PRESS BRIEFING BY
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF NSC JIM STEINBERG
AND PRESS SECRETARY MIKE MCCURRY
Hotel Miguel Angel
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen -- good evening. It feels like afternoon. The honorable James Steinberg, Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, beginning with the President's important bilateral meeting with President Kuchma of Ukraine, will walk you through the President's day providing scintillating details of the President's very active day of diplomacy.
MR. STEINBERG: Thank you, Mr. McCurry. I just would like it to be known that notwithstanding the fact that there's only Mr. McCurry sitting on the stage, this is not the two empty chair policy which we are now conducting for the United States. Let me just say a word or two about some of the meetings that the President had today and then I will take your questions. As you all know, the day began with the signing ceremony. And as that was widely broadcast around the world, I won't comment on that except to say that it was another of the important steps in the process of building a web of relationships that are making this an increasingly united and undivided Europe and making sure that each of the country's of Europe have a sense of their place and their opportunities to participate with NATO.
That was followed by about a half an hour bilateral between the President and President Kuchma. They began the discussions by talking about the evolution of public attitudes in Ukraine and other parts of the former Soviet Union towards NATO. And Kuchma recalled how when he way young, he used to hear the anti-NATO propaganda and that he was very personally aware of the challenge in helping the people of countries like Ukraine and
other parts of the former Soviet Union to understand that NATO was a partner and a friend, and that he thought that they were making good progress.
He welcomed the opening of a NATO office in Kiev. And he also applauded the efforts of President Yeltsin and Foreign Minister Primakov to also undertake that education effort within Russia, which he said was going to be a very important part of the evolution of Russian attitudes towards NATO.
The bulk of the meeting focused on the developments within Ukraine itself. President Kuchma briefed the President on both political and economic developments within the country. He noted the fact that while reform was well underway, there were still significant elements within Ukraine society that were trying to resist it. He noted that this was the 80th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and that for some of the hard-line elements in Ukraine, they were trying to use this as a rallying cry and that he, in turn, was able to use this meeting with NATO and the NATO-Ukraine Charter as a way of showing that there was a better, an alternative path.
He also discussed at length his efforts to get a new budget and to meet the IMF targets and asked for international support in going forward with the IMF assistance and World Bank as well. The President indicated that we very much supported his efforts at reform, understood the difficult political situation there and would be working with the international economic organizations to help Ukraine.
They also had a brief discussion and follow-up from the Denver discussions on moving forward with the final closure of Chernobyl and moving on to alternative energy sources
The next meeting was the first heads of state-level summit of the European-American Partnership Council. I think for those of you who saw the opening part, it was a truly remarkable gathering of 44 countries from the entire Atlantic to Urals region and beyond, the remarkable sort of sense of this community of democracies, of shared values and of coming together to work on common problems.
There was a pretty extensive opportunity for almost all of the participants to speak at least briefly. In the morning session, 23 of the 44 representatives spoke, and there were nine more who spoke during the lunch. So we really had a chance to hear the views of all. And it was a sense of a new beginning, of a sense that this really was the end of the Cold War, that the divisions of Yalta really were being buried, and that all of these countries were coming together with a sense of optimism about the future.
There were two main topics of discussion, some of them -- particularly the countries that are aspirant members to NATO talking about the future of the enlargement process and both very positive about the decision to begin the process of enlargement and obviously, for those who still seek membership, a
very significant emphasis on the importance that they placed on the communique's commitment to an open door and a continuing process.
But there was also a very extensive discussion about the role of the EAPC, the kind of role it can play in conflict prevention, in crisis management, how the EAPC can fit in with other institutions, including the OSCE and with NATO itself and with the U.N. and what sort of the focus of the work project ought to be in the months and years ahead.
There was a very clear sense that the common effort in Bosnia and the work on peacekeeping and training that had taken place through the Partnership for Peace really provided a model for what the EAPC could do and a real desire to get it up and running and giving it real life in the very near term.
As I said, in the working session there were about 23 speakers, including virtually all of the aspirant countries and most of the NATO countries. Nine more spoke at lunch. The lunch ended with two toasts. The first was a toast offered by Canadian Prime Minister Chretien to Secretary General Solana who has really won extraordinary praise from everyone here on his efforts in bringing this about. And the second was a toast offered by the President to the Spanish Prime Minister Aznar for his leadership in putting the summit together.
I thought one of the most interesting final remarks at the end was offered by the Polish President, Kwasniewski, who noted after the toast by Aznar that one of Poland's -- the things that it's most remembered for is that it gave its name to the Warsaw Pact, and was very relieved that this was something that was no more, but that he was very hopeful that the events of the last two days would come to be remembered in a much more positive sense as the Madrid Pact.
