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Madeleine K. Albright

Opening statement at the Carnegie roundtable discussion

Carnegie Center, Moscow, Russia, May 2, 1997

I am delighted to speak with such a distinguished group and I want to thank you each for giving me this opportunity today. As a student of Russian history and society, I appreciate the important role of Russian thinkers and intellectuals. To a large degree, you shape the way Russians view the West. I occasionally look at the Russian press myself and have seen what some of you have written, as well as what has been written about me. I am glad to say that I've been called worse things in the American press than my Russian nickname "Gaspozha Stal."

As the Cold War was ending, Georgi Arbatov commented that "we will do a terrible thing to you; we will deprive you of an enemy." He was wrong on one point. It was not a terrible thing. I am delighted that we have rejected any return to the confrontation of the past.

Ever since the Russian tricolor was raised over the Kremlin, our relationship has been strong and getting stronger. Vast numbers of Russians and Americans are being united by the forces of trade and commerce. We continue to reduce and dismantle Cold War arsenals. We have already banned nuclear testing forever. We will be partners at the Summit of the Eight in Denver. In Bosnia, our soldiers are partners in the truest sense of the word, sharing the same risks and the same achievements.

An important part of my message to the American public and Congress is the need for new thinking about Russia, because we are dealing with a fundamentally new Russia. One reason I am here today is to say we need new thinking on all sides, including in Russia, as you think about the United States, Europe, and the new NATO that is evolving. I know that many Russians are troubled by NATO's decision to add new members. I want to speak with you frankly about this issue today, so that you will understand exactly what our motives are and what they are not.

First, I want you to understand that a new and enlarged NATO will not pose an enlarged threat to Russia. On the contrary: Since 1991, NATO members' defense budgets have decreased by 30%. NATO's land forces are down by 25%. U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe have been cut by 90% and no NATO nuclear forces are on alert today. The building at NATO headquarters where we once planned our response to a Soviet attack on Berlin now houses a Russian general and staff helping to plan our effort in Bosnia.

In the foreseeable security environment NATO has no intention, no plan, and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of any new state. Our CFE proposals will ensure that each state maintains only those military capabilities needed for its legitimate individual or collective security needs. So no NATO member, old or new, can become a staging ground for potential attack against Russia. That is not just matter of political intention. It is a matter of military capability.

Second, you should recognize that we view NATO enlargement as part of a broader effort to build a peaceful, undivided Europe, in which Russia plays an important role. It is our firm conviction that this effort is not a zero sum game in which Russia must lose if central Europe gains, and central Europe must lose if Russia gains. Most of all, it is why we want to develop a NATO-Russia charter -- one that embodies our solemn, enduring commitment at the highest political level, to undertake a fundamentally different relationship with Russia.

Our proposals would establish a permanent NATO-Russia Joint Council, which will give Russia a voice in key decisions that affect its security interests in Europe. We would be able to act together to fight proliferation, to keep nuclear arsenals safe and to respond to humanitarian crises. NATO and Russian officers would work side by side as equals, planning joint military operations from the moment they are approved.

If Russia feels it has reason to fear that NATO is adopting a threatening posture, or taking actions elsewhere in Europe that concern Russia, it would be able to consult with NATO in an open, timely and cooperative fashion. In other words, the Charter, together with CFE adaptation and our commitment to achieve legally binding strategic parity through START III, provide arrangements that protect Russia's vital interests.

Third, I hope you will understand that to us, enlargement is an essential part of the effort to build a new, post-Cold War NATO. A few years ago, NATO's leaders faced a simple choice: Would our alliance be known forever as an organization of nations that were once arrayed against an empire that no longer exists? Or will it be known as an organization of like-minded democracies united to meet the challenges of the future?

If the second choice is right, then NATO's Cold War membership will not do. Our alliance has to be open to those countries that can contribute to its goals today. It can't lock out a group of countries because they once fell on one side of an arbitrary Cold War dividing line -- a line that did as much to isolate Russia from Europe as it did any other nation.

Fourth, I hope you will come to see that NATO enlargement will make a positive contribution to the security of all of Europe. It should go without saying that Russia will benefit from the resolution of ethnic and border disputes in central Europe. This is the effect enlargement is already having.

NATO membership will give these countries the confidence they need to pursue regional arms control and to build closer relations with Russia. In fact, it is precisely because NATO is taking in new members that we can now avert the threat of a major military build-up in central Europe. Central Europeans want to join NATO for the same reasons that current members would never leave it. They want to be part of an integrated Europe that is anchored to the United States.

If you suggest that Russia and NATO should negotiate over the heads of these countries -- if you suggest we should somehow agree to derail their aspirations -- you will ignite the very fears in central Europe that you are trying to extinguish.

Let me ask you to consider what would happen if NATO, on Russian advice, decided not to enlarge. Old dividing lines would re-emerge in the heart of Europe. Confidence would disintegrate in many of the new democracies. And a new, destabilizing scramble for security would result. Central Europeans would blame Russia; the progress you have made in establishing normal relations with them would crumble. These countries would seek to build up their own armed forces. A meaningful CFE treaty could not be negotiated. There would be little chance of building a closer relationship between NATO and Russia. The cooperation we've already forged -- the joint exercises, joint training, and military liaison offices -- could well disappear.

I know it will take time for the progress of trust in the NATO-Russia relationship to catch up with the process of change in Europe. But you are among the most influential opinion leaders in your country. Even if you continue to believe that on balance NATO enlargement is unwise, I do hope you will help inform Russia's people and its leaders that they are dealing with a new NATO.

In the meantime, we all need to reflect on how we manage the differences that arise in even the closest relationship. There have been times, as you all know, when the United States has strongly disagreed with Russian policies. In these cases, we have spoken openly and forcefully, but we have also made clear our determination to keep working together. None of us have the luxury of making a list of differences and walking away.

That is why we will continue our effort to work out a relationship between NATO and Russia. It does not have to happen now; the important thing is to get it right. And that is why we must stay focused on the unique responsibility Russia and America share: to keep strengthening our relationship and our cooperation in building a more stable, inclusive and democratic world.

I welcome any questions you may have.

See the original at http://secretary.state.gov/www/statements/970502.html

Carnegie Center, Moscow, Russia, May 2, 1997

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