Mr. Halldór Ásgrímsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs
COOPERATIVE SAFEGUARD 2000
1 July 2000
Let me first welcome all the participants in Cooperative Safeguard 2000. In total about 1400 people from 17 PfP and NATO countries will participate in the exercise and I am delighted that they are all here.
Iceland attaches great importance to PfP activities. Partnership for Peace has helped to transform political-military relations across the continent and become an instrument of choice when the Alliance and its Partners act together in pursuit of peace and security. The coordination of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance is one of the new areas of PfP cooperation which has been developed in recent years. Iceland is committed to the partnership and pleased to have an opportunity to make a contribution in this area.
This is the second Cooperative Safeguard Exercise which is conducted in Iceland. The first exercise was held three years ago, in 1997. It was an earthquake exercise involving extensive urban search and rescue operations involving over 2.500 people from twenty countries. Cooperative Safeguard 2000 is also a disaster relief exercise, but this time with strong maritime elements, focusing on a cruise liner in distress. It also marks the second time that a NATO/PfP exercise is directed by civilian authorities.
The main aim of Cooperative Safeguard is to foster interoperability among the participating forces and to exercise co-ordination between the in-place Civil Defence Organization, international disaster relief forces and the NATO/PfP military forces in a major disaster relief operation.
Consisting of three parts: a seminar which begins to-day, a LIVEX and a"lessons learned" day, the impact of this exercise should be quite extensive, ranging from increased co-operation between the participating countries to closer ties between the rescue teams and individuals involved.
Iceland is very honoured to host a sea rescue exercise. We are a seafaring nation which has often been struck by maritime disasters. Although today}s vessels are far superior to the ships built 50 or 100 years ago maritime disasters still occur and rescue operations in the North Atlantic often have to be undertaken in adverse conditions.
This exercise takes place in an important year for our country. Iceland is celebrating both the 1000 year anniversary of Leifur Eiríksson}s discovery of North America and the 1000 year anniversary of Christianity in Iceland. In addition, Reykjavík is one of the European Cities of Culture this year. Cooperative Safeguard is an important addition to all the events, illustrating the prominent role of international co-operation in the new millennium.
Seventeen countries and two international organizations will participate in Cooperative Safeguard. We welcome and attach great importance to the participation of all these countries and organizations and are pleased that it represents a broad spectrum of NATO and PfP membership. I would especially like to welcome Croatia, which recently became a member of PfP, and is attending a PfP exercise for the first time. Needless to say, the extent of their participation varies considerably. But I would like to mention here in particular the important Russian participation numbering over 130 personnel as well as the accompanying equipment.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to all the participants for their contributions to the exercise and wish them the best of succes.
I know there is plenty of work ahead in the next few days. However, I hope that you will still have an opportunity to enjoy some of what Iceland and Reykjavík have to offer outside the walls of this conference center and the exercise area.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Cooperative Safeguard 2000
I hereby declare the exercise open.