Transatlantic Security: The Importance of NATO
Transatlantic Security: The Importance of NATO Today
Volker, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European
and Eurasian Affairs
Remarks at Howard University's Model NATO Conference
February 23, 2006
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Volker: Thank you for inviting me and having mehere. It's really a great honor to be here. As you would gather from my resume, I have a long involvement and interest in NATO, so it's gratifying for me to see so many people who are interested in NATO. I think that's a good thing. So I also want to thank you for taking the time and making the commitment to pursuing this. I think that NATO is a very important alliance. It has been important in history and it has an important future ahead of it, so I think your taking the time to devote part of your education to learning about and working with NATO is very important and a good investment in the future.
The first thing I would say is that NATO has been successful as an alliance and I think we look at that from a couple of perspectives.
First, I think NATO is successful because of the role that it played in ending the Cold War. In a period of time when Europe was divided, when there was a hostile Soviet Union, when there was a hostile ideology of communism that threatened Western Europe, NATO was the means by which we put together the allies from World War II and said we're going to form a permanent alliance to stand together, to stand for freedom, democracy, and the values we believe in, to strengthen and protect our societies so that we can withstand the challenges that we face. It took a very long time, and it wasn't NATO that pushed over the Berlin Wall or that drove the Soviet Union out of power, but it was NATO that provided the belt of security that made political and economic development in Europe possible, and which has brought us the kind of democratic community between the United States and Europe that we see today.
The second major success that I would talk about with NATO is enlargement. NATO started as an alliance of 12 countries, or 15 countries, gradually grew, gradually grew. Spain was added in the '80s. Three countries were added at the Madrid Summit in 1997. Seven more were added at the Prague Summit in 2002. And so now you have an alliance of 26 countries. That has a practical implication not just for the enlargement of the organization itself. It has an implication for the lives of people, because going from that time when NATO was just an alliance of 15 countries to NATO being an alliance of 26 countries, it means that tens of millions of people, more than 100 million people are now living in a society that they feel is secure, that has individual rights and freedoms, a democratic system, a market economy, opportunities for hope and development for their lives and their children's lives that didn't exist before. So that is a tremendous success on the European continent.
NATO can't take sole credit for this, of course. There are a lot of developments that took place simultaneously, and, of course, the strengthening and the enlargement of the European Union is most important among those, but NATO's role was crucial, and NATO took the lead in the expansion process. So I think that's the second major success that I would point to. The first is security for our countries throughout the Cold War; the second for extending that security and freedom to tens of millions of people throughout Europe and Eurasia.
When I look at NATO today, and I think about the future, what are we doing, I want to highlight five things - and there will be a lot of detail in here and I apologize - but five things that I think are important.
First off is that NATO is in the process of enormous transformation. The NATO of the Cold War - the NATO that was a static collective defense alliance - that never engaged in a single military operation is gone. That NATO was successful. That's not the NATO that we look at today.
If you think about 1994, NATO had never conducted a military operation, had done a lot of exercises. It was an alliance of 16 countries at that time. If you look at the NATO of 2005, just ending last year, it was an organization that was running eight military operations simultaneously, that had 26 members, had partnership relationships with another 30 countries in Eurasia and another 22 countries in the broader Middle East, and looking at other relationships. So a vastly transformed NATO.
What does that transformation imply? It implies that, first off, NATO is acting in the world in a way that it hadn't acted before. When I say conducting a military operation, it's to do something. So NATO previously had been a collective defense alliance that was focused on responding to a threat and defending the territory of NATO allies.
In today's world we're not looking at such a passive response and focused only on the territory of NATO allies. We're looking at the complex challenges that we face in security in the world writ large, and NATO's operations are directly related to the types of challenges that we face. So we see, for example, in 2005, peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, leading a more complex and challenging peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan, conducting counter-terrorism measures, naval counter-terrorism measures in the Mediterranean through Operation Active Endeavor. Helping to provide logistical support to the African Union so it can run an operation in Darfur. Training Iraqi military forces inside Iraq. Delivering humanitarian relief supplies through an airlift to Pakistan and also to Louisiana. So there's a tremendous variety in the things that NATO is doing.
