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NATO Expansion: Cautious at the Crossroads
Statement by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright , North Atlantic Council special ministerial meeting, Brussels, Belgium,, Tuesday, February 18, 1997

Defense Issues: Volume 12, Number 11-- NATO Expansion: Cautious at the Crossroads The North Atlantic Treaty Organization stands at a critical juncture in the expansion of the Atlantic community and establishment of lasting unity in Europe.

 

Volume 12, Number 11

NATO Expansion: Cautious at the Crossroads

Prepared statement by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the North Atlantic Council special ministerial meeting, Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 18, 1997.

 

Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished colleagues: Thank you for welcoming me today and for coming to Brussels for this occasion. I know this is an extraordinary session of the North Atlantic Council, but it is also an extraordinary time in the history of our alliance. I look forward to our consultations and to sharing your thoughts with President Clinton upon my return home.

For me, there could be no more appropriate place than here on this continent, before this gathering of allies and friends, to make my first formal remarks overseas as America's secretary of state.

Nor could there be a more appropriate year. For it was in 1947, a half century ago, that America made its fateful decision, in the aftermath of war, to remain a European power. Instead of settling for the illusion of security as it had following World War I, America joined its European partners and built real security.

In March of that year, President Truman asked the American people, despite their weariness with sacrifice -- and their wariness of new commitments -- to rejoin the battle for the future of this continent. He said that "the free people of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of our world -- and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation." Out of that insight and the resolve of a Europe determined to remain free there evolved first the Truman Doctrine, then the Marshall Plan and soon this great aliance. I am pleased, at the very outset of my service in this new position, to reaffirm America's steadfast commitment to the sentiments expressed by President Truman 50 years ago.

America stands with Europe because Americans understand without regard to political party that it is in our national interests as well as our collective interest that we do so. Atlantic unity and European unity remain our common vision. And as we look ahead to the next 50 years, we are determined that NATO will endure and adapt and become the essential foundation for a ever-widening Atlantic community.

To judge NATO's future potential, we must understand fully its past accomplishments. NATO has always been more than a defensive shield. It was the roof over our heads when we rebuilt postwar Europe. It was the floor upon which the first structures of European unity were laid. It was the door through which one time adversaries were welcomed into our family of democracies. And because of its strength and the courage of its members, it has been a mighty deterrent to aggression.

Today, we are privileged to live at a time of relative stability and peace. But we know from history that we cannot take the extension of these blessings for granted. Peace is not a gift. It must be earned and re-earned. And if it is to last, it must be constantly reinforced.

That is why, through our joint efforts, NATO -- a great instrument of peace -- has been transformed to meet the demands of a new era. Our military forces and strategy have changed. No longer is NATO arrayed in opposition to any one enemy. Its mission is peace and cooperation with all who wish to work with it.

To this end, the alliance has sparked unprecedented collaboration on European security through the Partnership for Peace. It has adapted to new roles, including the historic mission in Bosnia, which has halted the terrible carnage there and mobilized a remarkable coalition to help implement the Dayton accords. It has undertaken a program of internal adaptation which offers greater visibility and responsibility to European members. And the prospect of its enlargement has contributed to the resolution of historic differences involving borders and minority rights in Central and Eastern Europe. In so doing, NATO has helped bring within our grasp the most elusive dream of this century: an undivided Europe, at peace, in which every nation is free and every free nation is a partner.

This vision of Europe is not the property of any one nation or group. It is an aspiration shared across the continent and on both sides of the Atlantic. And it is being realized through the efforts not only of NATO, but of the European Union, the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe], the Western European Union, the Council of Europe and democratic reformers in every affected nation.

This is critical, for increasingly in this new era, security will not rest on a single pillar. It must be supported by democratic institutions and values; bolstered by the wealth of free peoples freely engaged in production, agriculture and commerce; and glued together by habits of cooperation and consultation on matters of mutual interest.

So as we contemplate the next phase in the evolution of NATO, we understand that its development is part of, and complementary to, a larger process. But we also understand that if we are to achieve for Europe the kind of future we all want, we have to manage the evolution of this alliance correctly -- we have to get it right.

That is why we have charted our course carefully, moved ahead deliberately and acted together. It is why we have chosen as our common purpose to do for Europe's east what NATO did 50 years ago for Europe's west: to integrate new democracies, eliminate old hatreds, provide confidence in economic recovery and deter conflict. And it is why the road ahead is clear.

