Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation
Friday, April 11, 2014, 11:30am
Αξιότιμες Κυρίες και Κύριοι καλημέρα σας,
Χαίρομαι ιδιαίτερα που μου δίνεται σήμερα η ευκαιρία να συζητήσω μαζί σας τις απόψεις των ΗΠΑ σχετικά με τις προκλήσεις που αντιμετωπίζει σήμερα η Βόρειο-Ατλαντική Συμμαχία.
Σας ευχαριστώ θερμά για την ευγενική σας πρόσκληση!
Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here with you all today. I would like to start by congratulating the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation for organizing this excellent forum to discuss the challenges ahead for European defense and security. The Greek Association and its sister organizations of the Atlantic Treaty Association promote the core values and the vision set out in the North Atlantic Treaty. These organizations also reinforce Euro-Atlantic cooperation, a topic that I will be addressing in my remarks.
I hope to give some insight into what the U.S. is thinking and planning, and where we see challenges that the European and American alliance must face. This is a very apt topic, of course, because of the events in Crimea.
Threat to Established Order
It was only a few weeks ago that certain things seemed clear: that the borders of Europe were settled, that international law prevailed, that nations determined their own future. Now we see a clear challenge to the post-war order, to the peace established by the sacrifice of so many young men and women from around the world – American, Greek, Ukrainian, and Russian among them. And so it goes without saying that we must never take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world, because the contest of ideas continues. These events also remind us that proven alliances like NATO have enduring value for all member states in an uncertain world.
Keeping Alliances in Good Repair
Keeping those alliances in good repair is now our vital task. In this, the 65th year of the NATO alliance, we’ve reached what our Ambassador to NATO calls a “strategic inflection point.” For the first four decades of its history, NATO’s role was easy to define – collective defense and deterrence here in Europe because Europe was the central front of the Cold War. And the last twenty years have seen continuous NATO operations in virtually every corner of the globe, from the Balkans and Kosovo, to Afghanistan, Libya, and operations in the Arabian and Mediterranean seas. Greek and American forces have served side-by-side in many of those operations.
Our collective task now is to address several questions about the shape of the alliance for the next 65 years:
- What lessons do we take from the past 20 years that will help us adapt to future challenges?
- What military capabilities should be prioritized, in a time of budget cuts and economic recovery?
- How do we improve partnerships and interoperability?
- Fundamentally, what should the Alliance look like beyond 2014? I’m glad to see that this conference proposes to address many of these questions.
The U.S. Part
I trust there is no need to tell anyone here that, for the United States, Europe and the Transatlantic Alliance are very much front and center. Less than two weeks ago President Obama visited Europe to attend the Nuclear Security Summit. On that trip he also met with EU leaders to discuss critical security issues in the region. Last month, the newest aircraft carrier in the world, the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush, made a port call to Piraeus. And, in just the last few months several branches of the American military have come to Greece for joint trainings, with more planned for the summer.
In order to meet today’s challenges both near and far, America needs a strong Europe, and Europe needs a strong America. Turning inward is not an option for any of us, and leading means committing resources even in a difficult time to make certain that we are helping countries handle the complex challenges of our day.
So what is the U.S. doing to prepare for future challenges to international peace and security like the cyber threat or the ramifications of events in places like Crimea? Recently the President directed our armed services to undertake a comprehensive strategic review so that our defense budget is driven by a clear strategy that reflects our national interests, and creates a military force that can meet future challenges. We will focus on modernization to deal with emerging threats like some of the ones I’ve mentioned here today, as well as enhancing capabilities related to counterterrorism and countering weapons of mass destruction. The American military is reshaping its forces to have a properly sized, balanced, and flexible force, one that ensures an effective deterrent in the face of evolving challenges and developments.
Fair Share and Partnerships
As part of that reform, the United States will invest more in critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has demonstrated its value time and again. Having said that, the alliance works only when every NATO member steps up and carries its share of the burden by showing the political will to invest in our collective defense and by developing the capabilities to serve as a source of international peace and security.
Developing the Capabilities – Economically too
We know that these capabilities do not come cheap, and we’re mindful that many countries, Greece included, are looking carefully at spending as they recover economically. So the better question to ask is, if we can have anything, but cannot have everything, what do we focus on?
In NATO’s most recent review of national targets, several capabilities were highlighted, including command and control of multi-national operations, developing special operations forces, capacity building by developing other militaries, and dealing with emerging threats with improved missile defense and cyber defense. And at the October Ministerial meeting, Defense Ministers pledged to do their best to deliver those capabilities through their national planning.
Meeting these goals, however, will be difficult as long as our collective economic recoveries lag. I feel it’s necessary to speak of commerce at a security conference because economic difficulties on either side of the Atlantic can and do challenge our collective security. So many things that we all do around the world depend on mutual economic strength, from investing in each other’s countries, to aiding development, to responding to humanitarian crises anywhere around the globe. So it’s useful to keep in mind that two billion dollars’ worth of trade crosses the Atlantic daily. The numbers are staggering.
In this regard, I’m sure most all of you know that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is currently under negotiation. T-TIP, as it’s often called, will promote trade and investment while maintaining high standards for safety, labor, and the environment. I believe T-TIP can be for our economic health what NATO has been to our shared security: a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.Greece and the U.S.
In conclusion, and with specific reference to Greece I would like to say that the U.S. appreciates the remarkable sacrifice and real strength shown by the Greek people over the past five years. We will work with the government and people of Greece for a stable and prosperous future. We want to see Greece emerge from its economic crisis stronger, a stable country playing a stabilizing role in southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. We want to see that because being allies and friends means more than just having our militaries train together. The U.S. believes that it is essential that we devote energy to both our economic relationship and our security relationship.
Αγαπητές φίλες και φίλοι, /Οπως μας δείχνει η πρόσφατη κρίση στην Ουκρανία, ο ρόλος του ΝΑΤΟ στην άμυνα και ασφάλεια της Ευρώπης είναι το ίδιο σημαντικός όσο και στο παρελθόν. Αυτό επιβάλει συνεχή και συλλογική προσπάθεια και συνεργασία ανάμεσα στα κράτη-μέλη του ΝΑΤΟ, ώστε να διασφαλιστεί καλύτερα η συλλογική ασφάλεια όλων των κρατών-μελών.
Η Αμερική θεωρεί την Ελλάδα πολύτιμο σύμμαχο και παράγοντα σταθερότητας στην περιοχή της νοτιο-ανατολικής Ευρώπης και της ανατολικής Μεσογείου. Οι σχέσεις των δύο χωρών μας είναι βαθιές και ιστορικές και είμαι βέβαιος ότι στο μέλλον θα ενδυναμωθούν ακόμη περισσότερο.Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ!