Chairman, Taoiseach, distinguished guests and members of the Forum, it is an honor to have this opportunity to speak to you about some of the work ahead of us during Ireland's Presidency. Last month, when I was invited to join you, we had all hoped that our negotiations on the draft Treaty would be over and that we would be preparing for the next steps of debate, referendum and ratification. Unfortunately, it is not the case. Ireland comes to the Presidency with a reputation for patience, perseverance and even-handedness. I have worked closely with Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern and Foreign Minister, Brian Cowen for many years. If an opportunity for progress does open up in the coming months, I am confident that we could not be in safer hands.
Of course, the new Treaty is important. But the rest of the world does not sit idle waiting for the EU to forge a constitution. And European citizens are concerned with whether the Union is looking after their interests and whether it is doing its job well. We have a job to do in the coming months and - working together - we will do it well.
This is the challenge that I want to address today. I do not intend to discuss the detail of the draft treaty or to speculate on what the future may hold. I am not an architect or a fortune-teller. I am a physicist. I know that a molecule is more than a collection of atoms. The European Union is more than the sum of its parts. Under Ireland's Presidency, we will grow to twenty-five members. We have responsibilities - to our citizens, to our neighbors and to our international partners. Meeting these responsibilities is one of the main challenges facing Ireland's Presidency. I want to focus on one aspect of the complex agenda ahead - our work in the political and security field. I think you would expect me to concentrate on this and I am happy to do so.
It is eight years since Ireland last held the Presidency. In that time, our external action has undergone a sea change. For many years we were reactive to developments around us. We responded, but often our response was too little or too late. Recently, we have been more proactive - in the Western Balkans, for example, where we have acted to prevent new conflicts from erupting in Southern Serbia and in Macedonia. Our new crisis management capabilities have enhanced our capacity for action. Over the past year, we have launched a police operation in Bosnia and military operations in Macedonia and the Great Lakes region of Africa. Last month, we took a further step forward with the adoption of Europe's first Security Strategy. It signals a new - strategic - approach - to our external action. It will fall to Ireland to put the strategy into practice. The Security Strategy was born when Europeans acknowledged that we are stronger when we have a common perception of the threats we face and how to deal with them. Threats are never more dangerous than when we are divided.
The European Security Strategy
Europe's security strategy is built on the concepts of responsibility, prevention, capability and partnership. Allow me to briefly outline each of these and what they mean in practice.
A political union of 450 million people in 25 countries producing a quarter of the world's GDP has both regional and global responsibilities.
In our immediate neighbourhood, Europe shoulders a growing responsibility for security in the Balkans. We are ready and willing to do more. In the coming months, we will be called on to do more, especially in Bosnia. Already we have police and monitoring missions on the ground. Soon, we will take over responsibility from NATO for peacekeeping. Bosnia will be the first case where the EU simultaneously deploys, trade, humanitarian, military and civilian instruments on the ground in pursuit of a single objective - the stabilisation and transformation of a post conflict society into one which some day can some day be ready for EU membership. During the IGC, we have spoken often of coherence. Bosnia will be a concrete test of our ability to ensure that our trade, development, political and security instruments can follow the same agenda.
But our responsibilities for building regional security extend further. Closer engagement with the Arab world must also be a priority for us. The task of bringing this work forward will also fall to Ireland. Without resolution of the Arab/Israeli conflict, there will be little chance of dealing with other problems in a region beset by economic stagnation and social unrest.
We also have a responsibility to ensure that EU enlargement does not create new dividing lines in Europe. Closer economic cooperation with our neighbors to the East will help to avoid this - but must be accompanied by determined efforts to develop democracy and good governance there and to end frozen and unresolved conflicts. Next week I will visit Georgia - a country which faces enormous problems but where there is hope for a new beginning. Responsibility has a global dimension too. Terrorist and criminal networks have a global reach. We can only tackle them effectively if we think - and act - globally. Most of the heroin sold in Europe originates in Afghanistan. Our internal and external security are indissolubly connected. If we want to protect our citizens at home, we have to be prepared to act effectively abroad.
Prevention is at the heart of our approach. Preventive engagement has enabled us to avert the threat of further conflicts in the Balkans. Prompt action by Europe has helped to encourage the Iranian authorities to accept additional safeguards and to voluntarily suspend uranium enrichment and processing activities. Later this week I will visit Iran for discussions on how we can work together to address these issues as well as the very serious humanitarian problems which Iran now faces.
