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U.S. Department of State
96/12/10 Press Conference at NATO Headquarters, Belgium
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 10, 1996
PRESS CONFERENCE BY
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
December 10, 1996
Good afternoon. Let me say a few words about the progress we made
today at the North Atlantic Council ministerial. Then I will be happy
to take your questions.
Today's meeting was an important step in achieving the goals set
out by President Clinton and the other NATO leaders at the 1994 NATO
summit. That summit set the stage for historical decisions on the shape
of a New Atlantic Community. Just an hour ago, I spoke with President
Clinton about the results of today's ministerial. I told him that the
NATO ministers had agreed to his proposal for another summit meeting,
this one to be held in Madrid on July 8th and 9th, 1997. The summit will
consolidate our effort to build a new NATO in an undivided Europe.
Spain was the last nation admitted to NATO, admitted in 1982. At
that time, it was a new democracy; its membership in the Alliance helped
to secure its place in a democratic Europe. Today we agreed that at the
Madrid summit in July, we will invite some of Europe's newest
democracies to begin negotiations to join NATO by 1999, the 50th
anniversary of the Alliance. Enlargement will bring these nations
fully, finally, and forever into history's most successful military
Today's meeting strongly reaffirmed NATO's policy that in today's
Europe, we have no intention, no reason, and no plans to station nuclear
weapons on the territory of future members. The Alliance has also
pledged today that NATO will remain open to additional members; those we
invite at the summit must not be the last. The enlargement process has
already played a tremendous role in encouraging democracy and stability
in central and eastern Europe; it will continue to play that role into
the next century.
Today, we also approved major new enhancements in the Partnership
for Peace that will allow all our partners to enjoy deeper cooperation
with the Alliance. We agreed that our partners will be able to
participate in the planning and execution of the full range of NATO
missions, from peacekeeping to peace enforcement.
NATO has also agreed to work with our partners on our initiative
to establish the Atlantic Partnership Council. The Council will be the
collective voice of the Partnership for Peace; it will give its members
a chance to work with us to shape the Partnership's future.
The Alliance also signaled today that we seek a fundamentally new
relationship between the new NATO and a new Russia. We are ready to
develop with Russia the substance and details of a truly cooperative
relationship that will build upon the splendid cooperation that we have
had with Russia in Bosnia. We have given Secretary-General Solana the
authority to represent NATO in discussions with Russia to achieve this
goal. NATO's door is open; Russia should walk through it to achieve the
relationship with NATO that it deserves and that will benefit all of
Europe. At the same time, NATO will remain steady in moving forward
with the elements of its overall strategy.
NATO also agreed today to move forward to define a distinctive
relationship with Ukraine. I believe that Ukraine can be, must be, and
will be fully part of the European mainstream.
Of course, another important task that we had today was to give
our final approval to NATO's Stabilization Force in Bosnia. We paid
tribute to the success of IFOR and we reaffirmed our determination to
hold the parties in Bosnia to all their Dayton commitments.
We made it very clear today that the nations of the former
Yugoslavia can rejoin Europe only as open, democratic societies. NATO's
16 allies were united today in condemning the Serbian government's
decision to overturn the results of the November 17 elections. NATO's
message to those countries must not be ignored, and especially must not
be ignored by Serbia. There is no place in the community we are
building for an unreformed dictatorship that refuses to heed the will of
In all the areas I have discussed, the progress NATO has made in
the last four years has been one of the most gratifying results of my
tenure as Secretary of State. We have made a great deal of history in
the last four years, and with today's developments, we are poised to
make much more.
A half century after NATO's creation, seven years after the Cold
War ended, we can finish the task of building a secure and democratic
Europe, this time with no divisions and no one left out. This goal has
been central to President Clinton's vision for a more secure and
prosperous world in the next century. As he has said, and as he
repeated to me today in our conversation, achieving it will be a central
priority of his second term in office, which he will begin by devoting a
good deal of time to preparation for and attendance at this year's
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I wonder if you would discuss a little bit the
deliberations on the follow-on force for Bosnia. The Secretary-General
has told us that the mandate has not changed, and indeed will be a
smaller force. Naturally, we are wondering whether it will be active in
apprehending war criminals, assisting refugees, etc.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: The force will have the same mandate, as the
Secretary-General said, as the prior force did. The capacity that it
has to take on additional tasks will depend, as it did in the past, on
whether or not it has time in addition to its central core duties to
undertake additional tasks. As you know, the structure of Dayton is
that there are certain obligations that the NATO force has. But the
force is also authorized to take other actions if it has the capacity to
do so. So it will depend upon events in Bosnia if the NATO force is
able to move beyond its prescribed tasks. As you all recall, IFOR had
the capacity to be tremendously helpful in connection with the elections
in Bosnia. I am sure they would not have been effectively held without
the assistance of NATO. That was an authorized, but not required, task.
So as the next eighteen months unfold the NATO commanders will have the
authorization to assist in additional tasks of the kind you have
mentioned, but it will depend on events. The one thing that I would
stress from this podium today is that we are very concerned about the
situation of the war criminals. We are very anxious to see the war
crimes tribunal jurisdiction vindicated. We will be putting pressure on
the parties, that is the Bosnian parties, to turn over war criminals
within their jurisdiction to the war crimes tribunal. And as I have
said, we will be seeking new ways, effective ways, to try to assist the
tribunal in more effectively carrying out its responsibilities.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the announcement today that NATO will not
station nuclear forces in the territory of new members seems rather
superfluous since there are no land-based nuclear weapons in Europe. Is
this not seen perhaps by Russia as a transparent ruse to try and soften
up the impact of expansion, or do you plan something more substantive
and meaningful to bring Russia's cooperation to bear?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I am going to be meeting with Foreign Minister
Primakov after I finish here, perhaps I could tell you more about his
reaction at that time. But I have had a number of meetings with him on
this subject, and let me say that I think that the decision that was
taken today, that is the three no's -- no intention, no reason, no plan
to station nuclear forces on the territory of new members -- will not by
any means be meaningless. I think it will be taken very seriously by
Russia as an important statement of the reality and intention of the
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you said that there would be no place in the
community of democratic nations for an unreformed dictatorship.
