Albright Says NATO Expansion to Benefit East, West
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 21, 1997 NATO expansion will benefit Russian security as well as that of Western Europe, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently told Russian officials.
"The people of Russia now have a chance to achieve the deepest and most genuine integration with the West that their nation has ever enjoyed," Albright said. She and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger met with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov March 16 during his three-day visit here. The Russian minister also met with Defense Secretary William Cohen and senior military officials at the Pentagon.
Albright said the talks were thorough and cooperative, but many issues must still be resolved. "The issues we're dealing with are serious and of utmost importance to both our countries," she said.
NATO expansion will result in new allies and security partners for the United States, Canada and Western Europe, Albright said. The people of Central Europe now have a chance to overcome the Cold War's dividing line which "cut them off from the European mainstream," she said.
The Russian visit was a forerunner to President Clinton's and Russian President Boris Yeltsin's March 20 summit in Helsinki. Albright said the summit would help advance three "shared aspirations" -- further reducing nuclear arsenals, expanding trade and investment, and building a secure and undivided Europe of sovereign, independent democracies.
Clinton will stress significance of the new NATO at the summit, Albright said.
"We are facing an entirely new historical situation in Europe," she said. "NATO faces no enemy to its east; Russia faces no enemy to its west ... . We do not face a choice between diminishing NATO and diminishing Russia. It is not 1949, or even 1989. Today, we are all on the same side."
Improved relations with Russia is a key ingredient for a new Europe, she said. "We believe that Europe will not be whole and free until a democratic Russia is wholly a party of Europe. ... It is why we worked hard to ensure Russia's participation in our mission in Bosnia and in NATO's Partnership for Peace."
NATO and Russia are working toward a charter to launch a formal partnership, Albright said. At the summit, she said, Clinton would reaffirm NATO's commitment that it has no intention, plan or reason to station nuclear weapons on the territory of new members. He will also discuss NATO proposals to adapt and update the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which will ensure there are no destabilizing troop concentrations anywhere in Europe, she said.
"NATO enlargement will remain on track," Albright said. "The first new members will not be the last, and we will exclude no European democracy from future consideration."
Berger said Clinton would also discuss arms control and economic cooperation. The United States and Russia have taken remarkable strides toward reducing nuclear weapons during the past few years, but further steps are necessary, Berger said.
"We believe the Russians should proceed with START II ratification, which would then let us move to START III," he said.