NATO´s partnership, Northern European and Nordic Cooperation

46th Annual Leangkollen Conference, Monday 7.February 2011
 “NATO´s partnership, Northern European and Nordic Cooperation”
Minister of Defence Grete Faremo

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,

Thank you for inviting me to give this year’s Opening lecture. About three months ago, NATO’s Heads of State and Government approved the Alliance’s new Strategic Concept, setting out NATO’s role and function in an increasingly globalised world.

A few weeks ago, China’s president Hu Jintao visited the US and president Obama. A visit which confirmed that the relationship between the US and China is the world’s most important bilateral relationship.

The meeting between the American and Chinese leader illustrates the pace with which patterns of influence and cooperation develops. We are facing a new international setting, in which both new challenges have appeared and the risk of great power rivalry again may emerge. These are among several reasons why the importance of close Allies and Partners are increasingly important.

To Norway, UN and NATO, respectively, represent international partnerships which remain an essential source of stability in an unpredictable world. At the same time, there is a need to further develop and strengthen partnerships in accordance with current and emerging challenges.

At the NATO Lisbon Summit, this was underlined and set out in the Strategic Concept. Norway will actively contribute to strengthening cooperation with NATO partners.  Closer cooperation at regional level contributes to stability and security within a broader, international framework.

Setting the Scene
Around 1990, some twenty years ago, we witnessed the profound and rapid changes which were unfolding in Europe, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, German unification and the demise of the Soviet Union as points of departure.

These days, we are witnessing how strong forces, aspirations and interests are at play in the Arab world, with still unknown consequences and repercussions. Recent developments in the Middle East and the Mediterranean area may develop in such a way that it will have an important impact on security and stability within a much wider setting. European and North American security may be affected.

As we still do not know which implications these rapid changes may cause, we are reminded of why close cooperation and dedicated Allies matter.

Subject to developments in the Middle East and North Africa, NATO may have to consider strengthening its partnership programs in the Mediterranean area and the Middle East, if we assess that this can assist in creating further stability in the region.

Since 1989, NATO has been instrumental in providing peace and stability within a profoundly transformed Europe, including through its enlargement process and the creation of partner mechanisms with a substantial number of countries. We need to identify and develop appropriate and viable mechanisms which enable us to better manage and resolve challenges and crises as and when they appear. 

The overall development within Europe over the past 50 years or so has shown how closer cooperation and commitment have resulted in stability and prosperity.

NATO’s ability to transform itself, including its flexible approach to building and further strengthening partnerships, supplemented by the Alliance’s interaction with the European Union, have contributed profoundly to the basis for a continued peaceful European development.

Much substance and practical cooperation have been put into NATO’s efforts to develop its relations to partner countries. These efforts have contributed significantly to the positive overall situation within the Euro-Atlantic area. 

As I have already mentioned, NATO´s Lisbon Summit in November last year created a strong basis for further developing and improving the partnerships.  In my view, this invites a process which should both deepen and widen cooperation with relevant countries and international organisations, a process which Norway deems crucial. The potential for such further cooperation is significant.

Against this background, I would like to offer you some further thoughts on NATO´s partnership policy, with a focus on Northern European and Nordic cooperation.

NATO’s cooperation and partnerships with both the United Nations and the EU also constitute key elements of building stronger cooperative arrangements for effective and appropriate coordination and common action. Norway participates actively in the core aspects of EU’s defence and security activities, within the framework of the Union’s emerging Common Security and Defence Policy.

Norway’s involvement in all strands of international relations is based on the fundamental principles as set out in the UN Charter. Moreover, NATO’s Strategic Concept states that an active and effective European Union contributes to the overall security of the Euro-Atlantic area, and thus, that the EU is a unique and essential partner to NATO.

 
Therefore, Norway already plays an active role in building and strengthening partnerships, on the basis of our NATO membership. It is in our interest to cooperate with likeminded countries, both allies and partners, to assist in maintaining our influence and secure sufficient political room of manoeuvre. Against this background, Norway will actively work to both deepen and widen Northern and Nordic cooperation, both within the military and civilian area.

Spending cuts and increased multilateral cooperation
The consequences of the financial and debt crises add to this need. As most NATO Allies will implement substantial spending cuts, the need for cooperation and for pulling together to arrive at appropriate and cost-efficient solutions is increasing. We need better value for our money allocated to defence, and one important contribution to achieve this is through increased multilateral defence-related cooperation.  Increasingly, we acknowledge that most countries are no longer able to uphold a full range of military capabilities. This invites increased multilateral cooperation, to derive new strength from mutual efforts. 