That leads to a couple of further thoughts. One of them is the nature of things that NATO is called on to do is very diverse. That means that the capabilities that NATO needs to have need to be able to cover that full spectrum of activities. Operating at a great distance; deployability; sustaining forces in the field once they're there; speed; both high-end in terms of lethality and being able to fight, but also being able to conduct a peacekeeping operation where you're not actively firing but you're in a somewhat dangerous environment; and operating in a very passive environment where you're delivering humanitarian relief. A great variety of capability is needed, and different than the capabilities that were needed during the Cold War. These are expensive. These are hard to do. It takes time to change, establish militaries in countries. NATO is in a long-term process of readjusting its types of forces, the capabilities it has, in order to be able to carry out these kind of missions in the future.
Another implication is geography. NATO previously, as I said, was focused on protecting the territory of its members. Now NATO is operating, as I said, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan we just closed that operation - in Iraq, in Darfur. Operating a much greater geographic distance. I think this is a trend that's only going to continue.
Thirdly, just the challenge on the organization itself. It's one thing to be doing long-term planning and exercising for a defense of Western Europe. It's another thing to be engaged in running operations through headquarters in Brussels, through the commands at SHAPE and the subordinate commands, and getting forces in the field. It's a much more complex challenge, and NATO is trying to adapt its headquarters and leadership of this as well.
So that's the first point: transformation. NATO is in the midst of a massive transformation.
The second thing I would highlight that is embedded in this is that NATO is still of great political value to the U.S., to Europe, to the world. We wouldn't have eight operations going on simultaneously in 2005 if the leaders of NATO didn't look around the world and say when there's a problem, okay, what do we do about it? Who can we get to do something? Can we get NATO to do this? So NATO is politically important for our leaders because it can deliver solutions. It can deliver assets on the ground. It can bring capabilities to bear to deal with the problem. That's important to people because that's what leaders look for. They're saying, how do we deal with this?
A third point that is related is that people have tended to think of NATO's role as being principally military. The United States has always thought differently about this. We've always viewed NATO as both a political and a military alliance. Militarily because it integrates our forces and allows us to take on activities together, but also politically because it's a place where democratic countries that share a common set of values can meet and discuss the challenges that we face in the world and try to decide what types of actions are appropriate.
It's not the case that every problem requires a NATO solution, but it is a legitimate thought that most major problems that we face of a security nature are things we ought to talk about within NATO and decide how we want to approach them.
A current example I'll give you, and it's a controversial one, is Iran. We are working to deal with the challenge of Iran seeking to acquire nuclear weapons in a variety of ways, working with the three European countries that have had the lead in negotiations; going through the IAEA in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency; bringing the issue to the UN Security Council; but it's also a topic that we believe is appropriate for allies to discuss in NATO because of the implications, both domestically what is happening in Iran and how that could affect our countries, and also the security challenge and how that could affect our countries. That doesn't mean that we favor a NATO military action as a result of that, but we do think it's a legitimate topic for strategic political consultations among allies.
So we see the political role of the alliance as an important thing that will continue and even grow in the future.
A fourth point, and I mentioned this already, was enlargement, and I mentioned it in the context of success. That NATO has enlarged successfully a number of times, most recently at the Madrid Summit in '97; in Prague in 2002; with ten new Central and Eastern European democracies joining NATO.
We don't believe that that process has run its course or that it is complete. There are countries in Europe, in Eurasia, that seek to join NATO, that are strengthening democratic societies, market economies, that are working together with NATO already in terms of contributing to security both within Europe and Eurasia and to operations beyond.
Just one example, I'll give one, is Albania. A small country. It has had recently a successful democratic election. Working on economic reforms. Has a long way to go. And is nonetheless contributing in operations where NATO is active already and intends to continue to do that. These are countries that are currently partners of NATO but seek to join, and we want to continue to work with them. We believe that as countries strengthen their democratic, their market economic, and their military systems through reform and through working together with NATO, it's in their interest to join NATO, but it's also in NATO's interest because it strengthens the alliance, it strengthens our collective security in Europe and Eurasia. So we see the enlargement process continuing.
We don't see this happening this year, but we do believe that it's time to start talking among the allies about where we are in the enlargement process, taking stock of the countries that are there, and planning that maybe by 2008 when we would have a further NATO Summit, we'll have one in 2006 in November; we'll have another one in 2008; we ought to make some decisions about which countries are then ready to receive invitations to join NATO.
