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Second Annual International Conference: NATO, EU and the New Risks: A Southeast Europe Perspective
29-30 October, 2004
Sofia, Bulgaria

Mr. Dominick Chilcott, Director, EU Policy, UK Foreign Office

Good morning your Excellences, Ministers and Deputy Secretary General! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honor to be invited to participate in such a distinguished panel and to address this prestigious audience on an important subject, the new security risks to this region. And I congratulate, as other have done, the Center for the Study of Democracy for having organized this conference, their second conference in a year. I apologize for my voice; I am afraid I have a cold. This is not totally inappropriate as I think one of the security risks is the spread of disease around Europe and I am bringing some British germs to Bulgaria to share that I can give the practical as well as talk about the theory.

My emphasis in my brief remarks, as the Director for Europe in the Foreign Office, will be more, I think, on the European Union contribution to dealing with the security threats than the NATO one and again it’s an appropriate ay as the Deputy Prime Minister said to reflect little bit on what the European Union is doing in the region because as we know heads of government are in Rome signing the Constitutional Treaty. This may be called the Second Treaty of Rome concerning the European Union and many of us have hopes that whereas the first treaty of Rome launched the development of the institutions of the European Union, the second treaty will as it were provide the finalité of the process of integration and the development of the institutions and allow us to say that the rulebook for the European Union has now been settled and we can get on with the real business of doing the work according to that rulebook. And I should also say in a bilateral capacity how delighted my government is, the British government is, in the progress that Bulgaria is making in its own journey towards European Union membership and we look forward very much, in Britain, to working with Bulgaria as a partner in the European Union from January 2007.

And so to the main subject matter, I hope it would be of no surprise to anybody that I agree very much with the thrust of what previous speakers have said and I will try to avoid too much repetition of their remarks because they seem to me to be exactly right. I think looking at security threats in this region, one can broadly divide them into three categories, although I admit these aren’t exclusive. There is sort of classic state aggression, one state aggressing against another which of course is not a new security threat and indeed there is a very strong sense that that sort of aggression is history that it won’t recur and we have moved on from there to a sort of Professor Francis Fukuyama view of the world. However, it does depend a little bit, I think, on where you sit and I was involved in the negotiations to bring a settlement to Cyprus which I hope isn’t considered that very off of this conference earlier in this year and when Greeks Cypriots voted in very large numbers, by majority of over 75 percent, against the United Nations plan for settlement in Cyprus, one of the reasons they did so is they felt that the issue of possible Turkish intervention in the South of the island hadn’t been dealt with adequately in the plan. So, although, I think, we don’t need to deal in looking at the new security threats with state aggression, there are still pockets, shall we say, in our region who still worry about state aggression.

A second area, I would say is the consequences of state failure or the consequences of bad governance or failure of governance and other speakers have already dwelt on these to some extent in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, but clearly organized crime, legal immigration, people trafficking, drugs trafficking and the spread of disease are all consequences of this, which represent new threats we have to deal with. And then the third area, which is not specific to this region, that is a new challenge, which we all have to face, is the threat from international terrorism, which again has been mentioned.

Just very briefly, responses to these different categories of threats: clearly the most effective response to the possibility of state aggression is to join credible and strong alliance committed to collective defense. So with the expansion of NATO, and I congratulate Bulgaria and the other six countries who joined NATO in March 2004, in a sense that is being perfectly, adequately and correctly addressed. But of course, as the Deputy Secretary General and others have said, joining NATO and the prospect of joining NATO bring so much more than just collective security for the countries concerned. State failure: state failure, as I said, is still with us in the Balkans. I think that itself divides into two categories. The first issue of state failure is the sort of unrest, instability, the conflict, the humanitarian crisis, which we have seen at various times in different parts of the Western Balkans. Whereas the second category is really about good governance, the failure of the administration to administer properly the corruption, breakdown in the rule of law, which follows after that.

Now, as others have said, NATO has developed an absolutely excellent track record of intervening to dealing with perhaps the first category of the consequences of state failure, the conflict, instability, unrest and the humanitarian crisis, and indeed, as the Deputy Secretary General said, NATO is realizing that it has to deal with the consequences of state failure when out of area by the European continent in Afghanistan and in Iraq in order to ensure the stability of as it were the home front. I think the European Union has also understood in the last decade or so that it too has to be able to operate in this area, as well. I think we all remember the bitter experience of Bosnia in the early nineteen nineties, when Luxembourg had the presidency of the European Union at that time, Jacques Poos, who was a great European and a very powerful and influential foreign minister of the Council, unfortunately, stood before the cameras and said that the hour of Europe has now come, meaning that Europe was going to solve the problem of the former Yugoslavia and Bosnia in particular. And as we all know, the immediate result was humiliation for the European Union, as it found it did not have the policies nor the instruments in order to stabilize the situation. So that was one lesson.

We also learned the lesson of the unwisdom of pursuing a policy that didn’t have support and backing from the United States and it was only when we linked up with the United States that we managed to have a coherent and coordinated policy which demonstrated and brought about change and improvements on the ground. So those were two lessons. There was also a sort of third lesson for the European Union, although more generic sort, which is even when we have diplomatic pressure, which is useful in itself, as Kofi Annan reminded us in another context, diplomatic pressure backed by the credible threat of military force is even more effective. So against this background the European Union decided it needed to take upon itself the development of a security and defense policy that could make a difference and, the Saint-Malo British-French summit in 1998, was of course a breakthrough. Up until that point I think suspicion in my government, in my country, about pursuing military structures outside of NATO had inhibited us from allowing European security and defense policy to reach its potential. But once the conditions were right to remove that inhibition, in a relatively short time we saw the fruits of European work in this area and, as others have mentioned, the European Union is now “finding its feet” through operation Concordia in Macedonia in 2003. There was operation Artemis of course in the Kongo, more recently and we look forward to operation Altea in Bosnia next year. I should emphasize that this development of the European Union, the security and defense policy, is happening in an entirely NATO friendly way and there is one rather good illustration of this, which is that the mission, the European Union mission in Bosnia next year is going to be led by the United Kingdom, whereas the NATO mission in Kosovo, K-4, is being led by France. So as it where we are playing perhaps the opposite roles to the ones you might suspect if you took rather simplistic view of these developments.

