Wednesday, May 8, 1996 - 10 a.m.
[This media activity takes place during a visit to the Pentagon by Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek, of the Republic of Slovenia, prior to the signing of a General Security of Military
Mr. Perry: It is my pleasure to welcome today the Prime Minister of Slovenia on his first visit to the Pentagon. I last saw Prime Minister Drnovsek during my visit to Slovenia in September. It was truly a memorable visit: the beauty of Lake Bled; the heritage of the capital city, Ljubljana; and the spirit of the Slovenian people. The people of Slovenia have built a modern flourishing
nation, a nation that the United States is honored to call a friend.
Last year, we advanced the U.S./Slovenian friendship by setting forth an ambitious agenda to deepen our defense cooperation. Today, the Prime Minister and I are moving ahead on that agenda by signing a general security of military information agreement. This agreement will make it possible for our governments to exchange classified military information. It signals that our security cooperation has reached a higher level of trust and openness and it certainly is an important step in bringing Slovenia closer to the NATO alliance.
Slovenia set an important example as a nation of the former Yugoslavia by choosing from the start to focus on the possibilities of the future rather than on the problems of the past; by choosing the path of political, economic, and military reform; and by seizing the opportunities of the
Partnership for Peace. In making these choices, Slovenia has emerged in the forefront of nations that are helping to bring about a Europe united in peace, freedom, and democracy.
As a nation at the heart of the continent, at the gateway between East and West, Slovenia’s success is crucial to achieving this new Europe. Now, I would like to invite America’s friend and Slovenia’s leader, Prime Minister Drnovsek to say a few words. Mr. Prime Minister.
Mr. Drnovsek: It’s a great pleasure to be here as Mr. Perry said, we met last September in Slovenia during his visit. I remember this visit as a very interesting one, a very sincere visit. And it represented an important step in relations between the United States and Slovenia. One month
later -- in October, last year -- I had the possibility also to meet President Clinton in New York; and today, Mr. Al Gore, the Vice President. These are all important steps in developing bilateral relations between Slovenia and the United States. I can state today that our relations are
excellent. They have developed very well in political, economic, and also in security and military cooperation.
Slovenia is one of the countries with very good development. The country which is considered very often as the best case among the transition countries in central and eastern Europe and we also present our candidacy for full membership in NATO.
Recently, the Slovenian parliament discussed this issue and very clearly, very clearly expressed the Slovenian intention to become a full member of NATO as soon as possible. Already now, Slovenia has very good, very fruitful cooperation in the framework of Partnership for
Peace with NATO. And this issue is also one of the most important issues I’m going to discuss today with Mr. Perry.
Q: Mr. Secretary, last year at the signing ceremony here in the Pentagon I asked you when is Slovenia going to become a member of NATO. Are we nearer to that goal today?
A: I should first of all note that neither I nor the United States makes that determination unilaterally. That is a determination which is made by all 16 of the NATO nations and the candidate-member. Indeed, it’s a decision which has to be ratified by the parliaments of all of the
nations involved. Within NATO, there is a process to consider the new candidate members and that process is moving along.
Since you asked me that question a year ago, yes, the process has moved along on schedule. I expect that at the December meeting of NATO, the foreign ministers, that there will be a decision made to move ahead during the next year - during 1997 -- with a decision of who and when, who the new NATO members will be and when. So, I think we’re at a matter of months now from those decisions being made.
Q: Are you planning to discuss with Prime Minister today the sending of American weapons to Slovenia?
A: We’ll discuss defense cooperation in all of its aspects. I do not have any proposals to make to the Prime Minister relative to U.S. weapons being sold to Slovenia.
Q: Mr. Secretary, could we just get your comment on whether you believe that the use of American troops -- U.S. military -- to perform free labor at the Olympic games is an appropriate use of the U.S. military? Could you step behind the podium so we can hear your answer?
A: Before I do that, let me ask -- I’ll come back to that question, Jamie. Let me ask whether there are any questions which any of you want to ask the Prime Minister, either the Slovenian media or the American media -- this is a good opportunity to do that, if you would like.
Q: Mr. Prime Minister, do you think that political developments in Russia will or should affect the NATO timetable for expansion?
Mr. Drnovsek: It’s very clear that political developments in Russia have certain influence in the timetable for the enlargement of NATO, but I’m quite sure that this development will not prevent or stop the enlargement of NATO. So it can only influence the timetable, the schedule of further enlargement. But these developments can’t influence the Slovenian position regarding NATO. Slovenia is one of the countries that has never been under the influence of Russia or Soviet Union and it’s not one of the candidates that are not burdened with this question. So, our approachment to NATO is very clear and we think should be very smooth.
Mr. Perry: Jamie, in the fiscal ‘96 defense bill, the Defense Department was authorized to provide support for security and security support for the Olympics and funding was appropriated for that purpose. So, it is a -- first of all, we’re asked to do this in our Defense bill.
Secondly, specifically, to deal with your question.
Yes, I think it is appropriate for the Defense Department to provide that security support for the Olympics. This is a big undertaking. We will have more than 8,000 troops involved either in providing security or in providing security support for the Olympics.
Q: Could you set the record straight on one other important issue?
A: I’m sorry. We’re about out of time right now. We need to get on with the meeting with the Prime Minister.
Thank you very much.
Press: Thank you.