The threats we face are dynamic. Left alone, they will grow. We need to be able to act at the first signs of trouble. This is easier said than done. It requires a strategic culture that fosters early, rapid and when necessary, robust intervention.
Our strategy of preventive engagement goes beyond the immediate threats to take account of the environment in which those threats are generated and sustained. Many regions - especially Africa - are caught in a cycle of conflict, insecurity, and poverty. Regional conflicts fuel the demand for proliferation. Violent religious extremism is linked to the pressures of modernisation, and to the alienation of young people in societies, which are experiencing social, cultural and political crisis.
In short, a world more fair is a world more secure.
The European Security Strategy is underpinned and made credible by the notion of capability. We have made great progress in the development of military and civilian capabilities. In reviewing the headline goal process, which we set in motion four years ago at Helsinki, we will have to ensure that we build the capabilities to meet the challenges we are facing.
Whatever new goals we define, we will have to make sure they are resourced. Collectively, Europeans already spend Euro 160 billion a year on defence. We will have to use these resources wisely, reducing duplication and filling gaps. The establishment of a Defence Agency foreseen in the Treaty should help to ensure better co-ordinated defence investment and research and technology efforts. Military capabilities are an important element in our strategy, but there are others. Military efficiency has often been followed by civilian chaos. We need police and other civilian capabilities in crisis and post crisis situations. And we need to use these in a coordinated way with humanitarian, trade and development policies.
Stronger security partnerships - and a more effective multilateral system - are essential for our security.
Europe's partnership with the United States is irreplaceable. It has underpinned our progressive integration and our security. It benefits not only Europe and the US, but the international community as a whole. Though the US is today's dominant military actor, it cannot tackle today's complex and multi-dimensional problems on its own. You are well-placed to build on this partnership and I know that you are determined to do so.
I believe that our future security will depend more - not less - on an effective multilateral system, a rule-based international order and well-functioning international institutions. Multilateralism is not an instrument of the weak. It is an instrument of the wise.
The United Nations is at the center of this system, but can only play its role if we have imagination and collective will to strengthen it, equip it to fulfil its responsibilities and to act effectively. And if we have the courage and determination to act when its rules are broken. Ireland is also well equipped to make progress here. You are a staunch supporter of UN peacekeeping. This is clear from your strong commitment to the UN force in Liberia. Your recent experience on the Security Council gives direct experience of the UN strengths but also its weaknesses.
Ultimately, I believe that the best way Europe can contribute to building a stronger UN is by building a strong and capable Europe; a Europe firmly committed to effective multilateralism. These are not alternatives. They are complementary. Last year, the European Union was able to respond quickly and decisively to the UN's call for peacekeepers in the Great Lakes region. This is EU rapid reaction in practice. Without ESDP the development of military capabilities, and the ability to take the necessary decisions, we could not have responded to this call. In a world where partnership and cooperation is crucial to success, our relationships will take many forms. In the Western Balkans, with NATO, especially in preparation for the take-over from SFOR. With regional powers such as Japan, China and India; with regional organisations such as ASEAN, MERCOSUR and the African Union. Europe's history, geography and culture connect us globally. In our own neighbourhood, we must work for closer relations with Russia, building a strategic partnership through respect for common values.
Our ambition is a Europe more active and more capable; an articulate and persuasive champion of effective multilateralism; a regional actor and a global ally. The preparation the European Security Strategy has helped us to discover a remarkable convergence of view on security issues between EU Member States - and to uncover an authentic and uniquely European voice on security issues.
The Strategy is a short document. It is free of jargon, clear and - I hope - accessible to all. This is how it should be. Security is everybody's business. I hope that it is widely disseminated and read.
The challenge of articulating this voice and implementing this ambitious vision now rests with the Irish Presidency.
In closing, allow me to thank you, Mr Chairman, Taoiseach and members of the Forum, for inviting me here to speak with you. Your job, too, has been to make Europe clear and accessible. Not always an easy job, but a vital one. As Europe becomes larger and more active, the task of debating and explaining becomes ever more important. You have set an example on how this can be done. May your work continue and flourish.