremism is real - and it is not going away. You know all too well about the attacks in Madrid and London. But there have also been multiple smaller attacks in Istanbul, Amsterdam, Paris, and Glasgow, among others. Numerous cells and plots have been disrupted in recent years as well - many of them seeking large-scale death and destruction, such as:
Imagine, for a moment, if some or all of these attacks had come to pass. Imagine if Islamic terrorists had managed to strike your capitals on the same scale as they struck in New York. Imagine if they had laid their hands on weapons and materials with even greater destructive capability - weapons of the sort all too easily accessible in the world today. We forget at our peril that the ambition of Islamic extremists is limited only by opportunity.
We should also remember that terrorist cells in Europe are not purely homegrown or unconnected to events far away - or simply a matter of domestic law and order. Some are funded from abroad. Some hate all western democracies, not just the United States. Many who have been arrested have had direct connections to Al Qaeda. Some have met with top leaders or attended training camps abroad. Some are connected to Al Qaeda in Iraq. In the most recent case, the Barcelona cell appears to have ties to a terrorist training network run by Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistan-based extremist commander affiliated with the Taliban and Al Qaeda - who we believe was responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
What unites them is that they are all followers of the same movement - a movement that is no longer tethered to any strict hierarchy but one that has become an independent force of its own. Capable of animating a corps of devoted followers without direct contact. And capable of inspiring violence without direct orders.
It is an ideological movement that has, over the years, been methodically built on the illusion of success. After all, about the only thing they have accomplished recently is the death of thousands of innocent Muslims while trying to create discord across the Middle East. So far they have failed. But they have twisted this reality into an aura of success in many parts of the world. It raises the question: What would happen if the false success they proclaim became real success? If they triumphed in Iraq or Afghanistan, or managed to topple the government of Pakistan? Or a major Middle Eastern government?
Aside from the chaos that would instantly be sown in the region, success there would beget success on many other fronts as the cancer metastasized further and more rapidly than it already has. Many more followers could join their ranks, both in the region and in susceptible populations across the globe. With safe havens in the Middle East, and new tactics honed on the battlefield and transmitted via the Internet, violence and terrorism worldwide could surge.
I am not indulging in scare tactics. Nor am I exaggerating either the threat or inflating the consequences of a victory for extremists. Nor am I saying that the extremists are ten feet tall. The task before us is to fracture and destroy this movement in its infancy - to permanently reduce its ability to strike globally and catastrophically, while deflating its ideology. Our best opportunity as an alliance to do this is in Afghanistan. Just as the hollowness of Communism was laid bare with the collapse of the Soviet Union, so too would success in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq, strike a decisive blow against what some commentators have called Al Qaeda-ism.
This is a steep challenge. But the events of the last year have proven one thing above all else: If we are willing to stand together, we can prevail. It will not be quick, and it will not be easy - but it can be done.
In the years ahead, the credibility of NATO, and indeed the viability of the Euro-Atlantic security project itself, will depend on how we perform now. Other actors in the global arena - Hezbollah, Iran and others - are watching what we say and what we do, and making choices about their future course.
Everyone knows that in 2009 the United States will have a new administration. And this time, next year, you will be hearing from a new Secretary of Defense.
But regardless of which party is in power, regardless who stands at this podium, the threats we face now and in the future are real. They will not go away. Overcoming them will require unity between opposition parties and across various governments, and uncommon purpose within the Alliance and with other friends and partners.
I began my remarks with a bit of history about NATO in the 1990s. I would like to close with a few words about the dawn of the transatlantic Alliance.
From our present-day vantage point, victory in the Cold War now seems almost preordained. But as we prepare to celebrate NATO's 60th anniversary next year, it is useful to recall that 60 years ago, in 1948, the year of the Berlin airlift, few people would have been all that optimistic about the future of Europe, or the prospect of a Western alliance. The Continent was devastated, its economy in shambles. The United States was debating the European recovery program - known as the Marshall Plan - and faced a resurgent isolationism. Europe was under siege - with pressure from communism being felt in Germany, France, Finland, Norway, Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Greece.
In January of that year, Ernest Bevin, the British foreign secretary, went before parliament to discuss the Soviet Union and other threats to the United Kingdom. Between all the "kindred souls of the West," he said, "there should be an effective understanding bound together by common ideals for which the Western Powers have twice in one generation shed their blood."
Less than two months later, President Harry Truman stood in the United States Congress and echoed that sentiment. He said: "The time has come when the free men and women of the world must face the threat to their liberty squarely and courageously . . . Unity of purpose, unity of effort, and unity of spirit are essential to accomplish the task before us."
That unity held for decades through ups and downs. It held despite divisions and discord, stresses and strains, and through several crises where another major war in Europe loomed large. Alexis de Tocqueville once warned that democracies, when it came to foreign affairs, were ill-suited to pursue a [QUOTE] "great undertaking" and "follow it [through] with determination." But the democracies of the West did just that - for more than 40 years. And they can do so once more today.
We must find the resolve to confront together a new set of challenges. So that, many years from now, our children and their children will look back on this period as a time when we recommitted ourselves to the common ideals that bind us together. A time when we again faced a threat to peace and to our liberty squarely and courageously. A time when we again shed blood and helped war devastated people nourish the seeds of freedom and foster peaceful, productive societies. That mission drew us together in 1948 and keeps us together today.
Many years from now, perhaps future generations will look back on this period and say, "victory seemed almost preordained."
Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy, http://www.securityconference.de/
Dr. Teltschik, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Let me start by saying a sincere word of thanks to you, Horst Teltschik. This is the last Security Conference under your able chairmanship. You are only the second chairman since Ewald von Kleist founded it 46 years ago. This testifies not only to your own sterling reputation, and your drive and imagination, but also to the special and unique nature of this event. So I wish you well and look forward to working with your successor.
