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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement to the North Atlantic Council
Brussels, Belgium, December 8, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

Blue Bar

Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President d'Honneur, fellow Ministers, distinguished colleagues, it is a pleasure to see you all again.

We meet at an exciting and historic moment for NATO. Just last Friday, as all Allies completed the ratification process, the Protocols on the Accession to NATO of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic entered into force.

As we prepare to undertake NATO's first post-Cold War expansion next spring, prior to the Summit, the Alliance is considering its vision for the future, and initiatives critical to preparing NATO for the twenty-first century. I look forward to having three new Allies join us in this endeavor.

Much of our focus this week will be on the future, but our Alliance is seized, as well, with present responsibilities.

In Kosovo, NATO's threat to use force has halted large-scale Serb repression. A humanitarian crisis has been averted. A growing international presence is verifying compliance with commitments. And an improved climate has been created for the pursuit of a negotiated political settlement.

I want to pay special tribute to Secretary-General Solana for his leadership, and express my appreciation to each of you for your solidarity in backing up diplomacy with the credible threat of force.

Kosovo is a critical test not only for NATO, but for Europe's larger security structure. And we are fortunate to have on our team many valuable players.

Norway is serving as the sponsor nation in Kosovo. France will lead, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will host, NATO's Extraction Force. The OSCE is organizing the verification mission. Dozens of countries are contributing in one capacity or another to this multinational, multi-institutional effort.

This is appropriate because the stakes are high. We have a security interest in preventing the spread of a conflict that has no natural boundaries.

We have a political interest in promoting a peaceful resolution in Kosovo based on fundamental principles of democracy and respect for human rights.

We have a humanitarian interest in halting the slaughter and suffering of innocent people.

And we have a legal interest in supporting the efforts of the War Crimes Tribunal to exercise its legitimate jurisdiction over the atrocities committed in Kosovo.

Our Alliance has expressed deep concern about acts of provocation committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and we are working with the Kosovar Albanians to press for an end to such acts.

But make no mistake, the primary cause of the crisis in Kosovo has been Belgrade's repression, including Milosevic’s ruthless use of terror earlier this year. And, while the October negotiations led to a fragile ceasefire and opened the way to intrusive international verification, there is still an excessive Serbian police presence in Kosovo.

The aggressive and threatening posture of Serb police and military units has sometimes provoked KLA actions. Serb police should be conducting normal police work, period.

The crisis will not end until Belgrade accepts Kosovo’s need for, and right to, substantial autonomy. Ambassador Hill’s diplomatic efforts have made substantial progress and have reached an important stage.

As a result of his work, there now exists a draft political settlement that can serve as a basis for new political arrangements between the two sides. Our goal is to help the people of Kosovo to get control over their own affairs now, while giving them and Belgrade the opportunity to revisit the final status of the province in the future, when the environment for such fundamental decisions will have improved.

In the coming days, Ambassador Hill will be working closely with both the Kosovo Albanian leadership and the Belgrade authorities to encourage their agreement to this approach. We welcome the support of all our allies and partners in this effort.

In the meantime, we must all work together to build key Kosovo institutions, such as police and electoral structures. These will support the people of Kosovo once they reach a political settlement, and buttress the present efforts of the international community there.

Our experience over the past year is that, for diplomacy to make progress in Kosovo, the credible threat of force is required. If the ongoing political negotiations are to succeed, NATO must maintain its pressure both on Milosevic and the KLA.

At the same time, we must recognize that at the core of the problems in Kosovo is the lack of accountable, democratic leadership in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). And I hope that every nation represented here will find an appropriate way to support the democratic aspirations of the Serb people. They have been silenced and shackled for far too long.

Over the past year, Montenegro, working within the FRY, has built a more democratic system based on freer markets and a commitment to ethnic tolerance. Serbia would do well to follow that example.

It has now been three years since the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed, ending the brutal and senseless war in Bosnia.

Since that time, we have made significant progress in helping the nation to recover and begin to overcome the divisions exacerbated by conflict. First IFOR and now SFOR have played an indispensable role by implementing the military parts of the Dayton Agreement, and by providing the secure environment in which civilian implementation may proceed.

We are focused now on the necessary next steps, recognizing that our goal is not only the absence of hostilities, but presents of self-sustaining peace, in which Bosnians are able to take full control of their own future.

To that end, the United States looks forward to the opportunity provided by next week’s meeting of the Peace Implementation Council in Madrid to set the 1999 agenda for civilian implementation. We believe that the international community should pursue a number of key objectives.

For example, we should help and encourage the Bosnians to implement economic reforms required for a market economy.

We should work to develop and reinforce Bosnia’s central institutions, including the adoption of a new permanent election law. We should strive to increase the momentum of refugee returns. We should help and encourage the Bosnians to implement needed education and media reforms. And we should work with the Bosnians to institutionalize the rule of law through judicial and police reform.

We must also resolve to get even better results at current levels of civilian and military deployments. We need to ensure that any restructuring of SFOR ensures that NATO’s military processes remain linked to other aspects of fulfilling Dayton.

