by US Secretary
of State, Madeleine K. Albright
Mr. Secretary-General, fellow ministers, distinguished colleagues, good
morning. This is the last time I will have a chance to participate in a
meeting of this Council, and it is astonishing to me that in just a few
short years, we have accomplished so much.
at the North Atlantic Council
Since 1997, we have given our Alliance new life by enlarging its membership,
enhancing its partnerships and preparing it to meet 21st Century threats.
We have underlined its importance by acting together to reverse ethnic
cleansing in Kosovo and set the stage for an upsurge of democracy in Southeast
Europe. And we have begun forging historic new links with the European
Today, and tomorrow, we will discuss important next steps, but first
I want to congratulate Secretary General Robertson on the completion of
a very successful first year in office. The past twelve months have been
a time of progress for Europe, democracy and NATO. Lord Robertson has
earned our confidence and deserves our praise. The military staff also
merits our gratitude for their fine work.
I am deeply grateful, as well, to each of you for the spirit of cooperation
with which you have approached our discussions, and the friendships we
have developed. Together, we have built a strong record in which we can
each take pride.
I believe the future will hold even greater success, and that the new
American Administration will maintain my nation's bedrock commitment to
this Alliance and to its members.
It is inconceivable that any administration at any point in the new century
will forget the central lessons of the last, which is that America cannot
be secure unless Europe is secure, and that a united NATO is the most
effective force for international stability, freedom and peace the world
has ever known.
Since the Cold War ended, our collective task has been to build and adapt
institutions that will defend freedom, foster prosperity and provide security
for future generations. There are many elements to this job, including
the expansion of the EU and adaptation of the OSCE, but none is more vital
than ensuring NATO's effectiveness during its second fifty years and beyond.
As French President Chirac noted last week in Nice, NATO "is the
very foundation of our defense."
That is why it is so important that we succeed in our goal of building
a NATO that is truly able to make, keep and build peace in the 21st Century.
This means an Alliance that is 1) true to its founding principles; 2)
broader, more flexible, and committed to collective defense; 3) able to
meet the full spectrum of current and future threats to our security;
4) strengthened by and open to new members; and 5) working with its partners
to create a future of security, prosperity and democracy for the entire
An Active and Effective NATO.
In recent years, our ability to construct such an effective Alliance
has been put to the test in the Balkans.
During the past decade, this region survived severe trials that its people
will not soon forget. But today, the nations of Southeast Europe are moving
in the right direction. Due in no small measure to the men and women of
SFOR and KFOR, the region is at peace. Every state has a democratically
elected government. Progress is being made in the return of refugees and
displaced persons. And cooperation with the war crimes tribunal at The
Hague--although still not sufficient--has increased.
Dramatic evidence of the region's turnaround is on display in Croatia,
the newest member of the EAPC and Partnership for Peace. Croatia's new
leaders inherited hard economic problems, but they are determined to guide
their nation into the mainstream of a prosperous and democratic Europe.
In that effort, they both need and deserve the full backing of NATO members.
The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains fragile, and the process
of building a democratic and economically viable state remains slow. There
is daily progress, however, on refugee returns. And the November elections
showed that while nationalists retain influence, moderate political forces
are gradually gaining strength.
The keys to further gains are not hard to identify. Leaders of the major
ethnic groups must recognize that unity is in the best interests of all
and that joint institutions--including an integrated military--will benefit
all. Bosnia does not need, and cannot afford, three armies. Moreover,
a much stronger commitment to economic reform and fighting corruption
is essential if Bosnia is to attract the investments it must have to grow.
The United States welcomes warmly the democratic election of a new President
in Yugoslavia. We admire the courage and love for freedom shown by the
Yugoslav people during their difficult campaign and support their efforts
now to establish the rule of law, initiate economic reforms, and address
urgent energy and budgetary needs.
We also join President Kostunica in condemning violence committed by
armed extremists in the Presevo Valley. We should not underestimate the
problems there or let them get out of hand. We urge restraint on all sides
and support efforts by KFOR to improve security and prevent further incidents.