The "Wehrkunde", as we still all call this conference, means the "study of defence". And we gather here in Munich each February to analyze not only the nature of the challenges we face, but also to assess - always candidly, always objectively - how we are doing and what remains to be done. As NATO looks to its Bucharest Summit in April, I believe there are four key things that we have to get right.
First we have to ensure that the Afghanistan mission is on the right track so there is not just the reality but also the perception of progress in our parliaments and publics.
Second, we have to integrate the Balkans more firmly into Euro-Atlantic structures and keep the door of Euro-Atlantic integration open to the new democracies on this continent.
Third, we must develop our ability to interact and cooperate with other players, such as the UN, the EU, the World Bank, and the NGOs. Security doesn't last without reconstruction, development, good governance and political reconciliation.
So a comprehensive approach is more than just a noble objective;
we need to actually apply it in practice.
First, Afghanistan. In a number of areas, such as helicopters, intra-theatre transport, manoeuvre battalions and training the Afghan National Army, we have still not been able to fill the current shortfalls. We must. We must also look more creatively at pooling capabilities, pooling resources, to get the equipment we need to the places we need them.
We have also seen from recent operations such as in Musa Qala that Afghan soldiers, when properly trained and equipped, can take the lead and prevail. So we must redouble our efforts and meet our targets for standing up the Afghan National Army. It is their country. The sooner they can stand on their feet, the better for us all.
But we can only prevail in Afghanistan if all of the Allies are working together on the basis of one NATO strategy, with common goals, common benchmarks and maximum flexibility in the use of our forces. Let us remember the wise words of a former SACEUR: one team - one mission: in together, out together". Yesterday, in Vilnius, I saw an Alliance united in this mission for the long term. I expect that to be reconfirmed at the Bucharest Summit, where we should also lay out a roadmap for the future of our mission.
One more observation about our presence in Afghanistan. The International Community and the Afghan Government must work together on the basis of shared universal values and mutual respect.
For us in NATO that means that we accept to be criticized when we are not careful enough to avoid civilian casualties and that we adapt our military procedures (and that we have done). It also means that there should be understanding from our Afghan friends that we have great difficulty to accept a death sentence for a young journalist for downloading an article from the Internet.
Public support in our societies for our soldiers' presence in Afghanistan will erode if we do not agree on the universal values we are defending, together with our Afghan friends. This is all about hearts and minds, here and at the Hindu Kush.
Let me now turn to what I call Europe's unfinished business - the Balkans. The days and weeks ahead will be complicated as we seek finally to resolve the issue of Kosovo's status. NATO stands ready to ensure that Kosovo remains stable and a place where both Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs can co-exist peacefully. But it is also important that we create a new dynamic in the region. The peoples of the region deserve better than the endless repetition of old ethnic arguments and territorial turf wars.
That is why I hope at our Bucharest Summit Allies will be ready to open NATO's door to new members from this region, and to reach out to new partners such as Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina who have made it clear that they too do not want to be left behind. We must also make clear to Serbia that there is no viable future in a retreat into sullen nationalism. Its future too lies in Euro-Atlantic integration. But it takes two to tango, and Serbia must demonstrate that it accepts the responsibilities of a modern European democracy. NATO is ready to do its part to engage Serbia and make it not only a partner in principle but a partner in reality as well.
We have seen in the Balkans how much progress we have been able to make when the major organisations have a common stake and a more or less equal commitment to a particular mission. That's why I will continue to urge a comprehensive approach. I am hopeful that in the near future NATO and the UN will sign a common declaration which will expand and intensify our cooperation.
Regulars here at the Munich Conference have heard me talk often
enough about the impediments to better cooperation between NATO and
Let me address my final theme. NATO has always been seen by our publics as the organisation which defends them. But our publics quite rightly ask what NATO is doing to deal with issues which are closer to home than Kunduz. If you are an Estonian, you are clearly worried about the recurrence of massive cyber attacks; if you are British or Spanish or Turkish and have witnessed major terrorist attacks on your territory, you obviously wonder what is coming next; and many in Europe might ask how to cope if energy supplies are disrupted.
That is why I have long been calling for NATO to look seriously at these issues; not because I believe that NATO has all the answers - indeed tackling these challenges requires a multifaceted approach and a great deal of coordination between national governments and international organisations. But I do believe that given the threats these challenges pose, they are a legitimate topic of debate for the Alliance. Indeed, you would be alarmed if you discovered that NATO was riot debating these issues. That is why I hope and expect that at Bucharest we will define a clear way forward in areas such as missile defence, energy security and cyber defence. We must not simply produce analyses where we all agree that these threats are real or even growing, and then refuse to identify appropriate responses.
We need to come up with collective responses. Not doing so would simply open the door for individual allies to seek out bilateral or other arrangements - and that would threaten the indivisibility of allied security.
That is why, when it comes to missile defence, I am pleased to see that everybody sees the advantage of having this discussion where it belongs: in NATO. We agree on the threat, we agree on the feasibility, now we have to take the discussion further.
Of course this also touches on our relations to Russia. We
invited President Putin to attend a NATO Russia Council in
Bucharest. We all agree that we want to use the NATO-Russia Council
to constructively engage with the Russian Federation. While there
are issues we presently cannot find agreement on - only to mention
Missile Defence, CFE, Kosovo - we continue our valuable, practical
co-operation in many areas of common interest. To engage is the key
These are important questions. I know NATO well enough by now to be sure that the Alliance is strong enough to have these debates, and emerge stronger from them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends.
