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Speech by Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský, Allied Seminar to prepare the next NATO Strategic Concept
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Speech by Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský, Allied Seminar to prepare the next NATO Strategic Concept

 

28 March 2022, Prague

Dear Deputy Secretary General,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of all the organizing countries, let me welcome you at the 4th and concluding NATO Strategic Concept Seminar. Thank you for coming to Prague in these turbulent and worrisome times.

Representing a country that has a direct experience of authoritarian regime and that has managed its so-called “return to Europe”, I am particularly pleased to open the Seminar focusing on the International Rules-Based Order. Attacked by Russia and challenged by China, the rules-based system is now fighting for its survival. If it falls, the gentle Western world would soon become a past. If it wins, it would come out stronger and more resilient.    

The six-month old title of the event: NATO´s Evolving Role in Global Stability seems obsolete today. Change is now happening not in evolutionary but in revolutionary manner. What was unimaginable then is a new normal now.

Yes, we should have seen it coming, we should have read the signs. And yes, we should have understood the different set of mind and we should have not let Russia play on our differences when pretending diplomacy. We cannot change the past, but we must learn our lessons to shape the future.

We have learned the hard way that appeasement with Putin´s Russia does not provide deterrent effect. It must be contained. Russia´s act of aggression highlights the necessity of enhancing our collective defence. We shall transform the important decisions adopted in the course of the current crisis into long-term strategic considerations.

Russia has ultimately decided to exclude itself from the family of civilized nations and has inflicted a serious blow to the international order both in Europe and around the globe. It effectively destroyed the UN Charter, basic norms of international law and the European security architecture.

The system based on dialogue, military transparency, predictability and arms control has failed. We have a revisionist and neo-imperial Russia at our borders holding a veto power at the UN Security Council, resorting to the gross lies, manipulation and Goebbels style of propaganda.

Our resolute response and heavy sanctions work. Although, the Russian people suffer for the Kremlin’s choices, we could not have done otherwise. However, the Russian people must be our key to a change. It is ultimately up to the Russians to bring down the criminal Kremlin regime. We should support them not least by bringing information about the true reality to them, including through an offensive StratComm and supporting independent Russian language media.

The strong and coordinated NATO-EU approach has proved to be essential in preventing Russia from achieving its goals in Ukraine. The ambition of the next Strategic Concept should aim beyond strengthening NATO-EU cooperation towards achieving a NATO-EU Strategic Unity. The Transatlantic Strategic Unity is key to effectively defending the rules-based order globally.

The firmness of our response to Russia’s invasion delivers the best possible message to other challengers of the rules-based order, notably to China. Demonstrating our resolve to deal with Russia is a unique way to influence China’s own future calculations.

In their recent joint statement, China and Russia made it clear that they consider each other partners in dismantling the rules-based order. The statement comes as a warning to the democratic world that the two authoritarian powers will not hesitate to use any means to achieve their strategic goals – creating a new world order based on spheres of influence and balance of power, that protects only their own security interests and territorial ambitions. Worryingly, China for the first time expressed its opposition to NATO’s further enlargement in Europe and backed Russia’s proposals for its security guarantees.

We shall not forget that China’s long-term aspirations to establish itself as an alternative to the liberal world order is no less perilous. In fact, China’s and Russia’s ambitions are very similar, only their means differ (so far). China’s continuous malign activities - overt, covert or hybrid - are equally disruptive and must be countered.

As we plan to strengthen and adapt our military capabilities to defend against kinetic warfare, we must stay vigilant across all domains. Our adversaries will increasingly resort to actions below the threshold of war to test our unity and our readiness. A complex world requires a complex strategy.

Today, we are not holding an academic exercise. Your task is to contribute to the preparation of the next NATO Strategic Concept that should be adopted in June and should stay relevant for some time. It is not an easy task. While Russian aggression will inevitably dominate your debate, you should strive for thinking beyond the open war and beyond the East-European context.

I wish you a very successful and most productive debate!

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