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NATO-Russia Founding Act Signing

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Trip to France, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom

Office of the Press Secretary
(Paris, France)

For Immediate Release May 27,


Elysee Palace
Paris, France

10:20 A.M. (L)

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Excellencies, Secretary General, ministers, ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen: There are times when history pauses for a moment before embarking on a new path. There are moments when the future of whole populations is in the balance, and this for several generations. This summit is one of those appointments that history has made with itself. Today we are building peace.

For the first time, the leaders of the countries of the Atlantic Alliance and of Russia are gathered together as bearers of a great ambition, to guarantee peace in Europe based on our common values and the awareness that we share the same destiny. By signing in a few moments the Founding Act of a new European security organization in which Russia will occupy its full place, we will be turning the page on half of century of misunderstanding, of confrontation, of division on our continent.

Built on the ruins of World War II, the order that came out of Yalta led to a peace that was unfair, preserved by the balance of terror. At the outset, France, through the voice of General DeGaulle, had refused this unnatural division. Eight years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall kindled the hope of a Europe at last reconciled with itself.

Our purpose today is to draw the ultimate consequences of that movement of history by eliminating the last remnants of the Cold War. The logic of confrontation between former adversaries is yielding to an era of cooperation amongst equal and respected partners. Just as France wished in launching this initiative, the Paris Accord does not shift the divisions created in Yalta, it does away with them once and for all.

This agreement is possible because Russia and NATO have undertaken profound transformations. In July last, Russia confirmed its choice of democracy and reform. With President Boris Yeltsin, it is engaged in a courageous process of modernization and democratization. Today this very great country, which has contributed so much to our history and to our culture, becomes an essential partner for the Atlantic Alliance, as it is already for the European Union.

The Atlantic Alliance also has engaged in a great reform, the first of such magnitude since its creation. NATO, initially conceived to face a clear-cut and massive threat, is

now a lighter, more flexible organization adapted to its new crisis management and peacekeeping missions. This alliance that is renovating itself is no longer that of the Cold War. Europeans will have to be able fully to exercise their responsibilities within it.

As established by the Founding Act, a permanent dialogue, transparency and cooperation at all levels between the allies and Russia will help to banish old reflexes. They will build into habits and mentalities the mutual trust which will be the foundation of our partnership. They must give a new impetus to the disarmament negotiations. The strengthening of the role and the means of the OSCE will make it possible to set the enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance in a wider framework, bringing together with equal rights and obligations all the countries of greater Europe. They must act on two priorities --adaptation of the CFE treaty and the drafting of a charter on European security.

The partnership developed by NATO and WEU with the non-member countries works towards the same goal, to bring together at last our great European family. In the same spirit, I renew the proposal that I made almost a year ago, to invite to the next summit of the Atlantic Alliance to be held in Madrid on the 8th and 9th of July, all the European states linked to the Alliance, starting, obviously, with Russia.

A security organization capable of guaranteeing lasting peace in Europe implies the existence of firm and trustful cooperation between the European Union, North America and Russia. The peace process in former Yugoslavia bears witness to such a necessity. As soon as the Americans, the Europeans and the Russians succeed in coordinating their efforts, we were able to make progress towards a settlement of the conflict and sign in this very place on the 14th of December, 1995, the peace agreement on Bosnia and Herze-Govina. The unprecedented cooperation on the ground amongst our countries and with other partners remains necessary in order to make a living reality, the peace that should take root in Bosnia.

Beyond our continent our partnership will be, I'm convinced, an essential element of the stability and harmony of the multipolar world that is taking place. A European Union strengthened and enlarged; a renewed transatlantic link with our American friends and allies; a Russia that is strong and democratic are indispensable for international peace and equilibrium.

The Founding Act we are about to sign opens a new chapter in the history of Europe, a chapter without precedent in that it expresses a common vision of the future. I wish to pay tribute to the statesmanship shown by

I wish to pay tribute to the statesmanship shown by President Bill Clinton, President Boris Yeltsin, Chancellor Helmut Kohl and all the heads of state and government present here today. Their personal commitment has made this accord possible. I should also like to express on behalf of us all our esteem and our gratitude to the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance Mr. Javier Solana.

