June 14, 1996

Press Opportunity

by Secretary of Defense
William J. Perry

SECRETARY PERRY: The stability of Europe on into the next century depends, first of all on maintaining a strong NATO, secondly on developing a positive, constructive relationship between NATO and Russia, and third, on building on the very successful Partnership for Peace program, which is already underway.

Yesterday at our meetings, we took very substantial actions to deal with the changes that are occuring in the world, but still allow NATO to maintain its strength on into the next century. Those have already been reported to you.

Today, we concentrated on developing the NATO-Russia relationship, and on building on Partnership for Peace. With Russia, we essentially agreed to build on the relationship that has already been formed as a part of Russia's participation in IFOR, and to institutionalize -- to make permanent -- those arrangements. And that's going to include having Russian officers assigned at SHAPE, and to some of the major subordinate commands, and to have NATO officers assigned to the General Staff in Moscow.

In terms of the Partnership for Peace, we had excellent meetings today, first of all reviewing the truly amazing progress that has been made with the 27 Partner nations. We laid out a plan for a very extensive and intensive set of exercises for this coming year. And we had an opportunity to learn about the activities among Partner nations. For example, the formation of the BALTBAT -- the Baltic Battalion -- which has been stimulated by Denmark, in which three different Baltic countries have formed a peacekeeping battalion and have a training program underway in Latvia, and have some of their forces participating with the Nordic Battalion in Bosnia.

That was used as a model for three Central Asian countries who were forming peacekeeping battalions in their three countries: Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The Poles are forming a joint battalion with Lithuania, and also a joint [battalion] between Poland and Ukraine. So we have a very substantial activity among the Partner nations. I could not be more pleased with the very positive developments I've had from these historic meetings the last two days.

And with that I'll be prepared to take a question or two.

Q: Dr. Perry, given General Grachev's strongly stated objection to the expansion of NATO, were you surprised -- and in fact was General Grachev surprised -- at how well things went today, and the steps that were taken?

SECRETARY PERRY: General -- Minister Grachev, at the 16-plus-1 meeting that we had, made an opening speech in which he laid out the objections which Russia has made for many months now to the expansion of NATO. Then he offered a whole set of very constructive proposals for how NATO and Russia could work together. That was followed by myself and the other NATO defense ministers welcoming those parts of the proposals, and accepting them, in effect, and we came to agreement in concept on how to proceed on those. And over the next few months we will make the specific arrangements for basically taking the IFOR liaison program that we have set up and making it a permanent institutional feature of the NATO-Russia relationship. This is a very positive step forward, and I could not be happier about how well that has gone. I would also say that the whole tone of the meeting was very positive and very open and very warm. There was no hostility, no accusations and charges on both sides.

Q: Were you surprised on this and how quickly it moved, and there are reports that General Grachev, in fact, was pleased and surprised at how quickly this moved.

SECRETARY PERRY: General Grachev, I thought, was very positive and very pleased with the meeting. I had a bilateral meeting with Mr. Grachev after the meeting, and that was even more positive. So, yes, I think it was a very good meeting.

BACON: Thank you very much.


 [ Go to Speeches Menu ]  [ Go to Homepage ]