Remarks by William J. Perry
Secretary of Defense
Western European Union Transatlantic Forum, Washington, D.C.
June 25, 1996
Forty-nine years ago this month, in a commencement speech at
Harvard University, an American soldier-statesman who fought to
win freedom in Europe outlined his vision to secure freedom in
Europe. It was a vision of a Europe which, from the Atlantic to
the Urals, was united in peace, freedom and democracy, and a
Europe which reached across the Atlantic to its American partner.
That soldier-statesman was George C. Marshall.
Marshall not only had this vision, but he had a plan to make
this vision a reality in post-war Europe. The Marshall Plan
offered Europe a new passage toward reconstruction and renewal.
Half of Europe took this passage and opened the door to
prosperity and freedom. The other half of Europe was denied this
passage when Joseph Stalin slammed the door on Marshall's offer.
Today, we have a second chance to make Marshall's vision a
reality, to build a Europe -- a whole Europe -- united in peace,
freedom and democracy.
Over the past two months, I have seen a number of
substantial signs that Marshall's Europe is now being built
across the continent. I saw them in Ukraine. I saw them in
Russia. I saw them in the Balkans. And I saw them two weeks ago
in Brussels as all 16 NATO defense ministers -- including the
French Defense Minister -- met in plenary session. If George
Marshall were alive today, I believe he would be pleased with our
I saw Marshall's Europe being built in Ukraine earlier this
month, when I attended Peace Shield '96. It was the first
multinational exercise held in the spirit of Partnership for
Peace -- the first one ever held on the soil of the former
Soviet Union. It was held on the L'viv training grounds -- where
forces once trained for war -- now troops from nine nations
trained for peace. They were bridging old Cold War chasms, and
building personal ties of cooperation, trust and understanding
between East and West.
Through the Partnership for Peace, our nations, East and
West, are building trust, cooperation and ultimately, stability
and security in the region. But the benefits of the Partnership
for Peace go beyond the security realm and into the political and
economic realms as well. Because Partnership for Peace members
are working to uphold democracy, respect the rights of minorities
and tolerate diversity.
The day after these ceremonies were held for Peace Shield
96, I took part in another event in Ukraine that dramatically
illustrated the building of Marshall's Europe. At the former
Soviet nuclear missile field in Pervomaysk, I joined with the
Minister of Defense of Russia and the Minister of Defense of
Ukraine and together we planted sunflowers in soil that used to
contain a nuclear missile silo. That seed-planting was the final
act in eliminating a missile field that once had 700 nuclear
warheads -- all aimed at targets in the United States. Ukraine
is now nuclear-weapons free. And by harvest time, the Pervomaysk
missile field will be a productive sunflower field.
That moment in Ukraine was about more than Ukraine's
renouncing nuclear weapons, it was about Ukraine's success in
embracing the promise of the future. It was about the United
States and Russia cooperating with Ukraine to make eliminating
nuclear weapons possible and to make peace in the region a
certainty. On that day, Ukraine showed the world how the seeds
of democracy, tended with care and commitment, can grow, flourish
and nourish a nation.
Russia's commitment to nuclear disarmament is important not
only to helping Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakstan become nuclear-
weapons free, but it is part of the larger role that Russia plays
in European security. Just last week, we all saw signs that
Russia is playing a positive role in building Marshall's Europe
when the Russian people went to the polls to elect their
president. While the results are still unsettled, the fact that
free and democratic elections were held in Russia is
unprecedented. And whatever the final outcome of the election,
security cooperation between Russia and the West will continue in
three key areas: We will continue to cooperate in nuclear
disarmament; we will continue to cooperate in our efforts to
counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and we
will continue to build a cooperative relationship between Russia
Indeed, a distinct NATO-Russia cooperative relationship is
being built in practice in Bosnia. Today, a Russian brigade is
serving with the American Multinational Division of the peace
implementation force, which we call IFOR. I visited that
division last month, and I met with the American brigade
commanders and with the Russian brigade commander. I can report
to you that the operation is going very smoothly and that there
is real cooperation between the Russian brigade commander and his
counterpart American brigade commanders, the Turkish brigade
commander and the Nordic brigade commander.
In Bosnia, NATO and Russia do have a special relationship.
And in Bosnia, Russia is demonstrating its commitment to
participating in the future security architecture of Europe.
Indeed, Russia's participation in Bosnia casts a very long shadow
that will have an impact on the security of Europe for years to
Just as the NATO-Russia relationship is being forged in
Bosnia, so too is the future of NATO itself. As we speak, troops
from 12 Partner nations are serving with their NATO comrades in
the peace implementation force. When I was in Bosnia, I was
struck by the dedication and professionalism of every unit from
every country that is participating. And, I can tell you that,
at this point, I am pleased with the progress of that operation.