Let there be no doubt. NATO will complete its internal adaptation. It will begin accession talks. It will accept new members. It will create an Atlantic Partnership Council and keep the door to membership open. It will have an enhanced relationship with Ukraine,and it will do all it can to forge a long-term strategic partnership with Russia. Our adherence to this course will keep NATO evolving and modernizing through the remaining years of this century and into the next. We must stay that course. We must stand by our commitments. And I am confident we will do so.

In 20 weeks, NATO leaders will gather at a summit in Madrid. That summit will not change our direction, but rather reaffirm it. Our job during these next five months will be to move ahead, step by step, on all fronts.

NATO's internal adaptation is already well advanced. The coalition assembled in Bosnia is evidence that a new NATO has already come into being, a NATO capable of undertaking new missions, a NATO capable of mobilizing members and nonmembers alike in support of European security, a NATO capable of performing tasks that must be done in a manner only NATO could achieve.

But the adaptation of NATO is also evident in other ways. We have agreed to the Combined Joint Task Force concept. We are building the European Security and Defense Identity within the alliance. We have agreed to share NATO assets with the WEU [Western European Union] for European-led operations. We are streamlining our command structures,and we are providing more senior positions for European commanders.

Our goal in all these efforts goes right to the bottom line. We want an alliance that is stronger, broader, more cohesive and more effective. That is also our goal in expanding the alliance. The start of accession negotiations with a number of our Central European partners will be a milestone in the history of the alliance. But it is no sudden event.

The process of enlargement began three years ago at the NATO summit here in Brussels. It will not end in Madrid. Nor will it end with a division between winners and losers, for ultimately all who are interested in a peaceful and democratic Europe -- whether they are in NATO or partners of it -- will win.

Our goal should be to complete the membership negotiations by the end of this year so that we can sign accession instruments at our meeting in December. This will allow us time to complete what may be the most important part of the process: working with our parliaments and our publics to ratify the changes we will propose. That process of public information and education has already begun and should be pursued with energy in every member state.

I note in this connection that President Clinton will be submitting to our Congress later this week a report on NATO enlargement, including an estimate of the costs. [U.S.] Ambassador [Robert E.] Hunter will brief you on that report in the coming days.

At its December meeting, this council agreed on the goal that the first new members should join the alliance by 1999. At the Madrid summit, we should make that a firm stage. And they should prepare to fulfill as many obligations of membership as possible on the day they join.

For those not invited to join this year but who wish to join, NATO's door must remain open. NATO has always been a dynamic alliance and has always been willing to take in qualified new members. Today, that open door has become a force for stability and an incentive for continued democratic reform throughout the region. This promise of enlargement is helping to bring Europe together. And it is a promise that must be kept.

The intensified dialogues we have conducted previously with potential NATO members have been vital. We need to conduct another round at 16-plus-1 this spring to give every ally a chance for direct discussion with potential members and to give every aspirant a fair hearing. These dialogues must continue in some form beyond Madrid. We cannot make specific commitments, but we can and should offer a program to bring our partners up to NATO standards.

We should inform aspirants clearly what they must do to meet the political and military conditions for membership, and we should be candid about shortcomings. In this way, NATO can continue to encourage the broadening of democratic institutions and values across the continent.

Two months ago, at the ministerial here, this council also agreed to strengthen the Partnership for Peace. We must go forward to implement the elements we have approved and look to other possibilities for deepening our ties to partner countries, especially those in the new independent states.

We should also launch the Atlantic Partnership Council, so that it can be agreed at or before the Madrid summit. The council will be the collective voice of the Partnership for Peace. It will deepen consultation and practical cooperation between the alliance and partner states and further strengthen their links to NATO.

Moreover, all of our partners should be invited to the summit in Madrid. Because the summit will help shape the future of Europe, all of Europe should be represented.

Our goal is an undivided Europe. We must ensure that every European democracy, whether it joins NATO sooner, later or not at all, has a role. This includes Russia. A critical task in the weeks ahead will be to build the partnership with Russia from which both Moscow and Europe will clearly benefit.

This is not a zero-sum game. On the contrary, NATO has recognized that we cannot build a Europe that is whole and free until a democratic Russia is wholly part of Europe. And I believe that most Russians understand, or will come to understand, that their great nation can best build a secure future for itself in a Europe without walls, with a transformed NATO as a partner. The process of defining this new partnership is well under way.

