of Secretary General and General Lebed
As you know, this morning Mr. Lebed has been in a long exchange of views with me. Later he had the opportunity to talk to the Chairman of the Military Committee. We then had lunch together. Weve just finished a meeting with the sixteen representatives of the 16 allied countries and tomorrow, as you know, he will have the opportunity of going to SHAPE and spend the day there with General Joulwan. As you see, its a very open session, we have opened the doors of NATO - here and at SHAPE - so that Mr Lebed can have a good idea of what we are doing now, what NATO is about today.
Let me try to very briefly summarize what to my mind are the positive aspects of the visit and also to tell you what are the points on which we still have different perceptions. I think that we agree that at this moment it is very important that we all contribute to construct a new scheme, a new architecture of security on our continent. In that architecture NATO should play an important role together with other institutions. We agree on that. We agree that Russia should play a basic role in this new architecture.
We also agree that NATO/Russia relations are fundamental for that purpose and that NATO/Russia relations should have two components: a political component - we are going to continue working towards a definition of how this political relation should get better - and also a military component through the exchange of liaison officers in one and the other - NATO and Russia. But these are the three points on which I do think we have a solid consent. But I wouldnt say the truth if I did not admit that we have different perceptions about the idea of opening NATO. And you know NATO is an open organization, it has the process of opening to new members on track, we want to do it without surprises, we want to do it in a transparent manner, but we want to do it.
Here we have different perceptions from our friends who represent the Russian Federation. Now the question: how can we overcome these different perceptions? I think that Mr. Lebed agrees with me that the best way to overcome this is to continue working together. We are working together in many fields, but we have to continue working together hand in hand, Russia and NATO. Were doing that in Bosnia. And without any doubt no explanation is needed to a Russian soldier, who is together in Bosnia with a NATO soldier, to explain what NATO is today and what we want to do together.
Therefore we have to continue working together in Bosnia, working together also on non-proliferation, working together on arms control, working together in so many fields. But we have also to keep on talking together, talking to each other and talking to each other in a civilized manner, in a rational manner and try to do it like I think we have done it today, rationally and civilized. I think if we continue working in that direction, we will be able to overcome the different perceptions or the misconceptions that we have today that separate us at this point.
Before giving the floor to Mr. Lebed I would like to say a word directly to him. I want to thank him very, very much for the possibility of having today very good, open and frank conversations and exchange of ideas in a climate of transparency, in a climate of rationality, a climate of civilized debate, which I think is the best way that we can try to overcome the misconceptions that still may separate the Russian Federations point from NATOs point of view. Mr. Lebed, thank you very much for your visit. You know that we opened the doors of NATO to you today, I hope that this first day will not be the last. Thank you very much, the floor is yours.
The last country to join NATO was Spain ten years ago. And we also discussed the possible negative consequences of enlarging NATO and we came to the conclusion that we need to establish the kind of system which would be a framework for us to be able to do decision making on a joint basis. And to implement those decisions together, while bearing joint responsibility for whether those decisions are indeed implemented or not. Another thing we agreed on was that upon this would depend the future of this planet we call Earth. Were still working together, well carry on working together tomorrow as well and Id like to express here in public once again our confidence that we will find a mutually acceptable approach to tackling all these difficult but vital issues.
Patricia Kelly, CNN: My question is for General Lebed. Sir, did you view NATO enlargement as inevitable and could you also say what you think Russia can do to slow down NATOs plans for expansion? Other ministers have said in the past that it is coming too soon. First of all do you regard it as inevitable? What can you do to slow it down?
Gen. Lebed: We propose that we should tackle all these problems coolly on the basis of a reason rather than emotion. Leave emotion out of it completely. And we also recommend that we shouldnt mix up the two issues: one is the political legitimacy of this process and the other is whether its appropriate at this moment. Of course, legally speaking, politically speaking, any independent sovereign nation has every right to decide which organisations it wants to join. And the political legitimacy of the timing is what were concerned about. I wont go into the details of this, we did discuss this in great detail in my meeting with Mr. Solana. Of course its NATOs own internal business what it decides. Whatever NATO decides Russia is not immediately going to go into hysterics.
Mr. Shuster, Radio Liberty: I have a question to the Secretary and the Secretary General. On the 17th June when the results of the first round of presidential elections were made known, you were the hero of the day and your attitude to NATO enlargement then was "let them enlarge, itll cost them a bomb, but its not a threat to Russia". Now your position has changed, why has your position on that changed? And to Secretary General: it was known all along that Russian public opinion is very sensitive to the question of NATO enlargement. Have the leaders of NATO ever considered that the plans to enlarge NATO may destablize Russia and may be dangerous and that those plans are premature?
Gen. Lebed: Excellent. My opinion hasnt changed. That view which was expressed during the meeting with Mr. Clinton, the President of the United States, was seen as a very weighty argument at the time. That was one of the arguments which I put forward in the past and it was very much in the air today as well. But the point of my proposal and the proposals that Ive been making, remains that NATO needs to weigh up - or rather we need to weigh up together - every step we take so as to reach a joint decision which will provide equal security for all. Now the stage at which this happens, that is where we need to show foresight in deciding about what happens when.
