|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Prepared statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee
Subject: NATO Enlargement
Washington, D.C., April 23, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Thank you Secretary Cohen. Mr. Chairman, I very much welcome this chance to testify on what is among the most significant foreign and defense policy issues of our time. With our appearance here today, the Administration really begins in earnest our effort to work in partnership with you to bring this historic effort in Europe to fruition.
By definition, my comments on NATO enlargement today will be preliminary. We have not yet chosen the first candidates for new membership. NATO's discussions with Russia and other nations are not complete. But the outlines and direction of our policy are clear. There is growing, bipartisan interest in the Senate, of which Senator Lott's NATO Observers Group is but further demonstration.
It is time to take our own dialogue to the next level, because if our policy is to succeed, it must have your support.
As I thought about what to say here today, I must say I was tempted to follow the advice James Reston, the legendary New York Times reporter and columnist, offered after watching Secretary of State Dean Acheson bring the NATO treaty to the Senate in 1949.
"There are many ways," Reston wrote, "in which a Secretary of State can present a treaty to the Senate, but the best way is to tell the Senators everything. This astonishes them, then bores them stiff, and eventually minimizes the ordeal."
That advice notwithstanding, Mr. Chairman, I will summarize.
Let me begin by explaining the fundamental goal of our policy. It is to build, for the very first time, a peaceful, democratic and undivided transatlantic community. It is to extend eastward the peace and prosperity that western Europe has enjoyed for the last 50 years. In this way, America will gain strong new partners in security and trade. And we will gain confidence that our armed forces will not again be called upon to fight on European soil.
Many organizations are doing their part to assure the prosperity and security of Europe. The European Union is expanding. The OSCE is promoting democracy and helping to resolve conflicts from the Caucasus to the Balkans. Many of the new market democracies are joining the World Trade Organization and the OECD.
But NATO is taking the lead, just as it has for the past half century. NATO is still the anchor of our engagement in Europe, the only organization in Europe with real military might, the only one capable of providing the confidence and security upon which our other goals depend.
The debate about NATO enlargement is really a debate about NATO itself. It is about the value of maintaining alliances in times of peace and the value of our partnership with Europe.
I am a diplomat. And I know that a diplomat's best friend is effective military force and the credible possibility of its use. That has been the lesson of the Gulf War and Bosnia and all through history. And that is a lesson we must remember in Europe, where we will still face threats that only a collective defense organization can deter.
No alliance has ever been more successful in deterring aggression than NATO. During its first 50 years, NATO also provided the security shattered European economies needed to rebuild. It helped former adversaries reconcile, making European unity possible. It brought the former fascist nations, first Italy, then Germany, then Spain, back into the family of European democracies. It denationalized European defense. It stabilized relations between Greece and Turkey. All without firing a shot.
NATO defines a community of interest that both preceded and outlasted the Cold War. That is why the United States, a united Germany and our other allies decided to preserve the alliance after the Berlin Wall fell. It is why neither we nor any current ally would even think about leaving NATO or settling for a watered down substitute, and why so many others now wish to join.
Why we are enlarging NATO
Clearly, if an institution such as NATO did not exist today, we would want to create one. We would want to build the strongest possible partnership with those European nations that share our values and our interests.
Just as clearly, if we were creating a new alliance today, we would not make the old Iron Curtain its eastern frontier. We would not leave a democratic country out in the cold because it was once, against the will of its people, part of the Warsaw Pact.
The only question we would consider is this: Which democratic nations in Europe are important to our security and which are willing and able to contribute to our security? In other words, we would not be confined by old thinking or zero sum calculations from the Cold War. We would begin to think in entirely new terms about what a European continent, whole and free, would look like, and what our relationship with Russia and other key states on such a continent would be.
That is exactly what we are doing as we plan the enlargement of NATO, strengthen its Partnership for Peace, build the new Atlantic Partnership Council, and develop NATO's new partnerships with Russia, Ukraine, and other European nations.
As you know, at the Madrid summit in July, NATO will invite several nations to begin accession negotiations. We aim to finish those talks in time to sign accession documents by December.
In 1998, the Senate and the parliaments of our allies will be asked to ratify enlargement. With your consent, the first new members will join by 1999.