Our agreement is a success for Russia, for the Atlantic Alliance, for Europe. But it is first and foremost a success for peace and a great hope for the peoples of the world.

Thank you and I give the floor to Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT YELTSIN: Distinguished President of the French Republic who is chairing our meeting today, distinguished heads of states and governments, distinguished Secretary General of NATO: Europe is undergoing a time of deep transitions. What is being created is a foundation for a new type of relations among states. We are determining the face of the future European environment, and the decisions being taken at this time will determine which way and how our continent will enter the next 21st century.

The most important thing now is to make sure that it create a whole greater Europe, because this is the only way we can make sure that it will be peaceful and safe. It is impossible to create safety and security for one single state. Security will be stable and reliable only when it's the same for everyone and it is indivisible.

What we're going to do now, ladies and gentlemen, is to put our signatures to a historic, in my view, document, which is the Founding Act -- the Founding Act on Mutual Relations Cooperation and Security between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. We will do that jointly and this will determine the new quality in the relations between Russia and NATO. It will protect Europe and the world from a new confrontation and will become the foundation for a new, fair and stable partnership, a partnership which takes into account the security interests of each and every signatory to this document, to the Founding Act.

This document meets the interests not only of our countries, because this document will help and promote stability throughout Europe an even beyond the borders of that continent. This is our joint accomplishment, and this is also a victory for a reason.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the heads of states, thank all of those who very actively worked to make sure that we had a document, the document that we have, the atmosphere in which all of us, including Russia, could feel ourselves comfortable on European soil.

What we're going to do today was preceded by very difficult negotiations, maybe the most difficult negotiations throughout the whole period which followed the end of the Cold War. I'll be absolutely frank and candid with you and tell you that for the Russian leadership the decision to prepare a document with NATO was far from easy. We had to make sure we protected the security of our country; but at the same time we also had to, of course, create the basis, the foundation for a constructive cooperation between Russia and NATO.

Russia still views negatively the expansion plans of NATO. At the same time, however, we recognize -- we pay tribute to the readiness exhibited by NATO countries, despite those difficulties, to reach an agreement with Russia and take into account our interests. And that is precisely the rationale of the situation we're experiencing now, the difficulty of negotiations between Russia and NATO and also the essence, the thrust, of the Founding Act itself.

Through joint efforts in that document we try to answer very difficult questions. And those very difficult issues deal, first of all, with nondeployment of nuclear weapons and also making sure that such a deployment is not something that we will be preparing for. We also were working on the attitudes towards a reduction of having arms to continent. There is an obligation to non-deploy on a permanent basis of combat forces of NATO near Russia. All of this means that we have agreed not to harm the security interests of each other. And I think it is the most important accomplishment for us all.

What is also very important is that we are creating the mechanisms for consultations and cooperation between Russia and the Alliance. And this will enable us to -- on a fair, egalitarian basis -- to discuss, and when need be, pass joint decisions on major issues relating to security and stabilities, those issues and those areas which touch upon our interests.

As a result of the signing of the Founding Act, we're opening up for ourselves new possibilities for joint actions in the following areas: in crisis settlement; in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; in

further arms reduction, including, of course, the strategic arms. We are also providing ourselves with opportunities to better resist new dangers and threats to security in Europe.

Our agreement, however, at the same time, accomplishing all that, will not harm the interests of any other state. I would like to especially highlight at this point the act which will be signed by heads of states and governments is a firm and absolute commitment for all signatory states. We are under an obligation to make sure that it is implemented in as quickly a time period as possible.

Russia and NATO are going to continue developing their partnership relationship and make sure that it is done as quickly as possible; that the meeting of the Council stipulated by the Act is called as quickly as possible. But for this, we need the efforts of all member states, and the efforts deployed by OEC states to make sure that we end up with common and all-embracing security system for the Europe of the 21st century. We have to once again deploy joint efforts to make sure that we work out the European security charter, and we do take this obligation upon ourselves today when we sign the Founding Act.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for all the participants of the negotiations -- all of them, every single one of them -- for the work accomplished, but, first of all, first and foremost, to the Secretary General of NATO, Mr. Javier Solana. He had to deploy a lot of determination so as to be able to go through six rounds of negotiations. I also value very highly the contribution brought in by heads of states -- in particular the President here, the President of the United States, Mr. Bill Clinton; the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl; and of course, our host today, the President of France, Mr. Jacques Chirac, and also the leaders of other countries whom I hold in high esteem and respect.