The difficulties that I have outlined here today are not a
threat to NATO; they are a positive challenge that we are fully
capable of meeting. Our Bucharest Summit will show the way, but we
cannot rest on our laurels. Our 60th anniversary next year is not
an occasion for simply re-living past glories. It must demonstrate
to our publics that NATO is every bit as vital to security in the
21st century as it was in days long gone by - when we first
developed the pleasant habit of coming to Munich every February for
Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy, http://www.securityconference.de/
Ladies and gentlemen, Excellencies,
Yesterday, HT, opening the conference, said he would speak
German, as there is German TV here. Being more liberal, I will
speak English - despite the fact there is Russian TV crews
Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy, http://www.securityconference.de/
Dr. Franz-Josef Jung, Member of the German Bundestag, Federal Minister of Defense, Federal Republic of Germany, 8 February 2008
Dear Professor Teltschik, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
When the world around us changes, it is good for us to be standing on firm ground and to know what its foundations are. And one of these foundations is undoubtedly NATO.
"Forming the link between two continents, it provides a unique range of political and military instruments for peacekeeping and peace restoration." That is what it says in the 2006 White Paper of the German Federal Government.
This is the claim. But what is the reality? Are we where we would like to be? Is the Alliance in the state in which we would like it to be? I'm afraid it isn't yet. There are many indications that we must still establish a number of conditions in order to achieve further progress.
This is the task behind the political and military transformation of the Alliance, and this is the task to which we must devote our attention. The summit meeting of the heads of state and government of the NATO members in Bucharest offers us the next opportunity to do so.
Let us take a look at what we need. We need greater cooperation with our partners. We need more dialog and consultation, the basis for joint decisions. Above all, however, we need more unity in our intentions.
We must discuss current international security policy issues in their entirety and arrive at an approach that combines all the areas of politics in even greater measure than at present. This is the only way NATO can develop its full value as an alliance.
The Atlantic Alliance is an element of a large international community. And we will only attain the success we need if we adopt a network approach and synchronize our actions.
Are we managing to do that today? In some respects, perhaps, but altogether the result is not yet satisfactory. NATO-EU cooperation is more necessary in today's theaters of operations than it has ever been. In political terms, however, it is still based on procedures that date back to 1997. This is an area in which we must urgently make headway.
Pragmatic collaboration in small steps, by which we make the best of things on operations, is not enough. What we need is a fundamental political consensus - between NATO and the EU in particular - in order to achieve real success in the use of the many different civil and military means we, and by that I mean the West as a whole, have at our disposal.
Political priority must therefore be given to overcoming blockades between the two institutions and raising our cooperation to a higher level. This is the only way we can ensure our operations are a success. This is the only way we can exploit their strengths and generate synergies. Both organizations will profit from this in the end.
I ask each one of you to do what you can to overcome these blockades. That will benefit our joint mission, and that will benefit the soldiers and civilian reconstruction personnel who put their lives at risk to accomplish it.
And the same goes for cooperation with the United Nations: It is good in the theaters of operations, but unsatisfactory at the political level. The signing of the NATO-UN Declaration would be a first major step in the right direction. It would add an institutional component to the practical cooperation. It would enable political-level exchanges to be intensified and mutual understanding to be improved. And in an ideal world, the result would broader and more effective cooperation, without any duplication of effort. The international security organizations must cooperate, whether they like it or not. The resources available are in too short supply and of too much value to be used unnecessarily.
Before the Alliance mounts an operation, a general networked security concept must be devised. For long-term and sustainable stability can only be established if the support services provided by each of the actors in the conflict zones of this world are combined and coordinated to suit the specific objectives.
Afghanistan is an example that highlights just how important cooperation is in this field. NATO, and with it the international community, faces immense challenges in Afghanistan. From an unstable security situation, a drug-based economy and sluggish economic reconstruction to a lack of government presence and authority. Against this background, a firm general civil-military concept, a political strategic plan, is indispensable for the country.
Who decides what? Who helps where and on what scale? We must formulate clear-cut specifications and monitor their implementation. What we need are criteria for success. NATO, the EU, the UN, the donor nations and the Afghan government itself - we are all called upon to do something.
The Alliance needs an overall strategy for Afghanistan, one in which not only the objective of our operation is identified and defined, but also the role of ISAF in the establishment and maintenance of security.
We must also make headway in the support we are providing for reconstruction and good governance and in the integration of the neighboring states, above all Pakistan. I submitted proposals for such an overall strategy at the informal meeting of Alliance defense ministers in Noordwijk. We agreed to turn this strategy into a Comprehensive Strategic Political Military Plan by the Bucharest summit.
Every single member has to do its bit. Germany has supported the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan from the outset. Since the ISAF mission began, we have been one of the largest troop contributors, have borne the responsibility for its success in Regional Command North and have supported the ISAF partners across the country.
One of the priorities we pursue in our area of responsibility is that of training the Afghan National Army, and we indeed intend to step up this effort during the year. The objective remains that of establishing self-supporting stability in Afghanistan.
I have therefore decided that as from July, the Bundeswehr will provide the Quick Reaction Force in Regional Command North that Norway has so far provided. We will perform all the tasks this entails within the mandate assigned to us by the German Parliament.
ln Kosovo, the progress that has been achieved so far is due quite considerably to NATO's KFOR mission. What we must do now is maintain the positive effect, despite changes in the setting. And the best way we can do that is by offering Serbia the prospect of being integrated into European structures.
The Alliance is not only called upon to act in its operations. We must also further develop NATO's structures. We want to see France fully integrated into the Alliance's military structures, and that includes the defense planning process. This will strengthen the European pillar and consolidate North America's partnership with Europe. This partnership is today more necessary than ever: The stronger each pillar is, the stronger the Alliance is as a whole.