So that was the focus of the discussion. The President spoke both in the morning session and then briefly again at lunch. And he talked about the fact that what was remarkable about this event was the fact that there are these extraordinary convergence of values and aspirations among the countries of the region. And he contrasted that with the fact that even though there is a lot of diversity, both geographic and historical, among the countries, that they have so much in common, and contrasted that with the continued divisions in Bosnia and said that this ought to be a real impetus to us all to try to help -- learn the lessons that the countries, the democracies of the EAPC had learned and try to transfer them to the situation in Bosnia.
So let me stop with that and take questions.
Q Jim, at the signing of the charter with Ukraine, President Kuchma had some remarks which suggests he was disappointed or critical of the final product. He said that not all wishes of Ukraine were taken into account and he called it a
transitional rather than a final document. What exactly was he referring to? There have been indications that Ukraine might have wanted the charter really at the same level as the Founding Act with the Russians. Is that what he was referring to, or, if not, what was he referring to?
MR. STEINBERG: Well, I think, as you will note, the next sentence after he said that he was disappointed, he was also very satisfied with the outcome of these negotiations and the product. And I think that was a very significant development.
I think that, obviously, from the perspective of Ukraine, the closer that they can come to engagement with NATO, the better. And I think that there were lots of ideas that were developed over time about just how the security relationship could develop between NATO and Ukraine. And I think it's fair to say -- though I wouldn't use the world transitional, I'd use the word evolutionary -- that we both view the NATO-Ukraine Charter and the Founding Act in the NATO-Russia Partnership Council as works in progress, that more and more content can be poured into them over time. And I think that that's what he was focusing on, was the need to --
Q My question to you is simply, what is it that Kuchma would have wanted in this charter that would have made him totally satisfied? Was it parity with the Russians?
MR. STEINBERG: No, I don't think that was it. I think that, probably, to be fair -- and I think you should ask the Ukraines -- that I think that in the best of all circumstances, they would have liked a situation where there was the equivalent of NATO membership, and they wanted to get as close to that without formally seeking NATO membership. But I think that that was more sort of focusing on what kind of security ties could be developed, but without actually participating in NATO. And that was the focus of much of the discussion.
But there was not a lot of comparison in the discussions between the Russia document and the Ukraine document. I think that the Ukrainians saw that they had their own situation that was somewhat different in terms of what their hopes were.
Q Jim, could you say how two days of summitry and acronyms have brought compliance with the Dayton Accords any closer, and the apprehension, specifically, of war criminals any closer? A lot of good words -- a lot of strong words. What actually was done here? You've got 44 countries now in the structures you keep building. What have you done to get Dayton -- to drive Dayton home, let refugees get back to their homes, get war criminals in the dock?
MR. STEINBERG: Barry, I would say that in part, what was accomplished here is a reflection of precisely what we have been able to do in Dayton. The fact that NATO itself
brought peace to Bosnia is an indication of how the adaptation and the evolution of NATO is making a direct contribution to security and stability. But even more importantly, it was not just NATO, but NATO working with the partnership countries that has allowed this process to continue and the presence of SFOR with NATO at its core, but with all of the partner countries that are participating.
What we've been able to do here, in addition to the specific steps that were taken in connection with Bosnia, is to strengthen the ability of the countries of Europe to take even more steps. We've enhanced the Partnership for Peace. We've created a political consultative mechanism so that as challenges like Bosnia arise in the future -- and everyone recognizes that there are always risks that they will -- that there is a more effective set of mechanisms.
We heard people talking at the EAPC meeting about how to use the EAPC precisely to deal with conflict prevention. And so, in a sense both of strengthening the capacity of the European institutions, and particularly NATO plus its partners, to deal with these conflicts, it's going to contribute not only to our continued implementation in Bosnia, but both preventing future Bosnias and handling them even more effectively when they come forward.
So I think that what we've done here -- I mean, the focus of the summit was obviously not a Bosnia summit, but they did have a significant discussion of it because it is important, and it is an important development in NATO's evolution that has come to take this on. And it is one of NATO's real significant achievements that it was able to do something which for many years people saw was not getting done.
Q That was November, '95, and in theory you have now mechanisms to deal with, you hope, future Bosnias. You have a current Bosnia where a peace agreement is not being implemented, to the disappointment of the President and the administration. You had all these big shots here for two days. What have you accomplished, if anything, so far as implementing those agreements?
