Speech by NATO Secretary General in Jordan
Ladies and Gentlemen, It is both a great honour and a genuine
pleasure for me to be in Jordan today. His Majesty King Abdallah
has shown a very strong personal interest in NATO, and has visited
NATO Headquarters in Brussels twice. My visit today is the first
ever official visit by a NATO Secretary General to Jordan –
and I am quite sure it will not be the last.
I have come
to Jordan at a time of change. A time of change, both here in
the Middle East and within NATO. A time when new ideas and policies
are being generated – in order to remove misunderstandings
and foster cooperation. And a time of great hope and expectation
– not only about the future of this pivotal region, but
also about the relationship between NATO and its southern neighbours.
Let me say
a few words about NATO’s transformation first. As you know, while
keeping its core functions of collective defence, the Alliance,
after the fall of the Berlin wall, has got progressively more
involved in peacekeeping and outreach activities.
1990s, NATO helped to bring peace and stability to the Balkans.
We took action first in Bosnia and Herzegovina, successfully since
we recently handed over our military operation to the EU. Then
in Kosovo, where our Balkan efforts are currently focussed with
a 17,000 strong force contributing to international efforts for
reconciliation in that province. More recently, we deployed a
maritime operation – called “Active Endeavour”
helping to deter terrorist activities in the Mediterranean Sea.
And, responding to the dramatically changing international security
environment, we took the landmark decision to move beyond the
traditional european boundaries, we took command of the now about
10,000 strong International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan,
thereby strongly supporting the emergence of the sovereign and
peaceful country the Afghan people deserve. And finally, we are
currently stepping up our efforts to assist with the training
and equipment of Iraq’s security forces allowing also the
people in that country to take their fate into their own hands
as fast as possible.
to these operational commitments NATO has also developed a comprehensive
network of vital partnerships. With the main institutional actors
of course, the UN, the European Union and the OSCE. But also with
countries of strategic importance such as Russia, Ukraine and
partners of Central Asia and the Caucasus. And last but not least
with the countries of North Africa and the Broader Middle East.
A pivotal region for stability and security in the world.
Let me also
say a few words about this region, the Middle East. I believe
there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about its future.
There is clear, positive movement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We can all feel heartened by the recent elections for the Palestinian
leadership. And there has been renewed political engagement in
several major capitals these last few months as well, both here
in this region, in Europe, and – importantly — across the
For many years
already, Jordan has played a constructive, stabilising role in
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has consistently sought to
involve all the parties concerned. It has kept alive their faith
in the Middle East peace process, and their hopes for a better
tomorrow. And it looks as though that engagement may now finally
there are reasons for optimism about the future of Iraq, as well,
notwithstanding the current difficulties in that country. The
planned national elections will be a major contribution to the
development of a sovereign, stable Iraq. And the NATO Allies are
resolved to contribute to that process. As I said, we are assisting
with the training and equipment of Iraq’s security forces,
and we will be keeping a close eye on other ways and means to
help the Iraqi people.
Jordan’s readiness to help to make the Alliance’s
mission in Iraq a success. It is clear that Iraq will require
a constructive, long term approach by the international community,
and especially by the countries from the region. In this latter
respect, I also commend Jordan for its efforts, including through
the regional meeting here in Amman last week.
been a pillar of strength in a very volatile region, and I have
great confidence that it will continue to play that role in the
future. NATO’s involvement in this region is much more recent,
and of a different nature. But I am persuaded that the Alliance,
as well, can make an important, lasting contribution to security
and stability in this region. And that is what we are trying to
achieve with our Mediterranean Dialogue.
Dialogue was launched back in 1994. It was NATO’s first
attempt at building new relationships across the Mediterranean
Sea. After the end of East-West confrontation in Europe, we all
felt that the time had come to reach out a hand of friendship
— not only to Europe’s East, but also to our neighbours
in North Africa and the Middle East.
our Mediterranean Dialogue had modest aims. We wanted to create
a forum for confidence building and transparency. We wanted to
learn more about our Dialogue partners’ specific security
problems. And we wanted to explain NATO’s transformation
and its evolving operational commitments in support of the international
Over the past
ten years, as the Mediterranean Dialogue progressed, we also became
more ambitious in enhancing its scope. We gave the Dialogue more
structure, and gradually opened up more opportunities for concrete
cooperation, including military-to-military, civil emergency and
scientific cooperation. And we were very pleased with the response
by our Mediterranean partners to these fresh opportunities.
Jordan joined the Mediterranean Dialogue back in 1995, it has
been a most active participant. This was, quite frankly, no surprise.
It reflected Jordan’s determination to contribute to security
not just in its own region, but also beyond. And it was in keeping
with this country’s most welcome contribution to NATO’s
efforts to bring peace to the Balkans.
years, Jordan has been especially active in the Mediterranean
Dialogue’s military programme. This includes training at
NATO educational establishments, port visits by NATO vessels,
as well as other meetings involving the Jordanian military and
their NATO counterparts. Moreover, Jordan has also expressed great
interest in border security, civil emergency planning and counter-terrorism.