In Kosovo, KFOR's job is to support the work of the UN Mission in carrying
out Security Council Resolution 1244. Our purpose must be a Kosovo where
different ethnic groups can live together democratically and peacefully.
Since our last meeting, Kosovo held landmark municipal elections that
constitute a step toward autonomous self-government. The new year holds
the promise of further progress. We urge UNMIK to move ahead rapidly with
consultations on how to shape Kosovo's democratic institutions for autonomous
self-government, and then to issue the necessary regulations. General
elections to determine who will lead these institutions should follow
as soon as possible, and certainly by next summer. We must keep on track.
Clearly, KFOR and the UNMIK police retain a crucial security role. Although
the level of violence has dropped, harmful incidents continue and ethnic
tensions in some areas remain high. We are also concerned by the threat
posed to Kosovo's future by organized crime. The OSCE has done a good
job in training the Kosovo Police Service, but much work remains to be
Encouraging progress has been made in the return of refugees and displaced
persons, but the job remains far from finished. I want to emphasize that
all those who have been illegally displaced have the right to return,
including ethnic Serbs seeking to reclaim their homes in Kosovo.
The United States continues to urge both the immediate release of Kosovar
Albanians detained in Serbia without proper grounds, and a rapid and comprehensive
accounting of missing persons throughout the region.
The recent and remarkable democratic gains in Southeast Europe constitute
an opportunity, not a solution. A new day has dawned, but clouds on the
horizon have not yet lifted. Violent extremism remains a threat. Democratic
habits will require time to take hold. Economic recovery has just begun.
Croatia needs to do what is necessary to maintain its recently improved
record of cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal at The
Hague, and Yugoslavia must meet its obligations, as well.
Some will look at the problems that remain in Southeast Europe and suggest
that solutions will take too long, or that the job is just too hard, or
that the responsibility for acting belongs to some of us, but not all.
I do not agree. Our responsibilities in the Balkans are collective and
continual. We cannot afford to call the job finished when it is not.
The progress made thus far could not have happened without our unity,
and I am convinced that if we persist, together with the people of Southeast
Europe, we can write a new and truly hopeful chapter in the history of
There is no question that this will require a long-term commitment, and
that each of us must do our share. But such a commitment is worthwhile.
Because our success would be a priceless gift to the future, and make
NATO's job easier for decades to come.
A Broader NATO
Our work in Southeast Europe is intrinsically linked to the Alliance's
mission, in parallel and partnership with the EU, to construct an institutional
framework in which all European democracies can be integrated into the
Our vision of a NATO in the 21st Century begins with an Alliance that
is broader with new members and closer partnerships.
The enlargement of the Alliance, along with that of the EU, is a natural
consequence of the evolution of a peaceful, undivided and democratic Europe.
NATO's door remains open to nations aspiring to membership, and the Alliance
will be active in its efforts to help them walk through it.
In 2002, the Alliance will have an opportunity to advance that vision
when it considers enlargement again at its summit in Prague. There couldn't
be a more fitting setting for Alliance leaders to make such momentous
The valuable contributions that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland
have made to our Alliance, including their participation in our efforts
in the Balkans, have only underscored the wisdom of our decision to invite
them to join NATO.
Through the Membership Action Plan and our bilateral assistance programs,
we must continue to help the countries aspiring to membership become the
best candidates they can be. I am confident that candidates will be in
a position to contribute to our common security, and we will keep our
pledge that the first new members will not be the last.
Just as critical to our concept of a broader NATO are the relationships
we have built with our partners, including Russia and Ukraine. In meetings
later today and tomorrow, I will share U.S. views about the importance
of our relationships in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the NATO-Russia
Permanent Joint Council and the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
A More Flexible and Capable NATO
In addition to a broader Alliance, our vision of a 21st Century NATO
includes a more flexible and capable Alliance. Obtaining that flexibility
depends on whether or not we can agree to a European Security and Defense
Identity (ESDI) which enables Europe to assume a greater share of our
common responsibilities while strengthening the Alliance.
America's position on ESDI is well known to you and has not changed.
To put it most simply, we are for it.
