|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement at North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting
Sintra, Portugal, May 29, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President d'Honneur, fellow foreign ministers, distinguished colleagues. I am honored to represent the United States at this session of the North Atlantic Council.
During the last several months -- and especially during the last two weeks, we have been engaged in an intensive period of hard work that has produced historic results.
In January, I joined you for the first time in Brussels and pledged that the United States would make every possible effort to realize our shared vision of a new NATO. Today, all the elements of that vision are falling into place. We are ready for Madrid and NATO is ready for the challenges of a new century.
We have forged a new relationship with a democratic Russia. Here in Sintra, we will initial a charter between NATO and Ukraine. We will further strengthen the Partnership for Peace. We will launch the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. We will prepare for an historic summit, where we will invite new partners to join the Alliance.
For the next 40 days, we will be focused on the details of process, protocol and planning for the summit. But we should not lose sight of our purpose.
It is to build, for the very first time, a peaceful, free 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, we will secure freedom's victories across Europe's old divide. We will gain strong new partners in security and trade. And we will make it less likely that our armed forces will ever be called to fight on the soil of this continent.
As we look to the future, I hope we can also take a moment to remember the history that Europe and America are now celebrating. It was exactly 50 years ago next week that George Marshall proposed the post-war reconstruction of this continent. That endeavor marked the birth of the modern transatlantic partnership. As Prime Minister Kok and President Clinton reminded us so eloquently in their speeches yesterday in the Hague, it inspires our vision of Europe today.
What we need to recall today is that the Marshall Plan was much more than an effort to fix the physical damage caused by World War II. Its most enduring legacy is visible today not so much in the steel mills and railways and farmlands of our richly endowed community, but in the institutions that ended centuries of European conflict, transcended old ways of thinking, and formed the basis for western European and transatlantic unity.
With its vision of a continent whole and free, the point of the Marshall Plan was not to rebuild the old Europe. It was to build an entirely new Europe.
That is the unfinished business that we are taking steps to finish today.
Unfinished because for 50 years, the eastern limits of European integration were determined not by the choice of free peoples, or by the interests of free nations, but by the western limits of the Red Army's advance in 1945.
Two days ago in Paris, we took an historic step across that unnatural divide when our leaders joined President Yeltsin to sign the Founding Act of NATO's new relationship with Russia.
NATO and Russia would not have reached this point had it not been in our shared interest to do so. But just as clearly, there would be no Founding Act were it not for the skill of Secretary-General Solana. Mr. Secretary-General, I salute you for a remarkable achievement. You have served this alliance and our common future uncommonly well.
Now the challenge for us -- and for Russia -- is to turn the promise of partnership into a day-to day reality, by bringing to life the agenda and mechanisms captured in the Founding Act.
Let us pause to consider what this will mean.
It will mean we can advance our goal of working with Russia without altering NATO's core function of collective defense or any of the qualities that have made this the most successful alliance in history. It means the practical cooperation that the Russian armed forces have forged with NATO troops in Bosnia and with NATO planners in Brussels and at SHAPE will be seen as a matter of course. It means we will be able to act together with Russia whenever our interests coincide, and talk openly and constructively should we disagree.
But there is something even more profound.
By signing the Founding Act, President Yeltsin and Russia have made a choice as fundamental as the choice for democracy and free markets that the Russian people made in 1991.
Russia has rejected self-isolation. It has chosen to participate in and to benefit from European security cooperation even as it engages its economy and society with that of Europe and the world. The Founding Act is the surest sign yet that Russia will define its strength, its security, and its relationship with its neighbors in a new way. Russia has recognized that Europe should not be divided into opposing blocs that must be kept apart by buffer zones of excluded states.
The Founding Act does not mean that Russia has somehow endorsed NATO enlargement -- and that is not what we sought. We know that it will still take time for the progress of trust in our relationship to catch up fully with the process of change.
But already, we have demonstrated that the quest for security in Europe, as President Clinton put it in Paris, "is not a zero sum game, where NATO's gain is Russia's loss and Russia's strength is our alliance's weakness." NATO will soon have new allies and stronger partners. And the Russian people will have something they have not had in centuries: a genuine, sustainable peace with the nations to their west.
All of this has happened because three years ago, NATO made a choice of its own. We framed that choice by asking a simple question. Would our alliance be known forever as an organization of countries that were once arrayed against a threatening empire that no longer exists? Or would it be known as an organization of capable democracies united to meet the challenges of the future?
We decided that if the second answer was right, then NATO's Cold War missions and Cold War membership would not do. NATO had to adapt its internal structures and it had to be open to new members who were capable of making a first class contribution.
