|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement to the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, May 28, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Secretary-General Solana, Foreign Minister Vedrine, Foreign Minister Primakov, fellow foreign ministers: It is a pleasure to join you again.
One year ago in Paris, our Presidents signed the Founding Act to give substance to our commitment to build with Russia a Europe that is peaceful, undivided and free.
Today, this Permanent Joint Council is marking its first anniversary. To anyone who has participated in multilateral meetings at NATO, one year of work groups and work plans, one year of dialogue and debate may seem like a very long time.
But of course, for an endeavor that is unprecedented in European history, for an endeavor designed to replace patterns of mistrust that developed over many decades with a genuine and lasting partnership, one year is a very short time.
All the same, in the time we have had, we have made tangible progress toward our goal.
Since we last met, we have put into place most of the institutional framework foreseen in the Founding Act. We have grown accustomed to working together. And by that I do not just mean that we as ministers are meeting; we would find a reason to do that anyway. I am talking about the day to day cooperation among diplomats and soldiers, from Brussels to Bosnia, that allows our partnership to be not only proclaimed but truly felt.
In the last year we have had substantive consultations on 18 of the 19 issues that were identified in the Founding Act.
The most urgent and important of these consultations has addressed the proliferation of deadly weapons. This subject was the central focus of the meeting I just concluded with Foreign Minister Primakov. The recent nuclear tests in India, and now Pakistan, have reminded us all that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is the single most pressing threat to our security.
The Secretary-General has also just addressed this issue. He expressed his dismay at the news of Pakistan’s test. I agree with him. The Alliance and its partners have to make a much more profound effort to deal with the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. NATO’s new strategic concept must address this urgent need.
Two weeks ago in Birmingham, the G-8 "strongly condemned" the Indian test and urged all states to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The North Atlantic Council joined this call last week. The minimum we should do in this body today is to send an equally strong message to Pakistan.
This week, we also held a special session of the PJC to discuss Kosovo. Here we have finally seen a small sign of progress. President Milosevic and President Rugova have begun to talk, meeting the first key demand of the Contact Group.
We have to remember that this first step came about through sustained diplomatic and economic pressure. And we have to understand that dialogue is a means to an end; only if it leads to an agreement that enhances Kosovo’s status and respects the human rights of its people will further violence be averted.
We have to keep pressing both sides to ensure that the dialogue focuses on substance, not process. It is equally vital that we work together to shore up Kosovo’s periphery, both to diminish the real possibility that the conflict will spread, and to prevent outsiders from inciting it further. The decisions NATO has taken today and its efforts to coordinate with Russia are meant to reinforce the search for a political solution.
We will continue our consultations on these issues and on many others, and we will strive to act together whenever our interests coincide. Our Joint Working Group on Peacekeeping is especially important, since its work can be applied to future operations involving the Alliance and Russia.
I recognize Russia’s concern that the PJC could be doing more. In fact I welcome it. The best way to demonstrate our commitment to an institution such as this is to demand higher standards, and to never be satisfied we have fully met them.
Clearly, one step we must take to ensure the PJC approaches its potential is to set up the reciprocal military liaison missions envisioned in the Founding Act. Let us commit to doing so by the end of the year.
Certainly another common challenge we face will be to update the CFE treaty. Progress in the CFE negotiations will be a priority for NATO during the remainder of the year. We are ready to move forward with Russia to reach a CFE agreement that takes fully into account the interests of all 30 CFE parties. This will require creative thinking and tough decisions from us all, but it is needed to assure greater stability, openness and predictability in Europe.
As you know, we have been thinking a great deal in the United States about our partnership with Europe. During the last month, our Senate was engaged in a historic debate about NATO’s future and its decision to open its doors to new members.
I raise this issue today because our debate about NATO affirmed an important conviction. It is a conviction that the United States and NATO have no greater interest than building a constructive partnership with a democratic Russia, that the zero-sum thinking of the past can and should be relegated to the past.
That is a conviction that united the supporters of a larger NATO with its critics, a conviction shared by the vast majority of the American people, a conviction deeply held by President Clinton and by me. We are here to prove it is right, and I am confident that we will.
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