|Deputy Secretary Talbott
Address to the Paasikivi Society,
Helsinki, Finland, January 21, 1998
Opening Doors and Building Bridges in the New Europe
Thank you, Mr. Holkeri, for that kind introduction. Thank you also for the energy and dedication you have brought to the search for peace in Northern Ireland. You were good enough a few minutes ago to convey greetings from Senator George Mitchell, and I know that he feels very fortunate to have a colleague and partner such as yourself in leading that very important international effort.
I also want to thank you for your leadership of the Paasikivi Society here in Helsinki. I'm moved to recall that the last time I encountered this remarkable organization up close, I was on the other side of the podium -- as a reporter covering President Ronald Reagan when he addressed the Society in the spring of 1988 (my work, by the way, was easier then than today). I'm also moved to recall that my good friend, Ambassador Iloniemi, was also on the opposite side of the podium from where he sits today, that is, he was on the dias. It's good to see you again, Jaakko; thanks very much for being with us.
In the decade since I was last at a Paasikivi Society event, I've had several opportunities to return to Helsinki, and I'm delighted to be back. I think of this city not just as the capital of Finland but also as a capital of international diplomacy. Helsinki, of course, was the first home of the Strategic Arms Limitation talks in 1969. It was the venue and the namesake of the CSCE Final Act in 1975, and, just last year, it was the site of a crucial meeting between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin.
The success of that summit was in no small measure a credit to its host, Martti Ahtisaari, whom we in the U.S. admire not just for his leadership of this country but also for his service to humanity as a whole. American foreign policy is the better for President Ahtisaari's steadfast partnership with the United States, his wise counsel, and the high standard of statesmanship he has set in his remarkable career.
If I could add a very personal note: My brother-in-law, Derek Shearer, and his wife, Ruth, along with their children will always be grateful for the way this country opened its heart to them during the 3 years that they represented the U.S. here. I talked to Derek half an hour ago by cell-phone -- I don't need to tell you the brand -- and he asked me to convey his best regards from Santa Monica, California (where the temperature today, by the way, is 27 degrees Celsius.) It says something about the hold that Helsinki has on the Shearer family that my nephew Anthony and my niece Julie still live and work here. The ties that bind our family to Finland will soon be even tighter, since Julie just got engaged this month to a Finn, Peter Hellama. (Peter: See me afterward for advice on how to be a Shearer in-law.)
A number of you have told me that Derek did an outstanding job here. I'm not surprised -- first because I know Derek and, second, because he was following in the footsteps of Jim Goodby and Roz Ridgway, keeping alive a tradition of fine American ambassadors to this country. I'm confident that tradition will continue.
Finland has reciprocated by sending first-rate ambassadors to Washington -- Jaakko Iloniemi being one, and Jaakko Laajava being another. Your current Ambassador to the United States and his wife, Riita, live just around the corner from my family in Washington, and they have been kind enough to make their sauna and their supply of Finlandia available to their neighbors.
There's somebody else that I'm going to take particular pleasure in embarrassing this evening. I'd like to single out my friend and colleague, Jukka Valtasaari. He and Etel and their daughter, Natalia, helped Derek and Ruth take care of my family when we visited Finland for a wonderful week in August of 1995.
In fact, it's actually relevant to my topic this afternoon for me to recount how I first met Jaakko. It was in 1989. I was then making my living writing a foreign-affairs column for Time magazine. One week, in a rumination on European security during the Cold War, I was foolish enough to use in print -- in a family magazine, no less -- the F-word. I am referring, of course, to the invidious term, "Finlandization."
As soon as the column appeared, I got a phone call from the Finnish ambassador inviting me out to lunch. Over an excellent meal at a French restaurant near the White House, he took me to task, ever so politely and ever so persuasively. He gave me a short course in modern Finnish history. Jukka's point was that even as Finland understandably and wisely sought to preserve peaceful relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, Finland also managed to maintain its freedom and independence as well as a vibrant parliamentary democracy and a healthy market economy, and it continued to foster Nordic -- and European -- integration.