Finally a point I'd like to make, a fifth one, is on partnership. NATO, as I said, in 1994 not only was an alliance of 16 nations instead of 26, it was also an alliance without partners. One of the things that we did beginning in 1994 was to start building up real partnership relations with the countries that are not members of NATO, the idea being that if NATO is going to protect the security of its own members it needs to cooperate with countries beyond its borders in order to build security and a common sense of providing for security with its neighbors.
This started with the Partnership for Peace, where Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, neutral countries in Europe, all became members and worked together with NATO basically to build, initially to build understanding and a common sense of the role of military in a democratic society, cooperation on peacekeeping issues which evolved into participation in operations such as in Bosnia or in Kosovo. But NATO's partnerships, again, grew from there.
At the same time we created the Partnership for Peace, we created the Mediterranean Dialogue which has seven countries from North Africa as participants. That was a rather sleepy relationship for NATO until the last few years, and as NATO has begun to take on more and more operational activities in the broader Middle East, whether the Mediterranean or Iraq or Afghanistan, these relationships have begun to grow and have become more practical.
Finally, in 2004, we created the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative which is yet another partnership arrangement, this one reaching out to countries in the Persian Gulf. That is yet another set of relationships that we seek to develop through practical cooperation. And as we look ahead to a summit meeting this fall, we are finding that as NATO is active in places like Afghanistan or Iraq or Darfur, we are working together with countries that share NATO's values and that are capable of contributing to security, such as Australia or New Zealand or South Korea or Japan, and we would like to find ways to cooperate with these countries, as well, because our expectation is if over the last ten years alliance leaders have given NATO four, five, six, seven, eight operational tasks to take on, this is going to continue. We ought to be planning to work together with other security contributors beyond the alliance who will be joining us in these efforts that will come up in the future.
So those are the points that I wanted to make about the way we're looking at NATO now. The transformation, the political value of NATO, the political role the alliance plays in the future of enlargement, the future of partnership.
I'll stop there. I'd be interested to take any questions that you have, and if there's anything that I didn't touch on please raise that, as well.
Thank you again for devoting your time to this.
If it's all right with you, I'd like to take three or four and then sort of address them all.
Questions off mike.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Volker: Okay. I'll pause there and sort of go through some of these.
The first question was on theater missile defense and what is NATO's role in theater missile defense, how is it going?
There are probably a couple of people here who may be more expert on that than I am, but my sense of this is that this is an issue that I think is important to allies in varying degrees, which is to say no one says oh, we should never do anything with theater missile defense. Some countries which, from a geographic standpoint, see themselves as front line states, have a high interest in theater missile defense, and other countries say it's something we ought to do.
So what's taken place then is countries through their national procurement and their national military programs have developed theater missile defense programs, often in cooperation with the U.S., often these are bilateral programs, rather than NATO as a whole taking on a collective theater missile defense program. That's not to say that NATO hasn't done studies and feasibility studies and talked about how these various systems integrate themselves, but you don't see something like a common NATO procurement project, or let's buy theater missile defense, or let's have an integrated NATO theater missile defense plan. Those efforts have been talked about, but they've all kind of sputtered, and what has taken hold are the national theater missile defense plans.
That's not a bad outcome because again, if you look geographically, that does make some sense. I'm thinking of Italy, I'm thinking of Turkey, a few others who have developed these programs.
The next question is what's the difference between missile defense and theater missile defense? The question is basically how you look at it. For the U.S. there is no such thing as theater missile defense because we look at missile defense in a global scale. Missiles can come from far away, they may traverse Europe or they may traverse other areas, and they can arrive in the U.S. and how do we deal with these? We may want to deal with these through systems that are closely located in proximity to where missiles are launched from, and that would be a shorter range target, but we may want to look at very long-range missile defense systems that deal with long-range missile defense threats, and these can be radars and interceptors based in a variety of places in the world. This is something that the U.S. is pursuing actively as a national policy. I believe at some point in time there will be a marriage of these things, that there will be a U.S. missile defense program that is articulated and developed, and that the impetus to make this a NATO missile defense plan, because a lot of NATO territory would be covered, would be something then we would want to talk with NATO allies about or NATO collectively about and say all right, what do you add to that in order to make this NATO coverage? Then you have complex issues to negotiate, like who pulls the trigger and whose responsibility is it when something crashes? Those are issues we haven't even talked about yet, but I think those are issues down the line in terms of how NATO deals with missile defense.