Distinguished President of the French Republic, distinguished heads of states and governments, distinguished Secretary General: I value the event today extremely highly, and I do hope that with the signing of the Founding Act we are going to start a new phase in the life of Europe, peaceful Europe.

The fate of this continent, Europe, is far from easy. It is very easy to account of all the wars and skirmishes it has undergone. And each century brought with it new tests and new challenges, new wars to the soil of this continent. Several times attempts to stem this tragic chain of events have been made, but now our efforts can and should bear fruit. It has been almost 10 years, and for the first time in the history, the people of Europe are joined together by common democratic values. The Europeans have now the long awaited chance to create the relationships among states on a peaceful basis. And this is the chance, this is the opportunity which we have to use to make sure that we provide our children, our grandchildren with a happy future. It is up to them to live in the 21st century and it is up to them to continue on the work which we began. It is because of them that we have to make sure that Europe becomes the bulwark of stability and security in this world of ours, which is a very difficult one and sometimes less than peaceful.

We do have the will for that. We do have the experience for that. And our people are with us in this endeavor and I do believe that that is exactly what the future holds in store for us all. (Applause.)

SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Presidents, ministers, ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen, I am particularly happy to be able to declare in your presence today that our efforts have borne fruit. Thus, from Paris, we may resolutely direct our gaze to the next century, to a vision of a free, united, prosperous and stable Europe.

For me, personally, it is my heartfelt hope that future generations will benefit from the boldness of the vision shown by the leaders of NATO and of Russia, opening thus a new chapter in the history of their relationships.

Admittedly, such radical changes require boldness. But how, in tomorrow's security environment, could one imagine that a new Russia and a new NATO be anything other than partners. Today, the signature of the NATO-Russia Founding Act lays the foundation for such a partnership. Beyond the rhetoric of intentions, this creates veritable joint mechanisms for consultation, cooperation, coordination and joint action in all fields of common interest dealing with our security.

The beginning of this new chapter of Euro-Atlantic security has been written and will be solemnly sealed in a few moments. The end remains open and depends on us, on our imagination, on our aptitude to take ourselves mutually seriously and our ability to trust each other.

The Founding Act is a success for Russia, for the Alliance and for the whole of the Euro-Atlantic community. It respects the sovereignty of nations, including the right to determine their own security arrangements. Our agreement is also based on the conviction that all nations, without exception, may profit from this new European security architecture which we are seeking to construct.

In front of you now today you see the result of many hours of searching negotiations. But, however frank and intense they may have been, these negotiations were always conducted in a constructive atmosphere.

Presidents, ministers, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the vision and leadership of President Yeltsin has been truly instrumental to the success of this process. For me, personally, it has been a great privilege to share this with Yevgeny Primakov, who has defended Russian interests vigorously, but always fairly. Minister Primakov, as well as his skilled negotiating team, deserve every tribute I can give. These long rounds of discussions have in themselves helped a great deal in the process of forming mutual understanding and, what is more important, respect.

Our work was inspired by the clear conviction that both Russia and NATO can only gain from becoming real partners and cooperating in the new security environment. A daily reminder of this is Bosnia, where Russian soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder with their comrades from NATO and other countries in an effort to bring lasting peace to a wartorn region.

Last December I was entrusted with the challenging task of representing NATO in these negotiations. I have been aided in my efforts by the clarity of the mandate given to me by the allies, by their strong support and by a rapid response to the negotiating process. NATO, both collectively and with the support of individual allies, has acted in the best tradition. It has been coherent, effective, visionary in the spirit of this historical commitment.

May I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude, and that of all those who have shared the responsibility of these negotiations, for all the support we have been given. The task ahead is clear: to give life to this document by making full use of the newly-created opportunities. The Atlantic Alliance, for its part, is determined to embark on a far-reaching partnership that will help to leave behind the divisions of Europe for good. This is not just a vision. This will be a practical guide to our policy as we step across the threshold of a new century.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

(The Founding Act is signed.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: President Yeltsin gave me this cane; now he's giving it to me twice. (Laughter.)