The recent Anglo-French agreement on specific defence-related cooperation may illustrate how even Europe’s strongest military powers plan to produce synergy and uphold some key capabilities through mutual efforts. Two of Norway’s key allies, the United Kingdom and Germany, have recently presented Defence White Papers or plans which will cut spending considerably, reorganise their force structures and reduce personnel numbers. As British and German military efforts and capabilities are affecting Alliance activities, including in our region, I will follow the implementation of these plans with great interest.  

Hedging against uncertainty
Fast and profound changes – expected or unexpected – may appear and affect us all overnight, I believe that our ability to hedge against such uncertainty will increase through innovative, thoughtful and measured cooperation. The current and emerging picture of possible threats and challenges only underlines the importance of retaining close Allies and Partners.

I don’t hesitate to repeat myself: NATO remains an essential source of stability in an unpredictable world. This is as much valid today as it was back in 1990. The Alliance provides a basis for adapting to a changing world. The Alliance is pivotal for stability in our part of the world, also because it has proved its ability to adapt to a changing environment after the end of the Cold War. 

Efforts to strengthen NATO’s ability to provide indivisible security to all Alliance countries remain at the core of NATO’s role and function. Whereas increased flexibility to meet unforeseen challenges is needed, the other – and crucial – side of this coin is updated and increased Alliance preparedness and ability to operate and act within NATO’s territory, in a timely manner, in areas “at home”. Sufficient situational awareness, increased training levels combined with appropriate skills and knowledge on regional conditions and requirements in relevant elements of NATO’s integrated command and force structures should accompany the development of cooperation – with both allies and partners – within more flexible and overlapping formats and scopes,.

Although developments within the Euro-Atlantic community since 1990 in general have been peaceful, they have, however, also included threats and challenges, perhaps in particular in the Western Balkans. NATO, EU and the international community are still engaging substantially in this region to ensure that the conflicts during the 1990s will not reappear or spark new confrontations and instability. Norway contributes to these efforts to secure continued stability both in the region and in Europe at large.

The last incarnation of the Alliance’s Strategic Concept sets out how NATO, on the basis of its ability to provide collective defence and appropriate crisis management, should contribute to international security through further developing and strengthening its partnerships. In this way, NATO reaches out to countries and areas outside Alliance territory, areas which represent an important part of the basis for Alliance security. Norway’s objective is to offer its fair share in this process. 

The importance of the United Nations
UN plays an important role in the context of building partnerships to strengthen security and stability. Cooperation between NATO and the UN continues to make a substantial contribution to security in operations around the world. To Norway, active participation in international operations is firmly based on the principles as set out in the UN Charter.

My government´s clear objective is to participate in, and contribute to, strengthening the UN´s ability to conduct peace operations. With our smaller and more specialized armed forces we acknowledge that any appropriate contribution to UN, or to a future peace keeping operation, is subject to Norway´s bilateral partnerships. With our heavy presence in Afghanistan, substantial contributions to international operations are only possible in a joint effort with other partners, which enables us to complement each others´ capacities and not overstretch our armed forces.

Increased complexity of the security environment
Since 9/11  NATO Allies have been faced with a new set of challenges. In addition to geopolitical changes, the climate change and potential competition for scarce resources, asymmetric threats, non-state actors, terrorism and failed states have been put on top of the agenda. These trends have contributed to the complexity of the current security environment.

Today’s globalised picture is also being affected by the threats posed by both possible proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including longer-range missiles. We also face the increased need and enhanced requirements for an effective cyber defence. As the picture contains the risks of terror and cyber attacks, this underlines the need for updated and enhanced civil-military cooperation.

A modern, open society, dependent on data communications, is vulnerable. This includes our armed forces. Although I do not see any imminent major threat to Norway, we need to be able to manage incidents, provocations or unforeseen threats as they may arise. We must ensure that appropriate and effective means and mechanisms for cooperation between the civilian sector and defence are on hand. In this context, we have recently identified requirements which we are now looking further into. This will constitute a broadly based process, in which a number of relevant Ministries and public agencies will be involved. In addition, we are in the process of working out a national cyber defence strategy.

Contributing to international operations
In general, partnerships and partner cooperation enhance our common ability to provide contributions and units to international multilateral operations and activities. This may be particularly valid for cooperation with Northern European, including Nordic, countries.

Cooperation with partner and allied countries may include military capabilties and skills which are required in the context of conducting international operations, whether they are led by NATO or EU, under the auspices of the UN.