NATO enlargement involves the most solemn commitments one nation can make to another. Let me explain exactly why it is in our interest to do this.
First, to protect against Europe's next war.
Three times in this century, American troops have had to go to Europe, in two hot wars and one cold war, to end conflicts that arose in central Europe.
And yet, in the last half century, America has never been called upon to go to war to defend a treaty ally. We have learned that alliances make the threat of force more credible and therefore the use of force less likely -- that by promising to fight if necessary, we can make it less necessary to fight.
The United States has important security interests in central and eastern Europe. If there were a major threat to the peace and security of this region, there is already a high likelihood that we would decide to act, whether NATO enlarges or not. The point of NATO enlargement is to deter such a threat from ever arising.
The second reason is to defend Europe's gains toward democracy, peace and integration.
Just the prospect of enlargement has given central and eastern Europe greater stability than it has seen in this century. Old disputes between Poland and Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, Hungary and Romania, Italy and Slovenia, Germany and the Czech Republic are melting away as nations align themselves with NATO. Democratic reforms are advancing. Country after country has made sure soldiers take orders from civilians. These nations are fixing exactly the problems that could have led to future Bosnias.
NATO's prospective members know that they will not have to go it alone if peace and security is threatened in their region. This gives them a reason to avoid destabilizing arms build-ups. It means we can continue to cut conventional arms across Europe. It means confidence within the region will grow, allowing political and economic ties with Russia to improve, too.
The third reason, Mr. Chairman, as I suggested, is to right the wrongs of the past. If we don't enlarge NATO, we will be validating the dividing line Stalin imposed in 1945 and that two generations of Americans and Europeans fought to overcome. That's conscionable. With the Cold War over, there is no moral or strategic basis for saying to the American people: "we must be allied with Europe's old democracies forever, but with Europe's new democracies never."
That would create a permanent injustice, mocking a half century of sacrifices on both sides of the Iron Curtain. And it would create a permanent source of tension in the heart of Europe.
The final reason for enlargement is that it will strengthen NATO by adding capable new allies.
Secretary Cohen can speak with greater authority about the military capabilities of NATO's prospective members and their progress in meeting NATO's standards. I want to stress that enlargement will strengthen the political and moral cohesion of the alliance.
The nations we are considering for membership share our most fundamental values and aspirations for Europe and the world. Many shared risks with our soldiers in the Gulf War. Without hesitation, each provided troops to NATO in Bosnia; Hungary provided the bases from which NATO launched its mission and all these nations are with us in SFOR today. They are heeding our call to stop dealing with rogue states such as Iran and Iraq. And they have lent their support to the expansion of democratic principles and respect for human rights around the globe.
The bottom line is, our future allies will bear the cost of defending freedom, because they know the price of losing freedom. Now it falls to us to decide whether the people who knocked the teeth out of totalitarianism in Europe and who helped to liberate us from the Cold War are worthy members of history's greatest democratic alliance.
The President and I believe that some are now ready, willing and able and we trust the Senate will agree.
Answering the Critics
Still, I know that many thoughtful people remain skeptical. Let me answer their concerns as plainly and directly as I can.
Some people say that enlargement will simply create a new line of division in Europe, leaving the most insecure countries out. But we have taken a range of steps to avoid that outcome.
We have made it clear that NATO's first new members will not be the last and that the door to future membership must not be slammed in the face of countries that are not yet ready.
NATO is also launching a number of internal reforms and strengthening its Partnership for Peace, so that whenever the allies act our Partners will be able to act with us. And we are creating an Atlantic Partnership Council, composed of NATO's allies and the members of the Partnership for Peace, so that every new democracy, whether it joins NATO sooner, later or not at all, will have a say in Europe's future. This approach has the support of our partners, from the Baltic states, to Poland to Ukraine
We have made a particular effort to reach out to Ukraine. We are working towards signing a NATO-Ukraine document and seek to strengthen NATO's practical cooperation with Ukraine, to support the new Polish-Ukrainian peacekeeping battalion, to bolster military reform, to enhance interoperability with NATO, and to encourage Ukraine's cooperation with its neighbors.
There are only two possible alternatives to this overall strategy. We could freeze Europe's Cold War division. Or we could create a lowest common denominator NATO that includes everyone and imposes obligations on no one. Both of these alternatives are unacceptable. It is far better to invite the strongest candidates to join now, while keeping the door open to every democracy that can shoulder the responsibilities of membership.