Expansion: Decisions will be taken in Bucharest on the expansion of the Alliance. As regards this issue, there are two points that must always be borne in mind. Firstly: NATO is not only a military alliance. It was and still is a community based on values. Our door is open to those who are prepared to adopt the principles that govern our Alliance. To gain admission, and this is a fact that must not be forgotten, states have to do something. For those aspiring to join, this should be enough incentive not to slacken in their fervor for reform. Secondly: NATO sees itself as a Security Provider for Europe. It would like to promote stability both within its borders and beyond. The admission of a new country ought to assist the Alliance in performing this role and help it to develop further. This is the only way we can achieve sustained stability. And this is why the prospect of NATO membership in the near future for Croatia, Albania and Macedonia will not only bring about more in the way of security for these states in particular, but will also stabilize the region as a whole.
We are cultivating a special partnership with Russia. We value the NATO-Russia Council as a forum for dialog on topics that are of concern to us all. It is a matter of our taking each other seriously and working together to come up with pragmatic solutions to the problems we face.
This includes the topic of missile defense. It is important that there are no zones of different security within the Alliance territory. So we must build a combined MD capability that unites US national plans with NATO's plans. But we can only do this in dialog with our partners. The United States has tabled far-reaching proposals for constructive cooperation with Russia. This is a good basis for discussion.
In time, all these considerations must converge into a new Strategic Concept. Never before has the range of tasks covered by the Alliance been so broad. Never before have its operations been so demanding. Never before has the necessity of cooperation been so great. This gives us reason enough not to slacken in our efforts in the future either. What we need today are a sense of proportion, patience and passion. This is what I wish us all. I am certain that the effort will be worthwhile and will yield success.
Thank you very much.
Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy, http://www.securityconference.de/
Thank you so much, Horst. It is a pleasure to be back at Wehrkunde, and an honor to share the rostrum with Foreign Minister Steinmeier, Dr. El Baradei, and Mr. Roth. We face a daunting set of arms control challenges throughout the world today. But in my remarks this afternoon, I would like to focus on a particular threat: the nuclear ambitions of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In focusing on Iran, I do not mean to minimize the seriousness of the other arms control challenges we confront. But the fact is that the dangers of Iran's nuclear program have galvanized the world community into joint action as few other matters have in recent years.
That is entirely appropriate because if the Islamic Republic succeeds in acquiring a nuclear weapons capability despite our best efforts, it would strike an irreparable blow to the viability of the global nonproliferation regime. For this reason, Iran's nuclear program is not only a threat in itself. It is also the front line of our global battle to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. If we do not work together to get Iran right, a great deal else in the world is likely to go very wrong. Some people inside and outside the United States have seized on the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear activities to diminish or even dismiss the nuclear threat from Iran. That is a profound mistake.
Although the NIE reported that Iran's covert work on bomb design
may have been temporarily suspended in 2003, it also said-far more
importantly-that Iran's overt work on enrichment continues apace.
Indeed, it is that now-overt enrichment program, which began as a
covert program carried out by Iran in violation of both its NPT
obligations and its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, that will
allow Iran to obtain the fissile material that remains the greatest
hurdle to developing nuclear weapons. And it is that overt
enrichment program that has been the focus of two United Nations
Security Council resolutions.
But the fact that the Iranian government may have secretly
suspended its weaponization work in 2003, and that went undetected
for years, also tells us that Iran could restart this component of
its program and it again could go undetected for years. The NIE
itself expresses only "moderate" confidence that Iran has not
already done so. And other respected national intelligence services
believe that Iran already has restarted its nuclear weaponization
But neither do I make the mistake of believing in the
infallibility or absolute impartiality of people in intelligence.
Intelligence should be about informing decision makers; it should
not be about empowering analysts and researchers to become decision
makers. The release of the NIE prompted some to speculate that
international efforts to prevent Iran's nuclearization would
collapse, but thankfully they have not. I am very grateful that our
coalition has proven more steadfast and more determined than many
of the doubters predicted. A great share of the credit for this is
due to the governments of Great Britain, France, and Germany, and I
know that I speak for members of the U.S. Congress, Democrats and
Republicans alike, when I say to our partners in London, Paris, and
Berlin: thank you for your determined leadership on this issue.
Thank you for not using the NIE as an excuse to go to sleep while
Iran presses forward with its nuclear program. In particular, I
would like to thank Foreign Minister Steinmeier for his effective
diplomacy on the third UN sanctions resolution, and for hosting the
meeting in Berlin that produced the draft resolution that the
permanent Security Council members have now agreed to.
First, we must ensure that the resolutions that the UN has imposed are actually upheld. Under the current sanctions regime, countries are responsible for monitoring and reporting on their own behavior. This is an inherently inadequate arrangement, since many governments lack the technical capacity to ensure compliance, while others-in all frankness-lack the political will to do so. The Security Council has in the past authorized the creation of independent committees to ensure that its resolutions are being properly monitored and implemented. These committees have been composed of expert investigators who are based in the field and empowered to work with considerable autonomy to determine whether the UN's resolutions are being observed and implemented. They have been used to monitor UN sanctions against Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, and al Qaeda, among others. There is an urgent need now to create a similar special committee to monitor the sanctions we have adopted, and will adopt, against Iran.
Second, all of our nations have a responsibility to abide by not
only the letter, but the spirit, of the Security Council
resolutions, and to do everything in our power to ensure that they
succeed in their purpose-which is convincing Iran to suspend its
Third, even as we continue to strengthen the ad hoc sanctions
regime specifically designed to pressure Iran, we must also develop
country-neutral rules that would spell out, in advance, the
punitive steps to be taken against any country that abuses its
obligations under the NPT as the Iranians have done-a kind of
universal criminal code for nuclear proliferators. If a government
is caught abusing the privileges of the NPT or exploiting
safeguards loopholes, it should be made to forfeit at least
temporarily some of the rights enjoyed by other NPT signatories
that have respected the terms of the treaty. At a minimum, any such
country should be required to dismantle or surrender all nuclear
materials and equipment that it acquired covertly. We might also
consider a country-neutral rule that would require any such
violator to submit to intrusive, wide-area inspections for at least
a decade and prohibit it from enrichment, reprocessing, or nuclear
related exports during this time.