As a result of that first encounter with Jukka, I cleaned up my language -- and my thinking. I also made a new friend; I learned a lesson in the skills of diplomacy that has come in handy since, and I received a bracing dose of what President Ahtisaari, in his eloquent New Year's message to the Finnish people, called your country's "healthy national self-esteem." That self-esteem, which you come by honestly, is, of course, rooted not just in your history but also in your distinctive perspective on and your distinctive role in the European security order.
I would like to speak to you this afternoon about my own country's perspective and role. First I will address U.S. strategy toward Europe as a whole, then our strategy toward the Nordic and Baltic regions.
The premise of U.S. policy could not be simpler. It is this: The safety and well-being of the American people depend in no small measure on the peace and prosperity of Europe. We have learned that basic truth the hard way. Twice in the lifetime of our more senior citizens, Europe exploded into world wars that cost the lives of over half a million Americans. The Cold War also began on this continent, and it cost the United States the equivalent of over $13 trillion. Moreover, in the crises over Berlin and Cuba, it brought us all near the brink of nuclear holocaust.
Bill Clinton came into office acutely aware that he was the first American President to be elected after the end of the Cold War. Hence he sees it as not just an opportunity but as an obligation to make sure that the United States does everything in its power to help build a Europe that is whole and free and at peace for the first time in its history.
That is the goal. The means, as we see it, are largely institutional -- or, as is often said, architectural. We are building a structure in which we and our children and our grandchildren will make our homes. The foundation of that structure is a shared commitment to democratic governance, to civil society, to sustainable development through the dynamism of the free market, to the rule of law and human rights, to the principles of mutual respect, and to the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The task of constructing a new Europe requires us to adapt existing structures where possible and build new ones where necessary. They include mature institutions -- now entering dignified middle age -- such as the Council of Europe and the OECD, which have been around for decades. Others, such as the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, were born only last year.
The United States belongs to some of these organizations; it is an observer in others. With respect to others still, the United States is an interested well-wisher. The size, the scope, the job descriptions, and the membership lists of these institutions are different, but their missions and their compositions are often overlapping. In some key respects, they are mutually reinforcing. Together, they make up the superstructure of the new Europe.
Let me zero in on a key component of European architecture -- the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which, in a very real sense, came of age here in Helsinki 23 years ago.
The OSCE is not only the most inclusive of our Euro-Atlantic institutions, it is also the premier mechanism for the prevention of conflicts before they occur, for the management and amelioration of conflicts when they occur, and for reconciliation after they occur.
The OSCE has been deeply involved in Bosnia and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia, where Finnish and American forces are serving alongside soldiers from 37 other nations. Finland has also provided a major portion of the Nordic Battalion that is helping to ensure that the conflict does not reignite in Macedonia.
The success erstwhile enemies have had working together in the Balkans illustrates a fundamental principle that must continue to guide the construction of a new Europe: Only through ongoing, day-to-day, practical cooperation can we establish the reservoir of trust necessary to dissolve the antagonisms and suspicions of the past.
It follows that we must, in our approach to virtually all the structures of the new Europe, put a premium on inclusiveness. Or, to restate the same principle in the negative, we must take care not, inadvertently or otherwise, to practice exclusion or discrimination. The end of the Cold War gives us an opportunity to heal old divisions; we must be sure not to create new ones.
Let me amplify this point with regard to two key institutions -- the European Union and NATO.
First, on the EU: Finland's entry into the Union 3 years ago was not just a historic step for you -- it was an important, path-breaking step for the EU itself because it encouraged all the nations of this region to believe that there is a place for them in the major pan-European institutions.
But the point I want to stress here is that it was Finland's own decision to join the EU, and the door of the Union was open to your citizens when they chose to walk through. That open door is perhaps the single most important feature of European -- and transatlantic -- architecture.
Hence the U.S.'s strong belief in the broadening as well as the deepening of the EU. And hence, more specifically, our advocacy of Turkey's desire for eventual membership in the EU. I realize how controversial this issue is, particularly among some of your neighbors. That makes it all the more important that all our European partners understand the American view.