We have made great progress on internal adaptation. We are creating the means to build ESDI within NATO, rather than separate from it. We are implementing the Combined Joint Task Force concept. We will be ready to approve the major elements of a new command structure at Madrid. Our European allies now have a chance to take advantage of these possibilities. We hope they will.
The Partnership for Peace also continues to grow in importance. We have been working hard at this for three years. We have held dozens of exercises, hundreds of exchanges. And our Partners have responded magnificently. The enhancements we are approving today mean that they will be able to do more than just train and participate in NATO-led operations. They will be able to play an active role in planning the missions we undertake together.
We are also meeting our commitment to strengthen our partnership with Ukraine. The Charter we are initialing today, which our leaders will sign in Madrid, recognizes the vital role Ukraine will play in Europe's future. It reflects our commitment to support the sovereignty and independence of a democratic Ukraine, and Ukraine's commitment to integration with Europe.
Tomorrow, all our Partners will join us for the first meeting of the new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The EAPC gives both Allies and Partners something we now lack. It gives our Partners a place at the table when we shape the future of our cooperation. And it gives us a formal political dialogue with a group of nations that are going to cooperate ever more closely with NATO -- on precisely the challenges we are most likely to face in the future.
These steps will help ensure that NATO's area of concern will always remain wider than its area of membership. Together with the steps our Partners are taking to overcome their own disputes, they can ensure that Europe's regions will never again be color coded red, blue -- or gray.
But needless to say, many challenges still lie ahead.
Between now and the Madrid summit, if at all possible, we should move forward in Vienna to negotiate a framework agreement that sets out the basic elements of an adapted CFE treaty. The principles that will guide us are clear. First, we must not take any step in CFE that would undermine NATO's ability to fulfill its future commitments, prejudice its political evolution, or relegate any future members to second class status. Second, any CFE agreement must take into account the interests not just of NATO's 16 allies or any individual country, but of all 30 CFE states.
Of course, at the summit itself, our leaders will invite some of our Partners to begin accession talks. NATO enlargement will serve many purposes. But there are two fundamental ones we must keep in mind as we make our decisions about the size and composition of the first round between now and Madrid.
First, we want to make NATO stronger and more cohesive by adding new allies who are eager and able to contribute to our common security. We want the first round of enlargement to be seen as a solid success on these terms, and we want it to be backed by strong parliamentary and public majorities.
Second, we want to give the nations of central and eastern Europe an incentive to make the right choices about their future. We want to encourage them to resolve old disputes, to consolidate democracy, and to respect human rights and international norms. So far, that is exactly what the prospect of enlargement has done.
These two goals present us with a commensurate two-part challenge.
First, we must continue to insist that the candidates for membership in NATO meet the highest possible standards before they are invited to join. The Alliance should admit only those new democracies that have both cleared the highest hurdles of reform and demonstrated they can meet the full obligations of membership.
NATO enlargement is not a scholarship program. That would dilute our alliance. It would alarm our parliaments. And it would defeat our purpose of encouraging more reform and deeper reconciliation in the lands to the east.
But second, and just as important: we must make a clear and credible commitment in Madrid to those nations that are not yet ready for membership. We must pledge that the first new members will not be the last and that no European democracy will be excluded because of where it sits on the map.
Those nations in Europe that are still struggling to overcome the legacies of dictatorship and conflict and that have set NATO membership as their goal need to know that we welcome their aspirations. They need to be certain that there is no invisible barrier across the open door we have pledged. They need to be confident that the promise of integration in Europe is real, that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel of reform.
I would ask you to consider what would happen if we treated the coming summit as the first and last chance to join NATO, a once in a lifetime event like the arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet. There would be a mad scramble to get on board in Madrid and a crushing sense of disappointment among those left behind.
This would set back all our efforts to strengthen NATO's cooperation with non-members. It would undermine all the positive incentives that the prospect of cooperation and ultimately membership in NATO has created, including in the Balkans. Fearful of each other, and unable to count on us, those we permanently shut out would be tempted to search for security by other means, including arms build-ups and other destabilizing behavior.
We cannot promise any country that it will one day join NATO. But we can offer a process that gives substance to the commitments we have made, one that helps aspiring nations understand what they must do and how they must change to make membership a possibility.
In other words, a Europe without divisions is not a Europe without distinctions. But those distinctions must be based on new behavior, and evolving realities, not old history or geography.