In light of this and Iran's many other deceptions reaching back
over the past several decades, the international community is
justified in doubting Iran's professed peaceful intentions in the
nuclear area. Until Iran restores international confidence that its
program is peaceful, the international community is justified in
demanding that Iran suspend its activities. Restoring confidence
will take more than answering questions. It will require a
sustained pattern of conduct that reassures other countries that
Iran is not secretly embarked on a nuclear weapons program.
Given the uniquely terrible destructive power of nuclear
weapons, we should take uniquely powerful precautions to prevent
their acquisition by any regime whose leaders have openly called
for the destruction of another sovereign state, or that has a
long-established and well-documented track record of arming and
supporting terrorist groups, or of brutally suppressing the human
rights of its citizens-all of which the current regime in Iran has
The question now is NOT whether we recognize the nature of the
danger, but whether we, who are privileged to lead the
international community, will summon the insight, determination,
and courage, to address this danger before it is too late.
I know that we can. And I know that we must.
Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy, http://www.securityconference.de/
The trouble of speaking as an official is that addressing you one cannot enjoy what Professor Sir Michael Howard, the distinguished British military historian once termed influence without responsibility. The reputation of the Munich meeting places a particular responsibility on my shoulders as a representative of a commited member of the most successful alliance in modern history.
Poland views NATO traditionally. We joined the Alliance in 1999 convinced that it would offer us security through collective defence, which for us is the essence of the NATO. Allied consultations, defence planning and a broad range of relations with NATO partners are our indispensable collective procedures. Although NATO has undergone transformation in reaction to ethnic wars, terrorism and a nexus of asymmetrical threats, we still need the sound basis of collective defense.
It is worth mentioning that Poland joined "out-of-area" effort even before our accession to NATO and have since been among the most active participants. Starting in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, through Macedonia, and Kosovo to Iraq and Afghanistan, Golan Heights, Lebanon, Kongo and Chad, our soldiers are always there. And we are not there in the pursuit of a national agenda but to serve the cause of international peace and stability.
We are there out of solidarity with other Allies and in the service to nations suffering from oppression, lack of good governance or other plagues of our times.
As some of you may know, Afghanistan has a very special place in my own heart. In the 1980s as a journalist covering the Soviet-Afghan war, I spent a long time there, including in Tora Bora, which was not yet so famous. I witnessed and reported the horrors of the war. Today Afghanistan has a prospect for peace and stable development. The whole international community has to do its utmost to help this process. The soldiers of free and independent Poland, serving under the NATO flag in Afghanistan, are the best example of the distance Poland has covered from the time of oppression 25 years ago to its prosperity today.
We have been providing our soldiers and capabilities, believing that today Allied solidarity is tested in remote and mountainous areas of Afghanistan. Our troops operate without caveats and we have twice increased their number to 1600. They will soon be provided with airlift and transportation capabilities that are so urgently needed there. He who gives without caveats, gives twice.
One thing has not changed in the last quarter of century. It is the need for solidarity as the source of our actions. Solidarity is a word of symbolic value in Poland. In 2009 we will be celebrating not only the 70th anniversary of WW II, the 60th anniversary of the Alliance, but also 20th anniversary of collapse of communism in Central Europe. The Polish 'Solidarity' contributed decisively to the peaceful transformation of Central and Eastern Europe and helped the reunification of Germany. It is that solidarity by both small and capital letter "S", which transformed Poland into a stable democracy with flourishing economy and led to our membership in the Atlantic Alliance and European Union.
Solidarity must be the spiritus movens for the whole transatlantic community.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Solidarity is important, not only inside the Alliance. In 1999 Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were the first countries from Central and Eastern Europe who joined NATO. This marked the demise of the order based on the logic of two opposing blocks, which petrified during the Cold War. Since then the 'open door' policy has become the foundation of NATO's transformation and it is an obvious success story.
Today there are others knocking at NATO's door, reminding us that this policy is as valid today as it was in the nineties. The Alliance cannot turn its back on the countries that share our values and demonstrate sufficient level of political, social and economic reforms. I believe that with the new Government in Kiev NATO has now a promoter of Atlantic integration of Ukraine. It is time to capitalize on our intensive cooperation and upgrade soon our relations. The Bucharest Summit will be the right moment to do so. I also think that the summit should examine Ukrainian plea for participation in the Membership Action Plan. It will also be an opportunity to review NATO's relations with Georgia.
Let me also raise the issue of Missile Defence, so intensely debated today on both sides of the Atlantic. Given the potential for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile technology, it is fair to say that MD is one of the key defence projects of our time. In spite of the fact that it has so far brought some confusion and concern it can actually be a factor for unity within the Alliance and beyond.
We started to negotiate with our American Allies convinced that the system developed by the USA will bring more security for both our countries, for the whole Alliance and its partners. While the US project goes on, NATO should also set its MD programmes on track so that interoperability and complementarity of the systems can be achieved. We would not like either of the two to become hostage of the other. On the contrary, similar level of security for all Allies can be guaranteed only if the two are properly integrated.
In this regard the Bucharest Summit will be an important milestone. It should provide the right momentum for a review of NATO's work on MD. It will also give us an opportunity to bring under one roof the four parallel projects currently underway:
Although many issues may still require clarification, the message of the Summit should be that NATO is serious about its collective defence and MD as its essential part.
There is a place for cooperation with Moscow in this scenario. We would like to have Russia as a partner in this project, joining us in efforts to develop a mechanism of cooperation. We would also like to have Russia on board because the threat is global in scope. Even a combined effort by USA and NATO is not sufficient.