Over the centuries, Europe at its best -- and its most peaceful and most prosperous -- has defined itself in terms of universal values, not in terms of artificial barriers -- a river here, a mountain range there, a concrete and barbed wire wall somewhere else.
Turkey has been a part of the European system for more than 400 years. True, most of Turkey is separated from the rest of Europe by a bit of water. But then, so is all of the United Kingdom.
The current debate over the nature -- and limits -- of Turkey's "European vocation" resonates with references to "culture" and "civilization." These words are often euphemisms for religion. There is a theory currently in vogue that the Cold War rivalry between communism and capitalism has given way to a global "clash of civilizations," including one between the Judeo-Christian world and the Islamic one.
That idea gives short shrift both to the great diversity inside these supposedly separate civilizations and also to what they have in common between them. It underestimates the ethnic and religious diversity of the United States, Canada and, increasingly, of Europe as well.
As we've been reminded just in the past week, Turkey is still struggling to define its identity, its orientation, and its democratic institutions. It is still trying to strike a balance between the secularism of the state and the predominant faith of its citizenry -- between the values of tolerance and order.
Quite simply, Turkey is more likely to make the right choices about its own future if we make clear that we believe its future lies with us. For us to do otherwise would be a great mistake. If we thwart the aspirations of any European nation that is willing to accept the standards and responsibilities of our democratic community or if we define the "European-ness" of a village on the basis of whether its landmarks are church spires or minarets, we will create for ourselves dangers in the 21st century that will be all too reminiscent of the follies and tragedies we experienced in the 20th.
That is why the United States will continue to urge that Europe define itself as inclusively, as expansively, and as comprehensively as possible.
NATO, we believe, can be an engine that helps drive Europe in that direction. It is against that backdrop that NATO has opened its own doors. We make no bones about our hope that NATO enlargement will help induce EU enlargement.
NATO has been and will remain at its core a military alliance and a collective-defense pact. But it is also a political organization with a useful -- and I'd even say unique -- role to play in fostering inclusiveness and integration within the larger community whose peace and security NATO undergirds.
In pursuit of their goal to join NATO, a number of central European states have already accelerated their internal reforms and improved relations with each other. NATO enlargement will continue to have this positive effect as the process moves forward in a way that is open-ended and nondiscriminatory.
At the Madrid Summit in July, NATO's leaders made clear that the first three nations invited to join will not be the last. Specifically, the Alliance agreed to review the process of enlargement again at the next summit in 1999, and it noted the progress that Romania, Slovenia, and the Baltic states have made toward meeting the criteria for admission. Thus, NATO committed itself to look both south and north for qualified members in the years to come.
Among the applicants for future rounds of enlargement will undoubtedly be those states that applied but were not selected for inclusion in the first tranche. In addition, future rounds may also include a number of countries that have thus far not expressed an interest in membership.
In this context, let me say a word about Finland and Sweden, a country where I have spent the past 2 days. These are two European states that have long traditions of maintaining independent, nonaligned defense postures. The United States respects the course you and your Swedish neighbors have chosen, and we will continue to do so. We are not going to pressure any country to alter its status or posture.
At the same time, we will defend every sovereign state's right to decide for itself how it wishes to ensure its own security. That principle is well established, going back to the Helsinki Final Act, and the member states of the OSCE have reiterated it on numerous occasions since, most recently at the ministerial in Copenhagen last month.
Sweden and Finland remain not just non-members of the Alliance but non-applicants. They are, however, to their credit and to everyone's benefit, actively involved in what might be called the NATO family of institutions and enterprises. I am referring to the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Stabilization Force in the former Yugoslavia, and the Partnership for Peace. We particularly appreciate how Finland has worked assiduously within the Partnership for Peace to narrow the difference between Partners and Allies, and to develop interoperability among all of the Partners' military establishments.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, NATO and the other institutions I have mentioned so far in these remarks are regional in scope. Let me turn at this point to subregional organizations. They, too, are crucial to the stability of European architecture.
