WASHINGTON, May 2 -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a cautious message to European partners Wednesday not to take the NATO alliance for granted as she advocated stronger transatlantic ties in the face of emerging challenges.
“NATO is being hamstrung, not just by budget deficits which we all have to grapple with, but by political deficits,” Clinton said after receiving the Distinguished International Leadership Award from the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan organization promoting international security. . “Because even in these difficult economic times we cannot afford the greatest alliances in history slide into military irrelevance. This is a responsibility we all share.”
Rallying European leaders to band together, Clinton said they and the U.S. face challenges on energy security, trade and military readiness.
“It is well known and it became apparent that monopolies at anything, particularly energy, create risks, they make countries vulnerable to threats and coercion and distort the balance of power,” Clinton said, referring to Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas.
“I advocated for and helped create the U.S.-EU Energy Council, which has helped to deepen our cooperation on strategic energy issues,” she said of a project that helped bring natural gas from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia to Europe. “We worked with our European partners to build a competitive gas market.”
She also mentioned that the natural gas boom in the U.S. has helped European markets become more competitive because the U.S. imports less and therefore increases supplies on the market.
This competitive gas market is key because it would reduce reliance on countries that do not share the alliance’s interests.
Enhancing trade between the U.S. and the EU would also help solidify a stronger pact in an “increasingly globally competitive market,” Clinton said.
She pointed to the need for a “new comprehensive trade agreement” that would deal with “longstanding impasse on market access” that would “strengthen global norms and rules.”
Clinton also addressed the readiness of the coalition in defending against ballistic missiles and the growing threat of cyber warfare, which Clinton said has become a serious security issue.
“The stakes are higher than many people realize and this should be a priority,” Clinton said, calling for the development of a comprehensive plan to tackle cyber threats.