by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
During the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting
Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President d'Honneur, fellow foreign ministers,
distinguished colleagues. I am very pleased to speak with you on behalf
of the United States.
I am joined here today by, among others, our Ambassador to NATO, Robert
Hunter who is attending his last North Atlantic Council ministerial. Ambassador
Hunter has done an outstanding job in making it possible for NATO to remain
the premier alliance in the world -- while reaching out to new members
across the continent.
I think that the secret to our success in this period has been quite
straightforward. We did not choose to play it safe. At every crossroads,
we took the most far sighted way forward.
And so we meet today, having begun to enlarge our alliance, while forging
a partnership with Russia and Ukraine, building meaningful ties with other
European democracies, carrying out the most complex military operation
in NATO's history, and adapting its internal structures to meet the challenges
of a radically different world. Thoughtful critics doubted whether we
were ready to take any of these steps; virtually no one believed we could
take all five at once. In each case, we overcame the temptation to substitute
talk for action and to push hard decisions into the distant future.
Our immediate agenda involves making good on the commitments our leaders
made at the Madrid summit. I am happy to say we are keeping those promises.
I am confident we will be ready to move ahead by the time of the next
leaders' summit in 1999.
Two weeks ago, our defense ministers approved a new command structure
for NATO, which will reduce the number of headquarters from 65 to 20.
We have cleared the way for Spain's full integration into NATO. And we
welcome France's intention to draw ever closer to full participation in
Today, we hold the first ministerial of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
Our challenge will be to seize the opportunities it provides, to build
on the quiet success story that is unfolding in NATO's new "Distinctive
Partnership" with Ukraine.
Tomorrow, we will meet once again with Russia in the Permanent Joint
Council, as part of a process that is historic in importance but increasingly
businesslike and even routine in its implementation. We are continuing
to build a reservoir of practical, day-to-day cooperation with Russia
into which the mutual suspicions of the past can dissolve.
We will also meet with all of our new partners tomorrow in the Euro-Atlantic
Partnership Council. In the future, much of what NATO does will be done
in cooperation with the members of the EAPC, which can only grow in importance.
And of course, in just a few hours, we will join the Czech Republic,
Hungary and Poland to sign their protocols of accession to NATO. This
is another step forward in a process that will be on our agenda for many
years to come.
Today's signing is not just a ceremony, and it is much more than a bureaucratic
We are signing the accession protocols now because NATO has determined
that the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland are ready to meet the obligations
that allies share. The strength and reliability of their democracies places
them squarely within the European mainstream. Their economies are growing.
Their military infrastructure is more advanced than many of us expected.
They have made good progress in adapting their armed forces to NATO's
standards and procedures, thanks in large part to the Partnership for
Peace. And we are confident that over time they will achieve a mature
At the same time, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are pledging
to us today that they know exactly what will be required of them as NATO
These nations are accepting a fundamental change in their national identities.
For decades they looked to the free world for reassurance and support
in their struggles for freedom and independence. Now, for the very first
time, they are accepting responsibility for the freedom and security of
others. We will be counting on them to stand by us in our future hours
of need, and when other nations look for our reassurance and support.
This month, we have also reached agreement on the resource implications
of enlargement. We made the wise choice to base that agreement on an assessment
of the military requirements of larger NATO and the new security commitments
it will entail. We now have a clear picture of what NATO's current and
future allies will have to do to meet those commitments, and of what the
commonly funded costs of a larger NATO will be.
By approving NATO's cost studies, we have turned estimates and projections
into commitments, commitments which each of us must now carry out. We
have also confirmed what our leaders stated in Madrid: The costs of a
larger NATO will be real, for any security worth having carries a price.
But largely due to the preparations our future allies have made, those
costs will be manageable. They will be met. And they will be shared fairly.
Our next challenge will be to secure the ratification of NATO enlargement
by our parliaments. We must not prejudge the outcome of this process,
or take it for granted. President Clinton and I have been working intensively
with members of both parties in our own Congress and we know that our
Congressional and public debate will grow more vigorous in the weeks to
At the same time, we must remember that when the sixteenth parliament
has voted, it will not mark the conclusion of this effort; at most, it
will be the end of the beginning. We will have to work hard to ensure
that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are fully and successfully
integrated into our alliance.
We must also remember that our leaders have pledged NATO's doors would
remain open to new members. And they gave substance to that commitment
by agreeing to continue NATO's intensified dialogues with those nations
that still aspire to membership.
A new stage of dialogues should begin in January. We need to be ready
to review and consider next steps in this process at the Washington summit,
and our partners need to be ready, too.
The rationale for the next round of NATO enlargement is exactly the same
as the rationale for the first: It will help deter external threats to
the transatlantic community. It will expand the area of Europe where wars
do not happen. It will give aspiring countries an incentive to deepen
their reforms and to cooperate with all their neighbors. It will strengthen
our alliance by adding capable new members that share our interests and
values. And it will advance the political unity of Europe, diminishing
still further its historical divisions.
We should also approach the next round exactly as we approached the first.