Yesterday, I had a chance to appreciate one of those organizations in action. Along with your foreign minister -- my friend Tarja Halonen -- I attended the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in Lulea, Sweden. That's a place I had never been before, and a place that makes me think Helsinki in January is positively balmy (even Santa Monica-like). I am still recovering, if I can be so honest, from the exhilarating experience I had 24 hours ago, when my hosts in Lulea arranged for me to travel from the conference center to the airport by dog sled. I very much hope that the evening here in Helsinki will include both a sauna and some Finlandia, if only to help me recover from that experience.
But the Barents Council is a serious organization doing extremely impressive, practical work. It is making its own contribution to bridging the divides of the Cold War by combating tuberculosis and other epidemic diseases, lowering and where possible removing trade barriers, encouraging the development of small business, fighting organized crime, and cleaning up nuclear waste.
The United States is all for innovations such as the Barents Council -- that's why Secretary Albright sent me to Lulea in the dead of winter. But that said, let me attach a caveat to our support for the Council and other subregional initiatives: for all the benefits they generate, they do not, in our view, constitute an alternative to pan-European or transatlantic organizations. We believe we must be vigilant against any development, deliberate or otherwise, that would have the effect of lumping neighboring states together in a way that consigns them to some sort of backwater of the mainstream, that excludes them from eligibility for membership in larger bodies, or that implies that they're on their own and must look out for each other without our help.
That is why America's support for subregional integration here and elsewhere around the world is always within the context of our support for overarching regional, transregional and global integration. As far as we're concerned, that's a cardinal principle of structurally sound architecture.
And it's with that principle very much in mind that the United States has launched what we call our Northeast Europe Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to work through existing institutions and structures to encourage integration among the nations of the Nordic and Baltic region -- but to do so in a way that strengthens the region's ties with the European Union, with key nearby countries such as Germany and Poland, and with North America as well.
The initiative has three purposes: first, reinforcing the U.S.'s own ties with the countries of this region; second, helping the new democracies become stronger candidates for membership in European institutions; and third, increasing cooperation with and the integration of Russia.
The Baltic states are obviously key to this effort. Last week in Washington, President Clinton and the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania signed a Charter of Partnership. It represents an important part of the blueprint toward a new, undivided Europe. As President Clinton told the Baltic Presidents last Friday, the charter formalizes America's commitment to help create the conditions that will one day allow their countries to walk through the open doors of Europe's expanding institutions.
In this regard, my government applauds the way Finland has played mentor to the fledgling border guards and armed forces of the Baltic states. I'd like to express my admiration to Prime Minister Lipponen for the initiative he unveiled in Luxembourg to accentuate what he called the Northern Dimension of EU. (I should add my congratulations on his forthcoming marriage. January seems to be a big month for engagements over here; I guess it's an additional way of keeping warm.)
Let me turn now to the third element of our Northeast Europe Initiative -- the Russian dimension. This aspect of our strategy is essential. Without it, our other objectives will prove far more difficult -- perhaps impossible -- to achieve. If, on the one hand, Russia smoothly integrates with this strategically and economically vital region, it is more likely to integrate smoothly with the rest of Europe.
But the ominous converse is also true: If Russia fails -- or refuses -- to build strong ties based on mutual respect and mutual benefit with this region, it will be much harder for Russia to find its place within the new Europe. Moreover, it will be much harder for Europe as a whole to realize the potential that has come with the end of the Cold War.
As your leaders have reminded me often in the past, and as Prime Minister Lipponen made clear again today, Finland has a special part to play in this effort. You are the only current member of the EU to share a border with Russia. Prime Minister Lipponen's Northern Dimension initiative capitalizes on the opportunity to make sure that your border with Russia -- which is also the EU's border with Russia -- unites rather than divides; that it is increasingly a seam of cooperation rather than a fault-line of confrontation.
Returning to the lesson that Jukka Valtasaari taught me over lunch 9 years ago, you Finns have had many decades of practice in deftly managing from a position of sovereignty and independence your relations with a large and, to put it gently, often problematic neighbor. The Balts have regained that opportunity only recently. So you have a lot to teach them, and my sense after talking to their leaders last Friday is that they know it.
