News

USIS Washington File

15 December 1999

Text: Deputy Secretary of State Talbott on NATO Dec. 15

(U.S. committed to European Security and Defense Identity) (3,840)

Standing in for Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who remained in
Washington for the Middle East peace talks, Deputy Secretary of State
Strobe Talbott told a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels
December 15 that NATO had this year been tested but had risen to the
challenge.

"We acted together, and successfully, to end ethnic cleansing in
Kosovo," Talbott said, "and we forged together a blueprint for NATO's
next half century at the Washington Summit."

After briefly reviewing NATO's actions in Bosnia and Kosovo, Talbott
focused on NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) and the effort
to establish a European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI). "The
United States is committed to seeing both succeed," he said.

He noted that NATO's military campaign in Kosovo had demonstrated a
"wide gap between U.S. and European military capabilities. It is in
the interests of each nation represented here that this gap be
narrowed."

Talbott also emphasized U.S. support for ESDI: "There should be no
confusion about America's position on the need for a stronger Europe,"
he said. "We are not against; we are not ambivalent; we are not
anxious; we are for it. We want to see a Europe that can act
effectively through the Alliance or, if NATO is not engaged, on its
own. Period, end of debate."

At the Washington Summit in April "we reached a basic understanding,"
Talbott said. "We would look to NATO as the preferred institution to
act." However, should the Alliance decide not to take action, "NATO
assets and capabilities" would be made available to the European
Union.

At the EU Summit in Helsinki December 11, EU leaders agreed to lay the
groundwork for a European rapid-reaction force of up to 60,000 troops.

Talbott urged that NATO countries that are not part of the EU be given
"special status in the EU's security and defense
deliberations...because of their Article 5 commitment in the event
that a crisis should escalate; second, because of their readiness to
contribute NATO and national assets to EU-led operations; and third,
because they are both willing and able to contribute to European
security in their own right."

Discussing other NATO obligations, Talbott noted that Alliance members
have committed themselves to curbing the proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction (WMD). In the future, "Alliance territory and forces
will increasingly be at risk" of a WMD attack, possibly from
terrorists, he said.

Talbott acknowledged that "America's approach to these issues... has
generated some controversy on both sides of the Atlantic" but saw
"enough common ground" for NATO to move forward as an alliance.

"Our overall WMD policy must have three parts: first, we must pursue
diplomatic prevention, including arms control; second, we need strong
conventional and nuclear forces capable of acting as a deterrent; and
third, we must consider how missile defense -- national and collective
-- fits into the equation," he said.

Regarding NATO enlargement, he said, "Our goal should be to work as
closely as possible with all aspirants to help each of them become
strong candidates."

In the closing section of his remarks, Talbott regretted Russia's
decision not to participate in a Permanent Joint Council Ministerial
December 15-16 in Brussels and reiterated U.S. concerns regarding
Russian actions in the North Caucasus.

"Russia's tactics are making it harder, not easier, for them to
achieve their goals in the region," he said, urging Russia instead "to
pursue meaningful steps towards a political solution, including a
substantive role for the OSCE [Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe]."

He also remarked that the United States is counting on Russia to
implement fully the agreements that will lead to withdrawal of Russian
forces from Moldova and Georgia.

Following is the text of Talbott's speech:

(begin text)

North Atlantic Council
Brussels, Belgium
December 15, 1999

THE STATE OF THE ALLIANCE: AN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE
By STROBE TALBOTT 
DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE 

Mr. Secretary-General and distinguished colleagues: I bring greetings
from Secretary Albright. She had hoped to be with you today, but, as I
think all of you know, it was necessary for her to be in Washington to
work with President Clinton in seizing the opportunity for fresh
progress in the search for peace in the Middle East.

This ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council comes at the
end of a climactic year and a turbulent century. In some ways, it was
perhaps fitting that, earlier this year, our common resolve and common
purpose were put to the test just as we entered our sixth decade as an
Alliance. Fortunately -- and to the credit of every nation represented
here -- we rose to that challenge and passed that test. We acted
together, and successfully, to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and we
forged together a blueprint for NATO's next half century at the
Washington Summit.

We are all proud to have an outstanding new Secretary General. Among
other accomplishments he brings to his new post, Lord Robertson
conducted United Kingdom's Strategic Defense Review, which is a model
for enacting the kind of reforms all Allies need to make.