We should also remember that when NATO was created in 1949, important countries such as Germany, Greece and Turkey were not included. Yet NATO left no doubt that it had a direct and material interest in their security -- and not coincidentally, just a month after the NATO treaty was signed, the Berlin blockade was lifted. NATO's area of concern has always been wider than its area of membership and it always will be.
Others suggest that if we want to integrate Europe's new democracies, then the European Union or NATO's Partnership for Peace can do the job alone. Frankly, I think it is patronizing to assume all these proud nations will just accept partial membership in Western institutions because they happen to sit on the wrong side of an outdated dividing line. Why should they settle for second class citizenship if they are ready to make a first class contribution?
EU expansion is vital. But the security NATO provides has always been critical to the prosperity the EU promises. EU expansion will also require new members to make vast adjustments in their regulatory policies. If NATO can proceed now, why wait until, say, tomato farmers in central Europe start using the right kinds of pesticides? And as the EU expands, only NATO can make sure that a united Europe maintains its strongest link to America.
As for the Partnership for Peace, it has indeed been a great success and it will remain critical. But we should remember that many nations have embraced the Partnership both to develop lasting ties with NATO and to prepare for eventual membership. The idea that NATO can remain as it is forever, while the central Europeans happily participate in the Partnership for Peace forever, with no prospect of joining the alliance, is a fantasy.
A final criticism we often hear is that we do not need to bother with NATO at all because there is no military threat in Europe. In fact, due largely to Bosnia, more Europeans have died in violent conflict in the last five years than in the previous 45. So I cannot be complacent.
At the same time, with our leadership strong, Bosnia now being stabilized, Russia engaging with NATO and nuclear arms reductions moving forward, I can understand why some people don't see a threat right now. It is because our policy is working.
Mr. Chairman, if you don't see smoke, that is no reason to stop paying for fire insurance.
Like any good insurance policy, NATO enlargement will certainly carry costs. Those costs are outlined in the report we presented to the Congress in February. Secretary Cohen will talk more about the military costs and there will also be a small cost to the NATO civil budget, although it is not possible to estimate the precise amount at this time.
As Secretary of State, I am equally concerned about the costs of a decision not to enlarge.
NATO would be stuck in the past, risking irrelevance, even dissolution. Our leadership in Europe will be compromised and relations with our traditional allies would deteriorate.
It might be said, rightly or wrongly, that we blocked the aspirations of NATO's would-be allies solely because Russia objected. Confidence would crumble in central Europe, leading to a search for security by other means, including arms build-ups and increased tensions between neighbors. The worst elements in Russia would be encouraged, secure in their view that Europe can be divided into new spheres of influence and that confrontation with the West pays off. There would be little chance of building a constructive partnership between Russia and NATO.
Mr. Chairman, I do not believe that the debate about NATO should be reduced to a debate about Russia. After all, from the Baltic States to the Balkans, more than 200 million people live in Europe's other new and emerging democracies.
At the same time, every NATO ally and every central European democracy agrees that we cannot build a Europe whole and free until a democratic Russia is a full participant in Europe.
This means that we must appreciate the remarkable distance that Russia has traveled since it rejected communism, as well as our own interest in seeing Russia play an important role in Europe -- as a great power, and no longer an imperial power. We must recognize that Russia has made a choice for democracy and markets and defied the most dire predictions about its evolution.
Some, given the history, object to the very idea of Russian cooperation with the alliance. But we, given the history, understand that Russia's willingness to work with NATO is an opportunity to be seized, not a reason to hide the silverware.
One are where we are cooperating is our effort to adapt the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. NATO's CFE proposal responds to the remarkable changes in European security since the treaty was signed in 1990. It calls for significant reductions in the number of conventional weapons permitted in the Atlantic-to-the-Urals region, consistent with NATO's continuing security requirements. It can ensure there is no destabilizing concentration of military equipment anywhere in Europe. And it makes clear that the specter of NATO tanks and artillery advancing to Russia's borders is not real.
