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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement to the OSCE Permanent Council
Vienna, Austria, September 3, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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Secretary-General Aragona, Chairman Kobieracki, Ambassador Johnson, distinguished colleagues: I am very pleased to speak with you on behalf of the United States.

I have just finished a trip that gave me a chance to address some of the most pressing, practical challenges to democracy and stability in Europe. What I want to do today is to talk about some of these challenges, and then to discuss the role the OSCE can play in helping us meet them.

For the last two days, I was in Moscow with President Clinton for his summit with President Yeltsin. We pledged that Russia can count on the support of the international community as long as it remains committed to democracy and market reform. We outlined some of the steps we think the Russian government can take to ensure that investment flows to Russia and stays in Russia.

But we also understood that these solutions cannot be imposed on Moscow from the outside or even on Russia from Moscow. We recognized that reform can only succeed if it reflects the aspirations of the Russian people.

The problem right now is that the Russian people are hurting. Experience has taught them to be skeptical of promises. Many believe that democracy has not empowered them to improve their lives. This is dangerous, because Russia cannot emerge from its difficulties unless its people can take responsibility for shaping their country's future -- unless the democratic principles that the OSCE was created to defend become even more firmly embedded in Russia's political culture.

Before going to Russia, I visited Bosnia, where slowly, but surely, those principles are being embraced. It has only been two years this month in Bosnia since a novice OSCE mission carried out a noble cause: not just to monitor elections, but to organize them. Now elections are becoming routine and routinely successful. Normal life is returning to Bosnia's cities.

Refugees are taking matters into their own hands and going home -- though far too many remain blocked.

When I was in Bosnia more than a year ago, I warned its leaders that we would not permit any partition of their country, nor any revision to Dayton. This time, I said the same thing. But my intention was not to warn; it was to reassure. For the leaders of every community in Bosnia now have a stake in making Dayton succeed. And now they are publicly urging us to reaffirm that nothing will be done to undermine the agreement.

By far the biggest challenge we face in the Balkans today is to end the fighting in Kosovo. There, Serbian forces are still attacking villages, burning houses, and driving people from their homes.

The situation is made more difficult by divisions and rise of extremism among Kosovar Albanians in the face of violence from Belgrade.

We have been pursuing three tracks to resolve the crisis -- diplomatic, humanitarian, and military.

We must work together first of all to get an agreement on self-government for Kosovo. Our special envoy Ambassador Chris Hill has been working with both sides to that end, with the welcome support of many nations in this room. We are pressing both sides to reach an interim political settlement that can be a basis for eventual final resolution of Kosovo's status.

President Milosevic has said publicly that whatever deal is reached could be reviewed in three years so additional steps could be considered. He needs to show the flexibility and commitment needed for agreement. Above all, that means an end to his security forces' repression, something on which we all agree, and which the summit in Moscow reaffirmed.

These negotiations are at an early stage, and they can still fail. But we cannot fail to be ready for success. If an agreement is reached, the international community will need to help implement it. The United States is considering what sort of international role might be appropriate. The OSCE may have a special role to play with regard to elections.

We also have to get displaced people in Kosovo home, because that is a humanitarian imperative, and because it is essential for political reconciliation. More than 200,000 people have fled their homes. Winter weather will be coming in six weeks. The United States is preparing to provide an additional $20 million in aid now. We all have to provide additional resources to humanitarian organizations, and to find creative ways to get help into Kosovo, and we have to do it right now.

Finally, we must maintain the credible threat of military force. Of course, it would be best to have the broadest possible support for any potential action, and we continue to consult closely with all our allies. But if force does prove necessary, those nations that agree must not hesitate to act. I have consulted closely with General Clark this week and I have asked him and our envoys to look at the role all our options can play in achieving a settlement.

I wanted to mention these issues here because, clearly, this organization has a role to play in resolving the real world challenges we face in Europe. In fact, it is part of a larger and hopeful cooperative effort: to develop institutions that set standards of international behavior, and that require their members to cooperate in upholding those standards.

