News

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
Tuesday, January 7, 1997
Briefer: Glyn Davies

RUSSIA
8-9.......NATO Expansion

CYPRUS
9-11......Missile Purchase
10........Kornblum's Statement
11........Demilitarization of Cyprus
11-12.....Cavanaugh's Visit

NORTH KOREA
13........Date and Place of Talks

QUESTION: The Russian Government, despite the visit of Chancellor Kohl, has taken a very hard line and consistent across the board on NATO expansion. In fact, saying that they're even insulted by the plan and basically just belittling what Warren Christopher had to say recently -- at least, one part of what Warren Christopher had to say about moving troops into the eastern countries that might become NATO countries. Glyn, what's the U.S. Government's reaction to this hard line?

MR. DAVIES: Bill, our policy on NATO expansion hasn't changed. We will continue to work with the Government of Russia in the NATO context; that is to say, NATO will work with Russia to establish a dialogue as a mechanism so that there's complete transparency, as NATO goes forward with its plans for enlargement. But we are moving forward with this as an alliance, keeping the Russians informed at every step. We're quite aware of their objections.

What we stress when we speak with the Russians is, of course, that NATO enlargement is not meant at all as a provocation to Russia -- it's not directed at Russia. It is an attempt by the alliance to respond to the needs of some of the newly democratic states of central Europe to join the Western democracies.

QUESTION: Why would they need to join NATO? What need does it serve, particularly? How does it help Slovenia to have Germany's protection or U.S.'s protection? Who is going to attack them?

MR. DAVIES: Barry, above all, NATO is an organization of like-minded democratic states. It's much more than a military alliance. In the case of these nations who have expressed an interest in joining NATO, if they meet the tests for NATO membership which include first and foremost having the kinds of commitments to democratic principles, then I would turn the question around and ask why they shouldn't be allowed to join NATO.

QUESTION: I thought maybe there was a military alliance with a purpose that has been fulfilled already.

According to a Washington Times story today from Athens, there's been a Russian study that the Times has had access to, according to the story, that one of Russia's objections is that Russia feels more secure with weaker neutral states between it and the West. Is there any validity to that argument? I know your not -- the idea is you wouldn't ship nuclear weapons into the Czech Republic of Poland, but you'd certainly have NATO forces there, training, blowing their horns and their whistles.

Is there some validity to that argument, that Russia is safer with neutral states to its immediate West?

MR. DAVIES: Barry, you've got to ask Mr. Yastrzhembsky or somebody in Moscow that question. I can't speak for Russia, and I can't tell you what would make them feel safer. I can tell you that in the process of NATO enlargement, we're doing everything we can in our discussions with the Russians to assure them that NATO enlargement is not meant at all to be directed against Russia. It is, rather, meant to provide those nations with an aspiration, who can meet the tests of NATO membership, the opportunity to join NATO.

QUESTION: In the same article, they said that most of the Greek officials -- the military officials -- they have a very big concern about expansion of NATO. Did you get this kind of information, or did you get this kind of warning from the Government of Greece?

MR. DAVIES: I'm familiar with the story, as reported in the Washington Times this morning that NATO's expansion is creating some unease among Greek military leaders. All I can do is simply point to the decision that NATO has made at the ministerial level, to hold a summit in Madrid on July 8-9 of this year; and that summit should include, as its principal agenda item, to look at the issue of NATO expansion and to begin the process of accession negotiations with some nations that have indicated an interest in joining NATO.

That was a collective decision taken at 16 by all NATO governments, which include, of course, Greece. So I can't comment directly statements being made by some in Athens. We can simply look to what the Greek Government did at the NATO ministerial last year in setting up the NATO summit this year.

QUESTION: At that summit, were you aware of the Greek concern?

MR. DAVIES: Are we aware of the Greek -- I wouldn't describe it as a "Greek concern." It's a concern being reported -- being expressed by some in Greece. I wouldn't call it a "Greek concern."

More on this? QUESTION: Did you get any reaction from Russian or Greek Cypriot Governments about the concerns you raised yesterday -- a very firmly worded warning -- against the purchasing of those missiles?

