C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 USNATO 000336
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2019
TAGS: PREL NATO EWWT MARR MOPS AF PK RS TZ XW
SUBJECT: NEW SECRETARY GENERAL'S PRIORITIES
Classified By: A/DCM A. "Hoot" Baez. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d).
Â¶1. (C/NF) SUMMARY: New NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen used the August 4 North Atlantic Council
meeting--his first as the Secretary General--to set out the
priorities for his term, including: Afghanistan, NATO-Russia,
the Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation
Initiative partnerships, Kosovo, counter-piracy, defense
transformation, the Strategic Concept, and NATO-EU relations.
While receiving a generally positive response, several
Allies--including the U.S.--stressed that his goal of
significantly reducing or ending the KFOR mission should only
be achieved through a conditions-based process, not a
timeline. Allies also reacted to what was not in his list of
priorities, including Article 5 and the Partnership for
Peace. Many Allies also commented on his omission of the
Western Balkans, although there is reason to believe that
this may simply have been an oversight on his part.
Membership for Ukraine and Georgia was also notably absent
from the list. Rasmussen's full speaking notes are included
at the bottom of this message. END SUMMARY
Â¶2. (SBU) New NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen set
out his priorities at the August 4 meeting of the North
Atlantic Council (NAC), his first as the NAC's chairman. He
said his priorities include: Afghanistan, NATO-Russia
relations, NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul
Cooperation Initiative partnerships for the countries of
north Africa and the broader Middle East, Kosovo,
counter-piracy, defense transformation, the development of
NATO's new Strategic Concept, and NATO-EU relations. In a
section delivered in French, Rasmussen also said that he
wanted to make NAC meetings and other PermRep formats as
productive as possible, adding that this would be the topic
for the first PermRep lunch in September.
But PermReps Lay Down Markers, Especially on Kosovo
Â¶3. (C/REL NATO) While PermReps largely offered support for
Rasmussen's priorities, Allies also laid down markers on a
couple of issues. Rasmussen, for example, stressed the need
to transfer lead security responsibility for Afghanistan to
the Afghans. He also said that his aim with regard to Kosovo
was "to see KFOR reduced to just a small reaction force, or
out altogether." While acknowledging the need to move with
all deliberate speed, Ambassador Daalder responded that any
such changes--in both Afghanistan and Kosovo--needed to be
based on conditions on the ground, not on a timeline. The
Hungarians and Czechs were particularly strong in supporting
Daalder on Kosovo, with Hungary arguing that a political
assessment was needed before decisions were taken to walk
USNATO 00000336 002 OF 006
through each "gate" as KFOR transitioned to a deterrent
presence. Following some of these statements, it was notable
that Spain--which has not recognized Kosovo--stated that it
shared Rasmussen's program "completely."
What Does Not Make the List
Â¶4. (C/REL NATO) Allies also reacted to some of what was not
on Rasmussen's priority list: the Western Balkans,
enlargement, the Partnership for Peace, and Article 5. UK
PermRep Eldon led Allies in stressing the need to keep the
Western Balkans on the NATO agenda, calling for the Political
Committee to have a broader political look at the
region--including the issue of MAP. Eldon also said that he
hoped a NAC trip to the region could soon be organized.
Albania, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia, and
Italy all stressed the need to keep the Western Balkans high
on NATO's priority list. Romania, a strong supporter of the
Partnership for Peace, urged Rasmussen not to exclude from
his priority list those countries located in Central Asia,
the Caucasus, and the wider Black Sea region. The Estonian
PermRep said that thought Article 5 needed to an important
part of the defense reform agenda.
