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09 December 1998

TRANSCRIPT: ALBRIGHT PRESS CONFERENCE AT NATO HDQS DECEMBER 8

(NATO should not "go global," Secretary of State says)  (3560)



Brussels -- Secretary of State Albright, at a press conference held at
NATO Headquarters in Brussels December 8, emphasized the US view that
NATO should not take on global responsibilities.


"We are not trying to get NATO to go global," the Secretary said in
response to questions. "What we want is for NATO to be able to act in
the area that it now acts in and also to be able to have missions out
of area that affect the interests of NATO members."


NATO, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, must renew
itself to face future challenges, according to Albright. "We must
update our strategic concept; recognize and prepare for the full range
of missions the Alliance may face; further develop our partnerships
with other European democracies; and coordinate our activities with
vital institutions such as the EU (European Union) and the OSCE
(Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe)," she said.


"If we succeed," Albright said, "we will have a new NATO, strengthened
by new members; capable of collective defense; committed to meeting a
wide range of threats to our shared interests and values; and acting
in partnership with others to ensure stability, freedom and peace in
and for the entire trans-Atlantic area."


On the topic of burdensharing, Albright said that "it's very important
for the Europeans to carry a fair share and have a sense of their own
defense identity." The United States, she said, holds that there
should be no diminution of NATO, no discrimination, and no
duplication.


Albright was asked about the declaration signed December 4 by Britain
and France which calls for a bigger role for the European Union in
strategic defense planning, a role that is backed up by credible
military forces.


"It is a manner by which the Europeans can share in the work of NATO,"
she said, responding in French to her questioner. "It is something
that cannot hurt NATO because this (NATO) is the most important
alliance. But we think it is very important that the Europeans work in
this manner because it is something that helps us in burdensharing."


Following is the State Department transcript:



(begin transcript)



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesman

(Brussels, Belgium)



December 8, 1998



Press Conference by

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright

NATO Headquarters

Brussels, Belgium



ALBRIGHT: Good evening. I am pleased to be in Brussels for meetings
with NATO and Alliance partners to prepare for the Washington Summit
in April.


As I have discussed with my colleagues, it is an energizing
experience. For although we would not compare ourselves to our
predecessors of half a century ago, we know that the task in which we
are engaged, although different in character, is similar in
importance. And we agree that, though the threats to our security and
interests have changed, the need for vigilance, vision and unity has
not.


In my interventions, I laid out the views of the United States
concerning the steps required to meet this challenge. We must update
our strategic concept; recognize and prepare for the full range of
missions the Alliance may face; further develop our partnerships with
other European democracies; and coordinate our activities with vital
institutions such as the EU and the OSCE.


If we succeed, we will have a new NATO, strengthened by new members;
capable of collective defense; committed to meeting a wide range of
threats to our shared interests and values; and acting in partnership
with others to ensure stability, freedom and peace in and for the
entire trans-Atlantic area.


We hope to lay out a blue print for just such a NATO at the Summit in
April.


This is truly an historic opportunity. And, based on my meetings
today, I think we can succeed.


It is clear from our discussions that we all understand that the world
has changed. Collective defense remains NATO's core purpose. But we
need, and are achieving, a balance between new missions and old.
Missile technologies have made our borders vulnerable to threats
originating well beyond those borders. And instability that is
dangerous and contagious is best stopped before it reaches NATO's
borders.


That's why one of the initiatives we have proposed is to strengthen
Alliance political and defense capabilities to defend against the
threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. That is also why NATO and
its partners have taken the lead in building peace in Bosnia and
preventing a renewal of violence in Kosovo.


In this connection, I emphasized during my intervention today the
importance we place on finding a peaceful resolution in Kosovo. We
have told both parties to the conflict, time and again, that there is
no military solution. Without a political settlement, we run a serious
risk of renewed conflict come Spring. And renewed conflict will only
bring more suffering to innocent people. We must do all we can to
prevent that.


The international community has worked closely with both ethnic
Albanians and Serbs to craft an agreement based on democratic
principles and respect for human rights. Both sides have engaged in
the negotiating process and we have made substantial progress. At the
same time, both Serb and Albanian leaders have made public statements
that do not help the cause of peace.


Serb threats to launch a renewed offensive in Kosovo are dangerous,
and we view them with extreme seriousness. I want to remind the Serb
leadership that NATO remains ready to act if necessary.


On the other hand, Kosovo Albanian insistence on rhetoric of
independence, and rejection of the Contact Group's draft agreement, do
not help us to move forward.


It is vital that we find a political solution quickly. We have a
window of opportunity open to us that cannot be allowed to close. The
time has come and the elements are in place for the two sides to reach
a solution that would guarantee to all the people of Kosovo greater
control of their lives and the promise of a brighter future.


Ambassador Hill will return to the region tomorrow on behalf of the
Contact Group for further discussions with the parties, and I am
confident that his efforts, provided they are supported by focused,
good faith negotiations on both sides, will bear fruit soon.


We also discussed during the NATO meeting today the vital role played
by the Alliance in adapting the CFE Treaty to reflect Europe's changed
security environment. The Alliance is determined to complete the CFE
negotiations by next year's OSCE Summit and to ensure that the outcome
enhances stability everywhere on the continent.


