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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 

BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS 

NOVEMBER 21, 1994 

 

 

Secretary Christopher, NATO Secretary General Claes 

NATO:  Meeting New Challenges 

Statements following meeting, Washington, DC, November 21, 1994. 

 

Secretary Christopher.  Good morning.  I am pleased to welcome Willy 

Claes on his first official visit to Washington as Secretary General of 

NATO.  Mr. Claes, of course, is well known to us due to his 

distinguished service as the Foreign Minister of Belgium.  He takes his 

new role at a defining moment in the history of NATO and also of Europe.  

His visit here is particularly timely with respect to the long-term 

challenges we face in Europe and the immediate challenges we face in 

Bosnia. 



Secretary General Claes played an instrumental role in the important 

events of this weekend.  These events culminated, as you know, in UN 

Security Council Resolution 958, authorizing the use of air power in 

Croatia.  Immediately following the Security Council action, the North 

Atlantic Council, with the leadership of Mr. Claes, who was on the 

telephone most of the weekend, held an emergency session that resulted 

in a rapid agreement to implement this new UN resolution. 



This morning, pursuant to these decisions, NATO aircraft struck at 

Udbina--the airfield in Croatia from which the attacks had been launched 

against Bihac.  Those attacks were in violation of the no-fly zone as 

well as the UN resolutions on the safe areas. 



We have only preliminary reports so far of this action, but it appears 

that the NATO aircraft succeeded in cratering the runway and in 

eliminating six surface-to-air missiles that were around the field.  The 

Serbs fired some hand-held, shoulder-launched missiles, but all the 

planes returned safely. 



I want to make it clear to the Serb forces that they should not take any 

measures that would jeopardize the safety of the UNPROFOR forces.  They 

should cease their violation of   the UN resolutions.  They should cease 

their attacks on Bihac.  NATO already      has ample authority to defend 

UNPROFOR, and to ensure the integrity of the UN resolutions; NATO will 

not hesitate to use that authority. 



These strikes, of course, do not in and of themselves end the crisis 

around Bihac.  We will be continuing to watch the situation closely and 

to work with our allies on a range of options for additional NATO action 

to protect the safe areas and to halt the Serb offensive. 



Mr. Claes' visit here is especially timely because we are approaching an 

important series of meetings in Europe in the first week of December.  

This series begins with the North Atlantic Council meeting, followed by 

a North Atlantic Cooperation Council meeting--both of these meetings in 

Brussels.  Then we move to Budapest for the meeting of the Conference on 

Security and Cooperation in Europe, the latter meeting, of course, being 

the one that President Clinton will attend.  These meetings will give us 

an important opportunity to advance our comprehensive strategy for 

Europe. 



NATO is and will remain the centerpiece of America's commitment to 

European security.  But now our challenge is to extend the zone of 

security and stability that the Alliance has provided--to extend that 

across the continent to the east.  The Alliance is meeting this 

challenge by reaching out to former adversaries and by developing new 

tools and new approaches to the threats to European security. 



NATO's Partnership for Peace is a key element in our strategy, and it 

has certainly become an impressive success since it was first launched 

last January.  Troops that were once trained to fight one another are 

now planning and training together.   



The United States views a fully functioning and active Partnership for 

Peace as a key part of the modern European security structure.  It is an 

essential link between the members and non-members of NATO.  It is the 

best path for countries seeking to join NATO. 



I want to conclude by saying that the United States is firmly committed 

to a steady, transparent, and deliberative process for NATO expansion.  

Our aim is to extend stability in Europe, not to maintain old divisions 

or to create new ones.  We are looking forward to working closely with 

Secretary General Claes and with our allies as we develop this important 

process toward NATO expansion and toward the integration of Europe. 



Secretary General--Willy--you are most welcome here.  It is, I think, 

very timely and fortunate that you were in the United States at the time 

of these important decisions over the weekend that you have handled with 

such skill and precision. 



Secretary General Claes.  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  Ladies and 

gentlemen:  Let me say first of all that I am very glad that the 

operation this morning, led by NATO, can be considered as being a real 

success.  I am very glad that all the pilots came back to the bases 

safely, and I take this opportunity to congratulate the pilots and the 

troops on the ground who were responsible for the success of this 

operation. 



This operation, ladies and gentlemen, indicates clearly, I think, that 

NATO is not dead at all.  This was a multinational operation--Americans, 

British, French, and Dutch pilots.  Just one week ago, I was in Italy 

and I visited different bases, so I saw what  is going on every day, 24 

hours on 24 hours, in the framework of the "Sharp Guard" action in the 

Adriatic Sea; the "Deny Flight."  Those who pretend that America is not 

willing to go on to cooperate are making a serious mistake, I think. 



Let me tell you once again that the situation and the mandate we have 

accepted are perfectly manageable.  Not only the President of the U.S.A. 

and the eminent members of the government, but representatives of both 

important political parties I have met here confirm their commitment to 

NATO--NATO who indeed this weekend acted very quickly just two hours 

after the decision taken by the Security Council, an urgent meeting of 

the Council in Brussels, gave a clear and positive answer to the request 

sent to me by the Secretary General of the UN, Boutros-Ghali. 



I think that this action indicates that we are doing better in our 

cooperation with the UN.  Of course, the UN and NATO are different 

international organizations with different structures, with different 

conceptions, and even, if I may say, with a different bureaucratic 

culture. 



But after having had a lot of discussions and negotiations with the UN, 

we have made a new agreement, and I think that the first implementation 

of this new agreement--the action of this morning--indicates that we are 

on the right course. 



Of course, we are not trying to multiply military victories.  We are 

just trying to convince the Serbs that the moment has come to go back to 

the conference table and to accept the proposals as made by the Contact 

Group.  That is what we are trying to do. 



Finally, maybe I am a little bit brutal in saying this, but NATO, ladies 

and gentlemen, is more than Bosnia.  As Secretary Christopher said, the 

day has come to enlarge the peace, the stability, the security in Europe 

to Central and Eastern Europe.  I am very thankful that the U.S. 

Government is making a proposal which will be discussed during the 

Ministerial Council of NATO on December 1. 



I suppose that the Council will be ready to start the internal dialogue 

on the enlargement of NATO toward the East in trying to give clear 

answers to complicated questions--how to do this, why to do this.  

Afterwards we will have the opportunity to discuss who will do it and 

when we will do it; but, first of all, how and why.  I hope that it will 

be possible to finalize this work in 1995, and that we will have the 

opportunity that same year to start dialogue with partners. 



But all this has to be discussed during the Ministerial Council, and I 

am very glad that I will have the opportunity now to discuss all these 

different questions, having, of course, a link with other developments 

in Europe--the Intergovernmental Conference of the European Union in 

1996, and the CSCE summit at the beginning of December in Budapest.  But 

once again I am convinced that without NATO it is not possible to bring 

stability to consolidate those young democracies and to help them in 

reforming the economic systems. 



So the challenge we are facing is maybe much more important--much more 

complicated than we have known in the Cold War period. 



Once again, I think that the challenge is so that the transatlantic 

link--the solidarity between the United States of America and Canada, on 

one end, and the European partners--is an absolute necessity.   
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