Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement at Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council
Florence, Italy, May 24, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

Defense Trade Security Initiative

[Text as prepared for delivery]

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Mr. Secretary-General, fellow ministers, distinguished colleagues, we meet this spring, in a city rich with history, to resume our effort to shape history by creating a Europe whole and free. And by so doing to stamp the new century with a new and hopeful identity, in which hate is supplanted by tolerance, conflict by cooperation, and old lines of division by new bonds of friendship.

We could not have a better setting in which to conduct our important business. For our host country is home to one of the world's great cultures. It has also been tested and proven a most stalwart ally. Last year, Italy was a leader in NATO's successful effort to reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. And it is now at the forefront of efforts to bring lasting stability to all of Southeast Europe.

During the past decade, the transatlantic community achieved remarkable progress--to which NATO made remarkable contributions. And today, our Alliance is united, our ranks strengthened, our partnerships vital, and our agenda clear.

We look to the future with confidence because we have profound faith in the power of free peoples working together. But we are not complacent. For there are jobs we have begun that are not yet finished; dangers we confront that are not yet vanquished; and threats we will face that are not yet known.

A year and a month ago, our leaders gathered in Washington to observe NATO's 50th anniversary. Together, they mapped plans for its second fifty years. In the time since, we have been adapting our Alliance in accordance with those guidelines. This week, we will focus on the next important steps.

Our goal is to build a NATO truly able to make, keep and build peace in the 21st Century; an Alliance that is broader, more flexible, and committed to collective defense but also able to meet the full spectrum of threats to our interests; an Alliance true to its founding principles, working with its partners to create a future of security, prosperity and democracy for the entire transatlantic community.

NATO is militarily mighty, but our purpose is to defend freedom and protect our security through diplomacy and deterrence. We measure our success primarily by conflicts prevented, not battles won.

That is why we are striving to build a Europe that is united and strong; where democratic practices are deeply rooted and wars simply do not happen.

Now, more than ever, that kind of Europe is in view. But there remains a missing piece, in the continent's southeast corner. And there, a year ago, we took a decisive stand.

Together, our Alliance responded forcefully to Milosevic's campaign of terror. We stuck together despite repeated efforts to divide us. And we persisted until Belgrade's forces were withdrawn.

Our challenge now is to apply the same unity and determination to foster prosperity and prevent future conflict not only in Kosovo, but throughout the region. This is what the Southeast Europe Stability Pact is all about. NATO's role is to help ensure a security environment in which lasting peace is possible.

In Kosovo, the large-scale fighting has ended and there has been a steady reduction in violence and crime. The vast majority of displaced have returned. A Joint Administrative Council has been established, with both ethnic Albanian and Serb representation. The KLA has met its commitment to demilitarize. Registration for municipal elections is underway. And in most parts of Kosovo, morale is high.

Yet huge challenges remain. There are extremists within both the ethnic Albanian and Serb communities who use violence to intimidate and drive others out. Milosevic is doing all he can to sow discord. Organized crime threatens the establishment of the rule of law. And Kosovo lacks a democratic tradition.

If these challenges are to be overcome, three things are essential. First, we must be resolute in our determination to achieve the goals we have set. Those in Kosovo who are striving to build a peaceful, tolerant and democratic society should know we will stand by them.

Together, we must send the message that the action we took in Kosovo last year marked the beginning of a new chapter in this region, not the prelude to another version of the same old story. Day by day, month by month, the politics of division and hate must give way to a new sense of collaboration in pursuit of shared prosperity and a normal life.

This message is important, not only for our partners to understand, but also for those who would like to undermine the international community's goals in Kosovo. Those looking for trouble should know--if they provoke KFOR--trouble is what they will find.

The second imperative in Kosovo is persistence. KFOR must be persistent as it goes about the business of protecting people at risk, seizing illegal arms, providing border security, and aiding local law enforcement. The UN Mission must be persistent as it strives to carry out the broad tasks of civilian implementation. And the people of Kosovo must be persistent as they move, with the international community's help, towards greater autonomy. The democratic development of Kosovo will not be an event; it is a process that will require time and sustained effort from us all.

