Minister of Foreign Affairs Renato Ruggiero
Speech to the Joint Committees of the Chamber and Senate
Developments in NATO regarding the terrorist attacks in the USA
and the application of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty
October 4, 2001
Since the decision taken by the Atlantic Council on 12 September, with its reference
to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, there has been an unceasing series
of consultations at every level within the NATO framework with our American
allies on the results of their investigations into the terrorist attacks of
11 September and on the steps to be taken within the Atlantic Alliance as a
An important Council consultation on 20 September with the American Deputy Secretary
of State, Armitage, who had taken part in a series of meetings in Moscow a few
days previously, was followed on 26 September by the informal meeting of the
Alliance Defence Ministers, at which Italy was represented by Minister Martino
and the United States by Deputy Defence Secretary Wolfowitz.
I would like at this point to remind you that this was the meeting that should
have taken place in Napoli/Pozzuoli but was transferred to Brussels at the specific
request of the NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson.
Lord Robertson put this request to the Prime Minister personally during a meeting
at the NATO Headquarters on 21 September, shortly before the extraordinary meeting
of the European Council the same day.
On that occasion Prime Minister Berlusconi had an opportunity to illustrate
the position of the Italian Government to the NATO Secretary General, underlining
the strong support for NATO expressed by Italian public opinion and the Parliament,
where both majority and opposition had reacted in unison, essentially, to the
tragic events in New York and Washington.
The Prime Minister also confirmed to Lord Robertson that Italy would express
solidarity with the other NATO allies in any decisions the Alliance would be
Finally, he insisted on the need to ensure at all costs that the western reaction
could not be interpreted in any way as a confrontation with the Muslim world,
and underlined the fact that any military action would have to be accompanied
by political, economic, financial and international police cooperation initiatives
involving the highest possible number of states, including Muslim countries.
The Brussels meeting subsequently agreed unanimously with this position, which
American Deputy Defence Secretary Wolfowitz, also underscored in person to Minister
Martino during a bilateral meeting in the margins of the Session.
The NATO Defence Ministers also met the Russian Defence Minister Sergej Ivanov
in the Brussels headquarters. One of the key points to emerge from this meeting,
which was of the utmost significance, was a marked sharing of concerns over
the dramatic leap in intensity in the latest acts of international terrorism.
The Alliance countries and Russia will be working more closely together from
now on to tackle this phenomenon.
It is true, of course, that the so-called founding act of the NATO-Russia
partnership, signed in Paris in 1997, already included terrorism as a possible
subject for cooperation. However, the attacks of 11 September have greatly increased
the urgency and the importance of this aspect of the NATO-Russia relationship,
a change that is underlined by the joint high level meeting on the subject of
terrorism which took place in Brussels the day before yesterday.
The very positive outcome of yesterdays talks between Lord Robertson and
President Putin, who made a personal point of underlining his determination
to deepen this promising and useful cooperation, is further evidence of this
common will to strengthen and intensify relations between NATO and Moscow.
I would like to give you at this point a quick overview of the other important
consultations Italy has held with our Allies, EU partners and other friendly
countries in recent weeks.
the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the European Union,
which took place in Brussels on 21 September and laid the foundations for a
coordinated reaction by the international community to the newly intensified
challenge of terrorism, to be tackled in all its dimensions.
A few days afterwards, the meeting between Minister Martino and Minister Ivanov
in the margins of the NATO-Russia meeting, where Minister Martinos illustration
of the Italian position on terrorism met with the approval of his Russian colleague.
My recent mission to Washington and New York, on the positive outcome of which
I reported promptly to Parliament on my return to Rome.
And last in order of time, but certainly not importance, the meeting of the
Atlantic Council on 2 October at which the United States provided a full and
comprehensive briefing on the outcome of the investigations they had carried
out with unprecedented commitment, breadth and depth, to uncover the responsibilities
for the terrible attacks of 11 September in New York and Washington. This briefing
was given by Ambassador Frank Taylor, who is coordinating the anti-terrorism
measures in the Department of State in Washington.
