|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Inaugural Meeting of the
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Conference Center
Sintra, Portugal, May 30, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you Mr. Secretary-General, fellow foreign ministers, distinguished colleagues. We meet today to take a further step toward deeper ties between NATO and its Partner countries. We are concluding the work of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and inaugurating the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
I want to say a few words about how we arrived at this point, and about where I believe we should go from here.
Six years ago, when the NACC was formed, the rubble of the Berlin Wall was still fresh; free institutions were just starting to take hold to our east. Everyone agreed that something had to be done to bring an undivided Europe together. Not everyone agreed about precisely what that something should be.
Some believed that in the post-Cold War world all the institutions we had grown used to would be swept aside. NATO would go the way of the Warsaw Pact and the do-do bird, and we would walk hand in hand into a common European home-- a community that included everyone, but imposed true obligations on no one.
Others assumed that our challenge in central and eastern Europe consisted simply of sending assistance and advice. They were in no hurry to open our institutions to nations and peoples that seemed foreign, distant, unpronounceable.
More than anything else, the war in the former Yugoslavia taught us that we could afford neither vagueness nor indifference in our approach to Europe's new democracies.
Building a peaceful, integrated Europe was an urgent goal in need of a practical blueprint and a proven approach. That is why we decided to adapt and extend the institutions that have served us so well for so long, beginning with NATO and the EU.
The NACC, proposed by two of our distinguished predecessors -- James Baker and Hans-Dietrich Genscher -- was the first bridge NATO built across Europe's divide. It was a good start. Among other things, it helped us achieve the first adaptation of the CFE treaty after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But now we have done so much more.
NATO ended the war in Bosnia -- and our Partners are there with us now sharing the same risks and achievements.
The Partnership for Peace has made cooperation among our armed forces so smooth, continuous, and successful that it now seems a matter of course. And yesterday, NATO ministers approved new measures that will allow our Partners to participate in the planning and execution of virtually every mission we undertake.
NATO and Russia have signed the Founding Act of their new relationship. And yesterday, NATO and Ukraine initialed a Charter to take their distinctive partnership to a new level.
In 40 days, we will invite a first group of Partners to join the Alliance. And yesterday before the North Atlantic Council, I urged NATO to make a clear and credible commitment that the first new members will not be the last.
In other words, we have moved far beyond mere dialogue and cooperation. Today, we are aiming at nothing less than the true integration of Europe and the transatlantic community. We are turning a Europe of shared ideals into a Europe of shared responsibilities.
That is the goal the EAPC must embody.
This is a new structure that we are forging together. It will give the Partnership for Peace a political dimension. It will be the place where Partners can help shape the missions, such as IFOR and SFOR, that we undertake together. It will harmonize our defense planning. It is where we will consult together on arms control and proliferation, terrorism, civil emergency and disaster relief, and the full range of peace support operations. It will help ensure that NATO's Partners are at the table when we plan our joint efforts -- and on the ground when we implement them.
It will be a place not just for those who aspire to membership in NATO but for those who choose not to. And it will complement our common efforts in the OSCE.
The EAPC is part of a larger structure we are building to prevent future conflicts in Europe. It reflects our judgment that we must do more than just respond to crises -- that if we wait for a threat to arise, we will invite a threat to arise.
At the same time, it would be irresponsible to spend all our time on a grand design for the future if we ignored the very real threats to human life and freedom that Europe faces in the present. Today, many of these challenges must be confronted in southeastern Europe. Our goal must be to build stability in this region as we advance our overall effort to adapt NATO and shape an undivided Europe. This goal should be high on NATO's agenda and on the EAPC's agenda as well.
Above all, it is our common effort in Bosnia which reminds us that our new partnership is not an end in itself, but a means to action.
The SFOR mission will remain in Bosnia for another year. We will not be biding our time. We are determined to improve the status quo, not just to maintain it. We are not going to be satisfied by anything less than full implementation of Dayton.
We have a responsibility to ensure that when our troops leave, they can do so without the fear that violence threatening our interests will resume. That is why the United States has called for a reinvigoration of the civilian aspects of Dayton. The risks of avoiding that responsibility are far greater than the risks of accepting it.
Albania is another example of the kind of crisis we are likely to face in Europe and beyond in the years ahead, and of the need for NATO and the EAPC, together with the OSCE, to focus our efforts on preventing conflict. The composition of the multinational force in Albania also reminds us that from now on, most peace operations in Europe will be conducted by Allies and Partners working together.
I applaud Italy, France, Romania, and the other members of the MNF, for taking the lead in responding to this crisis. I believe NATO should now send a SHAPE assessment team to Albania in the very near future to determine how the Alliance can help restore a functioning, democratically controlled military in the country. The results of such a mission should be discussed in the EAPC so that we can all work together effectively to restore stability to that troubled nation.
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been another potential flash-point for conflict in southeastern Europe. The UN Preventive Deployment Force has been deployed since 1992, and we welcome the renewal of its mandate yesterday. When we do decide to draw down the U.N. force, the EAPC will be a proper place to consider how we can stay constructively involved.
For all these reasons, I am convinced that the EAPC would serve our interests whether or not NATO had decided to welcome new members. For it is through this Council and with its members that we will shape our common response to the most likely contingencies that we now face in Europe. I am gratified that we are ready to begin today.
to the Secretary's Home Page. Return
to the DOSFAN Home Page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.