In 2014, NATO celebrated its 65th anniversary. At the same time, the Alliance marked the five, ten, and fifteen-year anniversaries of its post-Cold War expansions. As Secretary Kerry has noted, each of these expansions strengthened NATO by opening doors for millions of people who, through the power of this Alliance, now are able to experience greater opportunity, a greater prosperity, and greater security. Over these past 67 years now, NATO member states have committed to stand together and stand always in defense of international law, of mutual security, and of the right of nations and people everywhere to freely choose their own destiny.
At a time when some in the international community were beginning to question the viability or need for NATO, the Alliance was confronted with a new set of challenges and a new reality on the Euro-Atlantic landscape – the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The illegal annexation of Crimea confronted some of the basic principles underlying the international security structure of the post-Cold War world, and the Alliance was put to the test – again.
As President Obama has said, recent events have challenged truths that only a few years ago appeared to be self-evident: that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe would not be redrawn with force; that international law still guides all our actions; and that people and nations must always be able to make their own decisions about their own future. In response, the United States and other NATO allies have been doing what is necessary to make sure that we have positioned the resources and assets necessary to protect all NATO members.
In 2016, NATO is involved not just with the fault line of East and West that has traditionally been NATO’s concern. NATO is necessarily recognizing a whole range of global challenges and we are working closely with NATO allies to make sure that we are partnering with other countries to address issues of counter-terrorism; countering violent extremism; cyber-security; illegal immigration; counter-piracy; continuing to coordinate effectively in the fight against ISIL; and affirming our commitment to the long-term stability of Afghanistan.
The challenges are many, and NATO cannot meet them alone. Doing so will mean relying a great deal on the expertise, political will, and bravery of partner nations, including Armenia. As a stalwart member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, Armenia has made indelible and lasting positive impacts on NATO’s ongoing missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Security partnerships such as those between NATO and Armenia – and the United States and Armenia – are critical to our ability to maintain the kind of security apparatus throughout the Eurasian space that has been the hallmark of peace and prosperity for many, many decades now.
As the only Partnership for Peace country which is also a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Armenia has a unique and valuable role to play in bridging the world-views and approaches of its various partners and allies in meeting today’s global security challenges.
As NATO looks forward to its next seven decades of activity and beyond, cooperation and partnership with states like Armenia will be an integral part of the calculus. And so, in closing: thank you to the Armenian servicemen and women who have served alongside their NATO and U.S. colleagues throughout the world.
And thank you to the Armenian government for its strong commitment to forging a professional, effective, and visionary partnership with NATO since 1994.