During the last few years, EU has been conducting its naval operation in the Gulf of Aden, Atalanta, carrying out anti-piracy activities. Norway has contributed to the operation, and will consider a new deployment for 2012.   Norway will continue its contribution to ISAF in Afghanistan. Moreover, we will spend substantial resources in the next few years. Our presence in Afghanistan, including our significant military deployment, is carried out also in cooperation with partners and allies, notably Latvia and Finland.

Further cooperation between NATO and Russia
NATO Allies agree that the promotion of Euro-Atlantic security is best assured through a wide network of partner relationships with countries and organisations.

As NATO has reconfirmed its willingness to further develop partnerships, including with Russia, the Strategic Concept sets out the ambition of building a true strategic partnership with the Russian Federation. Norway’s current policy and contributions are very much in accordance with these guidelines and visions.

The situation in the High North is a key priority for the Norwegian Government and has been put high on the agenda of a number of Allied countries. Norway has made important progress in enhancing our relations with Russia with regard to security and military affairs. Last year we finally reached an agreement on the maritime delimitation in the Barents and Arctic Oceans, after 40 years of negotiations. Although still not ratified by both countries’ Parliaments, the agreement constitutes a breakthrough and a consolidation of our mutual efforts to arrive at stable and predictable relations.

We remain convinced that the security of both NATO and Russia are intertwined. Within a broader pattern of cooperation with Russia, Norway may consider further steps to strengthen the relations and contribute to building a partnership. In the military field, Norway would be interested in moving forward steadily by focusing on possible bilateral cooperation concerning some Coast Guard and Border tasks, as well as conducting training or exercises with units of the Russian Northern Fleet or Army units based in the North-Western parts of Russia.

Missile Defence
At NATO’s Lisbon Summit, we decided to proceed with the development of a territorially based missile defence, to meet threats originating from ballistic missiles. The system which NATO is currently creating for military units in theatre, will therefore be enhanced to also cover Allied territory and populations.

From our point of view, it is paramount that this system is directed against real threats, that it is cost-effective and, moreover, that it ensures the indivisibility of Alliance members’ security. The Norwegian Government has expressed concerns about the former US plans on missile defence.

The system which has now been decided will be based on the Alliance and will be subject to NATO’s command and control. It will contribute to the Alliance’s fundamental principle of collective security, a principle to which Norway strongly adheres. We deem it positive that there is broad agreement within the Alliance and with the Russian Federation that NATO should develop missile defence in cooperation with Russia. This is more than we could have hoped for not too long ago.

The approved missile defence capability will be established gradually, based on Alliance threat assessments, as they will evolve. Norway will contribute to meeting the costs of the programme, but this contribution will be modest in the short term.
Costs and shares of costs may however increase if and when NATO decides on investing in new, advanced missile warning systems. Norway will continue to emphasise that the forthcoming development of an Alliance Missile Defence must be threat-driven and should not invite any new arms race efforts, a situation we should avoid. 

However, we must never forget that not even a credible, effective missile defence represents a trade-in for effective diplomatic conflict-solving mechanisms. The Lisbon Summit also concluded that a comprehensive review will be carried out to assess NATO’s policy on defence and deterrence. I plan to actively follow this process.

EU-related defence cooperation
Cooperation within EU on security and defence is being developed and contributes to overall security in Europe. The Lisbon Treaty influenced the formal structure of meeting points between Norway and EU. Close contact with the EU-presidency and various bilateral contacts are therefore of increased importance to us.

This is why I met with the current EU-presidency in Budapest three weeks ago. Norway needs to continuously update and strengthen its relations with various elements of European security and defence cooperation, including relations with EU-members.

Norway specifically cooperates with Sweden and Finland within the EU context, linked to EU’s Battle Groups, one of which is led by Sweden. This Battle Group currently constitutes one of two battle groups on readiness. Both Finland and Norway have assigned units to this EU formation for the first six months of 2011.

Norway’s contribution to the battle group concept is one of three key elements defining our active support of EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The other key elements are participation in CSDP-operations and in the European Defence Agency (EDA), to which Norway – as the only non-member – is affiliated through an Administrative Arrangement.

This EDA-involvement requires a consistent and foreseeable Norwegian policy, based on our NATO membership, and in contact with our closest Allies. In my view, EDA has a role to play in facilitating further cooperation on defence capabilities in Europe.

Norway wants a close and well-working cooperation between NATO and the EU. We actively want to contribute to increased cooperation between countries which are members of both NATO and EU, or only one of these. Strengthening defence cooperation within Europe, will serve to enhance cost-efficient solutions in times of scarce resources. This is to the benefit of the well established transatlantic community.

We note that EU has taken further interest in the High North and realise that relations with Russia also draw attention within the EU. Norway has participated in nine civilian and military EU-led operations and missions. Consequently, we are the Third-country which has been involved the most.

