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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Washington, D.C., April 14, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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"American Political and Economic Leadership: The Challenges of the Global Economy"

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Tom; I needed that. I will be very happy, in our Q and A session, to talk a little bit more about my activities of the last 48 hours.

I also have to say that in my various meetings with Tom Donahue, we have talked a lot about the very natural partnership we have in pursuing U.S. national interests. We are working very hard together on behalf of those interests. I think that often, people have not understood that the business community and those who dedicate their lives to economics are the natural constituency for the State Department as we move into the 21st Century. So it's a great pleasure to be with you, Tom, and Klaus Schwab, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends. I'm very, very pleased to welcome you to the Department of State.

I know it's not Davos, but it is still quite fitting to have representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the World Economic Forum here under this roof at this time. For we live in an era when the connections between the business community, the global economy and the ways and means of U.S. foreign policy are intimately related.

That's why I want to thank the leadership and members of the Chamber for working with us so closely, and also to recognize the help of our business people who have provided in reconstruction efforts in Central America. To those of you who are from outside the U.S., I want to commend you, as well, for the cooperative efforts being undertaken through organizations such as APEC and the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue.

These initiatives are critical because as the new century approaches, the great challenge and opportunity we face is to help bring nations closer together around the basic principles of democracy and open markets, the rule of law and a commitment to peace. To succeed in this effort, economic leadership must play a central role.

For example, as the financial crisis has shown in Indonesia and elsewhere, economic disruptions can have profound political consequences. At the same time, nations that have built truly representative governments seem better able to ride out even severe financial storms.

More broadly, in this decade, the movement toward more open economic systems has been a powerful contributor to the democratic trend. We see this everywhere from Central Europe to Central America and from the strongest reforming economies in Africa to the robust democracies of the Southern Cone.

This affects our prosperity because reform leads to greater efficiency, more opportunity and higher levels of investment and trade. This contributes, in turn, to our security because nations that are growing have a deeper stake in finding a peaceful solution to disputes and are less likely to become breeding grounds for terror, narcotics trafficking and international crime.

We know also that free markets bring enormous benefits; but we also know that there are accompanying problems that markets alone cannot solve. That's why we're committed to adapting our international financial institutions in the World Trade Organization to make them more transparent, open and accountable; and why we're working through these institutions to improve financial sector governance, address environmental and labor concerns and help people around the world adjust to change.

Later this year, the largest gathering ever of trade ministers will meet in Seattle to set the trade agenda for the next decade. We will strive to use those talks to chart a course that will result in stronger protections for intellectual property and lower barriers to our agricultural, industrial and service exports.

We would like to have China participate in that gathering as well as be a full member of the WTO. Last week's visit of Chinese Premier Zhu resulted in significant progress, and we've agreed to resume negotiations later this month. The two countries said they will pursue intensively an agreement that would enable China to accede to the WTO this year.

It is clearly in the interest of the United States that China be bound by the same set of rules as other countries and that it be obliged to reduce or eliminate its many barriers to trade. The rise of economic interdependence has contributed to the increased use of sanctions as an instrument of international policy to punish and persuade. It's vital, however, that this tool be used wisely -- not indiscriminately or simply out of frustration.

We're working with leaders in Congress to develop a sanctions policy that carefully weighs U.S. interests and that recognizes that multilateral sanctions are more effective than unilateral ones. We're also striving to ensure that sanctions are carefully designed and targeted to avoid unnecessary harm to innocent people. We're consulting with governors because on sanctions, it's important that the United States speak with one voice so that a coherent message is sent to those who are the target of our sanctions. We need to avoid measures that impede our ability to build multilateral coalitions in support of sanctions, as we are attempting to do towards Burma.

International economic leadership is critical to the future we want to build. But it must be combined also with effective political leadership and muscle. That's why the United States is working hard with allies and partners to build peace in Northern Ireland, to advance the process of reconciliation in the Middle East, to resolve tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and to encourage stability in other strategic areas, such as the Aegean and South Asia.

