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'The world's most complete partnership'

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'The world's most complete partnership'
Solana, Obama, Barroso, and Reinfeldt at the White House in November 2009
13:49 CET+01:00
On the eve of three important international summits, US ambassador to Sweden Matthew W. Barzun emphasises the importance of the transatlantic partnership as well as Sweden's constructive role in promoting international engagement.

The United States and Europe together comprise the world's most complete partnership – one characterized by common values, overlapping interests, and shared goals. Each is crucial for the other in facing the challenges and threats of the 21st century. This is why President Obama and my country attach such high importance to our participation in the NATO and the U.S.-EU Summits in Lisbon November 19-20, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Summit in Astana December 1-2.

With a strong transatlantic partnership, the United States and Europe are able to be much more effective in tackling global challenges which face us both: promoting economic growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, working with developing countries on addressing climate change, confronting violent extremists who threaten peaceful coexistence around the world, preparing Afghan forces to take the lead on security, and preventing an Iran with nuclear weapons, to name a few. Moreover, this transatlantic relationship is not just about what we can do, but also about who we are: the values shared between America and Europe truly do unite us within a transatlantic community.

Challenges these days are often not confined within the borders of the transatlantic community. It is through the many partnerships we have within the context of the strong U.S.-EU relationship, and engagement through multi-lateral institutions such as NATO and the OSCE, that we are able to forge a comprehensive approach for dealing with the full spectrum of security, human rights, rule of law, and economic challenges that our community faces. These institutions are as important now as when they were founded, even as they require a forward-leaning vision for the 21st century environment.

The European Union is a global actor and a critical partner for the United States and Sweden is an important leader within the EU. With the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty last December during Sweden's presidency, we look to the EU to play an increasing role in all of the most important economic and security issues of our time. U.S.-EU collaboration is comprehensive and intense, on issues from peace in the Middle East and Iran sanctions to combating trafficking in persons. At this first U.S. – EU Summit following the Lisbon Treaty, President Obama will underscore the centrality for the United States of our partnership with Europe. He will seek to deepen that partnership and to strengthen the impact of U.S.-EU coordination in economic recovery and growth, reduction of regulatory barriers to trade, and implementation of commitments from the G20 Summit in Seoul.

Our leaders will also lay the foundation for a substantive Transatlantic Economic Council meeting in December. The Summit will also focus on U.S. and EU efforts to coordinate assistance resources to meet the development needs of poorer nations, enhance joint efforts on counterterrorism and security, and work on critical global challenges such as Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

NATO remains the essential mechanism for U.S. security engagement in Europe and for U.S.-European security cooperation throughout the world. The 28 NATO member countries will adopt a new NATO Strategic Concept at the Lisbon Summit; one which recognizes and orients the Alliance toward new threats, establishes new partnerships while deepening existing ones, and sets forth in a concise and easily understandable way what NATO's purpose is in the 21st century.

This new Strategic Concept will also help non-NATO members who are important partners in international security, such as Sweden, to work more effectively with NATO when they choose to do so. I welcome the fact that Prime Minister Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Bildt will be among those from the many partner countries who are part of the ISAF mission who will join with the leaders of NATO member countries and President Karzai in Lisbon to chart a path forward in Afghanistan.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will hold its first summit in 11 years in Astana December 1-2. The OSCE has matured from its Cold War roots to become a global forum intended to strengthen security across political-military, economic-environmental, and human dimensions. At Astana, of particular concern to the United States will be the human dimension of security, including how the OSCE can increase the role of civil society in protecting journalists and the freedom of expression.

I know that Sweden shares our strong concern in these areas, and we look forward to Sweden playing a constructive role in the summit. The United States also will look for new steps to enhance energy security, promote transparency and strengthen good governance across the vast OSCE space. Finally, at Astana the United States will look to strengthen core elements of Europe's arms control measures, and develop an OSCE crisis response capability so that the international community can respond more effectively to tension between states.

The United States will look to do a great deal alongside our European partners in the coming weeks. To quote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier this year in Paris: “A strong Europe is critical to our security and prosperity. Much of what we hope to accomplish globally depends on working together with Europe. We need European leadership in the 21st century.”

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