This process began in Europe after World War II. And for the last several years, our task has been to adapt the institutions that emerged after the war to meet the demands of the world not as it has been, but as it is and will be.

We are giving NATO new missions and new members. The EU has launched a single currency and promised to expand. I hope it will act on that promise rapidly to give hope to emerging markets by integrating those markets that have already emerged.

Since 1975, the OSCE has been an instrument for preventing conflict, a champion of human rights and the rule of law, a standard bearer for open economies, open societies, and open minds. We should see it today as our institution of choice for defending democracy in Europe.

For in that effort, it is uniquely suited to occupy the middle ground between diplomacy and force. Diplomats can persuade and soldiers can fight, but this is the only organization that can put people on the ground in troubled nations and keep them there for the specific purpose of promoting democratic ideals and institutions.

As we adapt the OSCE and our other institutions, we need to keep two principles in mind.

First, the most important challenges we face today are on Europe's periphery. It will not help Europe's wealthiest nations to deepen their unity if freedom falters to the east, and if just 200 miles south of Vienna, we permit another bloody conflict to rage. If the wings of our mansion are crumbling, refurbishing the grand ballroom will do us little good.

The second principle is that our institutions cannot be talk shops. The only reason we come together is to shoulder common responsibilities and to take common actions in defense of democracy, open markets and peace.

We want the OSCE to continue evolving into an organization that is more operational than conversational. We want it to be an organization that produces not just reports, but results.

That should be our goal for the OSCE summit in 1999. If an OSCE Charter on European Security is to be completed by then, it must envision an OSCE that is flexible and effective; that has at its disposal the broadest array of tools to prevent conflict and promote democracy; that is able to cooperate with other European and transatlantic institutions.

The charter will not be worthy of signature if its contents are limited to sterile compromises on vague doctrines likely to be out of date before the ink on them has dried. We will need instead to explore new roles for the OSCE in international efforts to resolve conflicts and to promote democracy.

The OSCE must be prepared to stay in Bosnia for the long haul, and we must provide it the resources to get the job done right. It must continue to support respect for basic human rights in Belarus, and freer and fairer elections in Slovakia. Soon, the OSCE will take over policing responsibilities in Eastern Slavonia, an unprecedented test it must not fail. It must be ready to contribute to a settlement in Kosovo.

We will also need a stronger OSCE presence in places where democratic institutions are fragile or under threat. The OSCE's commitment to open offices in all five Central Asian states by the end of this year is a good first step.

Our nations must also make steady progress toward completing the adaptation of the CFE Treaty. This week in Moscow, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin highlighted the importance of this goal. They affirmed the importance of full compliance with existing CFE obligations until the adapted Treaty takes effect. Both our governments agreed to do our part to accelerate the pace of negotiations.

Let me say here the same thing I have said to Foreign Minister Primakov. The United States will do its part to ensure this negotiation succeeds. We will not negotiate against an artificial deadline. Neither will we accept a treaty that dilutes Europe's security, or constrains legitimate security interest. But with our NATO allies, we have taken the lead in making detailed, realistic proposals that would increase military stability and openness throughout Europe.

We should seek to record significant progress by the Oslo Ministerial this December, and we should make signature of an adapted Treaty a centerpiece of the 1999 OSCE summit.

One final work about the summit: we need a place to hold it. 53 states represented here have accepted Turkey's invitation to meet in Istanbul. I would hope that the 54th and last could now get on board.

From the negotiation of the Helsinki Final Act today, participation in the OSCE has always required a leap of faith, vision and confidence in designing the architecture of a future we cannot foresee. It has required a conviction that the people of our countries share the same basic aspirations.

If, as Vaclav Havel has said, Communism was defeated by life, by thought, by human dignity, the Helsinki principles spelled out the breadth of those common aspirations. And now, this organization is becoming a practical instrument our people can count on to help realize the vision they share.

The United States will do all it can to help the OSCE build on its record of action, engagement and success, and we count on our friends and allies to do the same.

Thank you.

[End of Document]

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