We are also fortunate to have three new Allies. I will only repeat
what Secretary Albright said in Missouri nine months ago: the Czech
Republic, Hungary and Poland are finally where they belong, at home in
the family of freedom. Over the past decade, first President Bush,
then President Clinton worked with their counterparts in your
countries to address the question of NATO's future -- and yours -- in
a dramatically altered security environment. All our leaders
understood the risks of complacency and confusion, division and drift.
They responded by taking steps to modernize and strengthen our
Alliance, prepare it for new missions, invite new members, establish
partnerships with Europe's new democracies and develop strategies for
the future. Unfortunately, they are also beginning to make the
sacrifices that come with being an Ally; we extend our condolences to
Poland on the death of its KFOR soldier yesterday in Kosovo.

But they have done more than plan, practice and prepare, and a good
thing it is, too, because history does not sit patiently in the
waiting room while leaders and foreign ministers deliberate. In the
Balkans, events dictated that we answer hard questions about our
purpose and will.

In Bosnia, we were, for a time, less than sure-footed, not least
because the trouble was beyond NATO's own borders. But when we found
our footing, NATO and its partners performed effectively in Bosnia.

As a result, Bosnia is at peace today. The arteries of air, rail, road
and power have re-opened. Democratic elections have been held -- and
held again -- at every level. Multi-ethnic institutions have come into
existence and are growing in strength. Refugee returns to minority
areas have increased. The gradual easing of tensions has enabled us to
reduce the size of SFOR. But we all know that, four years after the
Dayton Peace Accords, our job in Bosnia is far from over. More than a
million people are still displaced. The quality of governance is low.
True inter-ethnic cooperation remains elusive, and where it exists,
it's the exception. We must press the leaders there to assume greater
responsibility and achieve further progress in democratization.

In Kosovo, NATO was right to stop Milosevic, and we did it the right
way: together, striving to minimize civilian casualties, determined to
persist until we prevailed. Having won on the battlefield, we face the
even harder task of bringing the people of Kosovo together around
basic principles of democracy and law. In less than half a year, there
has been real progress. Large-scale violence has ended. Almost a
million refugees and displaced persons have returned home. The Kosovo
Liberation Army has effectively met its promise to demilitarize. A
civilian, multi-ethnic Kosovo Protection Corps is forming as we meet
here today.

Nevertheless, the situation remains tense and unpredictable. There can
be no excuse for further acts of violence in Kosovo. Whatever the past
provocation, no one has the license to murder or intimidate or harass
others. No one has the right to take the law into his own hands. We
must be united in backing KFOR, the UN mission, and the war crimes
tribunal, both through our diplomacy and also through our willingness
to provide the resources necessary to get the job done.

Enduring peace is not possible for either Bosnia or Kosovo until there
is a democracy in Serbia. We need to work with the Serbian democratic
opposition to attain this goal, even as we maintain our sanctions
until Belgrade complies with the will of the international community.
In so doing, we should rebut anyone who would argue that we are trying
to impose our ways on the people of Serbia. That is nonsense. Our goal
is to see that the people of Serbia have the right to determine their
own destiny. Democracy, by definition, can never be imposed. In any
country under any circumstances, it's dictatorship that is, by
definition, an imposition, while democracy is, and can only be, a
choice.

This is the last NATO Ministerial of the twentieth century. But our
focus is on the future, not the past. Kosovo underlined the need,
stressed by our leaders in Washington last April, for military forces
that are mobile, flexible, survivable, sustainable and capable of
operating effectively together. Kosovo demonstrated that there is a
wide gap between U.S. and European military capabilities. It is in the
interests of each nation represented here that this gap be narrowed.

Two efforts -- both pre-dating the Kosovo conflict and reaffirmed
during the Washington Summit -- will, if pursued vigorously, help us
move towards a solution. These are NATO's Defense Capabilities
Initiative (DCI) and the effort to establish a European Security and
Defense Identity (ESDI). The United States is committed to seeing both
succeed.

Two weeks ago, at this table, Secretary Cohen made a strong, clear
presentation of America's position. I don't think anyone disputes the
basic facts. Too many Allies have too many men and women under arms
focused on missions of the past. Too many resources are going to the
wrong priorities. And not enough are going to the task of building the
kind of agile, genuinely inter-operable forces we will need for many
years to come.

As Lord Robertson said at the recent meeting of our defense
colleagues, "The time for a peace dividend is over because there is no
permanent peace in Europe or elsewhere, and if NATO is to do its job
protecting future generations, it can no longer expect to do its job
on the cheap." He has also pointed out that Europe has over 2 million
men and women under arms, but is hard-pressed to deploy and maintain
40,000 troops in Kosovo. That's why DCI is so important.

As for ESDI, I think I should repeat what I said a moment ago. There
should be no confusion about America's position on the need for a
stronger Europe. We are not against; we are not ambivalent; we are not
anxious; we are for it. We want to see a Europe that can act
effectively through the Alliance or, if NATO is not engaged, on its
own. Period, end of debate.

