42ND Munich conférence on security policy.

One year ago, many observers were still wondering about the European and American "continental drift". This was a leftover from the Iraq crisis, of course. But, more fundamentally, there was a legitimate question about the result of increasing demographic, economic, cultural gaps between the two sides of the Atlantic ; and this could drive them inexorably apart.

2005 witnessed a few pivotal moments, such as President Bush’s visit to Brussels, the failure of the referenda on the European Constitution, the humanitarian disasters in Louisiana and Pakistan, the hopes and uncertainties in the Middle East, the sudden rise in crude oil prices, the Iranian crisis, etc.

2005 reinforced the strategic analyses that highlighted the rise of China, India and Brazil, the Russian ambitions, the international competition for energy and raw materials, the development of political Islam, the risks linked to terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the African crises, social protests in Latin America.

So the international environment changes very quickly. Globalization creates opportunities and frustrations on a global scale. Our previous references fade away.

Everyone wonders about new risks and new balances. How can we defend our interests and values ? Are the traditional tools still efficient or should new ones be developed ?
The transatlantic relationship is no exception to this self-examination. Where is the European project heading ? Does the Atlantic Alliance still make sense ?

On both sides of the Atlantic, we know what brings us together : common values, close interdependence, the same threats. But, as we are all aware, a couple only survives if it has a common plan and is built on a true partnership. It is the same for the relationship between Europe and the United States : what is our shared goal ? Can we develop a balanced relationship ?
We must redefine our common project.

Our countries are democracies based on the rule of law, the freedom of men and women, and on a social pact which ensures cohesion. On the international scene we defend what we think are universal values, essential to the fulfilment of men and women.

But we are aware of the discrepancies in terms of culture, development and history which mark countries and people. The wealth of diversity must be safeguarded.

Our vision can therefore not be uniformity, but a search for goals that are in line with our common values. What are they ?

First, preservation of an unquestioned international legitimacy. We all need an international rule that is recognized ; otherwise it is the law of the jungle.

For all of us, the UN is the only holder of international legitimacy. But today, its organization and its action are criticized. Therefore, it is urgent to succeed in restoring its credibility vis-à-vis the composition of the Security Council and the effective implementation of its resolutions, and methods of coercion. The credibility of the very basis of any common action depends on this. We must not hesitate in the face of the necessary reforms.

Counter-terrorism still remains our long-term priority. This implies enhanced cooperation in the fields of intelligence, police, justice and control of financial flows. We will be efficient only if we convince our partners outside the Western world of the need for genuine international cooperation, including in common action in the face of unacceptable political and economic situations, and which also give rise to terrorism.

The fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is another priority. Because these weapons can some day or other be used by terrorist organizations. Because the violation by countries like Iran and North Korea of their international commitments may damage the whole non-proliferation system. Despite the difficulties, we must show our solidarity and determination.
Settling regional crises is also a sine qua non of our security. Africa is seeing the expansion of areas where no law applies which are all becoming shelters for terrorists and traffickers of all kinds and can lead to massive uncontrolled immigration.

Asia is seeing its traditional balances shattered by the emergence of new poles of power. The Arab-Muslim world is confronted with an identity crisis with deep roots which makes it reject any imposed external model.

Latin America is searching for its own specific way.

We must take into account these aspirations and frustrations which are being expressed through the crises.

Finally, a number of transnational problems will be solved only at the global level. In the next few years we shall have to deal with the issues of the environment, water, pandemics and illegal migrations which cannot be resolved by a few States only. It is a collective challenge capable of guaranteeing global balance to which the richest States, in Europe and America, must respond with generosity ; otherwise our children’s future might be mortgaged.
These common goals necessitate a new transatlantic partnership.

In order to implement this shared plan, we must adapt our resources so as to take best advantage of our respective assets.

As we said : uniformity is not our goal and diversity may go together with efficiency. Provided that we make sure our actions are coherent.

What can we rely on ?

Many of us, Europeans and Americans, are members of the Atlantic Alliance. This alliance enabled us to overcome the East-West confrontation.

It remains a key guarantee of our collective security.

Today, it enables us together to promote stability in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

We must see these priority operations through and carry on with the reform of our structures in order to be even more reactive.

However, let us make sure we do not spread ourselves too thinly in areas lacking coherence or where the competence of other organizations is more proven. Let us not waste our financial resources which are already inadequate and vital for the improvement of our equipment to address the threats. Let us not expend our energy recreating methods of action with no real justification.
We can also rely on a European Union which is more and more qualified to assume its responsibilities. It has given itself some. It has been accepted that it has some.

Today, Europe is the leading economic power in the world. It is cut out to be a major centre of power in the new international environment. Admittedly, it is facing institutional difficulties, and its economic growth could be stronger. But it remains an extraordinary project, in the full sense of the term, for the other regions of the world, as a model of peaceful cooperation. The development of its defence capabilities is an imperative in order to enable it to be an autonomous player and strengthen the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance.

This durability of the transatlantic link precisely depends on our ability to define a new partnership between the European Union and North America. We must make the best use of our diversities.

Each of our pillars has specific strengths : special links with this or that region, its own capabilities in the civil and military fields, experience adapted to specific environments.
Last year, in February, Europeans and Americans agreed upon the necessity of a strong Europe, essential for reinforcing efficient cooperation between the European Union and the United States.

We must now have a dialogue on the major issues of common interest. We must think together about the implications of the emergence of new poles of power in the world, the ways to fight most effectively against terrorism and try and halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, about the settlement of regional crises and transnational issues. The keyword is complementarity in our actions and not to expect everything from the other or the submission of one to the other.

When it comes to defence, we must clarify what is within the remit of NATO and what is in that of Defence Europe. Today, when the United States is involved, NATO is better equipped to handle major - demanding substantial capabilities - and long operations.

ESDP is better adapted to "lightning" operations which require fewer capabilities and more flexibility (for example, Battle Groups 1,500 at the onset of a crisis) and civil-military intervention, which are one of the European Union’s core responsibilities.
One should not think in terms of competition between organizations but of complementarity.

In a symphony either all the instruments play together, or just some of them play.

* * *

In fact, we must be aware that we will probably be confronted with numerous crises in the years to come. The problem will therefore not come from competition between institutions, but from a lack of resources to settle these problems if we don’t make the necessary efforts.

It is up to each of us - countries and institutions - to assume our responsibilities. And the primary responsibility of a State is to ensure the safety of its citizens.

In the face of the crises, it is therefore essential to strengthen the resources devoted to defence. Some are not making an effort commensurate with the problems which lie ahead of us and are relying on the others to ensure their security. That is not what international solidarity means. Everyone must realize that they have to face up to their responsibilities and make an effort.

Today’s meeting must help get this message through to our general publics. Often governments and parliaments use public opinion in their countries as a pretext, but it is not certain that they have got this right. General publics are sometimes more ready than governments to make the necessary efforts.

Our meeting must also reflect our determination to help our values and common interests prevail in the new international configuration.

Because of their capabilities, Europeans and Americans have a particular responsibility in the definition of a more stable and fairer international order. I am deeply convinced that the European Union and North America must today establish a new strategic partnership. Better balanced and more respectful of diversities, it has a lot to give the world./.

Dernière modification : 17/01/2008

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