|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Intervention at NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council Ministerial Meeting, NATO Headquarters
Brussels, Belgium, December 15, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
As Prepared for Delivery
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Mr. Secretary General, Foreign Minister Ivanov and fellow ministers, I am pleased to participate in this meeting of the PJC. The United States warmly welcomes President Putin's commitment to Russia's partnership with NATO.
Nothing symbolizes a sharper break from the past than the ability of NATO and Russia to cooperate on the basis of shared interests and mutual respect. And nothing would do more for Europe's future security than fulfillment of this Partnership's vast potential.
One key testing ground is in the Balkans, where we are working to consolidate stability and democracy.
As participants in SFOR, NATO and Russia should press leaders in Bosnia to strengthen joint institutions and integrate their armed forces. After all, Bosnians do not need, and cannot afford, three armies.
As members of KFOR, NATO and Russia must be united in opposing extremist violence in Kosovo and in helping that society develop autonomous self-governing institutions that are both democratic and inclusive.
Members of the Council should also back the new authorities in Belgrade as they strive to strengthen their democracy and address urgent economic problems resulting from decades of Communist misrule.
However, it is not helpful for Russia to raise issues, such as the UN arms embargo and Kosovo's final status, that are not immediate priorities for Belgrade, and that distract from our ability to work together toward long-term goals.
NATO-Russian cooperation in Southeast Europe is a dramatic illustration of this Partnership's potential. But there is encouraging progress in other areas, as well.
At our last meeting in May, we approved a work plan that we are now implementing.
For example, the United States welcomes the agreement to open a NATO Information Office in Moscow. And we are encouraged that Russia may begin consultations on establishing a Military Liaison Mission in that same capital. These measures were envisioned in the Founding Act, and can promote better and more rapid coordination between Russia and NATO.
We are pleased that Russia has agreed to participate in a joint search and rescue exercise, which we hope to schedule next year.
Our hearts go out to the victims of the KURSK tragedy and to their families. We will all benefit from efforts to improve preparedness and develop effective joint rescue capabilities. So we are very encouraged by the start of cooperation in submarine Search and Rescue.
Perhaps the most important area of cooperation between Russia and NATO is arms control and nonproliferation. We have a mutual interest and responsibility to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and other advanced military technologies. We should also continue to broaden our dialogue on theater missile defense.
In all of these areas, it is significant that our diplomatic discussions are being complemented by enhanced military contacts. I hope this trend will continue. I am pleased that Russia is again participating in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. But I hope it will resume military-to-military cooperation, as well.
Although we are making significant progress in the PJC, there remain serious areas of concern.
For instance, both NATO and Russia have an interest in building on last year's CFE adaptation negotiations. Russia has pledged to 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.
Finally, the ongoing conflict in Chechnya remains deeply troubling. It has long been plain that a political process is required to end the fighting and allow Chechnyans to resume a normal life.
The international community has repeatedly urged Russia to implement the UN Human Rights Commission Resolution calling for a broad-based investigation into violations of human rights. We also look to Russia to honor the commitment it made at the Istanbul Summit by working with the OSCE Chairman in Office to allow the OSCE Assistance Group to return to Chechnya by year's end.
These steps would contribute to a resolution of the Chechnyan conflict, while providing an important and timely boost to NATO-Russian cooperation.
Since taking office, President Putin has emphasized the importance of integrating Russia into Euro-Atlantic institutions. A comprehensive, cooperative and close relationship with NATO is essential to that goal--and would be supported by every member of our Alliance.
I leave this forum convinced that the PJC is one of the most important institutional arrangements to emerge after the Cold War, and in some ways, the most encouraging.
I am confident that the next American President and Secretary of State will maintain U.S. support for this Council, and for realizing the full promise of the Founding Act. And I am secure in the knowledge that our allies will be working, with Russia, to achieve this historic goal.
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