MD is central, yet just one pillar of the effective strategy to deal with the threat of WMD proliferation. Diplomacy and effective international non-proliferation regimes are equally indispensable. The Alliance may and should foster collective action.
At Bucharest we will be able to send a clear message on this. Meanwhile, we count on a constructive approach by both sides in the dialogue between Moscow and Washington. Contacts we undertook recently with our Russian partners, including my own meetings with Minister Lavrov, persuade me that more needs to be done to reassure Russia that the MD project does not threaten her.
I have landed this morning from Moscow where I accompanied Prime Minister Donald Tusk during his discussions with President Putin, that, as you may imagine, were very interesting indeed. Poland wants to be part of the solution, not of the problem. The decision on the base will be for Poland and the US. But if the MD base have to appear on our territory, Prime Minister Tusk has declared that Poland would be willing to consider - media, please mind not more than that - a mix of monitoring and inspections that would reassure everyone that the proposed facility need be of concern only to the bad guys.
We should also press both parties to conclude negotiations in the field of disarmament and arms control. To achieve stable security relations in Europe and beyond, we need an effective system based on CFE, post-START and SORT agreements.
Let me also touch on the issue which is bound to play an ever growing role in the security of our countries, namely energy security. Energy is no longer exclusively a national competence, nor is it solely an economic issue related to sustainable development.
International organizations can play a role. Since the 1999 Strategic Concept, where NATO duly recognized the relevance and importance of energy security, discussions in the Alliance have advanced. We need to put in place three elements:
The Bucharest summit should close the period of searching for a NATO role and open the period of engagement of the Alliance in the field of energy security.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I certainly have not touched on most subjects on the current and future NATO agenda. I largely by-passed crucial issues, such as:
But let me mention one last thing.
In a year from now we will be celebrating the Alliance's 60th anniversary. It will also be 10 years since the last Strategic Concept was adopted in Washington. It is high time to open an honest and serious debate whether this concept is still relevant.
Such a debate should mark - as Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer once put it - a return of NATO to a genuine culture of dialogue among its members. Poland would like to see the work on future NATO strategy as a process bringing more unity among Allies and more collective actions. There are obvious pros and cons at this stage but we shouldn't shy away from challenging tasks. Avoiding discussion, producing proxy solutions and daily political guidance are not enough.
It is up to us to shape the security environment and to take the lead when necessary. It takes far-sightedness and courage. It remains our collective responsibility.
The further NATO goes beyond its treaty area into troubled regions, the less room there is for a sectarian approach, and the stronger the need for solidarity both within and without the Alliance. To live up to growing expectations we need more coherence internally. We can above all succeed in Afghanistan only by cooperative effort, political solidarity, and by genuine sharing of responsibility.
Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy, http://www.securityconference.de/
Dr Javier Solana Madariaga, Secretary General, Council of the European Union; High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy; Secretary General, Western European Union, Brussels, 10 February 2008
Dear Horst, let me congratulate you on the award and on another
For us, Europe is stronger and more stable with a strong and open Russia reaching out to the world.
In the meantime the world has changed. Thankfully, we no longer have a bipolar order dominated by confrontation between two superpowers with Europe as the fault-line. Co-operation has replaced confrontation. There are also new players: China, India, Japan, to name a few.
Then there are new global threats: global warming, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism.
And regional threats. In Europe, we have to deal with instability that has come out of the end of the Cold War, as discussed in a panel yesterday..
We also know that tension and instability outside Europe - in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere - is a threat to our security in Europe, Russia and the US.
In short, this is a new world. With shifting threats, we see shifts in the way to deal with them. There are more actors, and more flexible constellations.
In this new international security architecture, Russia is a key partner. We want to work as much as possible with a Russia that is ready to play its part. Indeed, little of value can be achieved without Russia, and almost nothing against it.
Of course, it is not always easy to agree on what to do. But in
most cases we manage. The recent agreement in Berlin on a new UNSC
resolution on Iran a good example.
We have some well-known disagreements. From trade disputes to travel restrictions to concerns over whether media and organisations like the British Council can operate in truly free and independent manner.
But trade is booming. And co-operation expanding to a wide range of areas. This broad nature of relationship has a stabilising effect.
Nevertheless, we do not have a real strategic convergence yet. Still lingering mistrust here and there. Believe we are at a turning point.
To consolidate the new paradigm of co-operation in Europe, I see three priorities.
First, we need to build on the achievements of our predecessors. This means maintaining the treaty regimes on which our security and societies are built.
For us, the CFE Treaty - both its ceilings and its confidence building measures - remains a cornerstone of European security. Losing it increases the risk of creeping mistrust.
The same goes for the manner in which other treaties and issues, like missile defence, are discussed and ultimately decided upon. As we rightly seek to defend ourselves against new threats, we should be careful that we do not, unintentionally, create new sources of suspicion or tensions amongst us.
The founding treaties of the Council of Europe and the OSCE define what it means to be European. Both organisations have adapted successfully to new circumstances. It is difficult to imagine building a new European security order on a different platform. Respect for the rules of these organisations is indispensable.
Secondly, we must find more common ground based on the rule of law.
If we want our companies to compete on open markets without generating political disputes, we need common rules and an agreed framework to enforce them. WTO offers a key element of this framework. I look forward to Russia joining.
The emphasis given recently by Russian Deputy PM Medvedev to the rule of law is as significant as it is welcome. I do not want to quote him out of context. But I agree when he says about Russia that "if it wants to become a civilised state, first of all we have to become lawful."
Developing a shared commitment to the rule of law will be a major strategic challenge in the coming years.
This has implications across the board, as in the field of energy. Our interdependence in energy is a fact. A quick look at the map of existing pipelines confirms this.