Â¶5. (C) COMMENT: At least one or two of the omissions may have
been unintentional. In his statement at an August 3 press
conference (available on the NATO website), Rasmussen
outlined virtually the same priorities. In that statement,
however, he included a section on the need to keep NATO's
door open for countries in the Balkans. The Private Office
told us after the NAC that the Secretary General had "gone
off the script" a couple of times and that before they could
distribute his speaking notes they had had to change them to
reflect what he had actually said. At the same time, it is
also clear that Rasmussen made a point of mentioning the
Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and the Mediterranean
Dialogue in both places while not mentioning the Partnership
for Peace in either. While he may have intended to raise
NATO enlargement to the Balkans, there is no indication that
he intended to tackle the much more controversial issues of
eventual Georgian or Ukrainian membership. END COMMENT
Rasmussen's NAC Statement
Â¶6. (SBU) The text of the Secretary General's speaking notes
for his statement to the NAC was distributed by the Private
Office (ref). The text, including the first five paragraphs
in French, is reproduced below:
Mesdames et Messieurs les Ambassadeurs,
Bonjour. Voici venu le moment que j'attends depuis quatre
USNATO 00000336 003 OF 006
mois. Avant de passer au premier point a l'ordre du jour de
notre reunion d'aujourd'hui, j'aimerais tout d'abord vous
dire quelques mots.
C'est pour moi un tres grand privilege et un immense honneur
que de me voir confier la responsabilite de secretaire
general de cette grande Alliance. Je voudrais tout d'abord
exprimer mon admiration pour tout le travail mene par mon
predecesseur Jaap de Hoop Scheffer et pour son leadership. A
l'heure ou je prends mes fonctions, je suis tres conscient
des exigences de plus en plus fortes qui pesent sur l'OTAN et
des grands defis qu'elles representent pour le Conseil et
pour moi personnellement. Neanmoins, je suis persuade
qu'ensemble, nous pouvons non seulement relever ces defis,
mais aussi renforcer encore le role unique de l'OTAN en tant
que garant de la stabilite et de la securite de nos pays et
de leurs citoyens.
Depuis de nombreuses annees, j'observe de pres cette
Alliance, dont je suis l'un des plus fervents partisans.
J'ai bien conscience que les conditions prealables
essentielles a la reussite des entreprises de l'Alliance sont
toujours les memes : tout d'abord une preparation et des
consultations approfondies, puis des decisions claires, et
enfin l'affectation des ressources voulues.
Le Conseil de l'Atlantique Nord joue un role capital a cet
egard. Il lui incombe de prendre les decisions strategiques
qui orientent l'action de l'Alliance et ensuite de prendre
les decisions journalieres afin que celle-ci garde le cap.
Il est dans notre interet a tous de veiller a ce que le
Conseil travaille de maniere efficace, rationnelle et
harmonieuse. C'est pourquoi je me rejouis a la perspective
do nouer avec chacun d'entre vous autour de cette table,
ainsi qu'avec vos delegations, des relations de travail
L'ordre du jour de notre reunion d'aujourd'hui se presente
comme d'habitude. Je pense cependant qu'il nous faut
reflechir attentivement non seulement a la question des
ordres du jour, mais aussi, de maniere plus generale, a la
distinction entre cadres formels et informels. Nous devons
consacrer le temps precieux qui est le notre aux sujets
prioritaires, sans le gaspiller pour des questions
secondaires. Jo vous propose d'examiner, lors de notre
premier dejeuner a la rentree de septembre, comment rendre
nos reunions et en particulier les reunions ordinaires du
Conseil, aussi productives que possible.
Je pense avoir assez parle de ce sujet pour aujourd'hui mais
je vous en reparlerai dans les semaines a venir, et je compte
bien que vous aurez aussi des elements a apporter au debat.
Mais laissez-moi vous redire ma tres sincere intention de
travailler etroitement avec vous tous au sein du Conseil dans
les semaines, les mois et les annees a venir.
But one thing is procedure. Another is substance. Yesterday
USNATO 00000336 004 OF 006
as I took office I gave a press conference setting out.
I emphasised that NATO is doing more, in more places, than it
ever has before but remains the ultimate insurance policy for
the peace, security and freedom of nearly one billion people
in 28 countries.