President Tudjman has also canceled elections in Zagreb and has
suppressed independent media. Would the condemnation also extend to
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Yes, it applies -- any country will not see
their goals realized to become full members of the Western community of
nations so long as they fail to respect the basic democratic norms.
That issue is most focused at the present time in Serbia, where the
November 17th elections have been disregarded, but I think it is just a
statement of sheer reality that the Western nations will not fully
accept into the community of democratic nations in Europe any country
that denies basic democratic tenants.
QUESTION: Mr. Christopher, what is your attitude toward the recent idea
of your colleague, Mr. Kinkel, to create a Council of 17? He recently
proposed to create this council where Russia and NATO countries would be
sitting at the round table together and have equal rights to discuss
security points and peacekeeping, and so on.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Let me speak more broadly about that. Of course
we always try to take into account Russian attitudes and seek consensus
where we can on actions taken in Europe, as we did in Bosnia. But at
the same time, NATO has to reserve the right to take actions that it
deems to be in the best interest of the Alliance and the best interest
of the West. On the particular suggestion of Foreign Minister Kinkel,
that is one of the matters that can be discussed as these negotiations
go forward, as I hope they will between NATO and Russia. Generally
speaking, we hope to take into account the views of Russia, but we
reserve the right to act in a way to protect the Alliance, and as I say
we will be working through precisely those kind of issues when the
negotiations begin in earnest.
QUESTION: Following on from the previous question: are there any areas
at all that you would be comfortable for there to be co-decision between
Russia and NATO? Some delegations here have talked about certain
narrowly defined areas. I wondered if you would be comfortable with any
co-decision in any areas at all?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I would not be comfortable trying to define in
advance the negotiating positions. As the Secretary-General said, if
these negotiations begin, then the permanent council here at NATO will
have to, in conjunction with its members, formulate various negotiating
strategies. Certainly at the present time it would be unwise for me to
speculate in advance exactly how those negotiations would move forward.
I can tell you that they will certainly be conducted in good faith on
our side because we are very anxious to develop a satisfactory structure
between NATO and Russia. As we move forward, as the Secretary-General
said, the summit has several very important tasks: internal adaptation,
enlargement, hopefully an agreement of some kind between NATO and
Russia, but each of those is an independent goal and we will pursue each
of them avidly.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you have mentioned that you have set a time-
table now, a deadline of July. How serious will be it be for relations
between Russia and the West if the Russians do not seize the opportunity
and pursue this dialogue now?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We do not want to forecast a negative decision.
We hope that dialogue will be effective and I think we will be hearing
more about that in the next few days. We have provided the opportunity,
the choice is now up to Russia. We have offered them good-faith
negotiations; we have identified the Secretary-General to be the point
person as far as representing NATO in those negotiations. I think we
are ready to get underway. Frankly, we wish they had begun earlier, but
we are where we are. This is an important step that NATO has taken. We
have specified the facts that enlargement would be commenced in July by
the identification of one or more of the Partnership for Peace countries
for negotiating purposes. That does set an important date ahead and we
hope that between now and July it will be possible to work out an
arrangement with Russia that gives it the kind of reassurance it
desires, but the choice is Russia's.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in the last four years you have participated
in the new construction of Europe. I would like you to say your
personal view concerning the future of Europe, enlargement and, of
course, the consequences for NATO and for Eastern European countries.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think this is my ninth NAC meeting here at
NATO. We have come a long way during that period toward President
Clinton's goal of an integrated and undivided Europe. One of the most
important steps, of course, is this step towards enlargement which has
been in plan and in train since 1994, but we have taken the decisive
step on that front. Another very important step was taken when we found
a way to operate in Bosnia with virtually every country in Europe
participating. That is the first time in history anything like that has
happened; certainly the first time that Russia has operated with NATO.
So that was a very big step forward. We now have the prospect of full
integration of both Spain and France into the NATO Alliance. There has
been remarkable progress by NATO. NATO has a vocation in the sense that
it did not have in 1993. There was much concern about NATO in 1993;
where was it going, what was its purpose; would it be stagnant or would
it come alive, and certainly it has come alive in a very powerful way.
I think we see a healthy, vibrant NATO adjusting to the post-Cold War
period with new vocations and a very new rationale for existence.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, concerning the expansion of NATO: Germany is
in favor of its neighbors to become new members, Czech Republic and
Poland. Italy favors its neighbor, Slovenia. France is said to be a
sponsor of Romania. What is the attitude of the United States? Has it
an open disposition toward one of the candidates?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I do not want to accept the premise of your
question. You are telling me a lot of things I do not know about the
position of other NATO members. What I will tell you is that the United
States is going to make the best decision that it can in conjunction
with its fellow NATO members. Looking at all of the important factors
that are involved: progress toward democracy; the way countries treat
their neighbors, whether they are an engine for stability, whether there
is strong civilian control over the military, whether they can
contribute to the Alliance, whether they can pull their oar. All of
those will be important facts, and there will be group decisions made by
NATO. Perhaps because the United States is at some distance I think I
can assure that we will not be looking at who our closest neighbor is
but what is the best choice for NATO.
Thank you very much.
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