There is a justified concern across Europe about Russia seeming more interested in investing in future leverage than in future production. Contrast Gazprom's strategic spending spree abroad with the lack of investment at home.
So we need a European framework for energy, based on the rule of law and reciprocity.
Finally, as a third priority, we must match our rhetoric with concrete action.
Resolving the frozen conflicts in Europe is particularly
important. If we continue working closely together, we can get a
durable settlement to the these conflicts.
During the Cold War, Europe was the frontline. It was here that military planners envisaged a possible military confrontation.
Now we have the chance to make Europe a continent of stability. A source of hope for more troubled regions of the world. It is in the interest of both the EU and Russia to make this happen. This would not be a minor contribution to world order.
Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy, http://www.securityconference.de/
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federal Republic of Germany, 9 February 2008
"Atoms for peace" - these three words mark the beginning of nuclear disarmament. Three words from President Eisenhower's famous speech to the United Nations on 8 December 1953.
This speech paved the way for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the International Atomic Energy Agency. It was in your role as Director-General of this organization that you, Mr El-Baradei, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
Although today even staunch advocates of the peaceful use of nuclear power would no longer speak quite so enthusiastically of the merits of this - then new - form of energy, much of that speech is still highly relevant.
Permit me to focus on three points from it.
First: no progress on disarmament could have been achieved then or can be achieved today unless the West, first and foremost the United States, assumes a leadership role.
Second: the way to a more peaceful world requires today, as it did then, many small confidence-building steps whose goal is, as President Eisenhower said, the creation of a "system of worldwide inspection and control".
And third: the strength of the West lay and ultimately still lies not in military power but in credibility in striving for a free, peaceful and just world.
During the more than 50 years that have passed since this speech was given, much has changed. The era of East-West confrontation and the balance of terror has come to an end. The United States, Europe, Russia and the new powers in Asia, Africa and America are currently redefining their relations in a difficult process of readjustment.
In this process, access to nuclear technology and its potential for military use have become central subjects of debate. The number of states with nuclear weapons has increased since the end of the Cold War. Ever more countries are in a position to build nuclear weapons.
If we do not manage to halt this dangerous trend in the next few years, we risk the emergence of a new nuclear arms race on a global scale, with unforeseeable consequences.
Disarmament and arms control therefore belong right at the top of a new transatlantic agenda, alongside the major future topics of climate change and energy security, which I have addressed here in previous years.
For disarmament and arms control are not yesterday's issues, but tomorrow's questions of survival!
And as it did 50 years ago, the world expects us, in the transatlantic partnership, to assume the leadership role.
I am pleased that this conviction is once again gradually gaining ground in our discussions, as it is here at the Munich Conference on Security Policy. It is also encouraging to see that many of the urgent arms control policy issues feature in the programmes of the US presidential candidates.
For no real progress will be made on nuclear non-proliferation unless the classic nuclear-weapon states take the initiative.
Only recently Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn published a second joint article in which they propose concrete steps to inject new momentum into nuclear disarmament once again. I expect these ideas to be scrutinized very closely during the ongoing review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
After all, one thing is certain. It would be a devastating blow to the future of the Non-Proliferation Treaty if the next Review Conference were to prove as fruitless as the last.
Our credibility is at stake! We need to ask ourselves whether the deal made by Eisenhower and the other founding fathers of the NPT is still valid, namely, that the non-nuclear-weapon states refrain from developing such weapons in return for a clear commitment from the countries with nuclear weapons to seriously pursue the path of nuclear disarmament.
Incidentally, one of the reasons we need to ask ourselves this question is because even more profound dangers now loom. Ever more countries are attempting to complete the nuclear fuel cycle. Their reasons for doing so may vary - the quest for national prestige, concern about the security of their fuel supply or even secret dreams of use for military ends. In every case the outcome will be the same - a further increase in the threat of proliferation.
That is why I recently proposed that we tackle the problem at its root and establish a multilateral enrichment centre under the exclusive control of the IAEA.
Germany will play an active role in future consultations. For time is short.
My mind would be much easier if an international enrichment centre of this kind could be established before competition for a share in the market for the construction of new nuclear power stations flares up even more violently. Whatever our position on the peaceful use of nuclear power may be - and you are aware of my Government's stance - a nuclear power station is no refrigerator, it is part of a highly complex technology cycle with considerable risk potential. Anyone who exports this technology therefore assumes significant responsibility.
At this point allow me to say a few words about Iran. There has been much speculation about the report by the US intelligence services. I had the distinct impression that very few people had actually read the published version. For, contrary to the widely conveyed impression, it in no way grants Iran any kind of absolution - at least not with regard to the past.
That is why I believe it is right for the international community to keep up the pressure on Iran. Our common goal must continue to be to prevent Iranian nuclear armament - in the interests of our own safety, in the interests of Israel's safety but also to counteract the erosion of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
That is why it was so important that the foreign ministers of the five veto powers and Germany clearly demonstrated their unity of purpose on 22 January in Berlin.
Our unity of purpose is twofold. Our offer of cooperation is still on the table and the return to negotiations therefore possible in principle. But - and this, too, is and remains an element of our unity - we are willing to exert greater pressure on Iran if our fears are not unequivocally dispelled.
It is not only in connection with nuclear weapons that we need new impulses for disarmament and arms control. Kenneth Roth has rightly pointed out that urgent action is needed particularly in the area of small arms and cluster munitions.
We are working at global and regional level to effectively contain the proliferation of small arms and light weapons - no easy task! The main concern at the moment is the proper marking and tracing of small arms and ammunition, the physical securing of legal stockpiles, strict export controls and the destruction of surplus stocks.
In the case of cluster munitions, our goal is a universal ban. To this end all countries are called upon to live up to their humanitarian responsibilities and ensure that dangerous cluster munitions no longer have any place in military arsenals. The German Government already adopted a graduated plan in 2006 to ensure that in the medium term, hopefully by 2015, Germany will have totally renounced cluster munitions.