The third imperative is resources. We must ensure that KFOR has all the troops it needs to do its jobs, and also, within its means, to assist the UN Mission. We must work together to help that Mission fill vacant positions with qualified technical staff. And we must increase support for creating a capable judiciary and an effective civilian police force.

In 1999, our Alliance was tested in Kosovo by Milosevic's ruthless violence. This year, we are tested by the challenge of working with all the people of Kosovo to create a future better than the past. If and only if we are determined, patient and willing to make the investments required, will we reap the priceless dividend of lasting peace.

In Bosnia, the trends are positive. The April elections were fair and free. The security situation continues to improve, as the appeal of extreme nationalism continues to fade. Forty-eight indicted war criminals have been brought into custody at The Hague. Refugee returns are up sharply. SFOR has been restructured and reduced.

Those of us who visited Bosnia during and immediately after the war cannot help but be heartened by the overall progress that has been made. But the continuation of these trends cannot simply be assumed.

SFOR must remain vigilant and vigorous in providing security, aiding civil authorities in law enforcement and facilitating the return of displaced persons and refugees to minority areas. It must help Bosnia to develop viable indigenous defense institutions at the state level. And it must be consistent and determined in supporting the International Criminal Tribunal, whose success remains vital to long-term reconciliation and peace.

Our goal in Bosnia remains a unified, multiethnic state in which all citizens can live safely and which is fulfilling the conditions required for full integration into European institutions. The primary responsibility rests with the Bosnians, the vast majority of whom are far more interested in plugging into the world economy than in slugging it out with old adversaries.

Unfortunately, Bosnia's leaders have been slow to implement the economic reforms required to attract investment, create jobs and sustain growth. As a result, corruption, not conflict, has become Bosnia's biggest immediate challenge.

In both Kosovo and Bosnia, NATO's commitment remains strong. Our goal is to create conditions under which peace will be self-sustained, so that when our troops do depart, they do not have to return. To this end, we must be steadfast in our commitment to democratic principles, economic reform and the rule of law.

NATO's efforts in Kosovo and Bosnia are key elements in our bold plan to transform all of Southeast Europe from an area of chronic instability into a full partner in the Euro-Atlantic community. This is one of the central strategic challenges of our era, for we have learned time and again that we cannot be secure if this region is riven by strife and divided by hate.

We know the task we have set for ourselves is hard. Many people, especially in the former Yugoslavia, have yet to free themselves from the prejudices and hatreds of the past. Economies are underdeveloped. And many of the young are discouraged and eager to leave.

All this explains why the Southeast European Stability Pact is not a one-way street, but rather a two-way bargain.

Success requires that both sides of the bargain be kept. Without sound policies from the region's governments, assistance will be wasted. But without assistance, sound policies will not get off the ground.

In recent months, I have been encouraged by the new spirit of regional cooperation that is beginning to emerge.

Our allies, Turkey and Greece are investing, aiding development, and promoting integration.

Our new ally, Hungary, and Slovenia are engaged actively with their neighbors, drawing on their experience in how to make democratic transitions work.

Leaders in Bucharest, Skopje, Sofia and Tirana are participating in the Pact with enthusiasm and offering creative ideas for promoting regional growth.

And Croatia's new government is setting that pivotal nation on a direct course towards partnership with Europe. The United States looks forward to the formalization of that tomorrow, when Croatia becomes NATO's newest partner for peace.

And we congratulate Croatia's leaders for the rapid steps they have taken to implement Dayton, become part of the solution in Bosnia, and give their people the kind of forward-looking and truly democratic leadership they deserve.

More and more, nations in the region are recognizing that economically and politically, they are no longer engaged in a zero-sum game. Each will do better if all do better. The same is true on the security side.

Every state in Southeast Europe has an interest in shielding its borders from gunrunners, drug peddlers, smugglers and illegal armed groups. Each has a stake in providing a safe and stable environment for its people. The way to establish this is through cooperation with each other, so that mutual confidence builds and troublemakers have less room to operate and nowhere to hide.

