DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
[This media activity follows an Honor Cordon welcoming Minister of Defense Tit Turnsek, of the Republic of Slovenia, to the Pentagon.]
Q: Mr. Secretary, (inaudible) for Slovenian Television. What went wrong in Sintra? You didn't include us in the first Slovak countries to be included in NATO.
A: There has been no decision yet in terms of who will be recommended for inclusion in the first round. That's something that the President is taking under advisement now and we'll have to await that until we get to Madrid before such decision is made.
Q: What are our chances in that you will reverse the decision?
A: Well it's hard to say. I think Slovenia has a very good record and certainly, it's under consideration. But one cannot make any predictions at this point.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the commander of Aberdeen Proving Ground is leaving after having had an affair while he was married. He's losing one star. And this is the latest of several high-ranking military officers who recently have been relieved or forced -- being forced to leave the service. Is this sapping the strength of the military? Is calling to question the leadership of the military? And are you worried that this thing is being handled?
A: No, it's not sapping the military of its capability or strength. We insist upon very high standards. We expect the highest of standards from our military leaders and they fully understand that. And this individual is retiring based upon his belief that this it's in the best interest of the Army. So these happen from time to time, but I think that it's the appropriate thing to do.
Q: Are you worried that this is an epidemic?
A: I'm not worried it's an epidemic. I think we're going through a period in which this has become a very much in high profile, but I believe overall, our military is doing an outstanding job. Our leaders are doing an outstanding job and we are dealing with the issue in a very proactive and open fashion.
Q: Are going to buy helicopters from the United States, Mr. Minister?
Minister Turnsek: Well, this could be. But we will discuss modernization process and modernization, also the practice and procedures. And for sure, this will be one of the topics of our discussion.
Q: Are you going to request to become a member of NATO?
A: Well, we're going to discuss this subject. We will discuss different aspects of the subject. I'm sure that we will clear some -- unclear situation and unclear answers.
Q: If Slovenia does not get accepted to NATO, does it expect to receive some sort of special standing militarily?
A: Well I think in our case, we will have to rethink the strategy, but this is our long-term strategy to became a full member of NATO and this is the process. I think -- and I observe this as more as an on-going process, not as an event.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Ladies and gentlemen, we're going this way, please.