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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on Polish Public TV -- Channel 1 with Dorota Warakomska
March 12, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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QUESTION: Madame Secretary, first of all, thank you.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: (In Polish.)

QUESTION: Thank you very much. What does Polish, Czech and Hungarian membership in NATO mean for the United States?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think it means a lot for the United States. It means that we have three new allies who have the same values we have, who are dedicated to our security, as we are to theirs. It expands the most powerful alliance in the history of the world. And that's good for America.

QUESTION: What does it mean for you, personally?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: For me personally, it is a story about our lives in the 20th century. My family came to the United States because of the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, and it was that that led to the founding of NATO finally. So for me to be Secretary of State at a moment when not only the Czechs, but the Poles and Hungarians have become part of this amazing alliance, is a full circle. I'm very, very proud to be the Secretary of State of the United States at this time.

QUESTION: The Cold War is over now. What will be next?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it's very important that the Cold War is over. But what we have discovered in the last years is that there are many new threats that are much harder to describe. We don't have a single enemy. That is why it is so important to keep NATO vibrant and relevant, to be able to deal with the new threats, which are weapons of mass destruction, ethnic conflicts, divisions over borders. So we have to face the new threats together; and that's why it's so wonderful to have new allies.

QUESTION: And what about the countries like Lithuania or Slovania or Slovakia? Do you expect announcement of a new round of enlargement of NATO during the Washington Summit?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we have said -- President Clinton has said all along that we have an open door policy; that the first shall not be the last. That will be reaffirmed at the summit, and it will be very clear that an open door continues to exist.

QUESTION: As you perfectly know, not everybody's very happy with the NATO enlargement. Opposers argue that the new members are not really ready for membership in NATO. What could you say?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I disagree. If they weren't ready, they wouldn't be in. They have met the minimum military requirements. They're obviously continues -- there's a need for continued work; everybody knows that. But they have accepted the responsibility; NATO members have accepted them; and they are ready.

QUESTION: What do you expect from us? What kind of role can Poland or the Czech Republic or Hungary -- but especially Poland -- play in Europe for NATO?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that all three countries, but Poland as the largest and one that has played such a significant role in the history of Europe, will continue to have a very important role. Specifically now, the problems that face NATO are in the former Yugoslavia, continuing to deal in Bosnia and also in Kosovo. So we will be consulting and talking more with our new allies, as with the ones that are already in, to talk about how we react to what is going on in that region.

QUESTION: I have to ask also about Russia and our policy regarding Russia. Do you have any advice as to how we should deal with Russia, our biggest neighbor?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that the great change that has happened is that NATO does not have a single adversary. We don't seek any dividing lines. We consider the relationship that NATO has with Russia a very important one. Obviously, Poland now participates in that. I think the important assignment that we all have is to work with Russia and to foster democratic forces in all countries in Europe and to really make sure that the values that are part of NATO are really respected everywhere.

QUESTION: What will be the message of the Washington Summit?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The Washington Summit, I think, will be a time of renewal and reinvigoration. It will be wonderful to have three new members, and we will lay out NATO of the 21st century and talk about a new strategic concept and talk about the open door. But basically it will be to see that this alliance that has taken Europe so far in the last 50 years is vibrant and ready for the next century.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

[End of Document]

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