The Future of NATO and Euro-Atlantic Relations
German Minister of Defense Volker Rühe

Dresden is a most appropriate place for holding this year's NATO Workshop. Located between Prague and Berlin, Strasbourg and Warsaw, Hamburg and Vienna, Budapest and Copenhagen, this ancient city illustrates the fundamental and rapid changes that have taken place in Europe in recent years. Both the past and the future are manifested in the city's famous buildings and also in its spirit, reminding us of the historical, cultural, and political commonalities and values we all share in Europe.

It is our responsibility to find the right architecture for our common Europe. NATO will play an  outstanding part in this process.


Some people have taken the view that since the Warsaw Pact was dissolved as a military bloc, NATO has to follow. This is a misconception. Such thinking ignores the fact that the North Atlantic Alliance was never a monolithic bloc, nor was it ever only a military grouping. The Alliance is a free association of democratic, sovereign, and self-determining nations. The need for such a community has not been changed by the end of communism or the Cold War.

The late Secretary General Manfred Wörner was right, however, when he stated in 1991, "In the life of every institution there are certain key dates that mark the end of one particular phase of development and the initiation of new directions and tasks." The following are such key dates for the North Atlantic Alliance:

The events of each of these key dates proves that one of the Alliance's constant characteristics is flexibility--the ability to evolve and adapt to challenges.


As part of its continuing adaptation to change, NATO has three missions today: collective defense, collective crisis management, and transfer of stability. NATO is still working to find its proper role regarding collective crisis management, although it is the only organization that has the appropriate assets at its disposal. Conclusions must be drawn from the fact that the relationship between the United Nations and the Alliance has turned out to be unsatisfactory with respect to the crisis in Bosnia.

NATO, however, does provide the only possible security net for the worst-case scenario in that region--the withdrawal of U.N. forces--a scenario we hope to avoid by giving those forces more help in carrying out their mandate as well as reducing their vulnerability. The strategy to stay deserves at least the same solidarity as the strategy to withdraw.

Transfer of Stability

As far as the transfer of stability is concerned, NATO is on track. The process of enlargement is now irreversible. New membership will be decided on a case-by-case basis; some nations will attain membership before others.

While they wait, prime membership candidates can use the Partnership for Peace program as a flexible mechanism to prepare themselves to meet the requirements for smooth entry. Others can use the program to bridge the time until they can become members. As it is an open process, they will have the possibility of joining later.

Our approach to enlargement is twofold and unambiguous: balancing membership and partnership. Enlargement, therefore, will be accompanied by a political strategy towards Russia, Ukraine, and other states in Eastern Europe.

Russian Participation

Russia should participate in the European process, both as a political and an economic partner of the European Union and as a great power that could enjoy a privileged partnership with the Alliance. Yet the determining factor for substantiating a special partnership with NATO is Russia itself. Russia is urged to prepare the ground for a new partnership by solving the Chechnya problem in a way that is commensurate with the international standards to which it has agreed. Bloodshed and terrorist attacks against Chechnya's civilian population do not help at all in reaching a political solution; rather, they extend this disastrous situation.

By the end of this year, NATO will develop a political framework for relations with Russia. This framework will cover the principles for security cooperation as well as for mutual consultations. In 1996 this framework should be filled with substance. It is important for us to remember that these two processes remain in parallel--especially with regard to their timing.


To establish lasting stability in Europe, North America will remain as important to the area as it has been for decades. For more than 50 years the United States has been an essential part of the European security culture. Even after the Cold War only the United States can provide the strategic balance in and for Europe.

Europe, however, must be willing and able to shoulder a larger share of the common burdens and responsibilities if it expects the United States to continue its commitment to Europe. Whether European states succeed or not in this endeavor will have important implications for future Euro-Atlantic relations.

Defense and security constitute only one aspect of our common interests. The time has come to start defining the structure of a new "Transatlantic Covenant" or "Charter." In my view such a charter must be based on three pillars: a political pillar, an economic pillar, and a security pillar.

The European Union and North America must give their partnership fresh impetus so that states on both sides of the Atlantic are not tempted to go their own ways. The common challenges we face make renewed transatlantic cooperation necessary; our common roots and principles make it possible. The spirit of change, which springs to mind here in Dresden, can be seen as a symbol for the building of a new Europe. I am convinced that this spirit has also inspired the atmosphere and the discussions during this year's Workshop.

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