Our success or failure in Bosnia is crucial to whether or
not we will complete Marshall's vision. It is in Bosnia where we
are sending the message that NATO is the bedrock on which the
future security and stability of Europe will be built. It is in
Bosnia where NATO and Partnership for Peace nations are reaping
the benefits of our joint peacekeeping training. It is in Bosnia
where future NATO members are showing themselves ready and able
to shoulder the responsibilities of membership. And it is in
Bosnia where we are showing that we can work as partners with
Bosnia is not a peacekeeping exercise. It is the real
thing. And it is the crucible for the creation of Marshall's
Europe of peace, freedom and democracy. Because of NATO's
efforts through IFOR, Bosnia is enjoying the first peaceful
spring in five years. The much predicted spring offensive has
not taken place. Indeed, today you can go to Sarajevo or Mostar
and see people sipping coffee in sidewalk cafes. We still have a
tough job ahead of us in Bosnia, but this is real progress and
the beginning of a new season of hope for the region -- hope that
the Balkan region can take its place in Marshall's Europe.
I saw this hope being pursued in Tirana, Albania, where
defense ministers of the South Balkans gathered at the first ever
South Balkan Defense Ministerial Meeting in April. Ministers
from three NATO countries -- Italy, Turkey and the United States
-- joined ministers from three Partnership for Peace countries -
- Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. Their challenge was
formidable -- to heal the wounds from years of hatred and
bloodshed and begin the restoration that will create a whole and
The Ministers discussed several ways to achieve that goal:
more defense cooperation in the region through joint peacetime
exercises and operations; more confidence-building measures; and
the development of civilian-controlled militaries. These
proposals will be carried forward at a second Balkan ministerial
meeting which will be held in Bulgaria later this year.
Ukraine, Russia and the Balkans have demonstrated
significant signs of progress towards the creation of Marshall's
Europe. In Brussels, at the NATO Defense Ministerial, the
architects of this new Europe built on this progress. All the
architects were represented there -- all 16 NATO members, and 26
out of the 27 Partners -- all of them were there, including
Together, we made significant progress toward achieving
Marshall's vision in three major areas. First, we built on the
success of Partnership for Peace as a permanent pillar of
Europe's security architecture and sought to make NATO and PFP
forces more compatible and interoperable. We agreed to increase
Partner participation in planning for exercises, and even
contingencies, by assigning Partner representatives to NATO's
subordinate commands. And building on the experiences of
Partnership nations in Bosnia, we agreed to increase the number
and complexity of Partnership for Peace exercises.
The second area of progress was in the area of Russia/NATO
relations. We held a 16+1 meeting in Brussels. This included
all 16 of the NATO defense ministers plus the Russian defense
minister, and we began to build on common ground. We agreed to
permanently station Russian officers at SHAPE Headquarters and
subordinate commands and send senior NATO officers to the Russian
General Staff in Moscow. These arrangements essentially
institutionalize the liaison program that has already been
established to facilitate working together in Bosnia.
The third area of progress centered around the operations of
NATO itself. We seized on the practical lessons we learned in
putting together IFOR and agreed upon changes that will make the
Alliance more effective and more flexible in carrying out the
requirements of post-Cold War operations. These changes center
around our completion of the Combined Joint Task Force concept,
or CJTF. The CJTF mechanism will allow for more flexibility in
the deployment of NATO forces and assets involving different
mixes of contributing nations, including Partnership nations.
Ultimately, CJTF will permit such things as operations led by the
Western European Union using NATO assets, and it will allow the
European members to strengthen their new security and defense
1996 has been a year of dramatic change for the alliance,
change that has assured that the alliance will continue to
enlarge its zone of security through its outreach to the East.
Change that has expanded cooperation with Russia. Change that
has made the alliance stronger and more united.
As I traveled across Europe and saw these changes -- these
signs of Marshall's Europe being constructed -- I was also
reminded that some things have not changed: The security of
Europe remains critical to the security of the United States.
America's involvement in Europe remains critical to the security
of Europe. And Marshall's Europe can only be achieved through a
strong and vital trans-Atlantic alliance.
The alliance will remain -- as it was in George Marshall's
day -- a true trans-Atlantic alliance. I was reminded of this
just three weeks ago when our host today, Minister Vitorino,
hosted me at Lajes Air Field in the Azores, a Portuguese base
that provides a vital link between our two continents.
Again, the alliance will remain -- as it was in George
Marshall's day -- a true trans-Atlantic alliance -- with the
United States a fully engaged and active member of that alliance
and with a strong European identity.
I'd like to conclude with a brief section from George
Marshall's speech of 49 years ago, in which he said, "[America]
must face up to the responsibility which history has placed upon
it. Today, this responsibility is placed not only upon America,
but also upon all of the nations from the Atlantic to the Urals.
The responsibility is placed not only upon our nations, but on
each of us. Each of us must face up to the responsibility to
realize Marshall's vision. It is your challenge, and it is my
challenge to continue to work for peace, freedom and democracy
for all of Europe. Thank you.