Finally, as I said at the outset, this is an exciting and testing time
for NATO and its partners. Between now and the April summit, we will
be striving to nail down a framework for security and freedom that we
hope will prove effective for many years to come.


In so doing, we must overcome any lingering sense of complacency
caused by the Cold War's end. For we know that if we don't prepare to
counter 21st century threats, no one else will. But, if we are
vigorous and principled in our actions, we cannot be divided. If we
are not divided, we cannot be defeated.


I am pleased by the progress we made today in affirming the unity of
our Alliance and in preparing for the Washington Summit. And I am
especially pleased that we will be welcoming Hungary, Poland and the
Czech Republic as new members. And I look forward to meetings tomorrow
of the Permanent Joint Council and the NATO-Ukraine Commission.


Thank you, and I will now be pleased to answer your questions.



QUESTION: Secretary of State, you've stressed the need for NATO to be
able to defend Alliance interests in the future, just as it did
Alliance territory in the past. How far have you had to go to reassure
some of your European Allies that they aren't being dragged
willy-nilly into just a more generalized support for U.S. global
security interests?


ANSWER: Well, first of all, that which I made very clear and will
continue to do so, is that we are not trying to get NATO to go global.
That is not our interest. What we want is for NATO to be able to act
in the area that it now acts in and also to be able to have missions
out of area that affect the interests of NATO members. But, it is very
clear that we do not see it as going global. We have no intention of
pushing it in that direction and I believe that the Allies today
understood that. There were no particular questions about it, and I
made my statements fairly clearly on it.


Q: Madame Secretary, you mentioned this initiative about sharing
intelligence on combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
What new is going to come out of this that hasn't been done already. I
mean, I assume they've been sharing intelligence about such threats in
the past? Secondly, in the past you've discussed the threat of
terrorism possibly being a future threat to the Alliance, has that
come up? And one last point, does the United States favor embarking on
negotiations with any new countries for NATO membership after the
Summit?


A: Well, first of all, let me say that what we've talked about, and as
you know the United States has proposed already for the last year,
that we focus NATO more on how to deal with the issues of Weapons of
Mass Destruction, that being what we see as the major threat of the
21st century. What we are suggesting now is basically that we work
more to coordinate many of the resources that NATO already has. We
want to consolidate and coordinate these resources here in order to
undertake a better assessment of Weapons of Mass Destruction and to
prepare ourselves for a response, should there be such an attack of
any kind. Basically, we need to organize ourselves better for this
kind of a threat. I felt very pleased with the reaction to our
proposal. I think there is increasing realization that Weapons of Mass
Destruction do pose a general threat. We've also spoken generally
about terrorism, though we didn't focus on it that much at this
particular meeting. But clearly, the combination of the Weapons of
Mass Destruction and the potential for terrorism by those countries
that feel outside the system was something that was a subtext to a lot
of the conversations that we had.


As far as new members, that decision has not been made. There was just
general discussion about what the right procedures are for considering
how we deal with that subject as we move into the April Summit. But
let me just say what is very important, and we all talked about this,
is as the new members come in the importance of being totally
prepared, the importance of having an open door and the importance of
developing a package that would allow potential aspirants to really
have a road map about how to acquire the various capabilities
necessary for being a full fledged NATO member.


Q: Madame Secretary, this is a two part question. On Kosovo, you
reiterated that NATO remains prepared to act and by that I assume that
you mean prepared to use force if necessary, but how can that be a
credible force if you're going to put 2,000 OSCE verifiers on the
ground there? And the second question has to do with the Middle East.
Netanyahu has indicated that he will not go forward with the next
re-deployment next week, and I wondered your reaction to that and how
it's affecting the peace process?


A: First of all, I think that we have often been in a situation where
there are people on the ground and, at the same time, we are capable
of threatening the use of force. We would obviously prefer, as in any
situation such as this, to have a peaceful solution. We have all said,
in one form or another, that the only way to solve this issue is
through a political solution, not a military solution. Which is why we
were all so disturbed by the statements made by the Serbs indicating
that they would push through all the way, and also by unhelpful
statements from the side of the Kosovars. So, the threat of force
remains. The verifiers perform a very important job, because we are
still, and want to be, in the mode of pursuing a settlement. I think,
it is always the same kind of question that we get which is, the
desire here is not to bomb for the sake of bombing, the desire here is
to get a solution.


On the Middle East, let me say that we expect obligations by both
sides, obligations that were written into Wye, to be carried out by
both sides. I have been in touch with both sides in the last few days,
making clear that it's important for the Palestinians to live up to
their obligations in terms of taking care of the security situation
and following through on what they're obligated to do, and also with
the Israelis not to add conditions. Dennis Ross has gone back out
there, he is in the region now, and we hope to get progress on the
issue. As I have said so many times, all of us are very realistic
about the Middle East peace process. It is very difficult, there are
bumps in the road, and we are just going to keep working the process.
And the President is going on his trip because his going is part of
the Wye implementation plan.