At Washington we reached a basic understanding. We would look to NATO
as the preferred institution to act "wherever possible." At the same
time, we recognized that the Alliance might not act. And in those
circumstances, we agreed to make NATO assets and capabilities
available to the European Union.

Several speakers have stressed the imperative that we learn the
lessons of Kosovo. In our view, that's what ESDI and DCI are all
about. That's also why we followed closely and supportively the EU
Summit in Helsinki this past week. We saw the leaders assembled there
grappling seriously and promisingly with the question of how their
countries can improve Europe's capacity to act by enhancing
capabilities without duplicating NATO.

In the past, American officials have discussed ESDI in terms of "the
three D's": no decoupling of Europe's security from that of its North
American Allies; no duplication of effort or capabilities; and no
discrimination against those Allies who are not EU members. But Lord
Robertson has come up with another formulation: "the three I's" --
indivisibility of the trans-Atlantic link, improvement of capabilities
and inclusiveness of all Allies. The concept binding them together
should borrow the motto of those famous three heroes of French
romantic literature: "One for all and all for one."

So Helsinki represented, from our perspective, a step -- indeed,
several steps -- in the right direction. We welcome Helsinki's focus
on improving European military capabilities, its recognition of NATO's
central role in collective defense and crisis management and that the
EU can act "where the Alliance as a whole is not engaged." Still, we
hope that as ESDI moves from the realm of an acronym to that of
reality, it will continue to assume both form and substance that
increase its chances for its own success and therefore for our
continuing support.

Specifically, during the Portuguese Presidency, we look forward to
developing links between the Alliance and the EU required for
transparency and cooperation. We also believe that those Allies who,
like us, are not members of the EU but who, unlike us, live on this
side of the Atlantic deserve special status in the EU's security and
defense deliberations. Why? For three reasons: first, because of their
Article 5 commitment in the event that a crisis should escalate;
second, because of their readiness to contribute NATO and national
assets to EU- led operations; and third, because they are both willing
and able to contribute to European security in their own right.

We are right to focus at this ministerial on getting ESDI and DCI
right. That is our top priority. But we must not forget the other
commitments our leaders made in Washington.

For example, the Strategic Concept agreed in Washington is now being
translated from theory to practice; that is, it's being incorporated
into military guidance for NATO planners. Under no circumstances
should the Strategic Concept be interpreted as allowing NATO to focus
on only lower-end missions. Kosovo is clearly one type of mission
envisioned under the Strategic Concept. But we also recognize two key
points reflected in the military guidance: that NATO must be able to
deal with Article 5 threats to our nations' homelands; and that
non-Article 5 missions can be as demanding -- and perhaps even more
challenging -- as Article 5 ones.

Another area where we have committed to improving our military
capabilities is dealing with the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction and their means of delivery. We should all recognize that,
as time and technology march on, Alliance territory and forces will
increasingly be at risk to a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attack.
It could come from a terrorist strike against Alliance forces deployed
beyond our borders or another state's missile attack against our
forces or territory.

For several years we have been talking about this new threat, building
on work at NATO since 1994. Now that danger is coming more sharply
into focus. I realize that America's approach to these issues -- in
terms of arms control and defensive capability, especially missile
defense -- has generated some controversy on both sides of the
Atlantic. Secretary Cohen and I have both engaged on these issues
around this table over the past month. But I do believe there is
enough common ground for us to move forward together as an Alliance

Our overall WMD policy must have three parts: first, we must pursue
diplomatic prevention, including arms control; second, we need strong
conventional and nuclear forces capable of acting as a deterrent; and
third, we must consider how missile defense -- national and collective
-- fits into the equation.

We are taking a key step in establishing the WMD Center to coordinate
NATO's response to the WMD threat. This will increase the
information-sharing among Allies on issues of WMD concern. It is our
hope that the Center will open as early as possible next year.

With respect to arms control, we must keep our eyes on the big
picture. NATO has a solid arms control record. Since the end of the
Cold War, the Alliance has radically reduced its reliance on nuclear
forces, including dramatic reductions in the forces themselves. NATO
was also a leader in achieving an adapted Conventional Armed Forces in
Europe (CFE) Treaty in Istanbul last month.

Let me now turn to the issue of NATO membership and enlargement. Our
strategy on that issue is central to our vision of a Europe free,
democratic, undivided and in lasting partnership with North America.

Today Central Europe is secure, in large part because of NATO
enlargement. It has always been the U.S. position that NATO
enlargement is not a one-time event, but an on-going process. Our
newest members must not be the last. Our leaders committed to review
enlargement again at our next summit, no later than 2002. The standard
for membership must be kept high. As both Kosovo and Bosnia
demonstrated, NATO is a working military alliance, and only by keeping
it ready and in peak condition can we ensure that it will be able to
fulfill its responsibilities.