The next question was on Darfur and what is NATO's role in Darfur and how do we see that.
This spring the African Union it's already February, good grief. Last spring the African Union asked NATO and the European Union to help provide logistical support to its efforts to mount a peacekeeping operation in Darfur. So NATO and the European Union both said yes, we will do that. Then we had a bit of a crunch between the institutions, trying to figure out who's going to do what.
The part of this that the U.S. intended to take part in was airlift and coordination of an air bridge, of a supply bridge, and an airspace management function. The European Union was already on the ground, was willing to work more on the ground with the African Union forces and to support more local logistics, but at the same time they said no, we're going to do everything. We're going to do the lift, as well, and we're going to do the air coordination. Then you had a very unfortunate circumstance where both NATO and the EU were saying we will do the same thing. That's something you never want. I'm looking at the military officers here. You never want two military organizations doing the same thing in the same space. This just creates confusion.
So this is what we ended up with in Darfur was having an EU airlift to support certain movement of African Union forces; and a NATO-led airlift to support certain movement of other African Union forces. We were able to deconflict and coordinate in a case-by-case practical way. It's not the model that we'd like to see in the future.
Subsequent to this, the African Union has had a fairly robust operation in Darfur for some time, but I think everyone's conclusion including the African Union's own conclusion, is that it's not adequate to the challenge that they face. It's a vast area, it's an enormous humanitarian problem. They just don't have the resources to be effective at preventing further violence and dislocation of the population, and there are looming challenges on the horizon, for instance the involvement of rebel groups from across the border in Chad.
So we are looking at how can we provide more help. What can we do more to help alleviate the problems in Darfur?
We want to maintain a clear position that the African Union has to be in the lead on this. We're not trying to say we from NATO or we from the EU or we from the West are going to come in and sort of impose a solution and say this is the way you're going to do things. We want the African Union to lead. At the same time, we're the ones with more resources to make available, and we need to work together to figure out how to do that.
The proposal that people are currently discussing is whether the African Union would want to seek assistance from the United Nations. Say we'll turn to the UN, can you take the lead in an operation to expand what we've done in Darfur, and then in response to a request from the UN, NATO or the EU or others would be willing to help.
>From a U.S. perspective, we're a member of NATO. We're not a member of the EU. And as a point of departure, if the U.S. and Europe are going to work together on security and defense issues, we ought to do that in NATO. That's what it was created for, that's what we use it for. So we should work together through NATO. The President on Friday gave a speech in Miami, I think it was, where he mentioned that he'd like to see NATO play a larger role in Darfur for exactly this reason, and, with this in mind, there's a bigger challenge there than the resources that are currently there. We'd like to do more to help in this, and we'd like to find a way that we can use the assets that NATO has, play a larger role in supporting peacekeeping in Darfur.
South Korea and Japan was the next question. I want to be clear there. What I'm talking about with South Korea and Japan is working together with those countries in places like Afghanistan or in places like Darfur or in places, something else that might come up, say even in counter-terrorism operations in the Mediterranean or the Gulf if they wanted to join those. So it's not acting in South Korea or Japan; it's rather viewing those countries as playing a similar role to what NATO is going to be playing in the future, as well. Sharing the same basic democratic values, having capabilities in security and defense, and willing to use those to support peacekeeping or security where there are operations that are needed in the world. So that's the kind of relationship that we imagine in the future.
The difficult part is figuring out what that means day-to-day. When you have an Operation in Afghanistan, you know what to do. When you don't have such an operation, what is the relationship between NATO and these countries? They're not going to be members of NATO, but, at the same time, we ought to be working together closely as partners. Defining that kind of relationship, what kind of partner relationship is appropriate is what we're in the midst of doing now, and we hope to have some solutions ideally by our summit meeting in November of this year, and certainly by 2008 we'd like to see not only solutions but actions in progress.
The next question was about Iran. I mentioned this in my earlier remarks, and I'll just expand a little bit.
