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Remarks by Jüri Luik at the NACC Ministerial Meeting

2. December 1994 - 8:19

Mr. Jüri Luik, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia
2 December 1994, Brussels



Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to join the chorus wishing you all the best in your most challenging and what I am sure will be a rewarding position as Secretary-General of NATO. From your first few months in office, you have already assured Estonia that you have the same commitment to Central and Eastern Europe as did your predecessor and our friend, the late Mr. Manfred Wörner.

Mr. Chairman,

1994 has been a very good year for Estonia from the security perspective. It started with the January summit at which the Partnership for Peace programme was introduced, reached its zenith for us on the 31st of August with the withdrawal of Russian troops from our soil, and is ending with 23 states having signed up for PFP amidst a vigorous discussion of the hows and whys of NATO expansion.

The NACC has played an important role in strengthening confidence and stability in Europe. A significant element of NACC's work has been practical consultations since this forum was established three years ago. At the same time, a parallel practical process has been at work through the Partnership for Peace programme. I would like to stress that the work of NACC as a consultative forum to NATO is necessary, but should be viewed alongside the relations that are developing between Partners and NATO members via PFP.

As you know, Estonia was among the first to sign up for PFP. Still, we are often asked the question, "why do you still want to join NATO?" The answer is simple. We are convinced that NATO is the international organization which can project stability, a stability necessary to all countries of the continent. Despite some internal differences from time to time, we believe NATO is a relatively stable mechanism in a Europe where uncertainty runs rampant and crises too often break out. Often we hear the phrase that NATO is an outdated instrument of the Cold War. I do not agree. All along, NATO has been rather an instrument for protecting the democratic way of life. For this very reason, eventual accession to NATO is a strategic goal of my Government.

PFP is intimately connected to future enlargement. We regard the Partnership programme as a realistic vehicle toward the expansion of the Alliance. This is a practical plan, one that drives us to thinking in NATO terms, to building our fledgling armed forces in a way as to achieve interoperability with NATO members.

Through exercises, through contacts and cooperation between Partners and NATO member states, PFP is a practical way to bring us closer to NATO. One special way that we, alongside our Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues, are making use of PFP is development of our Joint Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion. We think that BALTBAT provides a fine opportunity, gradually and through skills transfers, to bring our entire armed forces up to NATO speed. As BALTBAT develops, we hope to be able to provide peacekeepers for NATO-sponsored operations in the nearest future.

Mr. Chairman,

Less than a year after PFP was introduced, a new debate has begun over the enlargement of the Alliance. Allow me first to say that Estonia warmly welcomes yesterday's decision to form a study group on enlargement that will reach its conclusions by late 1995. We also welcome the general approach of the NAC communiqué of 1. December.

At the same time, we recognize that enlargement is a complex and tricky issue. We are concerned, if I may be frank, that membership for some could imply an uncertain future for others. For this reason, we are gratified to learn that NATO is adopting an individualized stance and objective criteria vis-à-vis enlargement, an approach under which the efforts and actions of any individual country is the most important determinant to accession.

Because of the wider security implications, we also emphasize working on practical matters in parallel to holding political discussions at the highest level over enlargement. This brings me back to the Partnership programme. We believe that under an active programme, PFP can come to mean much of what NATO stands for, minus Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. In the long run, I believe this gradualist approach will bring us naturally to enlargement. But even now, PFP sends clear message to countries that may be harboring inharmonious thoughts. Naturally, this also means allocating more resources to the PFP programme, but I believe this is worth it.

I would make one more remark on the topic of expansion. In Estonia, we view NATO expansion within the context of European security in general. We see the expansion of NATO and of the European Union, for instance, as dual expressions of the same tendency. These processes work hand-in-hand, and are complementary in nature, but may move at varying speeds. This is a natural tendency that does not hinder any of the parallel processes, but rather provides an impulse for further development.

Mr. Chairman,

I would turn now to the problem of architecture, namely to the future of the CSCE within the European security framework. The idea of a new Europe, undivided and bound together by common values, is an idea in which the CSCE has a central role to play. As an inclusive political forum that functions alongside the military alliance we call NATO, the CSCE can and should be strengthened.

Estonia supports the idea of "CSCE First" vis-à-vis the UN, under which the conference would have a greater say in European questions than it enjoys today. We believe, however, that the CSCE could work better, that the mechanisms and instruments at the CSCE's disposal should be applied more widely and more effectively and with greater attention to declared principles. I share your hope that next week's summit will bring us closer to our vision for a new, more secure Europe.

Mr. Chairman,

I wish to add Estonia's voice to the discussion over Nagorno-Karabakh. I will be brief. Estonia strongly supports preparations underway in the CSCE to send a multinational peacekeeping force to that troubled region, for two reasons. I mentioned earlier that we are firm believers in the ongoing utility of the Chapter III principles of peacekeeping outlined in the Helsinki 1992 Document. For that reason, we think that the idea of a multinational peacekeeping force is a way to demonstrate, in a very concrete manner, that those principles can be translated into actions. Creating such a force would actually go beyond the discussion of how existing CSCE principles are connected to what are being referred to as "third party forces," and would go a long way toward managing conflict within the framework of international norms.

But we also support the creation of a multinational force for another, broader reason. We have, as you know, had our own painful experiences with spheres-of-influence. We know quite intimately what that means. On that background, it seems clear to us that Nagorno-Karabakh is a crucial litmus test of our ability not only to manage conflict in post-Cold War Europe, but also to make sure that Europe remains undivided. If this is the case, and we believe it is, then taking multilateral action would be a practical expression that there can be no spheres-of-influence in the new Europe.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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