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Anförande vid Atlantic Council Dinner

Anförande i Washington DC, USA

It's a true honour to be invited to come here and deliver some remarks on the European perspective of the Atlantic relationship and the challenges we face.

These very months are months when we in Europe are looking in our mirrors at the same time as we are taking important decisions on our future.

On September 1st leaders meet at Westerplatte by Gdansk in Poland to remember the first shots 70 years ago of what become the Second World War.

That war took Europe into a long nightmare of wars, destruction, genocide, oppression and division that did not truly end until the momenteous months two decades ago when that Soviet empire that extended right into the hearth of Europe come crushing down.

And month after month we are now remembering what happened during that year of the modern European revolution - culminating in that night on November 9th when the Berlin wall ceased to divide and it only become a matter of time until the entire edifice of socialist regimes would disappear.

Before these events, Europe was the centre of the challenges we faced together.

A generation of politician had lived through the one Berlin crisis after the other. Tank stood against tank at Checkpoint Charlie. And the security policy of the West often boiled down to nuclear exchange scenarios and force ratios around the famous Fulda Gap.

And then everything - suddenly - for many against expectations - disappeared - changed - and a fundamentally new reality started to appear. It was a new Zero Hour for Europe.

And in much the same way as after the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century or after the First World War in the early 20th century we had to build a new European order of peace and prosperity.

It was the wisdom of the statesmen of those years that made it possible to do so on the foundations of the institutions that had held the line and built a new prosperity in the decades before - the European Community and the Atlantic Alliance.

In essence, we went from preventing war through a policy of military deterrence to preserving peace through a policy of economic and political integration.

The extension of Nato was of fundamental importance in giving reassurance to the Central European and Baltic Nations - but it was the magnetism and the model of European integration that made it possible for the 100 million people of those nations to miraculously transform their societies in such a short period of time.

The two decades since the European revolution of 1989 were indeed decades of nearly miraculous success - even taking into account the horrendous decade of war in the Balkans.

Out of a less ambitious and smaller European Community evolved the far more ambitious and far larger European Union - with its today 27 members and 0,5 billion citizen representing the largest integrated economy of the world and its by far largest trading entity.

And this European Union is still very much work in progress.

The referendum in Ireland next Friday will decide the fate of the Lisbon Treaty.

Following the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice treaties, this represents the latest stage in the remarkable constitutional evolution of our integration.

From the Treaty of Rome in 1958 to the end of the 1980's very little happened - but since then development in these respects have been rather fast. The imperative of action in a fundamentally new European and global reality has driven this remarkable acceleration of our integration efforts.

In much the same way as it took years for the full force of the previous treaty changes to be felt, it will take years until we will see the full force of the transformations coming out of the Lisbon Treaty.

Critical are the steps to increase the coherence of our existing foreign and security policy instruments, as well as the steps to create radically new ones.

Part of the app 40 000 diplomats that the EU countries deploy around the world will now come together in our common External Action Service - over time giving us a far stronger common presence and potential for diplomatic action around the globe.

But far more important than our new institutions - and the new personalities - are the policies that we are developing. Institutions without policies are like hardware without software - just empty stuff.

And it is the continous evolution and updating of our software of policies that is critical to whether we will truly be seen as the emerging power we are.

Obviously, there are very substantial differences in institutions and instruments between Europe and the United States.

But if the hardware differences - notably in the military field - are very substantial, we should note the remarkable coming together in the areas of the software of policies that we have seen lately.

Coming from the intense days we have spent together at the United Nations in New York - having just today attended different meetings with Secretary Clinton on first nuclear disarmament, then support for Pakistan, followed by the relationship with Iran and finally - before rushing to La Guardia - the prospect for peace in the Middle East - I can testify to a similarity in policy outlook across the Atlantic that might be unique in modern history.

The developments of the past two decades has thus seen the transformation of Europe from the critical problem in terms of global security of the

20th century to the crucial partner in meeting all the diverse challenges of the 21st century. And it is on this we are determined to build in the years ahead.

We all know that the credibility of the European Union on the wider global stage has been dramatically enhanced by our successes during the past two decades - enlargement and the Euro the two most obvious.

And it should be equally obvious that our future weight and credibility on the global stage - notably in this town - to a large extent will be a function of how we handle to coming challenges related to the peace and prosperity of our own part of the world.

While much has been achieved since the European revolution of 1989, the tasks that history presented is with then have not been completed.

We remain committed to the concept of an open Europe - and we should not underestimate the transformational force that is inherent in this concept in wide areas of our part of the world.

The most immediate tasks ahead are those associated with the app 100 million people of South-eastern Europe that are now knocking on our door. We have come a very long way since the decade of wars in the Balkans.

Serbia has the most European- and reform-oriented leadership in its history. Kosovo is an independent country. The politicians of Bosnia are quarrelling - but war will never be an option. On Friday of next week we will restart the Croatian accession negotiations. Croatia is Both Albania and Montenegro have submitted their applications for membership. And FYROM is already a candidate country.

Still there are outstanding issues that will require some determined efforts. Deputy Secretary Steinberg and myself established a personal partnership for peace in Dubrovnik this summer, and you will see more of that in action in the weeks and months ahead.

We truly appreciate the support the United States is ready to give our efforts.