There is a pretty united view now. This is one of the great diplomatic successes of the last year, I would say, is that while the situation in Iran in terms of its desire to pursue a nuclear enrichment cycle that it owns, that situation has gotten worse, not better. At the same time, the degree to which the international community is united in its view about what the problem is and what we need to do about it, has grown. In the first instance, the EU-3, Germany, France and the UK, working together with the U.S. to try to engage in a process of negotiation with Iran in order to convince the Iranian regime to make a different decision, to not pursue a nuclear enrichment cycle that Iran owns. Instead, to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to have a civilian nuclear program, but one that does not involve its ownership of a nuclear fuel cycle, which we believe Iran only seeks to pursue in order to develop nuclear weapons.
So the U.S. and the EU-3 have united around that view and worked very closely together over the past year.
We've then worked with the EU-3 to broaden that understanding and that support with Russia, with China, within the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. So we've had a series of votes now that have shown a preponderance of countries opposing Iran's seeking to obtain a nuclear fuel cycle and failure to cooperate with the IAEA. And finally, we expect in March to take this up in the UN Security Council to have at that level a call for Iran to abandon efforts to develop its own nuclear fuel cycle and instead to cooperate with the international community in that way.
So that I think is the diplomatic success on Iran, overall, in terms of people consolidating around a view in the face of a deteriorating situation in terms of what Iran is actually doing.
Now NATO's role I see as one of broadening the dialogue. It's important that we have a broad international consensus, and we've done this within the IAEA and the EU-3, as I mentioned. NATO brings in another set of countries, and I think it's worthwhile to have a dialogue among NATO allies about what is the situation with Iran, what are our views about it, what is the international community doing, so that we have more of a common vie among the allies. It's that political consultation function again that I mentioned in my remarks.
Finally, I'm misreading my notes. The question was admission criteria.
It's a very interesting question because, at first, back in 1994, '95, we as a U.S. government, and as an alliance also, said there are no criteria. We're not going to say that if you do X, Y, and Z, you automatically become a member of NATO. It's a judgment reached by consensus of the NATO allies. Everybody has to agree if the NAC decides by consensus, then we can issue an invitation. And after about a year or two, everyone found this unsatisfactory. The countries who were interested in joining NATO said this is a Catch-22. How do I actually do better to make myself a viable candidate? I think the countries in the alliance also felt it was unsatisfactory, because we weren't giving clear enough messages about what we would like to see.
So at the time, Secretary of Defense Perry came out with what he called the Perry Principles. He had five of them, which were democracy, market economy, civilian control of the military, good relations with neighbors, and interoperability. Those were the Perry Principles. It was a first start. What do you need to do if you're going to be a successful NATO ally?
I remember that because it was the first time this came up, and I was working in Hungary at the time and this was great guidance for us because then we knew where to work with the Hungarians.
Since then, in 1999, NATO created the Membership Action Plan. The Membership Action Plan basically, for lack of a better word, is the Perry Principles on steroids. It basically takes the same ideas, fleshes them out, and creates a program where NATO as an organization works with the countries who are interested in NATO membership in each of these areas and added a few as well, such as protection of classified information, and legal status, and things like a Status of Forces Agreement. These are all areas that are important political, economic, security, values.
I have to say that we're in the process now of going through exactly the same sort of questions with respect to the current countries that seek to join NATO. Our view is that if they want to be strong candidates for NATO membership in 2008, we need to be talking to them now about what we think the things are that are important for them to be successful candidates and where are the areas that we think they should devote the most attention. These include, and I'll give you a laundry list of examples now of things that I think are important:
Strong democratic institutions with checks and balances. Political parties that play by the rules without violence. Anti-corruption. Good business climate for foreign investors. Good privatization program so that you see a diversification of the economy that is fair and not cronyism. Good defense reforms that get away from a land-heavy, top-heavy military to one that is deployable and that can work together with NATO abroad. Dealing with what I call legacy issues, whether that is holocaust property confiscations that then have claimants today saying how do you deal with the restitution of property or the compensation for property confiscated? There was an issue with Hungary concerning access to the military archives in order to find out any information that might exist about American prisoners of war or pilots who had crashed and what happened to their remains. Not that there was any suspicion of any problem, we just wanted to insist, we want full access to the archives. So any number of these issues come up in the course of anything.