Unfortunately, in some cases, diplomacy alone is not enough. Today in Kosovo, NATO is responding forcefully to the assault on fundamental human values that is being waged by the regime in Belgrade. As Tom said, late yesterday I returned from meetings in Europe with NATO foreign ministers. Our Alliance has made it clear that we will persist relentlessly and with determination until the crisis ends on acceptable terms: Serb security forces must leave so that the refugees can re-enter; an international security presence must be permitted; and the people of Kosovo must be given the democratic self-government they have long deserved.

The current crisis highlights the need to integrate the Balkans more fully into the Euro-Atlantic community of democracies. We have made a start in this direction, but one outcome of the current fighting must be a comprehensive, multi-year, multinational approach. We do not want this conflict to serve as a prelude to others.

Working with the regional leaders, our allies, international financial institutions and you, the private sector, we need to transform the southeast corner of Europe from a source of unrest into an anchor of stability. To those who say we don't have the funds for such a project, I can only point to the current situation -- to the loss of life, to the flood of refugees and the destruction -- and say that what we can't afford is a repeat of this.

The Clinton Administration will work closely with Congress to gain the resources we need both to cope with the present emergency and to contribute our share to long-term solutions. We do so, however, at a time when the majority in Congress is insisting that funds to help Central America recover from Hurricane Mitch must come from other high priority international programs. We are not only just robbing Peter to pay Paul, we're robbing Paul also.

We do so in the wake of recent House and Senate budget votes that would cut the President's funding request for international affairs by a disastrous 15 percent to 21 percent. In raising these matters, I do not engage in special pleading. These are serious issues. Our nation cannot afford -- and I do not believe the free world can afford -- to see America's foreign policy budget treated like a political football.

We're talking about only 1 percent of federal spending. And I repeat that because I think many people think that it's 25 percent; it's 1 percent of federal spending. Yet that 1 percent pays for everything from export assistance to American firms to the protection from terrorists for American diplomats. It helps us put food into the hands of hungry children and keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of rogue regimes. It enables us to train others in the rule of law, including the sanctity of contracts. And it would enable us, at long last, to meet our own obligations to the United Nations.

Americans are justly proud of the Marshall Plan and the other measures undertaken half a century ago to aid European recovery and reinforce freedom in an unsettled world. In that era, America devoted more than a dozen times the share of its wealth to international programs, compared to what we allocate today.

We are not proposing anything that costly now. But I do hope that we will have your continued help in spreading the word that there is nothing foreign about foreign policy anymore. When we make innovative investments in peace, prosperity and democracy overseas, as we now propose, we help to secure those blessings for our own citizens here at home. And when we fail to make the needed investments, we place our own future in jeopardy.

Whenever I speak in the Benjamin Franklin room here, I'm reminded of his saying that the greatest talkers are the least doers. So I will close, and do my best in the allotted time to answer your questions.

Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

MR. DONAHUE: Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary has about ten minutes to take your questions, so we'd like to get an array of questions. To get started, may I invite you to give us a bit of an update on the discussions that you had in the last few days and how you believe that's going to lead to continuation or change in our relationships in the Kosovo issue.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, thank you very much. Let me say that we have, for the last ten years at least, been trying to deal with the Kosovo situation through diplomatic means and have tried a variety of ways to work with the government of Belgrade and to support President Rugova in his activities and have really given diplomacy every effort.

Last year, President Milosevic changed his tactics in order to really put a great deal more pressure on Kosovo, whose autonomy he had already removed in 1989, and began to place forces within Kosovo and to systematically undermine the position of the majority Albanians there. So at that time, what we did was to marry force with diplomacy; the threat of the use of force we hoped would support diplomacy. And after the Racak massacre, we went to Rambouillet and tried very hard to get a signed agreement.

As you all know, that was not possible. However, I believe that having the Albanians sign on to Rambouillet was key to having our NATO allies stay with us throughout what is, I believe, going to be a very important sustained campaign.

What happened when we switched, in terms of going to bombing and the air campaign, was that the equation changed and now we are using diplomacy in support of force. What I was doing in Europe in the last two days, was to have a NATO ministerial -- where we are now at 19 in NATO -- in order to come out with a very unified message on behalf of five principles that the allies agree to; which is that there has to be a cease-fire and the end of violence and repression against the Kosovar Albanians; the Serbs have to get out their military, paramilitary and police forces; the refugees have to be able to go back -- they cannot become hostages to what is going on and also destabilize the countries around them; and there has to be international military presence within Kosovo so that these people can go back in a sense of security. Finally, there has to be some kind of a political settlement that allows the people of Kosovo to have a high degree of autonomy.