NATO is playing a key role by supporting the Stability Pact and through its own Southeast European Initiative. With our help, nations in the region have agreed to seize and destroy illicit weapons shipments and to bring regional arms exports into line with international standards.

And this spring's flooding, including the disastrous chemical spill in the Danube, showed the need for a cooperative emergency response capability, which we are working through the Pact to create.

Here again, we must have the resources needed to achieve our shared objectives. You know and I know that Europe is doing its fair share to provide troops and funding for our common endeavors in the Balkans.

But you also know about the concerns our Congress has expressed about this issue. We need your help to get out the facts about what Europe is contributing. Many of you have provided data that are helping us on this score, and indeed, it looks as if most pledges are also being carried out. The one exception happens to be one of the most critical, however, and that is police for Kosovo. I ask that you do all you can to meet your pledges there and to help fill any remaining gaps that may exist.

It is important to emphasize that the approach we are taking to Southeast Europe is inclusive. Assistance is being provided not only to the region's national governments, but also to the independent economy of Montenegro.

And Serbia will be welcome to participate in the projects and programs of the Pact when it, too, becomes democratic.

Certainly, there is no future for Serbia under Milosevic. He has been indicted for crimes against humanity. He has intimidated and repressed domestic dissent. He is engaged in a ruthless campaign to silence independent media. He has isolated his country, made it the poorest in Europe, and betrayed the best interests of the Serb people by starting and losing four wars.

We cannot impose a democratic solution on Serbia, but we can certainly encourage one by helping the democratic opposition to unite, by assisting popular organizations within Serbia, and by making it clear that a democratic Serbia would be welcomed warmly and given needed help by Europe and the rest of the world community.

NATO's efforts in Southeastern Europe are just one example of how NATO's partnership with the rest of Europe has been one of the great success stories of the post-Cold War period. To carry forward this work, we need to accelerate the implementation of the political-military framework endorsed at the Washington Summit, which can give Allies and Partners the closest possible working relationship.

At the same time, we must maintain our commitment to keeping NATO's door open. We should be active in our efforts to help the nine aspirants become the best candidates they can be. And we should welcome their statement last week in Vilnius, where they pledged to intensify their efforts to become real contributors to European security through the Membership Action Plan initiative. This statement is emblematic of the new spirit of cooperation that exists in Europe from the Baltics to the Black Sea.

Over the past decade, Presidents Clinton and Bush and their counterparts in your countries have wrestled with the question of NATO's future in a dramatically altered security environment. They understood well the risks of complacency and confusion, division and drift. And they responded by taking steps to modernize, enlarge and strengthen our Alliance so that it would be prepared both for traditional and new missions in the 21st Century.

This requires more than a paper commitment; it must be reflected in real world capabilities in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our experience in Kosovo underlined the need, stressed by our leaders at the Washington Summit, for military forces that are mobile, flexible, precise and capable of operating together well.

Kosovo also demonstrated that there is a clear gap between U.S. and European military capabilities. It is in the interests of each nation represented here that this gap be narrowed.

The Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) provides the path to a solution.

Although our Defense Ministers will discuss this topic more thoroughly in a few weeks, DCI requires our close attention as foreign ministers. We must make the case to our colleagues that DCI can only succeed if it is backed by defense investments that are sufficient and smart.

Accordingly, I urge all allies to accept and implement the robust, DCI-related Force Proposals 2000, especially in the areas of strategic lift, mobility, and command and control.

And I am announcing today an important initiative by my government to improve transatlantic cooperation in the area of defense trade. The initiative is a package of seventeen specific steps aimed at getting U.S. defense exports to NATO countries, Japan and Australia faster and more smoothly.

These measures will make American technology and expertise more readily available to our Allies, thereby strengthening NATO, supporting the DCI, improving the interoperability of our forces, and contributing to the health and productivity of defense industries on both sides of the Atlantic. All this translates into a sturdier technological foundation for NATO in the 21st Century.

As I have made clear at every NATO Ministerial, America supports a stronger, more capable, Europe that is able to act effectively with us or, if need be, without us.

