INTRODUCTION OF EUROPEAN SECURITY ACT OF 1997, H.R. 1431
HON. BENJAMIN A. GILMAN
in the House of Representatives
THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 1997
- Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce today the European Security Act of 1997, H.R. 1431.
- The purpose of this bill is twofold. First, it is designed to carry forward the work we began 2 years ago in the Contract With America advancing two of our top national security priorities: NATO enlargement and ballistic missile defense.
- Second, it is intended to show that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, both of these important objectives can be achieved without disrupting relations with Russia.
- NATO enlargement is a project near and dear to my heart. This is the fourth bill I have introduced on the subject in as many years, and I am pleased to say that the three previous ones were all enacted into law. I hope that our record of congressional support bodes well for the bill we are introducing today.
- I believe that the work we have done in Congress has brought the administration and NATO to where they are today on enlargement. The Atlantic Alliance will begin the first round of enlargement this July. The countries we focused on in last year's NATO enlargement legislation--Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia--are considered the front runners for selection in July.
- The bill I am introducing today identifies two problems with the way NATO enlargement is proceeding.
- First, we are concerned about the countries that may be left out of the first round of enlargement. We think it is critical that such countries not be left in any security vacuum. These countries must be reassured that they will not be forgotten; that the door to NATO will remain open to them.
- Second, we worry that in the rush to mollify Russia, concessions may be made that could jeopardize European security and the integrity and effectiveness of NATO. We are concerned, for example, that new NATO members could be relegated to second-class status. We worry that concessions might be made that could make it impossible for NATO to defend these countries effectively. We must not allow NATO's decision-making structure to be compromised.
- To reassure the countries that are not currently front runners for admission, this bill directs the President to designate additional countries to receive NATO enlargement assistance under the NATO Participation Act. Such designation would give them the same status under United States law as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia. The bill gives the President 180 days in which to do this.
- The bill goes on to express the sense of Congress that Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania would make good NATO members and should be invited to join as soon as they satisfy all relevant criteria.
- Regarding Russia, the bill spells out concessions that we would consider unacceptable. But then it goes on to recognize that, in principle, we should go about enlarging NATO in a manner sensitive to Russia's interests. Accordingly, we approve in concept such undertakings as the NATO-Russia Charter and adaptation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe [CFE] Treaty.
- To make clear that the purpose of NATO enlargement is not to emasculate Russia--as many in Moscow appear to believe--this bill provides the President the legal authority he has requested to implement the so-called CFE Flank Agreement.
- We do this because we know of no better way to demonstrate to Russia that our objective is not renewed military confrontation between our countries, but friendship. We genuinely believe that NATO enlargement will enhance the security of all countries in Europe, including Russia.
- With regard to ballistic missile defense, we also try to demonstrate that our objectives can be achieved in a manner that enhances Russia's security as much as our own. To this end, the bill authorizes a program of ballistic missile defense cooperation with Russia to be carried out by the Department of Defense. This program is authorized to include United States-Russian cooperation regarding early warning of ballistic missile launches from such rogue states as Iran and North Korea, and cooperative research, development, testing, and production of technology and systems for ballistic missile defense.
- In addition, the bill includes provisions designed to protect the constitutional prerogative of Congress to approve arms control agreements with Russia bearing on ballistic missile defense.
- I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration toward the prompt enactment of this measure.