We should all avoid making specific commitments to specific countries;
there is no need to raise expectations by playing favorites, or to assume
that our parliaments will always agree. As in the past, we must also insist
that the remaining candidates for membership meet the highest objective
standards before they are invited to join -- that they clear the highest
hurdles of reform, demonstrate they can meet the full obligations of membership,
and show us that their inclusion will advance NATO's strategic interests.
At the same time, we should continue to make clear that every European
democracy that is interested in membership is eligible for membership,
regardless of its history or geography. And we must continue to stress
that the question is not whether NATO will welcome new allies, but when
and how. At this point, saying "maybe" to another round is not much better
than saying "no." In fact, given the progress being made across central
and eastern Europe, we can all be confident that the first will not be
the last -- and willing to say so.
We must be responsible and deliberate in moving forward, but we must
move forward. We need a process that tells aspiring allies exactly what
they must do and how they must change to make membership a possibility.
That is the purpose -- the very practical purpose -- of the intensified
Of course, NATO is far from the only instrument we are using to build
a Europe whole, free and at peace. With the enlargement of the European
Union, the growing importance of the OSCE, and our joint efforts to promote
integration within northern and southeastern Europe, old barriers to cooperation
and trade are coming down across the Baltic, the Aegean, and the Atlantic.
We must also remember that the most dangerous threat to our vision exists
within those European nations that still resist the trend toward integration
-- within nations where democratic principles are under attack, such as
Belarus and Serbia, and where the embers of conflict still smolder, including
This has been an encouraging year for the peace process in Bosnia, largely
because our troops are doing their jobs with both customary skill and
Far from the endless quagmire that some people feared, we have been able
to reduce our troop presence as the peace process has taken hold. And
I believe a consensus is slowly forming among Bosnians, if not for the
state of harmony and understanding that would be ideal, then for the state
of security and normality to which any shattered society must initially
Last month, Bosnian Serbs held parliamentary elections in which voters
had a choice, independents had a voice, and the party of power lost almost
half its seats. In October's municipal elections, almost 150,000 Bosnians
voted across ethnic boundaries, making it clear they do not want to be
separated from their homes by permanent lines of partition.
Paramilitary police forces have been brought under SFOR's oversight.
We have shut down incendiary broadcasting, and expanded the reach of the
independent media. Economic recovery is accelerating in those areas that
are implementing the Dayton agreement. Refugees are beginning to return
to a number of communities, though this process remains painfully slow.
In addition, twenty indicted war criminals have now surrendered to the
War Crimes Tribunal or been seized -- 12 since our last ministerial. This
has placed a welcome strain on the Tribunal's resources -- and I am pleased
to announce that as we promised, we intend to provide the additional resources
the Tribunal now needs to conduct trials expeditiously. The United States
is prepared to contribute $1 million. This, combined with a generous donation
from the Dutch government, will build a new courtroom for the Tribunal
by early next Spring.
But despite the gains of the past two years, much remains to be done
before we can say with confidence that peace in Bosnia will be self-sustaining.
We knew going in that as hard as it is to reconstruct a multiethnic state
in a country that has survived an inter-ethnic war, the alternative would
entail even greater dangers and costs.
In the past, Bosnia has known peace with unity. It has seen its share
of war with disunity. One thing it has never known is peace with disunity.
Trying to replace Dayton with a partition of Bosnia would not in any way
lighten our burden, for such a historically unnatural state could only
be imposed. Borders would have to be redrawn and patrolled by our troops;
settled populations uprooted; refugees removed again from the homes they
Partition is not only wrong; it is unrealistic. That is why we prefer
the choice of risks and responsibilities that we and the parties embraced
in Dayton, for that choice has served goals that are both worthwhile and
Ever since Dayton, the United States has supported an effective NATO
mission in Bosnia. We have done so because it did not serve American interests
to see aggression undeterred, hatred unleashed, genocide unchecked and
unpunished in the heart of Europe. It would not have served our interests
to see NATO become an alliance that stands up bravely to hypothetical
future challenges, while running away from the real challenges of the
present. NATO adaptation and enlargement would have been empty theoretical
exercises had we not put this alliance to work when its interests and
values are threatened.
The question now is what, if any, military presence will be required
in Bosnia after SFOR's mission is complete. Neither NATO nor the United
States have made any final decisions. But NATO is now assessing the range
of options should we decide to stay after June, 1998.
Over the coming months, President Clinton will continue to make the case
that our engagement in Bosnia serves U.S. interests. Our Congress will
respond with appropriate questions about the nature of our engagement
and the role our allies are playing.
I will have no problem praising Europe's contributions to Bosnia. Our
allies had troops on the ground long before the United States did and
we have been sharing the same risks together ever since Dayton. But there
is one question I will not be able to answer, and that is why the United
States has provided 90% of the funds for training and equipping the Bosnian
police, when law and order is so critical to any sensible exit strategy.
One of our most important challenges is to develop civilian police forces
in Bosnia that are professional, effective and trusted by all ethnic communities.
For as long as Bosnians depend on outsiders for public security, we will
not be able to leave Bosnia without causing public security to fall apart.
And without public security, there is simply no way we will be able to
meet critical goals such as the return of refugees from Western Europe.