A critical part of our approach to adapt the CFE is timely Senate approval of the "Flank Document" to which all 30 CFE states agreed on May 31, 1996. This agreement addresses concerns raised by Russia and Ukraine about the impact of the treaty's equipment limits in the CFE "flank" zone, while applying new constraints and special transparency measures as added assurance against excessive force concentrations. The flank document is a balanced agreement that serves U.S. interests.
To enter into force, all 30 states party must formally approve the Flank Document by May 15, 1997. If it does not enter into force by then, this valuable and sensible agreement will be put at risk, and the prospects for successful CFE adaptation would diminish.
In the past few months, NATO has also been discussing the terms of a charter that will institutionalize its practical cooperation with Russia. At the Helsinki summit, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin outlined the possibilities of such a partnership.
We will be able to act together with Russia to fight proliferation, to keep nuclear arsenals safe and to respond to humanitarian crises and threats to peace. We will build on the cooperation our troops forged in Bosnia, making sure it lasts long after the last foreign soldier leaves that country. A joint NATO-Russia Council will give Russia a voice, but not a veto -- a chance to work in partnership with NATO, not within NATO. Both sides will retain complete freedom of action when we can't agree.
President Clinton has been absolutely clear with President Yeltsin about the lines we will not cross and the barriers we will not build as we construct the NATO-Russia partnership.
First, NATO enlargement will go forward with no delay.
Second, no European nation will be excluded from consideration.
Third, NATO's new members will enjoy the full benefits of membership.
Fourth, the new NATO-Russia Joint Council will be a forum for consultation, cooperation and, where possible, joint action. It will not have the power to dilute, delay or block NATO decisions, nor will it supplant NATO's North Atlantic Council. It will grow in importance only to the extent Russia uses it constructively.
Finally, NATO will continue to evolve, but its core function of collective defense will be maintained and enhanced, and the qualities that have made it the most successful alliance in history will be preserved.
As you know, Russia would also like us to make absolute commitments in the charter about the deployment of nuclear and conventional forces on the territory of new members. But we will not compromise on this issue.
All we have done, and all we will do, is to restate unilaterally existing NATO policy: that in the current and foreseeable security environment, we have no plan, no need, and no intention to station nuclear weapons in the new member countries, nor do we contemplate permanently stationing substantial combat forces. The only binding limits on conventional forces in Europe will be set as we adapt the CFE treaty, with central European countries and all the other signatories at the table.
Let me also stress that the point of the NATO-Russia agreement is not to convince Russia to agree to NATO enlargement. We do not need Russia to agree to enlargement. The point is to advance a goal that is worthwhile in its own right: our interest in promoting the integration of a democratic Russia and acting together to meet the challenges of the next century.
I do not expect the Russian government to change its mind about NATO's plans to take in new members. We must face this fact squarely, but we should also recognize it for what it is: an issue of perception, not of military reality. NATO poses no danger to Russia, just as Russia poses no danger to NATO. We do no favor to Russia's democrats to suggest otherwise.
The fate of Russian democracy is certainly not at stake in NATO's decisions on enlargement. Russia's future as a free and prosperous nation will depend upon the ability of its leaders and people to build an open society, to defeat crime and corruption, to spark economic growth and spread its benefits. The Russian people know that their future will be written in Moscow, in Irkutsk, in Novgorod, and not at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The truth is, the quest for freedom and security in Europe is not a zero sum game, in which Russia must lose if central Europe gains, and central Europe must lose if Russia gains. Such thinking has imposed enormous human and economic costs during the last 50 years, and we have a responsibility as well as an opportunity to transcend it.
In this new Europe, the United States and western Europe have a chance to gain new allies and partners who can and will contribute to our common security. The people of central Europe have a chance to see the erasure of a Cold War dividing line that has cut them off from the European mainstream. The people of Russia have a chance to achieve the deepest and most genuine integration with the West that their nation has ever enjoyed.
Twice in this century, Mr. Chairman, we have faced the challenge, in the aftermath of war, to bring together that kind of Europe. We had the opportunity after World War I, but too many, in the United States and elsewhere, lacked the vision. After World War II, there was no shortage of vision, but across half of Europe the opportunity was denied.
Today we have the vision and the opportunity to build a Europe in which every nation is free and every free nation is our partner. With continued bipartisan support from the Senate and from the American people, I am confident that this is the Europe our children and grandchildren will know.
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