TOPICS: French vision for the Atlantic alliance

Peace can never be taken for granted, and the first responsibility of any government is security. That is why France wishes to contribute to a political organisation of the world that averts perils.

France wishes to help in the exercise of a shared responsibility within the framework of strong, legitimate, and accepted international institutions, particularly through reforms of the United Nations and its Security Council. It is working for a managed globalisation that serves people in harmony, justice, and solidarity.

It is working to build a political Europe capable of meeting its international responsibilities in the service of peace. The Atlantic Alliance has a central place in this project. For 10 years, France has been involved in the effort to adapt the alliance to new realities while preserving its original mission. That is why at the Wednesday’s North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit in Riga, Latvia, I shall reaffirm the preeminent roles of the Atlantic alliance — a military organisation, guarantor of the collective security of the allies, and a forum where Europeans and Americans can combine their efforts to further peace.

The threat of generalised war in Europe has disappeared, and NATO has been profoundly remodelled and adapted. The first imperative of the alliance is the credibility of its military assets. Consequently, we have begun to transform them to enhance their effectiveness and reaction time. In Riga, the NATO Response Force will be declared fully operational. With this capability, the alliance will have an unequalled multinational instrument. It is essential for each member state to agree to an appropriate defence effort.

The Europeans have relied on their American allies for too long. They must shoulder their share of the burden by making a national defence effort commensurate with their ambitions for the Atlantic Alliance and also for the European Union (EU). Adapting the alliance means enabling it to work smoothly and on an equal footing with other international organisations whose mission, sphere of competence, and means are clearly established, particularly in the areas of reconstruction aid, humanitarian assistance, and civil security.

In Lebanon, it is the Europeans who have formed the backbone of the new UN Interim Force, whose credibility is essential to prevent further violence. This development calls for a more substantive political and strategic dialogue between the US and the EU. It probably also implies closer relations between NATO and the EU. France is ready for this but wishes the EU’s voice to be heard within the alliance.

Such a development will contribute to an ever stronger and mutually supportive alliance in which North American and European allies will be able to formulate their objectives together and continue to work, side by side, for international peace and security in accordance with the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter. — The Christian Science Monitor