And I do think it is the obligation of the leaders of Russia and the leaders of the sixteen countries to explain it clearly to our own public opinion, because we do believe that we are doing this correctly, we do believe that what we are doing is going to bring to our continent peace and stability and therefore prosperity. A leader is somebody who should be able to speak up and speak clearly to his people and try to explain what is the new Europe we want to construct - together: NATO and Russia.
Dimitri Khavine, Russian Line: Question to Mr. Lebed for Russian Television. You are a professional soldier and you are bound to have a view of NATO which was built up over many, many years. Now you have spent one day here talking face to face with the NATO people. Has your view of NATO changed? Have you got some new opinions of NATO and if so, what?
Gen. Lebed: I proposed today to put off this question of whether NATO should enlarge or not? Let the next generation decide. They are not going to have this old mentality, stuck with it the way our generation is. Theyre going to have a fresh approach. Unfortunately were all the products and the victims of the Cold War and those decades of building up a mentality cant just be wiped out in one day. Weve had a very civilized discussion today. Ive heard the words of a lot of very intelligent people who weighed those words very carefully and this means that theres a lot of confidence that in the end, at the end of the day, we will find common ground.
Bill Droziak, Washington Post: You said earlier upon your arrival that you were bringing new proposals. Could you elaborate on these? For Secretary General Solana: could we have your response to these, whether you find any hope for compromise?
Gen. Lebed: I certainly offered my proposals under three main headings, three principles: that we should set up a system for joint decision making, joint implementation of those decisions and joint responsibility for the implementation, that is the basis on which my proposals were laid. The rest was just details and that was what I brought here to offer to Mr. Solana.
Secretary General: I will try to elaborate a little bit further on what Mr. Lebed has said. I think that we have at this point some practical ideas on which we should concentrate and work. As you know we have basically three plans which we are working on. First: adaptation of NATO. Second: opening of NATO. Third NATO/Russia relations. We have to do that in a convergent manner. As you know our aim would be to have in the middle of next year a summit in which all these three vectors can converge and the Summit would then determine them for the future.
Mark Laity, BBC: Question to General Lebed. You have talked about the next generation deciding on enlargement and yet NATO intends to decide on new members next year. Is this acceptable to you? To Mr. Solana: is it acceptable to you? And do you have any idea of a sequence: of a charter first and enlargement second?
Gen. Lebed: If it was acceptable to us then what would we be talking about here? We would just shake hands, we would join NATO, wed recommend the whole world to join NATO and there wouldnt be any problem, everybody would be NATO members then.
Secretary General: I think I answered your question in the one before. I said clearly there are three vectors, or three plans, or whatever you want to call it, in which we are working: adaptation of NATO - internal, external - and NATO/Russia relations. I would like to think that these three vectors should advance in a convergent manner and we would like to have - if possible - the three finished by the time of the Summit, which may take place in the middle of next year.
György Foris, MTI (Hungary): Two short concrete questions, the first to General Lebed. One Russian politician has just declared - Vladimir Lukin actually - that NATO enlargement could affect the attitude of Russia towards not just the CFE agreement but also towards the Start II agreement. Can you confirm that? How are they linked: the future of this agreement and the future of the enlargement? And to the Secretary General: whats your position on the idea of having a legally binding charter with Russia and arent you afraid that it could be a question on which your agreement with Russia could sink in the future?
Gen. Lebed: Thats the problem, that it might indeed and thats what I was talking about today. When I was suggesting that the problem should be tackled sequentially: first of all NATO reorganization, then working out NATO/Russia relations and then following on from that, deciding on whether NATO should be enlarged, in what order and how many countries. When you look at the Duma today, most of the members consider that NATO enlargement will lead to enormous changes in the strategic climate and therefore it will not be possible to ratify the Start II treaty. And were also worried about all the other treaties which have already been agreed on.
There is a whole context of treaties of which they will have to be a part, and that might be affected too, but I dont think a charter is enough. We need to have either an agreement or a treaty which would be very specific in terms of its legal implications and under that treaty all the duties and rights of those who have signed that treaty would be made quite clear and Start I and Start II would be signed in that context along with the treaty on the elimination of chemical weapons and several other treaties as well. Its a problem which is a very widespread one and we need an integrated approach. The main thing is not to hurry or we might just trip up.
Secretary General: Here is one of the points on which we do not agree. The position of Russia - as you have heard - is to achieve the three plans one after the other, and the last one to be the decision of opening NATO. The classical position of NATO is that the three vectors should be in parallel. Doing the three things in a convergent manner, targeting the Summit in 1997, could be a way out of this problem. I think so and I hope so and we will continue working on that. Let me also say that as far as the CFE treaty is concerned, that probably tomorrow NATO nations will table in Vienna a proposal for a modification of the CFE treaty, that will take into account several issues that are of concern to Russia, including probably the question of grouping, which - as you know - is one of the most complicated questions that we have to tackle in finding out whatever adaptation of the CFE treaty might be possible.
And going back to the last question, you asked about a treaty, or charter - let me call it at this stage a document without being more precise. We have to continue working about the nature, the legal nature of that document. What we do agree is that the document cannot only be a smoke screen. It should be a document - if I may use this word - with meat, with substance. And meat, in the two lines that I said before, of the political aspects, the implementation mechanism, etc., and also in the military and bilateral relations, but it will be a little bit too early to elaborate further on that. Thats what we would like to do. Were going to continue working in that direction.