I guess the way I would finally express the criteria or the standard, as I look at it from the perspective of someone in the U.S. administration, is any one issue that any one Senator can raise and ask a question about and hold up enlargement through the ratification process is therefore an issue that I as a member of the administration want to address first in my dealings with the countries before we issue them an invitation. So that's sort of my standard.
Questions off mike.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Volker: I'm going to pause there for a second and answer some of these questions and see what more time we have after.
There were three questions that in one way or another dealt with the Middle East. The recent commentary in the press including Ron Asmus' Op-Ed the other day about Israel joining NATO. There was the question of the role NATO can play in the peace process or other role that NATO could play in the Middle East. And finally, what is the role and function of the Mediterranean Dialogue, so let me sort of bunch these together.
Let me start with what we do think. We think that there are security challenges affecting NATO allies and affecting countries in the broader Middle East, from Morocco to Afghanistan, where we and the countries in the region have common concerns, common interests, common goals. We can work on these in a variety of ways. We can work on them by activating the Mediterranean Dialogue. It's been around a long time. Making it more program-oriented. Initially it was very much more about meeting and about all the countries meeting together, which created its own obstacles. We're trying to turn it more into a practical cooperation, using some of the tools and the catalog of activities that we have from Partnership for Peace.
We've created the Istanbul Initiative, which brings in countries from the Gulf states, as well, so it is not just the countries in North Africa.
A couple of the areas that we've looked at, for example. Operation Active Endeavor was mentioned. This is counter-terrorism, monitoring and challenging of vessels in the Mediterranean in order to diminish the risk that people are using maritime transit for the purposes of supporting terrorism. This has been a pretty successful operation, and we have invited countries from North Africa on the opposite shore of the Mediterranean and Europe to take part in this operation. We've done things like joint training in exercises, we've done leadership training, we've invited countries to the region to send officers to the NATO schools, the NATO Defense College, NATO School at Oberammergau. And we'd like to continue to do more of this.
We're thinking, for example, that NATO could work with a country in the region to produce a training center in the region and that this might work on things like anything from special police to leadership training to logistics. Another area that came up in the fall - I think it's off the table right now given Hamas forming a government in Palestine - but an area that came up in the fall was whether we could train Palestinian security forces. I think if we had a Palestinian authority that rejected violence and recognized Israel's right to exist, we probably would want to do that as something NATO could do. So there are a number of things that we do see as possibilities in the Middle East, all with the objective of strengthening security for the countries in the region and cooperatively together with NATO.
What do we not see? You mentioned the discussion going on about Israeli membership in NATO. That is not currently an issue on the table within NATO. The Israelis haven't sought it so no one has had to come out and talk about it. It's something that has gone on a little bit in the press. Some very interesting and smart people have commented on it favorably, and there is something to talk about there. But I think if this issue were to be put on the table formally within NATO, I think we'd find it immediately very controversial with a large number of countries saying not ready, not now, solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue first, solve the Arab-Israeli issue first. Israel is not a European country, and after all, NATO is Europe and North America. So there would be a lot of objections that would come up right away.
You don't hear those objections now because it's not a live issue, so no one, why slap down anyone on that?
In terms of our view as the U.S. government, we haven't taken a view on this, and I don't see a reason why we should. I think we're not at that stage either.
Certainly Israel is a country that shares the same democratic values as NATO members, that has real security concerns in the region, and we do care about it, and as a national policy a great deal care about that with Israel. It is not something that I think is productive for us to pursue with NATO at this point.
There were a couple of other questions here. Reconstruction and NATO operations, and what has NATO done especially since September 11th.
I did mention Pakistan and Louisiana, and those were instances simply of using military airlift to deliver humanitarian supplies and to gather some, even supplies that have been gathered by militaries such as sheeting and tents and delivering those, as well. That's not the best use of military assets. It's very expensive to do it that way. But if you have to do something quickly, and it's the only thing around, you can use it.
