NATO, Russia Sign Pact
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 27, 1997 In a ceremony marking a formal end to the Cold War, U.S. President Bill Clinton, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and 15 other NATO nation leaders signed a pact May 27 in Paris linking Eastern and Western Europe.
In a surprise goodwill gesture after signing the NATO-Russia Founding Act, Yeltsin announced Russia would stop aiming missiles at NATO nations, according to a Reuters news report. The United States and Russia agreed in 1993 to stop targeting each other's cities based in 1993. Yeltsin's new pledge goes further by including all NATO nations that signed the pact.
"Russia has opened itself to freedom," Clinton said at the ceremony. "The veil of hostility between East and West has lifted."
The NATO-Russia Founding Act unites the 16-member security alliance and Russia in a partnership with the common goal of creating a peaceful, democratic, undivided Europe, Clinton said. It paves the way for "a new century, a new Russia and a new NATO, working together in a new Europe of unlimited possibility," he said.
"From now on, NATO and Russia will consult and coordinate and work together," Clinton said. "Where we all agree, we will act jointly, as we are in Bonsia where a Russian brigade serves side by side with NATO troops, giving the Bosnian people a chance to build a lasting peace."
Russia's commitment to freedom and reform has earned the world's admiration, Clinton said. Partnership with Russia will make all NATO nations stronger and more secure, he said.
"We establish this partnership because we are determined to create a future in which European security is not a zero-sum game -- where NATO's gain is Russia's loss and Russia's strength is our alliance's weakness," Clinton said. "That is old thinking; these are new times."
The new NATO will remain the strongest alliance in history, with smaller, more flexible forces, he said. Along with providing for members' defense, member forces will also train for peacekeeping missions. "It will be an alliance directed no longer against a hostile bloc of nations, but instead designed to advance the security of every democracy in Europe -- NATO's old members, new members and nonmembers alike," Clinton said.
Yeltsin said it was far from easy for Russian leaders to reach a decision to sign a document with NATO. "We had to make sure we protected the security of our country; but at the same time, we also had to create the basis, the foundation for a constructive cooperation between Russia and NATO," he said.
The founding act opens the way for joint actions in crisis settlement, preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and strategic arms reduction, Yeltsin said. "We are also providing ourselves with opportunities to better resist new dangers and threats to security in Europe," he said.
The agreement sets basic principles for the partnership, including a commitment to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states, peaceful settlement of disputes and the inherent right of every country to choose its own means of self-defense. Under terms of the agreement, NATO will not deploy nuclear weapons weapons other than where they are already deployed and will not permanently station combat troops in new members' territory.
"All of this means that we have agreed not to harm the security interests of each other," Yeltsin said. "I think it is the most important accomplishment for us all."