Ladies and gentlemen, on this beautiful spring day in Paris, in the twilight of the 20th century, we look toward a new century with a new Russia and a new NATO, working together in a new Europe of unlimited possibility. The NATO-Russia Founding Act we have just signed joins a great nation and history's most successful alliance in common cause for a long-sought but never before realized goal --a peaceful, democratic, undivided Europe. The United States feels a great deal of gratitude today. The world my predecessors dreamed of and worked for for 50 years is finally within reach. I want to thank President Chirac for his strong leadership in making this day possible and for hosting us. I thank President Yeltsin for his courage and vision, for his unbelievable capacity to imagine a future that is different from the past that imprisoned us.

I thank his Foreign Minister, Mr. Primakov, for his negotiations and good faith to make this day possible. I especially thank Secretary General Solana for his brilliant and persistent and always good-natured efforts that made this Founding Act a reality.

I thank my fellow leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and especially our senior leader, Chancellor Kohl, who has worked longer and paid a higher price for the dream of a united Europe than any other leader.

For all of us, this is a great day. From now on, NATO and Russia will consult and coordinate and work together. Where we all agree, we will act jointly, as we are in Bosnia where a Russian brigade serves side by side with NATO troops, giving the Bosnian people a chance to build a lasting peace. Deepening our partnership today will make all of stronger and more secure.

The historic change in the relationship between NATO and Russia grows out of a fundamental change in how we think about each other and our future. NATO's member states recognize that the Russian people are building a new Russia, defining their greatness in terms of the future as much as the past. Russia's transition to democracy and open markets is as difficult as it is dramatic. And its steadfast commitment to freedom and reform has earned the world's admiration.

In turn, we are building a new NATO. It will remain the strongest alliance in history, with smaller, more flexible forces, prepared to provide for our defense, but also trained for peacekeeping. It will work closely with other nations that share our hopes and values and interests through the Partnership For Peace. It will be an alliance directed no longer against a hostile bloc of nations, but instead designed to advance the security of every democracy in Europe -- NATO's old members, new members, and non-members alike.

I know that some still see NATO through the prism of the Cold War, and that especially in NATO's decision to open its doors to Central Europe's new democracy, they see a Europe still divided, only differently divided. But I ask them to look again. For this new NATO will work with Russia, not against it. And by reducing rivalry and fear, by strengthening peace and cooperation, by facing common threats to the security of all democracies, NATO will promote greater stability in all of

Europe, including Russia. And in turn, that will increase the security of Europe's North American partners, the United States and Canada, as well.

We establish this partnership because we are determined to create a future in which European security is not a zero-sum game -- where NATO's gain is Russia's loss, and Russia's strength is our alliance's weakness. That is old thinking; these are new times. Together, we must build a new Europe in which every nation is free and every free nations joins in strengthening the peace and stability for all.

Half a century ago, on a continent darkened by the shadow of evil, brave men and women in Russia and the world's free nations fought a common enemy with uncommon valor. Their partnership forged in battle, strengthened by sacrifice, cemented by blood, gave hope to millions in the West and in Russia that the grand alliance would be extended in peace. But in victory's afterglow, the freedom the Russian people deserved was denied them. The dream of peace gave way to the hard reality of Cold War, and our predecessors lost an opportunity to shape a new Europe whole and free.

Now, we have another chance. Russia has opened itself to freedom. The veil of hostility between East and West has lifted. Together we see a future of partnership too long delayed, that must no longer be denied.

The Founding Act we signed captures the promise of this remarkable moment. Now we must implement it in good faith, so that future generations will live in a new time that escapes the 20th century's darkest moments and fulfills its most brilliant possibilities.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT YELTSIN: I would like to say just one word, if I may. Thank you very much, Bill, for the excellent statement you've just made for the great support you've just provided. Mrs. Albright has deployed an enormous amount of effort and time into that with Mr. Primakov. It was particularly fruitful when we left the two of them alone.

I, today, after having signed the document am going to make the following decision. Everything that is aimed at countries present here, all of those weapons are going to have their warheads removed. (Applause.)

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