NATO Expansion Continues U.S. European Involvement
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 10, 1997 NATO expansion continues American involvement in Europe and reiterates NATO is the bedrock of U.S. security, said National Security Adviser Sandy Berger to reporters recently.
Berger said NATO's invitation to Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary July 8 continues the U.S. vision and strategy for European integration in the post-Cold War world. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, at the same news conference, said the cost of NATO expansion is reasonable and is money well-spent.
NATO expansion is only one part of keeping NATO relevant, Berger said. Recreating and adapting NATO to the changed world has gone hand-in-hand with expansion. He said NATO allies had launched a three-pronged focus on security integration. "One was to adapt NATO internally to meet new missions," he said. "The second was to open NATO's doors to the new democracies of the East -- to expand NATO. And third was to forge new relationships with partners beyond NATO."
Berger said the Madrid summit is a milestone in the process. One approved internal change forges a new relationship with the Western European Union and NATO so the NATO allies can use NATO assets for European-led missions. Also, the allies will continue to revise and review the NATO command structure, making it more streamlined and responsive, Berger said.
NATO also strengthened the Partnership for Peace program, announcing in Madrid it will establish the Euro-Atlantic Security Council. "It will be a political arm for all of the partners for peace and a vehicle for all of the NATO and partnership members to meet together and discuss, perhaps, the future Bosnias of Europe," Berger said.
He also hailed the NATO-Ukraine charter, modeled after a similar pact signed between NATO and Russia in Paris recently.
Cohen said when the Clinton administration first proposed the Partnership for Peace program, skeptics wondered whether it would be a good foundation for NATO enlargement. "The answer is an overwhelming yes," he said. "It has proven the basis for the bilateral relationship that was established between [NATO] and the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary."
Cost has been a factor in the debate over expanding NATO. Cohen estimated the United States has spent roughly $300 million on the issue since July 1994. "With respect to future costs to the United States, we have estimated and filed a report with Congress that indicates we will spend approximately between $150 million and $200 million each year during the next 10- to 12-year period," Cohen said. "We think those costs are certainly acceptable. They are within the range that Congress can support. And we believe that that would be very helpful in terms of expanding or enlarging our NATO capability."