We support a stronger, more capable Europe that is able to act effectively
with us or--if the Alliance chooses not to engage--without us. A successful
ESDI will be good for Europe, good for the United States, and good for
the entire transatlantic relationship.
The reason is clear. If Europe's military capacity is increasingly effective,
more modern, and better adapted to meet new dangers, our Alliance will
be more versatile, capable and balanced.
That is why it matters so much that we get ESDI right. Our colleague,
Joschka Fischer, has talked about the finality of integration in Europe.
I want to emphasize the finality--the enduring character--of the transatlantic
link. If ESDI is done right, our ties will be even stronger.
The challenge is worth undertaking because of the need to improve capabilities.
NATO's determined campaign to reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo succeeded,
but it also revealed serious shortcomings in our preparedness to meet
In response, we need to move forward on all fronts, through the Defense
Capabilities Initiative (DCI); through ESDI within the Alliance framework;
and through the EU's effort to strengthen the capabilities of its member
Building capabilities is hard, expensive and takes time. But without
the necessary commitment and investment, there can be no meaningful ESDI,
and no effective way for the EU to meet its Headline Goal.
The United States is encouraged, therefore, by the EU's efforts. We welcomed
the recent Capabilities Commitment Conference and the announcement of
national pledges by EU states and their associated partners.
These efforts will only succeed, however, if the EU and NATO harness
their respective strengths to a common purpose. That is why we are working
to forge a true strategic partnership between these two institutions.
In this effort, there is no room for rivalry, jealousy or complacency.
The stakes are simply too high. And the consequences of a failure to cooperate
would weaken NATO, the EU and Europe as a whole. By working together,
we can address critical shortfalls while taking advantage of existing
Over the past few months, both the EU and NATO have come far. But if
we are going to get it right, hard work remains on four tasks.
First, we must take a coherent and collaborative approach to force planning.
We have taken a good step in this direction by recognizing that we are
drawing on a common set of armed forces, and that the goals of our two
institutions cannot be allowed to diverge.
Second, it is important at this meeting for Ministers to reinforce our
backing for assured EU access to NATO operational planning. This is not
a gift from NATO to the EU. Rather, it is in our own interest to avoid
duplication and enable the EU to focus on improving capabilities in the
Third, we need to put in place reliable arrangements for regular consultations
to ensure the effective partnership between the EU and NATO that we all
NATO and the EU have common members, mutual interests, overlapping responsibilities
and a shared memory of the costs of division and rivalry within Europe.
We each have a vital stake in our ability to act together.
During the recent Nice summit, EU leaders expressed strong support for
regular and close consultations with NATO. Permanent arrangements would
enable the Alliance to make its assets and capabilities available to EU-led
operations without compromising either organization's autonomy.
Finally, we must ensure that all allies are given adequate means to participate
and contribute to EU defense activities, particularly when those activities
could affect the security of allied countries.
The United States welcomes the good faith efforts the EU is making to
provide an inclusive role for non-EU allies. We believe that the best
assurance all allies have that the development of European security and
defense arrangements will be compatible with their interests is the closest
possible relationship between the EU and NATO. This is another reason
we wish to assure the EU of the availability of NATO planning.
My colleagues, the strategic partnership we are all seeking to forge
between NATO and the EU cannot be part-time. It cannot be turned on and
off like a faucet.
Like America's commitment to Europe, it must be durable and unwavering,
and based on a clear and shared understanding that our fundamental security
interests are indivisible.
Tomorrow's historic meeting of NATO and EU Ministers is an opportunity
for us to begin to lay the foundation for that kind of partnership between
the two core institutions of our community. But we are not there yet.
Between now and tomorrow evening, we need to reach a clear decision on
assured access. This may require some additional assurances-among allies-on
how non-EU allies will be treated. We also need to find a practical compromise
on permanent political arrangements. The United States is prepared to
work closely with all of you to achieve meaningful steps toward our shared
goal of a true partnership between NATO and the EU.
Our vision of a more flexible Alliance committed to collective defense,
but capable of addressing current and future risks will increasingly depend
on transatlantic defense industrial cooperation.
