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Notes for the NATO 2009 Summit

English Pages, 3. 4. 2009

Secretary General, Dear colleagues,

I would like first to thank both Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy for the innovative organization of this summit which takes place in the moment of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the North Atlantic Alliance. I am sure all of us gathered here share the view that in the past 60 years NATO has convincingly proved its importance and indispensability.

When we speak about anniversaries, let me mention that my country, the Czech Republic, together with two other central European countries, Poland and Hungary, a few weeks ago celebrated the 10th anniversary of its NATO membership. It is a much shorter period of time but it gave us a lot and we do hope that it was not just a one-sided gain, we hope that our membership made a contribution to NATO as well. I would like to use this opportunity to, once again, thank all those politicians from the NATO member countries who supported the enlargement of NATO at that time. 

Let me welcome President Obama. We are looking forward to working with him. We hope his leadership will be strong and inspiring not only at home, but also here, in the Alliance. We hope he will be able to find a much needed mix of both continuity and discontinuity in American foreign policy and defence policy positions. 

Let me welcome the representatives of Albania and Croatia who for the first time take part in our gathering. I am convinced that our last year’s decision was a correct one. With all my respect to my friend, Prime Minister Karamanlis, I only wish the issue of Macedonia’s membership will be settled soon, regardless of the official name of the country in question.

It brings me to the first of our tonight’s topics – the Alliance’s future. The Czech Republic supports the continuation of what I would call a cautious process of enlargement. By saying “cautious enlargement” I want to say that NATO should remain a functional and efficient defense alliance. The new members must fully share the values of our Alliance, must be politically and economically stable, must assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, and must bring “an added value” also in the military-defense fields. 

As an institution based on the principle of voluntary cooperation, NATO should remain a framework for political consultations and a place for dialogue and for consensus-seeking. NATO must find solutions to the new security threats Europe and the world have been facing in the current era, be it terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or the instability coming from the authoritarian regimes and chaotic and ungoverned countries. 

In his invitation letter, Secretary General suggested that we also address the issue of our relations with Russia. We should speak about Russia and we should speak with Russia. I am very carefully listening to our discussion tonight. As some of you may know, the Czech EU Presidency is organizing an EU-Russia summit which will take place in Chabarovsk in the second half of May. As someone who is supposed to chair this summit, I know that it would be a strategic error to formulate different positions vis-à-vis Russia by NATO and by the European Union. We will pay attention to not doing it. Security in the Euro-Atlantic area requires that the existing differences between us and Russia should not block the future political dialogue. I do believe that many of the challenges we face are the challenges felt in Russia as well. We should make use of it.

Let me conclude by expressing my, and I believe our, gratitude to Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer who made a great contribution to NATO in his five and half years of very intense and active performance in his difficult job. It is not a last supper now, nor a burial-feast but I want to say that we will miss him. 

Thank you for your attention.

Václav Klaus, NATO 2009 Summit, Working Dinner, Baden-Baden, April 3, 2009


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