The great advantage the European Union brings to dealing with failed states and to the failures of governments and I am not suggesting at all this is a beauty contest between NATO and the European Union but the great advantage that the European Union brings is that it has as it were a comprehensive package of policies that it can apply in a country. It has peacekeeping troops now that are credible and effective. It can deploy civilian police on crisis management operations, as well, but it also has humanitarian and reconstruction aids that it can deploy and the European Union member states are the largest aid donor in the world, and it has technical assistance and budgets for training for the institutions of states in difficulty. And as well as that the European Union has very powerful trade measures, either negative in the sense of the application of sanctions, the denial of access to the European Union’s very considerable single market or the opposite, incentives through giving preferential trade access to our single market in order to incentivize states to make progress, reform and improve their behavior. And on top of that of course there is the diplomatic pressure from 25 plus member states coordinating a policy, where they speak with a stronger voice collectively than any of them would do individually. In all of this of course the fact that the European Union is developing a strategic partnership with NATO makes it a very exciting prospect for NATO and the European Union to be marching hand in hand in this area, I think, is encouraging for us all. Of course, once the immediate crisis has been stabilized we enter perhaps the longer term, the second phase of state failure, the failure of the administration to administer, the breakdown in the rule of law, leading to criminality, corruption, trafficking and in general, I think, impoverishment of the country. I think I can’t emphasize enough the importance, as we say it Britain, of establishing the rule of law in Southeast Europe adequately and sufficiently. As others have said that means robust and independent judiciary, an accountable police force, functioning mechanisms to enforce judgments; all these are absolutely vital. They cannot be done by outsiders for establishing the rule of law, because ultimately we are talking about trust between countries in the establishment of security. All European countries have an interest in every other European country’s capacity and will to enforce the rule of law. Criminal activities of course notoriously do not respect international boundaries and London is affected by, for example, Turkish drug traffickers every bit as much as Istanbul is and perhaps we have a larger market for their products maybe more so. The most powerful weapon in the European Union’s armory in helping to promote reform and encouraging governments to establish, enforce and implement the rule of law is of course our enlargement policy and offering the prospective of membership. Accession provides the most powerful incentive to this region. We all know how it works in this room. The Commission produces its regular reports as the sort of honest referee of the process and the European Union member states apply the conditionality allowing an aspirant country to move backwards or hopefully forwards on its journey towards membership, according to the progress it is making in reaching European standards. And to help them do that there is European aid and the Twinning projects from individual member states and their own bilateral aid programs. The record of enlargement has been fabulously successful and speaks for itself but let me very briefly remind this audience where we were as recently as twenty or thirty years ago. In the early 1970s Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey all had shall we say unsatisfactory political systems and in Central and Eastern Europe this audience does not need reminding about the dead hand of communism, the stifling of enterprise and individual liberty. I contend that it was enlargement that provided the compass by which these countries, in Iberia, in the Eastern Mediterranean, in Central Europe once they had the opportunity to change, and I don’t argue that the European Union necessarily provided this opportunity but once they had that opportunity, they saw the direction they wanted to head in and they were able to navigate their way towards that goal.

In the former Yugoslavia, the more proximate area for our conference today, progress is a bit more mixed but I think without the prospective of membership we have to ask ourselves whether Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Albania would be making the efforts that they are clearly making, and indeed Bosnia too. The timing of when reforms will be introduced and implemented in these countries is uncertain but I think provided that the possibility of European membership remains open to them the ultimate destination of these countries and ultimate achievement of reforms in the rule of law and European standards in the economical and political fields is not in doubt.

Finally, a very brief word on international terrorism to complete the picture. The point of terrorism is of course to produce a disproportionately large effect, spreading fear and terror amongst our communities and populations for a relatively small action, which impacts on a relatively small number of individuals. And I do think that all of us, policy makers, think-tankers, journalists and others who have an opportunity to shape public opinion have a responsibility not to play the terrorists’ game by serving their objectives and getting things out of proportion. But I don’t give too many examples of this, but we suffer at the moment in the United Kingdom with the broadcast videos of our individual hostages in Iraq, which has a tremendous effect throughout our country and this is one example how really a relatively small action all be it at the terrible and tragic individually concerned and their families, nonetheless has a quite disproportionate effect across our community.

Having said that, there is more that we collectively, as countries in the international community or as member states of the European Union, there is more that we can and should be doing to combat the threat from international terrorism whether it’s in the sphere of sharing of information and intelligence or whether it’s in adopting sufficiently rigorous legislation, at the same time bearing in mind the need not to transgress individual freedoms and liberties or to do so only to the very minimum necessary, or adopting the necessary legislation to be able to take action against terrorist organizations and individuals. We have created, in the European Union, a very free society where we can move people, capital, goods, money around our countries without challenge and we must not allow those freedoms to be abused by people who are pursuing the objectives of terrorism. But as well as trying to take action, rightly, against terrorist organizations we should look to at the causes of terrorism. We must be tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism, to paraphrase a famous statement by my prime minister. So there Mister Chairman I think I would like to stop and I congratulate once again the organizers of the conference for organizing and hosting this important event and I look forward to the discussions to follow.
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