One of the things that we are chewing on right now is whether NATO ought to have its own airlift capacity. Because one of the things we've noticed in these eight operations that we were working on throughout last year is that every single time we need airlift. So what do we do? We go rent Ukrainian airlift, or we ask the U.S. to provide airlift or we ask other NATO allies to provide lift. And particularly if you're talking about outsized equipment that needs to be transported you need specialized airlift. It's very expensive. We don't want to do it all ourselves. There are very few other countries in NATO that have that capacity, so we're talking about whether NATO ought to maybe go in for its own airlift, and I think this would make a major contribution to peacekeeping and humanitarian support because it's one of the major needs out there.
Separate from that, NATO has played an important role in developing what's called the Provincial Reconstruction Team concept. This is what we have used as a way of going from a node of security in Afghanistan to broader security throughout the region. We started with ISAF only in Kabul. We then added a PRT in Konduz, which is a way of putting some security presence and some security reconstruction presence in a place where they can work safely to try to develop security and reconstruction in that area.
Since then we've expanded considerably the use of PRTs, the U.S.-run PRTs through Operation Enduring Freedom, but also NATO-run PRTs through ISAF, and that has become, I think, a very successful model of how we have worked, and it's a model we are starting to look at now with respect to Iraq. So I think that's another innovation in that area.
Finally, we have civil emergency planning, disaster response. It's a major area where NATO has developed things in cooperation with Eurasian countries, the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center. There's an enormous capacity for using military assets and national assets for disaster response. There are some differences of view within NATO and since you're representing various countries you probably all know where those differences lie, about how much NATO should be involved in what it seems is a civilian-led activity in some countries. But it is something that NATO is involved partially in, and I think is another area that we can further develop.
I'm getting a signal here about time. I'll try to answer the others quickly.
Concerning the Black Sea and Operation Active Endeavor. We would certainly be in favor of seeing Operation Active Endeavor expanded to the Black Sea, as well. We think it's been a success in the Mediterranean. We think it could be a success there.
The countries that border the Black Sea have different views on this, from more enthusiastic to less enthusiastic. We don't want to sort of be pushing NATO in against the wishes of any NATO allies, particularly Turkey, so we are talking to countries about how and whether we can do this. We would certainly be in favor.
A broader perspective on the Black Sea, though, is to look at it not just as a security issue, but as a regional issue of strengthening democratic change, political systems, market economies. You've got Turkey in the south; you've got a couple of NATO allies in the west Romania and Bulgaria - that are still strengthening those systems but now as NATO allies and joining European Union in 2007. You have a country in the east, Georgia, which has made tremendous progress following the Rose Revolution two years ago but has a long way to go. Then you have countries Azerbaijan not touching the Black Sea but in the neighborhood, and Armenia which need to do a great deal more in terms of democratic institutions and economic development.
But if you look at this as a region that has potential for further development, much as we looked at Central and Eastern Europe ten years ago or we look at the Balkans today, there is a lot more that the West or European Union, NATO, democratic countries could do, and NATO can be a contributor to that.
Finally, I'm again suffering from my own poor handwriting. Unresolved operations. The fact that NATO has launched some operations that aren't over yet.
The good news is that NATO has launched operations and ended them in a couple of cases. This is relatively rare. Macedonia and Bosnia were handed over to a European-led force. It ended the operation in Pakistan. It ended the operation in Louisiana. These are good things.
The bottom line, though, is that you are hostage in many ways to events. You provide a security presence, but security is only security. You need to have development, and you need to have political development in order to create a sustainable basis for security and political and economic development over time.
There is success, improvement, but are you there yet? In Afghanistan we're not there yet. Kosovo? Not yet, but we're working very hard this year on developing a final status for Kosovo, which we hope will then begin to lay the basis for that kind of stable political and economic situation which would allow a gradual draw-down in forces once there's a stable situation.
Part of the final status for Kosovo, however, will be some kind of guarantee for ethnic minorities and religious sites and that will require some kind of international oversight and possibly a security presence.
So I don't view it as an indicator one way or the other as you have an operation ongoing, does that mean you're failing? What I think it means is that you need to look beneath that and say what's happening? Are you making progress in working toward a permanent solution that is both safer and better for the people that are there or is it going off the rails? I think at least in the case of NATO's operations that we've talked about, I think in each case we would argue that these were pretty successful operations.
I have to end it there. Thank you very much. It's been a great pleasure to be here, and thanks again for attending the