We envision a NATO-Russia joint council that would promote a regular dialogue on major security issues, reach concerted decisions wherever possible and seize opportunities for joint action. Russian and NATO planners would work together at our major military commands, and we could begin immediately to develop a joint NATO-Russia brigade. We have made progress on these issues,and we have every chance through the efforts of Secretary-General [Javier] Solana, NATO's negotiator, to make more progress prior to Madrid.

We recognize that Russian leaders oppose the enlargement of our alliance and that this is not likely to change. But neither will we change. Russia has legitimate concerns that are being met: We have no plan, no need and no intention to station nuclear weapons on the territory of new members. NATO's conventional and nuclear forces have been dramatically reduced. In any event, our alliance is a positive alliance; it is not directed against any nation; and it need not be feared by any nation that does not seek first to instill fear in others.

To underline this point, last December, we agreed that the alliance should put forward a comprehensive proposal to adapt the CFE [Conventional Forces in Europe] Treaty. I am pleased to learn that we are near agreement on the details of that proposal. Early tabling of alliance ideas in Vienna will make an important contribution to our preparations for Madrid.

The alliance must be united, and I believe we are united in our policy towards Russia. We cannot realize our shared vision of a united, secure and democratic Europe without Russia, but we will not delay or abandon our own plans. But we will be steadfast in offering to Russia our respect, our friendship and an appropriate partnership in providing for the future security of Europe.

Our relationship with Ukraine is also critical. Ukraine has made great strides against tremendous odds toward freedom and stability. It is clearly ready to play its part in building a secure and undivided trans-Atlantic community. We should strive to have a NATO-Ukraine agreement ready for signature in Madrid.

Before I conclude, I also want to say a few words about Bosnia. Bosnia is a daily, practical challenge for NATO -- perhaps the most complex we have ever undertaken. But it is also deeply connected to our larger challenge of building a New Atlantic Community. For four murderous years in Bosnia, we came face to face with the future we wish to avoid for Europe. For the last year, we have seen a glimpse of the future we are trying to build.

NATO-led troops have been on the ground in Bosnia for 14 months. All 16 allies have been deeply involved, standing shoulder to shoulder with 14 partnership countries and nations from around the world. They have not achieved perfection, but compared to what they found when they arrived, they have achieved a miracle. Our troops no longer face the task of patrolling fixed fronts and former battlefields, but rather local threats to peace, such as the recent violence in Mostar and the larger challenges of reconstruction democracy and justice.

Working with the local parties and others in the international community, we must continue to diminish the need for an external military presence. We must establish a stable military situation, improve judicial and legal institutions, help more people return safely to their homes and see that those indicted as war criminals are arrested and prosecuted. On Friday, arbitrator Roberts Owen announced his decision on the status of Brcko, the one dispute that was not resolved by the Dayton accords. His decision is a fair one. The goal is to further reduce the tensions that still stand in the way of a final determination of arrangements for this sensitive area. Alliance members should work closely with the high representative to implement the decision, including contributing the additional police needed to help ensure freedom of movement in the area. And we must insist that the parties accept the decision and cooperate in fulfilling all their Dayton obligations in Brcko and throughout Bosnia.

I have said that the vision of a united and democratic Europe has been elusive and that it extends back decades in history. That reality could not better be illustrated than in a speech delivered 50 years ago by Mr. Winston Churchill. The aims he spoke of then bear a striking resemblance to the aims we speak of now:

"It is not our task or wish to draw frontier lines," he said, "but rather to smooth them away. Our aim is to bring about the unity of all the nations of all Europe. We seek to exclude no state whose territory lies in Europe and which assures to its people those fundamental ... liberties on which our democratic civilization has been created."

He went on to say that:

"Some countries will feel able to come into our circle sooner and others later according to the circumstances in which they are placed. They can all be sure that, whenever they are to join, a place and a welcome will be waiting for them at the European council table."

Twice before in this century, we have faced the challenge in the aftermath of war of building together a free, secure and united Europe. We had the opportunity after World War I, but too many, in the United States and elsewhere, lacked the vision. After World War I, as Churchill's remarks illustrate, and the memory of Marshall, Monnet, Bevin, Adenauer and their counterparts bears witness, there was no shortage of vision. But across half of Europe, the opportunity was denied.

Today, we have both the vision and the opportunity, and together we are building that Europe. It will be my great privilege to work with you on behalf of President Clinton and the American people as we continue with this historic task. And by our success, we will ensure that the next century begins with a solid foundation for lasting liberty and enduring peace.

 

 

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.