Q: Secretary General, there is a debate within the Israeli Government
whether the President should come or not, and who invited the
President. Could you comment please? Who initiated the visit, and what
are the specific expectations of the President from the Israeli side,
from the Palestinian side? Why is the PNC going to convene during this
visit?


A: Well let me say that it was part of the Wye agreement that
developed as we were sorting out the various aspects of how the
agreement would be implemented. I think it was very clear that the
President was welcome in Israel as well as in Gaza. And yesterday,
when I met with Foreign Minister Sharon, he made it very clear that
the President was welcome to come, and he is looking forward to this
important trip.


Q: What about the expectations from the Palestinians while the PNC are
convening during the visit?


A: Well the expectation, and this is written into the Wye agreement,
is that once and for all there will be, by a set of procedures, a
reaffirmation of the renunciation of paragraphs in the charter that
are anti-Israeli and that is what is going to happen.


Q: Madame Secretary, in your statement this morning, you underscored
NATO's commitment to a Madrid Plus package deal for Washington, that
is providing a road map showing the aspirants the way ahead. But at
the same time, you said the package would be offered without
designating anybody in advance. Isn't this also a package minus
package?


A: Well I think that the point that I made earlier is that we are
reaffirming the open door policy. We are going to, as I said, develop
a package that will allow aspirants to follow the road, and we are
looking towards always making sure that those countries that are
invited to join NATO are fully capable of being full NATO members. But
let me also reiterate that NATO itself has not yet decided on how the
issue will be determined in April. We will put down the goals that we
see and the way we would like to see them pursued. But I think the
important part here is we are very pleased that the three new members
are coming in. The ratification process is complete. Their parliaments
now are going to be working on how to make sure that they are
fulfilling all of the commitments. We're looking forward to having the
three new members join us and be a part of NATO in April. Now we will
see how it develops with the others on the basis of an open door.


Q: I would like to ask you about the nuclear issue debate that German
Foreign Minister Fischer raised at lunch today. Do you see any wording
in the new Strategic Concept which could change as opposed to the old
Strategic Concept? Is there any compromise on the books here or would
you rather just keep things on the nuclear strategy as they are?


A: Well, the subject did come up and Foreign Minister Fischer did
raise the issue and talked about it. I think that what I got out of
the discussion was a reaffirmation of our current NATO nuclear
strategy. Obviously, at the end of the Cold War, there had been a
re-examination, and the strategy was changed in '91 and was reaffirmed
as recently as last year. So we do not believe that a review is
necessary. We do believe that we have the right nuclear strategy, and
at the same time we all discussed the fact that we are involved in a
fairly radical disarmament program through the START negotiations. So
I think we all felt pretty comfortable with where we are.


Q: Talking about a stable and secure Middle East also affects the
borders of NATO. Do you expect any intentions from the United States
to encourage the Syrians to also go back to the negotiation table? And
how do you expect the role of the United States in the final status of
negotiations, are you going to be inside the rooms like Wye River?


A: First of all, let me say that we obviously would like to have a
comprehensive peace. We always talk about the importance of
re-energizing various tracks and at the appropriate time we really
want to make sure that both the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks are
activated, because a comprehensive peace is our long term desire. The
United States will try to be as helpful as the parties want us to be
as we have been in the past. I think one of the reasons that the
United States has played the role it has in the various parts of the
Middle East Peace Negotiations is because both sides have wanted us to
play a part. That has been true of successful negotiations, whether
it's in Ireland or others. The permanent status talks have in fact
begun at lower levels. We are counting on the parties negotiating in
good faith, and we will play a role that is appropriate to the one
that we have played in the past and the kind of a role that is desired
by both parties.


Q: Secretary of State, a reduction on nuclear forces needs a
compensation in conventional forces especially in high tech forces.
How could you engage the European countries in burden sharing?


A: Well, it was very clear to me from the discussion here that there
is a desire of all partners of the Allies of NATO to be active members
of NATO and to be concerned about the missions that are currently in
place and those that might come into place. We had quite a specific
discussion, which I think could come under the rubric of burden
sharing, which is the European Security Defense Identity, ESDI, as to
a European pillar that is a part of NATO that we consider very
important. We believe that it is a very useful way to think about
burden sharing. Also, it allows there to be a partnership that does
not in any way undercut NATO. We have felt that it is important to do
that under what we would say the three "D's" -- which is no diminution
of NATO, no discrimination and no duplication -- because I think that
we don't need any of those three "D's" to happen. On the other hand, I
think it's very important for the Europeans to carry a fair share and
have a sense of their own defense identity.


Q: A question in French if I may? (In French) The same question you
addressed today about the British-French initiative of European
defense. What is the position of the U.S. regarding European defense?


A: Well, should I respond in French? I will translate the question
into English. The question is about the French-English defense
agreement that was made at St. Malo.


(In French) I think that what happened there was very important. There
is a reason for the Europeans to find an identity in their own
defense, but this is a thing that cannot be a duplication or
discrimination. It is a manner by which the Europeans can share in the
work of NATO. It is something that cannot hurt NATO because this is
the most important alliance. But we think it is very important that
the Europeans work in this manner because it is something that helps
us in burden sharing.


(end transcript)



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