We have said that it is important for the Serb forces to get out of Kosovo, not necessarily for Kosovo to be out of Serbia. So we have not supported Kosovar independence. We believe that it is important that there be the possibility for them to practice their high degree of autonomy within Serbia or Yugoslavia. Though, I must say, that with the horrendous things that we have seen, it is hard to imagine how they can live together, which is why the military force, in order to be there within that kind of environment, is necessary.

Now, what I found very heartening is that the NATO allies signed up for those principles. The EU in the previous week had signed up for those principles. Kofi Annan has signed up for those principles. We have a really united front of western democracies, I think, defending basic values that do not allow for a cruel dictator to keep his population in a propaganda warp and to have the kinds of crimes against humanity that he is committing against the people of Kosovo.

Diplomatically, we will continue to support those principles. I met with the Russian Foreign Minister in Oslo yesterday, and we have narrowed the gaps of our disagreement. Clearly, the Russians do disagree with the NATO bombing and they have not agreed on the presence of this international security force. But they have agreed on the other principles and diplomacy will in fact continue to serve what will be and is an intensive and sustained air campaign.

MR. SCHWAB: Madame Secretary, are you ready for one last question from the floor?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, when we first met I was a member of the Balkan Commissions of the Carnegie Endowment, so my question is also related to the Balkans. Can a renewed diplomatic effort still be built on Rambouillet? And secondly, how could it help to repair relations with Russia? Why, for instance, did you not accept the proposal to have a G-8 meeting? And final question -- how would it be possible to render unto the United Nations its due in this whole process? I'm not talking about dues. Thank you.

(Laughter.)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. First of all, let me say that Rambouillet itself, I think, has many details in it which, to use whatever our favorite bureaucratic expressions is OBE -- overtaken by events. There are certain aspects of it that do not work. However, the basic concept that there needs to be a political settlement that allows for a high degree of autonomy and that that settlement needs to be implemented by a security force within a permissive environment, I think continue to be valid and provide the basis for further discussion of a political settlement. So in that degree, it really continues.

On the issue of the Russians, I spent three hours yesterday with Foreign Minister Ivanov, and we talked about the various principles that we agreed on. The reason that we did not immediately go to a G-8 was that there really -- one, there didn't seem a reason to do so because we had agreed on the general principles but disagreed still, I think, on this point of an international military presence, which is something that both the EU and NATO had in fact supported. But we are not ruling out a G-8 meeting. In fact, as we go forward here and there are more and more organizations or groupings that agree on the principles, I think it gains strength.

But I was very encouraged by my meeting yesterday with the Foreign Minister because I think there had been a sense that Russia was isolated, and I believe they are very important as a part of the diplomatic solution. So I will continue to talk with the Foreign Minister. I think I have had more foreign minister calls in the last two weeks than most of my predecessors. I have now talked to every one of the allies many times, and to the Russian Foreign Minister many times. So telephone diplomacy is alive and well; and we will, in fact, continue to really keep this unified activity and we want to bring the Russians in. Though, as I've said, they disagree and have criticized the NATO bombings.

On the role of the UN, I talked to the Secretary General this morning. He is going to a meeting of EU Heads of State, which is taking place as we speak. He has also, as I said, supported the principles that we talked about. I think that at some stage, some of the ways that those five principles in fact come into play and are carried out, that the Security Council will in fact have a role in this; and that ultimately, as we look at what the structure will be in Kosovo itself, that the UN and OSCE and NATO will play a role.

MR. SCHWAB: Madame Secretary, on behalf of Tom Donohue, our partner and friend, on behalf of participants, I want to thank you for the privilege we had to spend time at this particular moment together with you.

We share you in the spirit which is the spirit of the World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world. And what we have seen, Madame Secretary, is -- and what we all knew -- we have seen a woman courageous, thoughtful, and full of action. We need your action and for this action, we wish you all the best. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

[End of Document]

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