NATO and the Future of Cooperative Security


It’s a great pleasure to speak at the 58th General Assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Association. Just like last time, in Tirana, we meet here today to discuss past years’
accomplishments and the challenges that lie ahead. Gathering in Rome is highly symbolic. Italy has continuously worked to defend the peace enjoyed by our alliance, and to constantly enlarge and deepen its scope. I am confident that this session will give new impetus to this process.

Since its very foundation, the Association has raised public awareness of the fundamental role NATO plays in the defence of our common values. NATO’s outreach, in particular to younger generations, consolidates our security and fosters our core principles.

These very principles have enabled our Alliance to become a model, a paradigm of cohesion and security, which other countries look up to. Our mere presence here today is clear evidence that our countries agree that human rights and security are intertwined; that a violation of the former is a threat to the latter; and that security has no borders and can no longer be protected by fortresses and walls.

Indeed, defence and security require a global perspective. Our task is to balance the need for global reach with a specific focus on areas of crisis. NATO is a hub, where nations come together and profit from interoperability and information sharing, to better address security challenges.

Let me emphasize three fundamental aspects of our vision of NATO’s Partnerships.

First: Preserving the transatlantic link requires shared leadership on the two shores of the Atlantic. As Asia and the wider Pacific increase their weight in global affairs, and our North American Allies are re-balancing their security focus towards them, Europe must become more active as a security provider. We can no longer defer our responsibilities. We cannot deceive ourselves that other partners, first and foremost the United States, will continue to bear the burden of our security. The lines set out in the new American defence strategy lean towards a streamlined military instrument, and to a reduction of manoeuvre forces in favour of highly specialized units.

Secondly, recent developments in the Mediterranean region have shown that single States are often not prepared to bear the political and economic costs of stabilisation operations. One reason for the success of NATO’s intervention in Libya was precisely the capacity to shape a coalition. Building upon this success, the Alliance must seize the momentum to expand its potential as a guarantor of security and stability in the Mediterranean.

Finally, the current economic juncture is a pressing reminder that we must “Pool it or loose it”. In a less than flourishing financial environment, our only option is to join forces, avoid duplication, seek complementarity and streamline procedures. This is not only how we can maximize our collective defence output. It is also how we can maintain our credibility vis-à-vis our partners, and our deterrence vis-à-vis our opponents.

As Secretary General Rasmussen effectively put it, “partnership is not a choice between staying at home or going global. It is not peripheral to our business. In almost all areas we need effective partnerships to be successful. To manage crises. To defend against emerging security challenges. And to promote stability”.

The 2010 Strategic Concept strongly focused on partnerships. The NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Berlin provided us with a more efficient and flexible way of shaping our Partnership Policy and enhancing NATO’s outreach. The Chicago Summit Declaration stated – in its very first sentence – NATO’s continued commitment to strengthening our wide range of partnerships. In Chicago, we also committed to reinforcing the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. We pledged to further develop our political and technical cooperation with our Partners.

Italy will do every effort to make sure that these commitments are met.

The 21st century presents us with a set of ever-evolving threats.

Terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, piracy and cyber-warfare know no borders. They cannot be addressed adequately without a framework of strong international cooperation.

In facing these challenges, NATO members are driven by a profound commitment to protecting and promoting our essential values, in full harmony with the Charter of the United Nations. Operation Unified Protector in Libya testified NATO’s resolve to uphold these values. The Alliance has proved to be the only one capable of combining respect for certain key principles with the military means to enforce them. Indeed, it was only under NATO’s leadership that a number of Arab countries decided to actively participate in the enforcement of Resolution 1973 to protect the Libyan. These countries relied on the Alliance not only for its operational capability, but also for the universal values it represents.

From its long-lasting and successful experience in peacekeeping missions, Italy has developed a firm conviction: the military instrument can bring a decisive contribution to humanitarian, stabilization and reconstruction efforts. It can do so, provided that its men and women are carefully trained to cooperate and communicate with local authorities, backed by a full understanding of the political, economic and social environment of intervention.

I would like to conclude by once again stressing that we are the only military alliance in the world born and raised around a common worldview. Our covenant is not technical, nor tactical, by essence. We share nothing less than a profound vision of what the world should look like. Each of us can call out the principles that shape this vision by name, without fear of disagreement. Freedom, human rights, cooperation and the rule of law. These principles are, in the end, the real power source of our alliance. The one that keeps it going, indifferent to geopolitical earthquakes, or financial tides. It is crucial that we have to always keep them in mind. As a founding member of the NATO Alliance, Italy is deeply committed to them.

Address at the Opening Ceremony of the 58th ATA General Assembly, 5th February 2013