That is why it is essential that NATO begin a new phase of dialogues with aspiring countries after Madrid. Establishing such dialogues will be the most clear signal of NATO's intentions on enlargement in the years ahead. It will be the critical complement to our decision on "who".
This process should convey exactly what it means in military terms to carry out our Article V responsibilities -- and what it means in political terms to be a full NATO member -- so that aspirants know the difference between being a Partner and an Ally.
The point is not to raise our Partners' hopes, but to channel them into constructive cooperation and progress. It is not to accelerate the pace of enlargement, but to manage it in a way that preserves NATO's effectiveness and cohesion.
There is a final challenge that we all have to meet as we build a new and larger NATO, and that is the ratification of new allies by our parliaments. For President Clinton and for me, that will be the most important task in the coming year.
There are several things we can do to make it easier.
We need to bring our legislators into the process, consulting with them on all the questions that we discuss with each other. I am very pleased that a delegation from the U.S. Congress, led by Senator William Roth -- the President of the North Atlantic Assembly -- will be joining us in Madrid.
We must also do nothing to imply that we take the outcome of the legislative process for granted. Obviously, after Madrid and especially after the conclusion of accession protocols, NATO will want to develop its relations with its prospective allies. This will include full transparency about the proceedings of the NATO-Russia Joint Council as well as arrangements that would facilitate their transition to membership. But we do not need to create any formal status for these nations that would prejudge, and potentially jeopardize, ratification.
Finally, we have to be serious and forthright about the costs of enlargement. Each of us, old and new allies alike, will need to demonstrate that we are ready to shoulder our fair share of the burden to maintain the credibility of NATO's core mission of collective defense.
Before I conclude, let me raise another issue that is central to the success of our alliance and to our vision of a united, democratic Europe.
Bosnia reminds us that our strategy of integration in Europe is but a means to an end. What we do together is even more important than how we come together.
Our initial security goals in Bosnia have been achieved. We have ended the fighting, separated the forces, and improved confidence. A national election has been successfully held. Joint institutions have been formed. Reconstruction is underway and economic growth has resumed.
But 18 months after Dayton, it is not enough to say that the war is over. Too much remains undone. Too few of the region's leaders have embraced true political and social integration.
SFOR has just over a year to go. We should remember that its mission in this period is not to preserve IFOR's achievement, but to build on it. Our work will not be judged a success if we simply maintain the status quo; we must improve it. Our goal is to ensure that when our forces depart Bosnia, they can do so without the fear that renewed violence threatening our interests might one day require them to return.
That will require moving ahead on every front, diplomatic, economic and military, simultaneously. For example, while SFOR will remain principally focused on enforcing the military aspects of Dayton, it also must actively support crucial civil implementation tasks, within its mandate and capabilities. It must help to create a secure environment for managed refugee returns and for the installation of elected officials in targeted areas, as well as for reconstruction projects, such as restoring inter-entity communications and civil aviation.
If the parties do not comply with their arms control obligations, the SFOR commander also has the option to restrict military movements and training.
Full compliance must be our goal in every area. And while that goal cannot be imposed, those who resist it will not receive our help. The only aid we will provide or support for Bosnia is aid that helps to build a unified country, that helps people who are helping Dayton to succeed.
This includes full compliance with the orders of the War Crimes Tribunals. That is why I am confident that a price will be paid for the atrocities that ravaged Bosnia for four years. Until it will be paid by those who perpetrated the crimes, it will be paid by those who protect them.
We will do our share to help the people of the former Yugoslavia realize the objectives of Dayton. We want southeastern Europe to be part of the European mainstream. We want to see a peaceful, united Bosnia take its place in a peaceful, united Europe. And I believe that ultimately we will.
I know that it has become fashionable to say that the euphoria which swept across Europe in 1989 was naive, and that our aspirations have narrowed.
But if we are realistic about the ruinous legacy that Europe's Cold War division left behind, then we have every reason to celebrate the progress we have made in overcoming it.
The transatlantic partnership is strong and it has adapted to meet new challenges. Our European partners are strengthening their internal bonds and reaching out to the east. Real freedom, with all its real imperfections, has taken hold across most of central Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Today, the people of virtually every nation in Europe, from the emerging middle classes of Estonia and Poland, to the young freedom marchers of Bulgaria and Serbia, want to be part of the community we are building. And we are ready to welcome them.
I believe that the optimism of 1997 will prove more meaningful and enduring than the exhilaration of 1989. For it rests not on ethereal hopes but on solid achievements.
It will be my great privilege to work with you in the coming months and years to consolidate these achievements. In fact, I relish that chance and I look forward to seeing you all in Madrid.
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