Defense Issues: Volume 11, Number 76-- Second Chance to Build a Whole Europe Just as the NATO-Russia relationship is being forged in Bosnia, so too is NATO's future. It is in Bosnia we are sending the message that NATO is the bedrock on which Europe's future security and stability will be built.
Volume 11, Number 76
Second Chance to Build a Whole Europe
Prepared remarks of Secretary of Defense William J. Perry to the Western European Union Transatlantic Forum, Washington, 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 postwar 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 progress.
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 and NATO.
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 come.
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 Russian forces.
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 healthy region.
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 Russia.
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 identity.
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, [Portuguese Defense] Minister [Antonio] 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.
Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/index.html.