We must improve coordination between SFOR and the Office of the High Representative and other civilian agencies, to ensure the best possible implementation of Dayton’s civilian tasks. The Multinational Specialized Units should be brought to full strength, and we should consider additional such units to deal with the challenges our ambitious 1999 agenda will create.

These steps are critical, for we know that, at this point, civilian implementation cannot succeed without SFOR and that Dayton cannot succeed without civilian implementation.

I would like now to take a few minutes to address the range of issues our Alliance confronts as we prepare for the Washington Summit in April.

This will be the largest diplomatic gathering at the Head of State level in that city's history. It will commemorate the vision and wisdom of our predecessors--and provide an historic test of our own.

For it is there and then that we will set the future course for our Alliance.

In Luxembourg, I spoke of President Clinton's desire to work together throughout 1999 to lay the foundation for a broad and comprehensive Euro-Atlantic Partnership for the twenty-first century. Our goal is to expand cooperation among partners on both sides of the Atlantic to advance our mutual security, prosperity, and democracy in Europe and beyond, as we continue to resolve our differences on specific issues.

I view NATO's future role in that broader partnership as the institution of choice when North America and Europe must act together militarily.

My vision of a new and better NATO can be summarized in one sentence: we want an Alliance strengthened by new members; capable of collective defense; committed to meeting a wide range of threats to our shared interests and values; and acting in partnership with others to ensure stability, freedom and peace in and for the entire trans-Atlantic area. This is the goal for our Summit, and one that I believe is within reach.

As we look to the Washington Summit, we may divide our work into seven essential tasks.

The first is to speak in clear and understandable terms to our public and parliaments about NATO's future role and purpose. At the Washington Summit, we should issue a concise, non-technical political declaration of our vision for a new and better NATO. That vision is of an Alliance fully equipped to deal with the security challenges of the future together with the other institutions and relationships that constitute the foundation of our broader Euro-Atlantic partnership.

Our second task is to develop, for unveiling at the Washington Summit, an updated Strategic Concept. This is our blueprint for the future. We need to get it right.

The NATO of the twenty-first century will confront a very different strategic environment than in the past. During the Cold War, we had no trouble identifying an Article V threat to our territory and security. It stared at us from across the Fulda Gap.

But the threats we face today and tomorrow could come from a number of different sources, including from areas beyond NATO's immediate borders. I often remind people that a ballistic missile attack using a weapon of mass destruction from a rogue state is every bit as much an Article V threat to our borders now as a Warsaw Pact tank was two decades ago.

But we should also recognize that NATO must be better equipped to respond to non-Article V crises as well. For if these threats are not addressed early and effectively, they could grow into Article V threats.

We must be prepared because we know that events beyond NATO's immediate borders can affect vital Alliance interests. This is why we acted in Bosnia. This is why we have come together to prevent renewed violence in Kosovo. Common sense tells us that it is sometimes better to deal with instability when it is still at arm's length than to wait until it is at our doorstep.

As President Clinton said in Berlin last May: "Yesterday's NATO guarded our borders against direct military invasion. Tomorrow's NATO must continue to defend enlarged borders and defend against threats to security from beyond them--the spread of weapons of mass destruction, ethnic violence and regional conflict."

The new Strategic Concept must find the right balance between affirming the centrality of Article V collective defense missions and ensuring that the fundamental tasks of the Alliance are intimately related to the broader defense of our common interests. Constructive engagement with Partners should also be explicitly recognized as a fundamental task for the Alliance.

I know that there are those who try to suggest that by assuming these new missions, or by talking about common Euro-Atlantic interests beyond collective defense, we are somehow tinkering with the original intent of the North Atlantic Treaty. I've said it before; I will repeat it again today: this is hogwash.

The founders of the Alliance were wise to allow us the flexibility to come together to meet common threats that could originate from beyond our immediate borders. Some 50 years ago my predecessor, Dean Acheson, pointed out that while the North Atlantic Treaty involves commitments to collective defense, it also allows us to come together to meet common threats that might originate from beyond the North Atlantic area.

We are neither altering the North Atlantic Treaty, nor attempting to create some kind of a new "global NATO." What we are doing is using the flexibility the Treaty always offered to adapt this Alliance to the realities of a new strategic environment and the challenges we must face together in the twenty-first century.

In this context, let me say a word about mandates. NATO will--in all cases--act in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter, while continuing to address this issue on a case-by-case basis.

The third task we face is to maintain our commitment to NATO enlargement. Our commitment to our Open Door strategy is central to our vision of a new and better NATO for the twenty-first century. Getting a robust and credible Open Door package is one of the key challenges we face for the Washington Summit.

We must underscore our commitment to the enlargement process by agreeing on a Madrid-plus package that will keep NATO's door open. Both what we say and do as an Alliance is critical.

We must agree on a robust Membership Action Plan to help aspiring partners, in practical and focused ways, to accelerate their efforts to become the strongest possible candidates. Without designating them in advance, we need to provide a road map that shows aspirants the way ahead. I welcome the discussions that Secretary-General Solana has begun on this issue and hope that we can soon reach consensus on how to proceed.