Our goal should be to work as closely as possible with all aspirants
to help each of them become strong candidates. Working together, we
want to create conditions under which the best candidates can walk
through the Open Door when they are ready and when we judge it to be
in the overall interests of the Alliance.

That's what the Membership Action Plan (MAP) is all about. MAP ensures
we maintain our high standards but also redouble our efforts to help
candidates meet those standards. We welcome the national programs
submitted by aspirants under the MAP, and I think these programs will
help aspirants focus on the steps they need to take to establish
strong performance-based track records. An added benefit of this
approach is that it will also help build public support for expanded
membership over the long run.

We also remain deeply committed to developing other forms of
partnership. With the recent accession of Ireland, the Partnership for
Peace is now up to 26 nations. At Washington, in the midst of the
Kosovo campaign, we agreed with Partners on a Political-Military
Framework for cooperation in NATO-led missions and on a concept for
making our partnership more operational.

Now it's time for us to use these new tools on the ground, in Kosovo.
We need to fulfill our obligation to involve NATO's Partners in
planning and conducting KFOR's operations, and to discuss this work in
the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). We need to convey our
commitment to that effort in tomorrow's EAPC meeting. Tomorrow, we
should also make a point of applauding the Partners' political and
practical support to NATO during the air campaign and for their very
real support with peacekeepers in KFOR and SFOR. In stepping up our
efforts to bring democracy to Serbia, we need to draw on Partners'
intimate knowledge of the region and their experiences in transforming
their own societies.

Our meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission later today is evidence of
the importance the Alliance places on a critical European country,
whose success in establishing itself as a secure, stable, prosperous,
integrated and democratic state is a keystone in the architecture of
this continent and the broader Euro- Atlantic community. As President
Clinton told President Kuchma in Washington last week, we are counting
on the leadership in Kiyev following the recent elections, to
intensify its commitment to political, economic and defense reform.

Finally, it is regrettable that Russia decided not to participate
today or tomorrow in a Permanent Joint Council (PJC) Ministerial. As
an Alliance, we have made clear to Moscow that we are prepared to
engage on the full agenda we laid out in the Founding Act and build
further on the cooperation we have established in SFOR and KFOR.

Our goal when we set up the PJC was to have a venue and a mechanism --
in good times and bad -- for consultation, cooperation and
transparency. The PJC is where we should work out our disagreements
when they arise.

That brings me to the greatest current threat to Russia's relations
with Europe and, North America: Chechnya. We are deeply troubled by
events in Chechnya. Unfolding events in the region are profoundly
disturbing -- most particularly, the cost to civilians of the on-going
military campaign and the use of last week's ultimatum to the
residents of Grozny that flies in the face of acceptable standards of
international conduct. We reiterate that under the Geneva Conventions
and the OSCE Code of Conduct, Russia is obliged to take care to avoid
injury to civilians and their property. While we recognize Russia's
territorial integrity and its right to protect its citizens from
terrorism, a purely military solution to the conflict in the North
Caucasus is not possible. Russia's tactics are making it harder, not
easier, for them to achieve their goals in the region.

We urge Russia to pursue meaningful steps now toward a political
solution, including a substantive role for the OSCE. We welcome the
mission that Foreign Minister Vollebaek, in his capacity as OSCE
Chairman-in-Office, undertook to the region and look forward to
hearing from him tomorrow.

At the Istanbul summit last month, all the leaders of the OSCE states
-- notably, and to his credit, including President Yeltsin -- signed a
Charter for European Security that recognizes that preventing conflict
within states is as important to stability as preventing conflicts
between states. We also achieved dramatic results in Istanbul on CFE.
Again, that breakthrough included President Yeltsin and the other
leaders of the democracies of Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia.
We not only agreed on an adapted CFE Treaty that will provide for
military stability in Europe in the next century, but we welcomed
bilateral agreements associated with the CFE Final Act that will lead
to withdrawal of Russian forces from Moldova and Georgia. To achieve
the full promise of those landmark agreements we count on Russia for
their full implementation, as pledged by President Yeltsin and Prime
Minister Putin.

We also need to be ready to offer concrete support through the OSCE to
destroy or dismantle the military equipment necessary to ensure all
CFE signatories meet their treaty commitments. That organization, like
the EU, includes Allies and non-Allies alike, and thus represents the
strengthening of the ties that bind our community together. The mutual
reinforcement of these and other structures should make us proud of
what we have accomplished during this eventful and challenging year,
and optimistic about what we can accomplish in the future.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State)