Intervention of H.E. Mr. Indulis Berzins,
the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia
at the 37th Munich Conference on Security Policy,
3 February 2001, Munich
Much attention is being devoted over these days to the EU's crisis management capabilities, the new Common European Security and Defence Policy. We in Latvia support the idea that Europe needs to improve capability to react to international crisis. Kosovo has shown it. EU, of which Latvia will be part, will have better instruments for implementing its foreign policy objectives. Our country has offered certain units and assets to this common effort.
However, US involvement in Europe must be preserved. Transatlantic link which has been vital over the last fifty years has to remain as vibrant as before. In recognising this, The Baltic countries have developed our US-Baltic Charter on Partnership together with the US. But we also do aim at the same strong relationship with the United States that many other European countries have - through the NATO Alliance.
Even if the balance between the role of Europe and the United States in the area of security is being somewhat adjusted, the role for NATO remains crucial. Its core missions will not be taken up by the EU. The full guarantees of collective defence will be enjoyed by those that do belong to NATO, and these countries will qualify for the same level of solidarity and support. In the area of peace operations too, in all likelihood, Europe and America will act together. EU membership is only one side of the coin, NATO is the other. Therefore, early NATO membership will remain the objective of Latvia, as well as its Baltic neighbours.
The Baltic countries have something to offer to the Alliance. Latvia and the other Baltic states continue to demonstrate their commitment to European security through their participation in the NATO-led peace operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, through their performance and outstanding progress within the Membership Action Plan process, through their successful regional cooperation endeavors. Admission of our three countries to NATO will contribute to stability in the region and in Europe as whole. Our joint projects - BALTBAT, BALTNET, BALTRON and BALTDEFCOL - show that we are capable of high degree of integration in the area of security and defence, we have developed skills and practice of working with partners and allies. After all, these projects show that the synergy of our countries together will bring a most effective contribution to the Alliance.
We have to keep in mind the final objective of a Europe whole and free. At all times we should remember what the NATO Alliance and its enlargement is ultimately for - it is for stability and security throughout the continent, not just crisis management in some particular regions of Europe. Some suggest that those regions that have succeeded in stable and peaceful development do not need to be admitted to NATO. Well, I haven't heard, that any present NATO member country is envisaging to step out of NATO, because its situation is stable and peaceful.
NATO enlargement should tackle not just the easy issues but also those that need more resolve and determination. Solving an issue piece by piece is not always the method that would surely lead to the final goal.
Keeping the final goal in mind - that is why the nine NATO candidate countries have decided to work together. As mentioned by my Bulgarian colleague, we got off to a good start last year and are determined to continue. Latvia will welcome the nine Chiefs of Defence in Riga this summer, and together with Estonia hopes to host the Foreign ministers in Tallinn.
Finally, I would like to say that we are pleased to note that discussion of further NATO enlargement is moving into a higher gear. It is important to discuss this issue so that the decisions taken next year are conceptually consistent and serves our continent in the best possible way.
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