That is why we welcome the EU's commitment to improve the military capabilities of its member states without duplicating NATO. We applaud the progress the EU has achieved in advancing its European Security and Defense Policy. We support the goal of developing a substantial rapid reaction force that is both deployable and sustainable. And we emphasize that European integration and a strong transatlantic link are not separate choices, but rather twin necessities. We can and must have both.

Accordingly, the United States welcomes the progress our European partners have begun to make in carrying out the EU's Helsinki Summit commitment on NATO-EU links. NATO stands ready to work with the EU. While we hope that NATO-EU working groups will be able to meet soon, we also need to work on an overall framework for NATO-EU interaction, including meetings between the NAC and an equivalent EU body.

We believe that NATO's defense planning expertise can contribute to the EU effort. In the short-run, we must also work on interim security arrangements and find a way to provide the EU access to NATO planning capabilities.

We also welcome the EU initiative to include the six Allies who are not members of the EU in its security and defense deliberations. It will be important to find a formula for participation that satisfies them and recognizes that they have stronger security commitments to some EU member states than those states have to each other.

During the Cold War, we had no trouble identifying the risks to our security and territory. But the threats we face today and may face tomorrow are less predictable.

The ballistic missile threat from states of concern is growing and real. And the dangers posed by all weapons of mass destruction must be dealt with firmly and cooperatively.

Our strategy must make optimum use of all available tools, including arms control and nonproliferation measures, diplomatic pressure and military strength.

American and NATO power provide an overwhelming deterrent, but we believe carefully structured and effective defenses can reinforce deterrence against the emerging ballistic missile threat.

That is why the United States is developing and testing a limited National Missile Defense system, with a decision on deployment possible later this year.

We have had constructive consultations on this subject within the Alliance and with Moscow. President Clinton's decision will take into account cost, threat, technological feasibility, and a range of other national security factors, including the impact on relations with our NATO and Pacific allies, as well as Russia and China.

We look forward to continuing our consultations with you on a regular basis. And let me be absolutely clear about two points. First, whether or not the United States goes forward with a national missile defense system, there will be no de-coupling, no reducing America's enduring commitment to this Alliance, its citizens and territory.

Second, we remain committed to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and believe the changes we have proposed will only strengthen it, by adapting it to meet 21st Century dangers.

There should be no doubt about the Clinton Administration's ongoing commitment to arms control. Over the past eleven years, we have dismantled 60 percent of our nuclear weapons, and provided more than $5 billion to reduce the nuclear danger in the former Soviet Union. And we have agreed with Russia on a START III framework that would cut our nuclear arsenals to 80 percent below Cold War peaks.

In closing, I would to say just a few words more generally about our Alliance.

A decade ago, when the Berlin Wall fell, many predicted that NATO, too, would disintegrate. Instead, we have modernized, strengthened and enlarged our alliance in preparation for new missions and in response to new threats.

Because we acted in Kosovo, many innocent people who would have been killed or raped or left homeless have a chance now to build new lives. We sent a message throughout Southeast Europe and beyond that the politics of hate will be opposed; and ethnic cleansing halted. And we have confounded skeptics by our unity in the face of those who tried to divide us.

It is essential that this fundamental unity, this linkage across the Atlantic, be maintained.

Long ago, Thucydides wrote that the Peloponnesians and their allies were mighty in battle but handicapped by an inability to agree on policy. In their deliberations, he reported, "They devote more time to the prosecution of their own purposes than to the consideration of the general welfare; each supposes that no harm will come of his own neglect, [and] that it is the business of others to do this or that—and so, as each separately entertains the same illusion, the common cause decays."

It is our job to ensure that this does not happen to NATO. The world is still too dangerous. The role of our Alliance too vital. The cause of freedom too sacred.

NATO is composed of nations diverse in language, history and culture--but bound together by shared interests; sustained by the memory of unbearable sacrifice; and inspired by the vision of a Europe without walls, wholly at peace and fully free.

Let us go forward with confidence and determination to secure our interests, honor our heritage, and fulfill that bold vision. Thank you very much.

[End of Document]
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