It is my hope that we within the coming year will be able to make a transition for all of the region to a new, more demanding and more important phase of European integration.

The road to membership for all of them will undoubtedly be a long one. The processes of state building in the region after the violent break-up of Yugoslavia are not everywhere finished.

But for the first time since the brutal wars I genuinely feel that the forces of integration in the region are becoming stronger than the forces of disintegration.

To maintain this momentum is a key task in the years ahead. And what applies here also applies elsewhere.

Perhaps the single most important political process in Europe in the months ahead will be the talks on bringing unity to the divided island of Cyprus. Two decades after the end of the division of Berlin it remains shameful that we still have a European capital divided by walls and barbed wire.

Success - or failure - of these efforts will have major ramifications for the strategic situation in South-eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean for decades to come - as well as for issues like making it possible for the Union and Nato to work more effectively together in Afghanistan or our future challenging areas.

There are divided views in different parts of Europe on whether our door should be open to Turkey as well - although the vast majority of member countries and the vast majority of the European Parliament support the ongoing reform and accession process.

I belong to those firmly convinced of the immense strategic benefits inherent in this process.

A Union that includes also the demographic dynamism and economic potential of Turkey will undoubtedly be a stronger Union - and a Union that can truly demonstrate that it is committed to overcoming all the obstacles of the past and the prejudices of the present will be a significantly more credible voice in the rest of the world.

During the recent year we have launched a far more ambitious approach to the countries of our immediate neighbourhood than we had In the past - with first the Union of the Mediterranean last year and then the Eastern Partnership earlier this year.

In their different ways these are policies of high strategic significance for our European future.

The countries of North Africa and the Middle East will see a rise in population that will equal two Egypt's - app 160 million people - during the next two decades or so.

With their young populations, they will experience either a huge demographic dividend as they open up their societies and economies, creating huge opportunities for all of Europe - or they will risk despair and destruction if these new millions don't see any hope for their future.

We have a tremendous stake in their future - and we must engage more deeply with each of them in trying to shape it.

To the East of our Union there is the vast region with its 12 very different countries between us and the borders of China - the 80 million people of the six Eastern Partnership countries, the 140 million people of Russia and the nearly 60 million people of the five countries of Central Asia.

Their importance can also be illustrated by the fact that their Southern neighbours are Iran and Afghanistan.

A recent report by the European Council of Foreign Relations described the situation in this area in rather bleak terms:

"Politics is a toxic mixture of authoritarianism and stalled democracy, ongoing secessionist tensions continue to stoke fears of violent conflict, and the economic crisis is wreaking havoc throughout the region."

Again, it is obvious that we have a stake in their future - and that we must engage more deeply with each of them, based on their own priorities and their own wishes.

That our relations with Russia have deteriorated over the conflict with Georgia - and most notably over Russian unwillingness to stand by the agreements made at the very end of that conflict is obvious.

Equally obvious is that there is some confusion over the course that Russia itself wishes to take - notably during the last few weeks on the issue of the road to membership in the WTO.

But we must persist in getting Russia truly involved and embedded in a rules-based European and global order - along with all others.

And we must not let up our efforts to convince them that nothing will bring more security to Russia than relationships with all their neighbours - including the smallest ones - based on true friendship and thrust.

But our ambitions are not only the ambitions to our South or to or East. We should not neglect our High North.

This July I received the application for membership of the European Union of Iceland, and based on the fact that the country is already integrated

in our single market and our passport-free area we immediately forwarded the application to the European Commission.

A membership of Iceland - if that is where we end up - would not only bring in a country with a longer tradition of democracy - its parliament is more than a thousand years old - than any other European country but would also bring our Union more directly into the strategically increasingly important Arctic issues - environmental challenges, energy possibilities and possible future revolutionary new transportation routes between the Atlantic and Pacific worlds.

We thus have - as Europeans - major issue in front of us when it comes to our own part of the world.

And it is to a large extent the way in which we handle them that gives us the necessary credibility in handling the wider global issues. Beyond this, we are faced with a most challenging agenda in the entire region from Palestine to the Punjab.

And its different issues are intertwined with the huge issue of our relationship with the entire Muslim world - our immediate neighbour not only on the map but increasingly also across the street back home.

From a European perspective few long-term issues are of such importance.

That is way our engagement for reform and reconciliation, peace and prosperity, across the Middle East has always been steadfast. A two-state solution between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean has been European policy for decades.

That is why we are now stepping up our engagement with Iraq - as international forces leave, international efforts become more important than ever. In the future, Mesopotamia might be on the borders of our Union.

That is why we have been seeking a dialogue with Iran over all the issues on the agenda for years, and why we welcome that the United States has now joined these efforts. We have no illusions that this will be easy, but we have no illusions concerning the consequences of not even trying.

And that is why we are so heavily engaged also in Afghanistan - European countries have more soldiers by the Hindu Kush than we had in the Balkans at the height of our involvement there, and our civilian and development efforts have been running at over a billion Euros for years.

In many ways the world today is more demanding, more difficult and in key areas also more dangerous than just a few years ago.

But against this stands the fact that we have a new understanding across the Atlantic and the prospect of a better partnership between the United States and Europe.

Whichever of the great challenges of our time you look at, the conclusion is the same.

The United States and Europe must stand together. That is the necessary precondition for any progress on any of them.

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