Norway supports an on-going Nordic effort which entails military capability-building in East Africa.

The potential for Nordic defence cooperation
Defence cooperation between Nordic countries is continuously being developed.
Partnerships are intended to represent a supplement to Norway’s efforts to contribute to overall security, based on our NATO-membership.

Norway is bordering on three countries, all of which are NATO partners. Cooperation with Russia is linked to the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). Sweden and Finland are the two countries outside NATO with whom Norway cooperates most. During the last 15 years or so, the two countries have been actively pursuing a partnership with NATO, both politically and militarily. Their participation in NATO’s defence planning and review process (PARP) has produced considerable results. This includes the ability to participate effectively in NATO-led activity, as witnessed in ISAF.

Within the framework of NATO’s cooperative security, that is, engaging actively to enhance international security, Norway is involved in further cooperative measures with our Nordic neighbours. A joint Swedish/Norwegian procurement of a new artillery system (ARCHER) is one of the projects. With the Swedes, we are also considering procurement of certain types of vehicles.

I am also pleased that Finland has decided to procure the Norwegian land-based air defence system NASAMS II, thus providing further opportunities for cooperation. This year, we plan to complete the process of linking Sweden and Finland to NATO’s air surveillance and control system.. Furthermore, the four Nordic countries have carried out a programme on Nordic cross-border training with combat aircraft. This has illustrated the potential for synergy and cost-efficiency.  

Our cooperation with Nordic neighbours is conducted within the framework of NORDEFCO, which was established in November 2009. The ambition is to facilitate more cost-effective solutions, enabling the countries to provide appropriate units and capabilities to NATO-, EU- or UN-led activities. Similarities with regard to culture and language contribute to the prospects of successful cooperative efforts between the Nordic countries.

Towards a Nordic Declaration of Solidarity
NATO partnership arrangements have been developed over the last 15 years. And so has the Nordic defence cooperation, which has gradually grown into an important element of the NATO partnerships. We are considering to make a joint Declaration of Solidarity between the Nordic countries, confirming the extent to which our partnerships have evolved. The idea is partly to sum up our achievements so far, partly to formalise our mutual support of common values and interests.

Such a Declaration should strengthen our dedication to act together if necessary, and provide mutual support if need be. Any formulations in such a Declaration must however, be in respect and accordance with our responsibility and commitment in relation to NATO and the North Atlantic Treaty.

The Northern European context
Dear audience, last November I hosted a Ministerial Meeting, at which the British, German, Polish as well as the Nordic and Baltic Ministers of Defence participated. This meeting was important in its own right, symbolising the will and need to explore the scope and potential for further cooperation. With the notable inclusion of the Netherlands, these countries seek to identify and further substantiate modalities for cooperation. Within this flexible format, possible areas of cooperation might be force production, training, education, exercises and operations.

The historic links and cultural bonds between the countries in this region are profound, facilitating the cooperation. United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, are  amongst our closest allies and are all located around the North Sea. In addition, Germany and Denmark border on the Baltic Sea, illustrating the close connection between the North Sea and Baltic Sea areas. This Northern European context includes the Nordic dimension. Most countries around both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea are EU-members.

I do not find any inconsistency in attempting to combine and harmonise the various arenas on which Norway is cooperating on defence issues.

Further Partner Cooperation
In addition to the partner cooperation with Nordic countries and Russia, Norway has an extensive cooperation with countries in the Western Balkans, as well as with Ukraine and Georgia. This includes support to strengthening democratic control over the Armed Forces, military capacity building, as well as support to countries in transition.

We believe that supporting the countries in the Western Balkans in their Euro-Atlantic integration contributes to a stronger NATO. This also lays the foundations for stability and democratic development.

Concluding remarks
With a new Strategic Concept and the forthcoming reform of its command structure, NATO is better able to meet the requirements and challenges of the rapidly changing international setting, at the same time retaining its ability to influence and form trends and developments.

In this increasingly globalised world, NATO’s role and function remains fundamentally important. The Alliance represents a pillar for continued and updated cooperation between North America and Europe, and, consequently, for collective defence and common security. On this basis, Norway will play an active role in forging improved and modern partnerships and cooperation with non-Allied countries.

On the basis of – but also in order to assist – the continued security and stability which NATO provides, Norway will participate in identifying and establishing mutually beneficial and appropriate cooperative arrangements both with Allies and Partners. Norway intends to play its part in enhancing partnerships through flexible formats and – if and when appropriate – across and beyond existing frameworks. Our objective remains the same: Promote and strengthen Euro-Atlantic security and contribute to security and stability within a broader international framework.

 

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