MR. DAVIES: Yes, we did. Both the Cypriot Government and the Russian Government took issue with the concerns that we expressed. It won't surprise you that our views haven't changed. Our reaction hasn't changed. We've explained to both governments our belief that the missile purchase threatens to raise tensions in the region and undermine peace efforts, and this, on the eve of what we hope will be a reinvigorated international effort to advance a Cyprus solution. So that remains our position.

While we've taken note of their objections, it hasn't changed our view of it.

QUESTION: You're understanding is -- do you think they will go ahead with the transaction?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know if they'll go ahead with the transaction. We've indicated our displeasure with it. It's up to them to decide whether to go ahead with it.

QUESTION: Up to them in the sense that if they want to agree with it, you think they'll do it?

MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry. The Greek Cypriot Government, as we understand it, is moving forward with this. I don't have any information to indicate that they're not going to move forward with it.

QUESTION: But how would you characterize Mr. Kornblum's -- the action taken by Mr. Kornblum here yesterday? Was it merely an expression of displeasure or did he ask formally for the cancellation of the deal?

MR. DAVIES: We expressed displeasure with it. We would just as soon see this deal not go forward because we believe that it does threaten to raise tensions in the region. It represents a qualitative jump in the military capability on the island.

We are stressing to the Greek Cypriot leaders and our Ambassador in Cyprus. On the weekend, Ken Brill made this plain to Mr. Clerides that we don't view the deal as being at all helpful on the island.

QUESTION: In your answer, just a minute ago, you said the Greek Cypriot Government. Do you mean that we have two governments in Cyprus?

MR. DAVIES: No. I mean Mr. Clerides. The objection was raised with him directly.

QUESTION: There's only one Cyprus Government as far as the U.S. is concerned, correct?

MR. DAVIES: All I'm telling you is that our Ambassador on Cyprus, Ken Brill, spoke with Mr. Clerides and raised this objection with him.

QUESTION: So there is one Cyprus government; not two governments in Cyprus?

MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry, I'm not prepared to address that.

QUESTION: Has Cyprus asked any U.S. contractors about --

MR. DAVIES: There is one Cyprus government. It is the Greek Government. I'm sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION: I'm wondering if Cyprus shopped in the United States for an anti-aircraft?

MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Did Cyprus do any shopping --

MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on that. I don't know that they did. Our policy is not to sell such equipment to the government on Cyprus, so we wouldn't have done something like this.

QUESTION: I asked, yesterday, Nick about the proposal by President Clerides on the demilitarization of Cyprus, and what was the U.S. position.

MR. DAVIES: On January 6, our statement underscored our concern about the purchase of the missiles. We believe that the island is too militarized; that steps need to be taken to radically reduce the level of armaments and troops on the island. That is the work that we've done.

In that context, demilitarization is a very worthy objective. Furthermore, President Clerides' proposals to redirect funding for military tasks to support economic development and peacekeeping are positive.

On Cyprus, however, demilitarization cannot proceed in isolation. Given the history and level of mistrust on the island, one cannot shift from thousands of foreign troops and excessive levels of armaments to zero troops and arms overnight.

On Cyprus, steps toward demilitarization must be accompanied by progress on other fronts. This requires significant work on basic questions such as how the two communities are to share political power and how overall security will be assured.

We also note that the U.N. Security Council recently also referred to the demilitarization of Cyprus as an important objective in the context of an overall comprehensive settlement.

QUESTION: Mr. Cavanaugh's travel -- is he going to start this tomorrow?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have an itinerary. I know that he's going to the region, but I don't --

QUESTION: -- know why he's going to the region?

MR. DAVIES: Sure. He's going in the same context that he's gone in the past, which is to look at ways to bring ideas to the parties on Cyprus in an attempt to lower tensions and bring an end to the conflict that has existed there for decades.

QUESTION: Do you have any specifics on the upcoming meeting with the U.S. and North and South Korea? When and where?

MR. DAVIES: I don't. We haven't established that yet. We're still looking to do that soon, within the month, but we don't have that yet.