NATO, too, has a responsibility in the area of disarmament. With my Norwegian colleague Jonas Gahr Store, I have launched an initiative within NATO to anchor the issue of disarmament and arms control more firmly there, too.
A second statement made by Eisenhower is just as valid today as
it was 50 years ago. There can be no disarmament without many small
steps towards creating a climate of mutual confidence.
And because progress has been so laborious, we should not needlessly jeopardize the gains so painstakingly made by our predecessors. They developed a confidence-building and verification system in Europe which is unparalleled in the world.
If we Germans have campaigned so hard over the past months to preserve the CFE Treaty, it is not because we are driven by nostalgia for détente, but because we are firmly convinced that this system will continue to be vital in the future.
The CFE Treaty was and remains the anchor of stability for European security. The entry into force of the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty, signed in Istanbul in 1999, is long overdue.
The United States and NATO have - partly on the basis of preparatory work by Germany - made concrete proposals to enable the Adapted Treaty to be ratified quickly and to preserve the CFE regime. The ball is now in Russia's court. We hope for a constructive response that will pave the way for further talks.
In this context, I would like to make a few comments on missile defence.
Of course we cannot afford to ignore new threats. But we have to discuss all proposed responses very carefully, to determine whether they really bring a net gain in security - or if they are potentially more divisive. I have been quick to call for close dialogue with Russia in a spirit of mutual trust, especially when threats that also concern Russia are involved.
I very much welcome the fact that this view is now gaining acceptance, and I would like to thank Defence Secretary Robert Gates in particular for his involvement.
This was by no means a foregone conclusion, particularly if we cast our minds back to last year's conference and the debate sparked by President Putin's speech. But for that very reason it was a farsighted and politically wise move, because it followed closely in the footsteps of the United States' earlier foreign policy. You see, I have taken another look at the historical background to the Eisenhower speech I quoted above. Eisenhower's cautious offer of dialogue was made to a Soviet Union with which the United States had just fought a bloody proxy war in Korea. Today, the situation is completely different. We need Russia as a partner, for without its cooperation none of the many conflicts around the world - and Iran was just one example - can be resolved.
We may have different opinions on some issues. But anyone who raises the spectre of a new Cold War - as was done at this Conference last year - has forgotten what the Cold War was really like.
Leadership is acknowledged and confidence gained where this purpose is credibly pursued. This and nothing else is what is meant by "soft power" - and we should be very worried that the West's soft power is diminishing in numerous regions around the world.
I have no desire to analyse the reasons for this right now. In any case, I do not believe there are any simple explanations.
It is thus all the more important that, where we have assumed responsibility, we retain our credibility and keep our eyes on the big picture. This imperative also applies in Afghanistan, which brings me to an issue that has kept us busy in the run-up to this Conference.
Over the past weeks, there has been a heated debate about our joint engagement in Afghanistan, and I have to admit that I was disturbed by the acerbity with which it was sometimes conducted.
Let me state unequivocally that Germany will live up to its commitment to NATO! We assumed responsibility together. And together we will bring our mission to a successful conclusion.
To this end I am also investing considerable political energy in conveying our stance to a German public with an increasingly sceptical attitude towards deployment abroad.
Incidentally, we should not forget how far my country has come in the last ten years.
That is why I say that Germany has nothing to be ashamed of! Over 3,300 Bundeswehr soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan. Germany is thus the third largest troop-contributing nation. We bear overall responsibility in the northern region - and, as anyone who is at all familiar with Afghanistan knows, this region, too, is increasingly in the sights of the Taliban militants.
We have Bundeswehr Tornados out there which fly reconnaissance missions throughout Afghanistan. And from this summer, we will provide the Quick Reaction Force for the northern region. This goes to show that we, too, can respond to changed military requirements.
But our resources are limited - and I don't see the sense of jeopardizing the good work we are doing in the north by spreading the Bundeswehr forces thinner to cover all Afghanistan.
We have always said that we can only have long-term success in Afghanistan if we do not rely on military means alone, but pursue a comprehensive political approach. Only if the people of Afghanistan see for themselves that our involvement will bring them peace and prosperity will we be able to isolate the Taliban.
That is why I feel it is vital that our reconstruction efforts should focus even more on beacon projects that give hope to the people, on building schools, hospitals and workshops. Such tangible measures are a sign that things are actually improving in this devastated country.
Our comprehensive political approach is set out in the Afghanistan Compact, which we adopted jointly in London. Its implementation has been highly successful in many areas, but in others it has been abominable - for example in creating an Afghan security force and combating drug cultivation.
I have therefore suggested that we hold a conference in the first half of 2008 to take stock - a kind of mid-term review. Where do we stand at the moment? What has been achieved? Are our goals all realistic? Where do we have to make adjustments? And in which areas do we have to ask more of the Afghan Government?
I hope that this conference will show the world our resolution and renewed energy - to which the people of Afghanistan are entitled.
Leadership, confidence, credibility - these are the three forces that have made the West strong and successful. The new transatlantic agenda, which I have been talking about here for the past two years, will equally have to harness these forces.
Whatever issue we tackle - be it climate change, energy security, the fight against hunger and disease, or the painstaking work on disarmament and arms control - the West is called upon to take the lead, and no progress can be made without confidence being built and credibility bolstered.
We will need many partners in this task. China and India will have to learn to shoulder greater responsibility. And we are all convinced that we will achieve even more if Russia is on board!
After the elections in Russia and the United States we will have a clearer idea of where our journey will take us. It will be interesting to see how much change and how much continuity there will be.
But all in all, we may rely on leadership, confidence and credibility to steer us through any troubled waters that may lie ahead.
Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy, http://www.securityconference.de/