My intent, as NATO SG, is to make the most of this enormous
capability: in our operations, in our partnerships; and by
transforming the way we do business.
For me, that means starting with success in Afghanistan. A
lot has been accomplished already. But this year will be
key. This month's elections will not be to the same
standards we might expect elsewhere. But they must be
credible, particularly with the Afghans themselves.
So most immediately we have to focus on credible elections,
while in longer-term we must move forward, concretely and
visibly, in transferring lead security responsibility for
Afghanistan to the Afghans.
That means that during my term as NATO SG, we should see
Afghans in the lead not only in Kabul, but also in the North
and the West, and moving into a leadership role wherever
possible in the South and East.
I was clear with the press referring to "LEAD" responsibility
for the Afghans, with NATO there in support. The Afghan need
to believe that we are there for as long as it takes.
However, supporting them means helping them stand on their
own feet. Which means more trainers, more civilian support,
and more help for the Afghan to build their institutions.
But this has to be an international team effort, NATO can't
do it alone, and essentially, we need more effort from the
We can't wait. We now have to show the Afghan people, and
the people in troop contributing nations, more light at the
end of the tunnel if we are to maintain their support. The
past month has made that bitterly clear. I believe it can be
done. We shouldn't doubt that.
Second priority: NATO-Russia relations. Resumption of work
by the NRC at political level and the restarting of military
cooperation is good. Clearly there is also scope for us to
work together, on Afghanistan, on piracy, on counter-
However, it is also obvious that there will be fundamental
issues on which we disagree. We must insist, for example,
that Russia fully complies with its international
obligations, including respecting the territorial integrity
and political freedom of its neighbours.
But I don't want those areas of disagreement to poison the
USNATO 00000336 005 OF 006
whole relationship. I made clear my message to the Russian
leadership and people: Let us talk and find areas to work
together. The NRC holds considerable potential for
cooperation and understanding- on Afghanistan, on piracy, on
counter-terrorism for example. We should exploit that.
Another partnership will be a third priority for me: our
relationship with the Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul
Cooperation Initiative countries. This Alliance has, over
years, built up a strong relationship and cooperation with
our MD and ICI partners. I intend to build on the work done
by my predecessor in this area.
On Kosovo, my aim is clear. By the end of my term, I want to
see KFOR reduced to just a small reaction force, or out
altogether. It should not be rushed. But I believe that the
conditions will, in time, be right to retire KFOR with
I want to see NATO having a standing anti-piracy role, with
the capabilities, legal arrangements and force generation in
place to make it happen. This problem won't wait, so I will
be coming back to you in the very near future on this.
I won't forget defence transformation however, and intend to
push ahead on issues including common funding, and joint
projects like the SAC. With global finances the way they
are, we cannot afford anything but efficient, modern and,
where appropriate, multinational approaches to defence.
All of this work - taking forward our operations, building
stronger capabilities, developing our capabilities, and
strengthening our partnerships will be quantified in the new
Strategic Concept process.
On the Strategic Concept, it is, of course, a bit early for
me to say what I think should be in the final document. But
I can tell you what I think need to be some important
principles guiding the work:
-- That it must be ambitious, but also realistic with regards
-- That it should firmly establish NATO as a part of the
global community of international actors;
-- That it should take a holistic view of security, and then
set out how NATO can play its part;
-- It should not neglect reform of NATO itself.
-- It should also be by far the most open and the most
inclusive process of policy development NATO has ever
On NATO-EU relations, I intend to push very hard, at the
highest level, to try to make progress on this front as well.
This is something which I know frustrated my predecessor and
I am determined to give this my personal attention. I want
to see more political consultation, formal and informal; and
more practical cooperation. All, let me be clear, without
USNATO 00000336 006 OF 006
replacing the agreed framework or undermining the autonomy of
decision-making of the two organisations.