First of all I would like to thank the Secretary General for arranging this informal Summit. It provides an excellent opportunity to meet and welcome President George W. Bush and to launch important discussions before our regular Summit in Prague. Let me briefly concentrate on the four most important points, which I think colleagues have touched upon today.
Firstly – our historical decision in Madrid to invite the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland as well as our decision in Washington to launch the Membership Action Plan show our joint commitment to building a free and whole Europe – just as President Bush has underlined today. I think that in Prague we must take the next historical step and once more I salute the strong and visionary remarks by President Bush and my good friend Jean Chrétien, Prime minister of Canada. Since we all have a special commitment in Prague, I would like to touch a little bit more upon this issue.
On their merits, I think it is fair to say that seven out of nine applicants require serious attention. Some may wish to exclude the Baltic countries for reasons not having to do with merits or - for that matter – with the Balts themselves. But is Baltic accession to NATO not the real litmus test of whether NATO has done away with the mindset and boundaries of the Cold War? Since Madrid I have felt this to be the case. I have felt extremely committed - and I think we all should - to work hard for Baltic accession to NATO.
President Havel has made the case for Baltic membership in a very clear way at the recent conference in Bratislava on Europe's new democracies. As you so rightfully said, Mr. President, yielding to Russian geopolitical or geo-strategic interests or perhaps merely to Russia’s concerns for prestige would be the worst thing the Alliance could do in this respect. I fully agree with you that invitations to join our Alliance should be extended to the Baltic States at our Summit in Prague next year.
I think it is time to be ambitious and to take courageous, yet necessary decisions. May I say that, along with NATO enlargement, the EU enlargement is also gathering momentum. The two enlargement processes are progressing concurrently, and I think they should be viewed together. It is my strong hope and ambition that in the late months of the year 2002 important decisions will be taken within NATO and the EU. Be it in Prague or be it in Copenhagen, I hope that both decisions will include all three Baltic States. We should do what is right on enlargement and not what is the easiest in the short run. There may be bumps on the road, but I am convinced that in the end history will judge enlargement to be the right thing to do for European stability, coherence and security.
My next point would be European defence. Our decision from Washington provided the framework needed to establish close links between NATO and the EU on crisis management. I think there is still work to do. But it is good and necessary work and I am happy to see that also here – as confirmed by President George Bush today - we are closer to each other and not further apart. Of equal importance is the involvement of the non-European Allies in EU crisis management. I think that part of the answer will be to find practical solutions.
This brings me to the third point - the Balkans. Here we have witnessed successful co-operation between NATO and the EU in dealing with the crisis in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Presevo Valley. Such co-operation should also be the name of the game in future. And may I once again thank Secretary Powell and President Bush for stating that we went in together, shall stay there together and will withdraw together - under peaceful conditions. This is a very important signal, which I would like to draw attention to.
Now to my final point - Missile Defence. I welcome President Bush’s assurance on continued dialogue and consultations in both NATO and Allied capitals as well as with Russia and China. These consultations are needed in order to address the complex issues confronting us. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missile technology is of great concern and should - just as it has been presented today - be addressed seriously. We should look to all avenues including effective agreements based on arms control and non-proliferation regimes. Active dialogue with States from which the threat emanates is needed and should be tried.
We need time to develop a new framework - a new agreed framework to address the challenges and threats of the next decades. We surely want to participate in this dialogue. No one wants a new arms race.
Finally, to conclude - as far as Denmark is concerned, we are proud to be here, to be a loyal and an active member. I have not passed my defence budget for next year yet, George, but I will have a look at it. In my country, we have a four years agreement and as you said yourself - we can of course all make better use of what is available.
Let me finalise by stressing that I hope we will have an ambitious agenda in Prague. I hope that we will nurture and further enhance the strategic co-operation between NATO and the EU. We should also continue our strong results of bringing lasting peace and stability to the Balkans and most importantly, we should once more carry forward enlargement through an ambitious decision on who to invite. If we succeed, we will create the cornerstone of the transatlantic partnership between United States and Europe for the next decades.
In Prague, we should do what is right.