As an Alliance strengthened by new members, our fourth task must be to reach agreement on a long-term program to adapt NATO's defense capabilities to carry out the full spectrum of missions in the new Strategic Concept. We need military forces that are designed, equipped, and prepared for twenty-first century missions.

We have all recognized the need to develop military forces that are mobile, effective, sustainable, and survivable. For this reason, my good friend Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen has been working closely with your Defense Ministers to develop a defense capabilities package and a common operational vision for the Washington Summit.

Our fifth task is related closely to the previous ones. The Summit should address the threat posed to our populations, territory and to our military forces by weapons of mass destruction, or WMD.

We have proposed a comprehensive WMD initiative that builds on the successful work we inaugurated at the 1994 summit. The initiative is designed to ensure that we can effectively address the threat posed by the proliferation of such weapons and their means of delivery. Our plan is to increase information and intelligence-sharing in the Alliance, accelerate the development of capabilities to deter and protect against potential WMD use, and underscore our shared commitment to prevent proliferation.

The Alliance needs to view the WMD issue not only in a defense context, but also as a political challenge that requires a more comprehensive response. We have no desire for NATO to duplicate or supplant other international efforts, but rather to complement and reinforce them. We should view NATO not as the, but rather an, institution of choice among the others addressing this challenge.

Our sixth task is working together to develop a European Security and Defense Identity, or ESDI, within the Alliance, which the United States has strongly endorsed. We enthusiastically support any such measures that enhance European capabilities. The United States welcomes a more capable European partner, with modern, flexible military forces capable of putting out fires in Europe's own back yard and working with us through the Alliance to defend our common interests.

The key to a successful initiative is to focus on practical military capabilities. Any initiative must avoid preempting Alliance decision-making by de-linking ESDI from NATO, avoid duplicating existing efforts, and avoid discriminating against non-EU members. We all agree that we need to finish ESDI based on Berlin decisions by the April Summit.

Our seventh and final task is to further intensify and strengthen relations with our European partners. Indeed, in facing future security challenges, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council must also be seen as an instrument of choice. Specifically, the Alliance needs to define, in time for the Washington Summit, a framework for joint crisis response operations. We also welcome ideas on developing new mechanisms to improve Allied and Partner national and multinational forces' ability to act together.

With Russia, we must move ahead in the spirit of the Founding Act. We continue to work side by side with Russia in Bosnia, to consult closely on Kosovo, to discuss Summit preparations in the PJC and to develop common approaches on vital issues such as nonproliferation and the environment.

We need to continue to work with Russia on giving the PJC more substance. We are building the relationship, establishing patterns of cooperation and communication, and strengthening confidence between NATO and Russia. We--and they--are getting better at it. Our exchanges are becoming habit, a familiar practice. But we--and Russia--have to keep it up. We should base our engagement with Russia on mutual interests. We need to create an environment with a maximum degree of certainty, in which Russia can depend on us and we can depend on Russia, with "no surprises."

With Ukraine, we should continue to strengthen our distinctive partnership. Ukraine is a vital contributor to European security. It is in our interests to help it develop its capabilities to cooperate with NATO as a reliable partner and smooth its way fully into the mainstream of our community.

We must also move ahead with completion of CFE adaptation by the time of the OSCE Summit next year, a goal we all share. This issue relates directly to the character of NATO's partnerships and capabilities.

An adapted CFE Treaty must have enough flexibility built in to ensure that NATO can respond effectively to future crises without breaching it. It must be constructed so that it does not inhibit the political evolution of Europe or the Alliance. And it must not harm the military capabilities of our Alliance.

This is a complex negotiation. All thirty states involved have legitimate concerns. If NATO's interests are to be protected, we must be united. If we are to make progress in Vienna in the next months, we need to send a clear message tomorrow about both our commitment, and our redlines.

Some decades ago, in the depth of Cold War tensions, Walter Lippman wrote about the realities of his time in words that may serve as a warning to ours.

With all the danger and worry it causes...[wrote Lippman] the Soviet challenge may yet prove...a blessing. For...if our influence...were undisputed, we would, I feel sure, slowly deteriorate. Having...lost our daring because everything was...so comfortable. We would...enter into the decline which has marked...so many societies...when they have come to think there is no great work to be done. For then the night has come and they doze off and they begin to die.

Lippman’s fear is being put to the test in this decade. Certainly, there are some in each of our countries who now believe "there is no great work to be done," and that all we have to do to ensure our prosperity, security and freedom is hold on and stay put.

Almost fifty years ago, a generation emerged from war with a fierce dedication to peace. That generation forged an Alliance to defend liberty that, throughout the Cold War, would mean as much to those denied their freedom as those already blessed by it.

Today the responsibility is ours to rise above the barrier of complacency of which Walter Lippman wrote, and to build a new framework for freedom. In so doing, we will rely not only on this Alliance, but on all the great institutions of this continent and of our Community. We will keep our door open to new allies and partners, to new ideas and approaches. We will derive inspiration from the enduring principles that brought our predecessors together at this century's midpoint. And we will prepare together with vigor and determination for the challenges of the next.

Thank you very much. And after tomorrow, I will look forward to seeing you all again in Washington

[End of Document]

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