We all recognize that the relationship of the Baltic states with Russia is one of the most acute challenges we face in our common effort to enhance peace, stability, and security throughout the region. For their part, the Balts harbor deep anxieties and suspicions about Russian motivations. Like Finns, they come by their feelings honestly. As for the Russians, they harbor anxieties of their own, especially about the prospect of the Baltics fulfilling their entirely legitimate desire to join the European Union and NATO.
President Clinton and Secretary Albright believe, quite bluntly, that it's in the Russians' own interest to get over this particular hang-up. For them to regard the Baltic region as a pathway for foreign armies or as a buffer zone is at best an anachronism, since there are no longer any would-be aggressors to be rebuffed.
In the final analysis, Russia will have to make that psychological and political adjustment itself, by its own lights, for its own reasons, in keeping with its own evolving concept of its national interest.
But we and our European partners can help. We can do that by applying the general principle of inclusiveness in every possible specific instance. That means involving Russia to the greatest extent possible in the commercial, political, environmental and other forms of collaboration we are developing among the states along the littoral of the Baltic Sea. The Barents Council and the Council of Baltic Sea States are models of what is required, and the U.S. will participate as appropriate in both.
We will also try to help foster Nordic-Baltic cooperation in our own direct dialogue with Russia. What we are saying to Moscow is basically this: If you Russians insist on looking to the 13th century for models applicable to the 21st, then you should dwell less on the image of Alexander Nevsky defeating Swedish knights on the ice of the Neva River and think instead in what might be called "Hanseatic" terms. That is, think about the Baltics not as an invasion route inward but as a gateway outward.
My colleague Ron Asmus, who is here today, laid out this concept in some detail in October at a seminar cosponsored by the U.S. embassy and Nordicum magazine.
Generally speaking, our Baltic friends have found the invocation of the Hanseatic League useful and salutary because it recalls a time when their ancestors were deeply integrated into Europe -- and at peace with Russia.
The Hanseatic concept should also appeal to Russians -- at least to those Russians who will, we hope, prevail in the struggle under way in that country for the soul and the future of their nation; that is, those Russians who believe in integration rather than in a return to isolation.
In addition to taking encouragement from us, they can also take sustenance from their own past, especially from the legacy of Peter the Great, who was himself a master architect of modern Europe. After all, he opened for Russia a window -- and a door -- to the West nearly 300 years ago. In fact, St. Petersburg is an obvious candidate for participation in a revival of the Hanseatic concept.
So too might be Novgorod and Kaliningrad -- the former Kšnigsberg -- both of which were associated with the original Hanseatic League. In fact, Kaliningrad is an especially tantalizing case, at least historically. Those of us who labor in the thickets of CFE -- the Conventional Forces in Europe talks, tend to think of Kaliningrad as the headquarters of the Russian 11th Guards Army with its 850 tanks and 100 combat aircraft. But it is also one corner of what is now Russia that experienced the Enlightenment. It's where Immanuel Kant lived, taught, and set forth several principles of international law intended to bind like-minded democratic republics into a community of "civil states" that could enjoy what he called "perpetual peace."
That ideal is still just that -- an ideal, a benchmark against which to judge a highly imperfect reality. But that reality is evolving auspiciously; it is easier today for Europeans and Americans to imagine the fulfillment of that ideal than at any time in our history. For the first time we have the incentive, the political will, and the practical means to bring about, around the core of Europe, a community of nations -- and, more to the point, a community of civic and political values -- that extends west beyond the Atlantic, east beyond the Urals, southeast beyond the Bosporus, and northeast beyond the North Cape.
In ways that are far more than merely geographical, Finland is on the frontier in that great venture. Indeed, in many ways, Finland is helping to lead the way. And the United States is glad to be at your side. Together, we have reason to be proud of what we have accomplished in the century now drawing to a close. Even more to the point, we have reason to be optimistic about the one that begins in 1 year, 11 months, 10 days, 6 hours, and 20 minutes.
That barely leaves us time for what I'm sure will be a lively discussion, so we'd better get started. I look forward to your questions and your comments.
Thank you very much.
[End of Document]
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