And I see considerable further potential for mutually beneficial
cooperation in those areas, given the new phase which the Mediterranean
Dialogue has now entered.
at NATO’s Istanbul Summit, the Allies agreed, in close consultation
with Jordan and the other Mediterranean Dialogue countries, to
move from dialogue to partnership — from the still fairly limited
contacts we have to more focused cooperation. It was agreed, in
particular, to take a close look at NATO’s other major cooperation
framework – the Partnership for Peace – and then apply
suitable elements of this framework to the Mediterranean Dialogue.
for Peace was developed in a specific, largely European, context.
But several elements of PfP appear very valuable to our southern
neighbours, as they have proven to be to our neighbours to the
east. This applies, for example, to cooperation on defence reform
and joint training; to cooperation in intelligence sharing in
the fight against terrorism; but also to actual operational cooperation
to defend against terrorism – such as possible participation
in NATO’s maritime operation in the Mediterranean. Basically
an anti-terrorist operation.
it will take some time to work out the specifics of our enhanced
cooperation. But there has been a generally very favorable response
to the new opportunities on offer, and a strong determination
to explore them.
month, we held a first-ever meeting at Ministerial level between
NATO and its Mediterranean partners, which Minister Khader attended
on behalf of Jordan. The meeting was a major step forward. It
demonstrated that the political will is there in all our countries
to move our cooperation forward. It concluded that there is still
work to be done in particular to bring our publics along. And
it showed broad agreement on three basic principles on which to
build our cooperation. Let me highlight these principles briefly
principle: joint ownership. This has always been a guiding principle
for the Mediterranean Dialogue. It simply means that the Dialogue
is not about imposing ideas on other countries; that it respects
and takes account of the specific regional, cultural and political
context of the respective partners; and that the countries in
the Dialogue should see themselves as shareholders in a cooperative
effort. In short, our Mediterranean Dialogue must be a two-way
street – since only a genuine security partnership across
the Mediterranean will work.
shown repeatedly that it is a responsible international actor
– a country that is able to define its security interests
clearly and consistently, and to act accordingly. Jordan has worked
together successfully with NATO in the past, and has made clear
its strong determination to continue to build upon that cooperation.
I am sure that we will be able to do so.
principle: complementarity. Jordan works with, and through, many
other important organisations, in particular the European Union
and the OSCE. That underlines the need for complementarity –
for organisations to play to their strengths, rather than to duplicate
each other’s efforts.
cooperation is where NATO’s comparative advantage lies.
The Alliance is an organisation where 26 member states and dozens
of other countries are engaged in political and military cooperation
and coordination on a daily basis. It is the combination of political
dialogue and practical cooperation that makes all the difference.
That is the approach we have always taken within NATO, and with
considerable success. It is this approach which we now wish to
widen to the Mediterranean Dialogue.
principle: respect for national and regional specifics. It is
obvious that, while we face a number of common security challenges,
these challenges may be perceived differently from country to
country, and from region to region. Moreover, in addition to this
difference in perception, there are and will remain differences
in the ways and means that each of us has available to take action.
In NATO, we understand very well that there are differences for
instance between the Maghreb and the Middle East, and also that
the needs of, say Marocco and Jordan, may not necessarily be the
while the Alliance will maintain a degree of coherence in its
relations with its Mediterranean Dialogue partners, we are keen
to work with our partners on an individual basis. To sustain a
dialogue with individual partners on their specific security concerns
and requirements. And to define together how best to meet those
needs. Which, of course, has also been a major objective of my
visit here today.
the three key principles that I believe will guide the development
of the Mediterranean Dialogue, as well as the Alliance’s
future relationship with Jordan. They are the same principles
that will also guide the development of another, distinct yet
complementary NATO initiative, which is our Istanbul Cooperation
Initiative – or ICI. Through the ICI, we seek to build new
ties with interested countries from the region that is sometimes
called the “Broader Middle East”. Several Gulf States
have already expressed an interest in cooperating with NATO, and
we are currently working out the modalities of our future relationship.
But, always on the basis of the three guiding principles as mentioned
In the past,
the Mediterranean Sea has been both a barrier and a bridge. It
has been a region where different cultures and religions met –
sometimes violently, but far more often peacefully. And at all
times there were intense trade relations between the shores of
the “mare nostrum”.
role of the Mediterranean as a bridge is more evident than ever.
Because demographics, economics, and energy needs create an ever
closer interdependence between us. And because new threats —
such as terrorism, the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,
and transnational organised crime — affect us all and require
a common response.
the Mediterranean Dialogue, and developing it into a genuine partnership,
is one major step in this process. It opens a new chapter of our
cooperation. And it provides us with new ways and means to address
the serious security challenges before us.
NATO is keen
to explore those new opportunities. Given its strong reputation
as a responsible international actor, a country that is keen to
contribute to security in its own region and beyond, I am confident
that Jordan, as well, will not fail to grasp the new opportunities.