This is one of the cornerstones of our support for NATO's Defense Capabilities
Initiative and ESDI. As part of an effort to enhance that cooperation,
I launched the Defense Trade Security Initiative (DTSI) at the NAC ministerial
in Florence. DTSI, a collaborative effort between the U.S. Departments
of State and Defense, is the first major post-Cold War adjustment to the
U.S. defense export control system.
DTSI is designed to (1) enhance allied and coalition interoperability
by facilitating the transfer to allies of critical U.S.-origin defense
items; (2) promote a robust transatlantic defense industrial base that
can provide innovative and affordable products needed to meet NATO requirements;
and (3) strengthen export controls by enhancing compliance and enforcement.
This initiative substantially improves the U.S. export control system.
For example, it facilitates U.S. companies' efforts to enter into joint
arrangements with allies' companies; allows European companies to participate
more easily with U.S. companies in bidding on U.S. Defense Department
programs; and provides for expedited licensing for defense trade in support
of DCI, with a ten-day turnaround in most cases.
I am pleased to report that all DTSI-required regulatory changes to the
International Traffic in Arms Regulations are now in effect. We are also
doubling our licensing personnel and upgrading their computers to speed
The U.S. is committed to the success of all elements of this Initiative,
which will greatly benefit transatlantic defense cooperation for many
years to come.
Preparing for future threats also means that we must increasingly deal
with threats posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the means
of their delivery. We recognize that proliferation poses a direct military
threat to Allied territory, populations and forces. Accordingly, we continue
to implement the Washington Summit's WMD initiative.
Over the past year, we have consulted closely with our Allies on development
of a national missile defense system. These consultations were an important
factor in President Clinton's decision to delay deployment.
Clearly, WMD and missile proliferation remain serious concerns to the
Alliance and a real threat to which Allies must respond.
The U.S. remains committed to close consultations on our missile defense
policy and to discussions with Russia on further reductions in strategic
offensive arms and modifications of the ABM Treaty to accommodate deployment
of a limited national missile defense system.
I believe the Alliance will increasingly need to explore how to cooperate
on common missile defense efforts in order to meet common security needs
and maintain the unity of the Alliance in this critical area.
Mr. Secretary General and colleagues, I have considered it a great privilege
to serve in this Council over the past four years. And I thank each of
you for the dedication you have brought to our deliberations. Since 1997,
we have accomplished much, enlarging our Alliance, strengthening our partnerships,
upholding democratic values, and laying the foundation for a strategic
partnership between NATO and the EU.
As I prepare to depart office, I think back to the beginning of the last
decade. And to the many questions that were raised about the unity and
purpose of our Alliance in the absence of a Cold War threat. And I am
pleased to say that, together, we have decisively answered those questions.
Today, there is no doubt that NATO is and must remain the instrument
of choice in defending the security and freedom of the Euro-Atlantic community.
Nor can there be any question about NATO's unifying role. For our Alliance
is not a threat to any nation. On the contrary, it is a partner to every
nation that embraces democracy and is willing to join us in building a
more peaceful and lawful world.
Perhaps it is because President Clinton has been in Ireland this week,
but I am reminded of the words of William Butler Yeats, who warned us
that when the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passion,
anarchy is loosed upon the world, and the center cannot hold.
Our generation has no greater task than to see that the center does hold.
That means we must never lose sight of our shared understanding that
the destinies of Europe and America are linked.
Looking back, we know that when we have been together, we have prevailed.
When we have been divided, we have invited disaster.
Like most of you, I was born on this side of the Atlantic. And my life's
direction was shaped by the turmoil in Europe half a century ago.
There is nothing unique or unusual in this except that I have been given
the opportunity to represent the United States to the world, and to work
with you on behalf of an Alliance and a set of relationships to which
I am utterly devoted, and to which we all owe our liberty.
I believe that free people working together are the most powerful and
productive generators of human progress. And that NATO embodies that principle
more consistently and effectively than any other single institution.
I will never forget my time here, or the friendships I have made. You
may always count upon my support. And you have my assurance that America's
commitment to NATO and to the Euro-Atlantic partnership will continue
for generations to come.