This was a top-secret briefing and I trust you will excuse me for not going
into great detail. But I can reveal that it clearly illustrated the responsibilities
of the Al-Qaida terrorist network, headed by Osama bin Laden, and the links
between this terrorist group and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. I repeat,
the information provided at the briefing demonstrated clearly the role played
by Al-Qaida in the attacks of 11 September, as all the members of the Atlantic
Alliance have acknowledged.
I can also inform you that a similar briefing was held yesterday in Rome, this
time on a strictly bilateral basis.
This evidence was important because it enabled the NATO Secretary General, Lord
Robertson, to declare that on the basis of the information thus provided it
could be concluded that the attack on the United States on 11 September had
been conceived outside America, a factor which removed the grounds for postponing
the full activation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty which, as we know,
the NATO council had included in its decision of 12 September.
On that same day Ambassador Taylor himself informed Russia of the principal
results of the investigations during the high level meeting of experts I mentioned
earlier. He then took part in an extraordinary session of the Euro-Atlantic
Partnership Council (EAPC), which brings together 47 countries and meets
at the NATO headquarters in Brussels under the chairmanship of Secretary General
Robertson, and explained to these countries the main points that had emerged.
I would like to point out here, as I did in the Senate on 13 September, that
the members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council include many countries
whose populations are predominantly Muslim.
There can be do doubt that 2 October was a pivotal moment in the investigations
and preparations that are being taken forward to give real substance to the
wide international coalition against terrorism, in which the countries of the
Alliance are an important link.
What can we expect for the future?
The first point we have to make is that the United States of America, the country
directly and cruelly hit by the attacks of 11 September, has thus far acted
with the utmost caution and responsibility. Washington is not acting in a hurried
or impulsive fashion, even though the country has been bitterly shocked by the
treacherous and bloody nature of the attacks. The approach that has emerged
in America is to base their actions to defeat terrorism on a wide-ranging strategy
that draws upon an extensive and varied range of instruments: not just military,
but also political, diplomatic, legal, economic and financial. Even if the responsibilities
of Al-Qaida and its leader, bin Laden, are clear, there is absolutely no desire
to criminalize the Muslim world in any way, or to act in a way that could give
rise to a war of religion or far less to bring about a confrontation
between civilisations, a confrontation that has no reason to exist.
Where does NATO stand in this scenario?
First of all, I wish to observe that the full activation of Article 5 of the
North Atlantic Treaty on 2 October confirms that the armed attack against the
United States must be considered pursuant to Article 5 itself
as an attack against all the member countries of the Alliance.
In the framework of the operational application of Article 5, during a new meeting
of the Atlantic Council yesterday NATO received an initial request from the
Americans for measures of solidarity and logistical support, on an individual
or collective basis, which range from closer cooperation in exchanging information
to permission to fly over national air space, from the intensification of national
security measures to the adoption of measures providing financial assistance
to countries undertaking to support the fight against terrorism. They also include
authorisation for access to ports and airports, the availability of NATO radar
planes and the deployment in the Eastern Mediterranean of the Alliances
Standing Naval Forces.
This brings us up to date with the latest developments and measures taken within
the Atlantic Council framework. The silence-consent procedure required for approval
of these measures by the Allies has been under way since yesterday and will
conclude barring further requests for postponement at 1500 hours
At the EU level, next Monday I will be attending the Council of Foreign Ministers
of the Fifteen Member States, which will be specifically devoted to an in-depth
evaluation of all the measures the Community has adopted thus far to combat
international terrorism. Work is under way to coordinate with the United States,
and with the UN in particular, in setting up a committee of fifteen UN member
countries which would have the task of monitoring the implementation of the
anti-terrorism measures to guarantee their efficacy. This would be in accordance
with the expectations of our Parliament.
Finally, with regard to the work the Italian Government has been taking forward,
over the last few days I have illustrated to Parliament all the efforts that
have been and are being made at the diplomatic level to underscore the constancy
of our commitment to maintain the widest possible coalition of countries to
combat international terrorism.
This commitment will focus in coming days on the Mediterranean and Middle East,
through a series of visits that I have already announced in Parliament, the
operational details of which I am about to finalise.