|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement At the Meeting of the Permanent Joint Council
Florence, Italy, May 24, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
[Text as prepared for delivery]
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Mr. Secretary General, Foreign Minister Ivanov, Foreign Minister Geremek and Fellow Ministers, I am pleased to resume these meetings. The NATO-Russia partnership can play a pivotal role in creating and sustaining European stability for generations to come.
I have been heartened by the positive approach the new Russian Government has taken towards NATO, and by the fact that Defense Minister Sergeyev will also be meeting with his NATO counterparts in Brussels next month. I hope we will use these opportunities to build on past contributions we have jointly made to international stability and peace.
These contributions have been especially evident in Southeast Europe, which has historically been an area of competition and division among Europe's major powers. Now in Bosnia, Kosovo, and through the Stability Pact, we are working together in the right way for the right goals.
Although we have made substantial progress, much remains to be done. In Bosnia, we must continue our vigorous support for stability and democracy. And in Kosovo, we must work together, respecting KFOR's unity of command, to prevent further violence by either side, and prepare for free and fair municipal elections next fall.
More broadly, I note the backing Russia has given to efforts to bring Southeast Europe into the continent's democratic mainstream. Moscow has expressed support for freedom of speech in Serbia, opposed Belgrade's decision to impose sanctions on Montenegro, and participated fully in deliberations of the Stability Pact.
These positive steps make it harder to understand, and impossible simply to accept, the recent visit to Moscow of Belgrade's Defense Minister, a man indicted for alleged war crimes by the Hague Tribunal.
UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which Russia helped write, requires full cooperation with the Tribunal, including the arrest of those indicted by it. The United States joins other allies in insisting that such an incident not be repeated.
Since Lord Robertson's visit to Moscow in February, we have had substantive discussions here in the PJC on a range of other issues. The United States supports the approval today of a work plan for the rest of the year.
We also support steps to increase the flow of information between Russia and NATO. The Founding Act provides for a NATO Information Office in Moscow, and we are ready to work with Russia to complete this step.
Russia has established military liaisons at SHAPE and other command points. These have played a critical role in aiding coordination within KFOR. NATO needs a similar presence of its own in Moscow.
The United States also urges Russia to resume military-to-military-cooperation within the Partnership for Peace. As we have seen in Bosnia and Kosovo, cooperation benefits every partner. There is no other way to gain experience in working with each other, adding strength to strength, and laying the foundation for long-term security.
Both NATO and Russia have an interest in building on last year's successful conclusion of CFE adaptation negotiations. In November, then-Prime Minister Putin pledged that Russia would return to adapted CFE flank levels as soon as possible. This remains a prerequisite to ratification of the adapted treaty by NATO members.
There also needs to be steady movement toward the implementation of Russia's commitments to withdraw forces from Moldova and Georgia.
The PJC provides an important forum for consultations concerning the threat we all face from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the missiles that can deliver them. The Alliance has set up a center to help examine ways we can respond to this threat together.
I have talked with Foreign Minister Ivanov in the past about the potential for cooperation on theater missile defense. And the United States would welcome the full exploration of ideas in this area.
Finally, the ongoing conflict in Chechnya remains a matter of deep international concern. It has long since become plain that a political process is required to end the fighting and enable the people of the region to resume a normal life. The United States once again urges Russia to implement the Resolution approved by the UN Human Rights Commission.
This Resolution calls for a broad-based independent national commission to investigate allegations of human rights violations. We believe very strongly that this would be in the best interests not only of Chechens, but of all Russians. And it would provide an important and timely boost to NATO-Russian cooperation.
Once again, let me say that I am very pleased that President Putin decided to resume Russia's broad cooperation in the PJC. This is one of the most important new institutional arrangements to emerge in the aftermath of the Cold War, and in some ways, the most encouraging.
So I hope we will continue to work together to give substance to this partnership through our joint efforts in Southeast Europe, and our response to threats around the world.
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