We must give the IPTF the resources and qualified personnel it needs
to bring local police up to European standards. The IPTF must be prepared
to act assertively within its mandate. And we must accept that in the
best of circumstances, its work will take time.
As we consider ways to support the IPTF, we may want to look to the kinds
of capabilities that can be found in many countries, in the form of Gendarmes
and Carabinieri. Such forces could increase SFOR's flexibility, enhancing
the implementation of Dayton as well as force protection.
The United States will continue to do its share. But in key areas such
as this, other members of the alliance need to do much, much more. This
will increase the confidence of our Congress that both Europe and the
United States will fairly and effectively share the burden of sustaining
the peace process in Bosnia.
It is important that we meet our shared responsibilities in Bosnia for
other reasons as well.
We may not face a challenge like Bosnia in Europe again; indeed, our
strategy of integration makes it far less likely that we will. But the
United States and Europe will certainly face challenges beyond Europe's
shores. Our nations share global interests that require us to work together
with the same degree of solidarity that we have long maintained on this
I believe we have obligations to one another, as allies and as friends,
that all of us must at times strive harder to meet.
Within this category I include America's responsibility to pay its dues
to international organizations such as the UN -- not least because when
we do not pay, we place an even greater burden on our closest allies.
All I can say is that I will have no higher priority in the coming year
than to fix this problem, working with you to revise the UN scale of assessments
and with our Congress.
But our most important responsibility is to stand together when our security
interests are threatened. That is what we did for 40 years on the Fulda
Gap. It is what we are doing in Bosnia. It is what we did in the Gulf
War, though NATO was not formally in the lead, and what we continue to
do in the Gulf now.
During the Cold War, we were brought together by our overriding interest
in containing the Soviet Union; we did not allow other considerations
to intrude upon this one.
Many people believe that we no longer face such a unifying threat, but
I believe we do, and NATO has recognized it before. It is to stop the
proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. It is to douse
the combustible combination of technology and terror, the possibility,
as unthinkable as it may seem, that weapons of mass destruction will fall
into the hands of people who have no compunctions about using them.
This threat emanates largely from the Middle East and Eurasia, so Europe
is especially at risk. It is the overriding security interest of our time,
in the sense that it simply cannot be balanced against competing political
or commercial concerns.
We need to think more deeply together about how we deal with this threat
both through the alliance and outside it. A larger NATO in and of itself
does not address it. We should keep these considerations in mind as we
update NATO's strategic concept.
Part of our larger challenge is to set the highest possible standards
against proliferation, to ensure that the rules of the international system
are set by its friends, not by its enemies. With the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty now permanent, the Chemical Weapons Convention now in force, and
the Comprehensive Test Ban signed by more than 145 countries, we have
made a good start. A critical next step is to give teeth to the Biological
Weapons Convention, by negotiating a binding compliance protocol.
Indeed, our most critical challenge is to enforce compliance with the
rules we set, and this is a question of political will.
In the case of Iraq, our nations have backed a tough sanctions, inspection
and monitoring regime to prevent Saddam Hussein from ever again possessing
or using weapons of mass destruction. As Ambassador Butler's most recent
mission demonstrated, we have not yet received the assurances we need
to get unconditional, unrestricted access to sites in Iraq, which we agree
remains our absolute goal.
But in other problem areas, we have not always seen eye to eye, especially
when it comes to the proper balance between sanctions and diplomacy.
I know there is a sense among some Europeans that the United States
is too inclined to act unilaterally and too quick to pull the sanctions
trigger. There is likewise a sense among some Americans that too often,
the United States takes the heat for dealing with difficult issues while
others take the contracts -- that our willingness to take responsibility
for peace and security makes it easier for others to shirk theirs.
Perceptions do matter. But I believe we also need to look beyond them,
to recognize both America's desire to act in concert with our allies whenever
that is possible, as well as Europe's contributions to global peace, security
We must also always remember that we need each other, that we have obligations
to one another, and that we have fundamentally the same interests.
Bosnia reminded us that there is no such thing as a major threat to
Europe that is not also a threat to America; in just the same way, there
is no threat to America that is not also a threat to Europe. We are all
members of an alliance that makes the security of the people of Paris
and Oslo and Rome an American interest and responsibility, just as it
makes the security of New Yorkers and Los Angelinos a European interest
We must also remember that when the world needs principled, purposeful
leadership against aggression, proliferation and terror, the nations represented
in this room have to set other concerns aside and lead, because few others
can or will. Each of us must act individually as if the safety of the
world depended on our individual actions, because very often it does.
Not long ago, I was testifying before the United States Senate on NATO
enlargement. I closed by saying that across the whole scope of human activity,
from the life of the family and the neighborhood, to the politics of our
nation and the world, when we want to get something done we start by banding
together with those who are closest to us in values and outlook.
In a world where attention to what is wrong often drowns out attention
to what is right, none of us can afford to forget our friends, or to take
for granted those upon whom we can rely.
That is why America cultivates its relationship with Europe and why
we believe in this alliance. I have no greater desire as Secretary of
State than to deepen and extend the partnership among us -- a partnership
in which we must always be able to count on you, and you must always be
able to count on us, on this continent and around the world.