MR. STEINBERG: I think, Barry, I will repeat -- I think I've answered your question, but let me repeat it one more time so that you understand it. The summit was a summit about adapting NATO, making it more effective to meet current and future challenges. We made it more effective in a number of ways. We strengthened the Partnership for Peace by creating Euro American Partnership Council. We now have an even more effective coordinating mechanism to deal with these kinds of things, to take the kinds of political decisions that are necessary to deal with conflict. And by the statement that was issued by the NATO leaders, the core 16, yesterday, there indicated very specifically some areas that they're concerned about the implementation of Dayton and further steps that they intend to take.
We're not fully satisfied with the implementation of Dayton by any means, but it's also, I think, fully inaccurate to say that nothing has been done towards implementing Dayton. A number of steps have been taken -- the common institutions are up and running, the Federation is now moving forward much more effectively. There a number of things that have taken place. And all of those are a product of the kind of evolution that has led up to today. And I believe it's fair to say that the further solidarity and the strengthening of the ability of NATO to work with partners and new members -- all of whom are participating in Bosnia -- will help us go forward with the implementation over the next period of time.
Q The President said he wanted to stimulate a debate about NATO expansion in the United States. Can you give us any specifics on what's going to happen once he gets back to the United States?
MR. STEINBERG: Well, this is something that has been over time, I think, a matter of growing interest in the United States. As you will recall, the President, at his commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy, devoted a significant part of that address to talking to the American people, and particularly to the new graduates of West Point, about the responsibilities, the obligations, the costs, the things that come with NATO enlargement -- the creation of the Senate NATO Observers Group, proposed by Senator Lott and embraced by President Clinton, was a further part of that effort.
As you all know, we have made an effort within both the State Department and the White House to have a very focused effort to try to get a more engaged conversation both with Congress and the public about this. This is something in which we already have many senior administration officials who have been out speaking to the American people --
Q What's the President going to do when he gets back?
MR. STEINBERG: I think the President is going to be actively involved over a period of time. The first thing that has to take place will be that we will be talking to the American people about what was accomplished here and why it was important. And there's --
Q Does he plan a speech to talk to the American people?
MR. STEINBERG: I think the President, as he talks about security and foreign policy over the course of the next year-plus will be talking about these issues. As I said, even before he came to Madrid, he gave the speech at the Military Academy. It's been an important part of his public addresses on foreign policy from the State of the Union address this year when he identified this. So I think --
Q So there's no specific address?
MR. STEINBERG: I think -- as I said, I think you're going to hear the President speaking regularly on this topic, and you'll see a broad variety of administration efforts.
Q When will the first time be? (Laughter.)
MR. STEINBERG: The first next time?
MR. MCCURRY: They're is nothing scheduled yet.
MR. STEINBERG: There's nothing scheduled yet.
Q Can you address the question of the French saying today that they don't want to spend another franc on this expansion? And what are Americans supposed to think when Clinton gets up there and says, we're going to spend a couple of billion dollars on this and that American blood would be shed if these countries were attacked, and yet, we have an ally who says they don't want to step up?
MR. STEINBERG: I have not seen the remarks that you're attributing to the French, so I can't comment specifically on what they've said. But let me just talk more generally to the point, which is, as the President said, there are a number of different aspects of the costs that are going to be associated with enlargement. The largest share will be costs that are going to be assumed by the new members. That is only appropriate. It is part of their carrying on their responsibilities, and indeed, a major consideration in deciding which countries were ready was a judgment by NATO about which countries could effectively both bear the costs and make the kinds of investments that would make their military capable to doing that.
There are also other kinds of costs that will be assumed as part of the common NATO infrastructure. These costs are funded directly through NATO; there are formulae for determining the shares that each country will bear. Once those plans and programs are agreed by NATO, all the countries will participate in that. So there is already a mechanism for burden sharing within the NATO Alliance.
In addition to that, there are a number of aspects of the adaptation of NATO strategy because we have been moving over the years away from kind of what we used to call the layer cake defense, a forward defense, to a more flexible approach to defense. And a number of the costs which are attributed to enlargement are, in fact, costs that countries are going to be incurring as they move to lighter, more mobile forces.
You know, the French, themselves, have already begun
to take a number of adaptations because they, themselves, have begun a significant reform of their own military forces, moving towards a more professional way for conscription to a different concept. So they will be incurring a lot of costs which will help them, as well as the entire Alliance, meet the military obligations.
So I think it's very clear that all the Alliance is going to and will participate in this. NATO will be refining its concepts as we move forward, now that we know specifically what countries there are going to be. And I think the President will make very clear that he intends the United States to pay its share, but only its share, as we go forward.
Q I understood you to say there's already a mechanism for burden sharing, but Chirac's comments cast doubt on whether the French recognize the formula that you've been putting forward. The question is, is the formula that you've been putting out over the last week or so, or longer than that, about the new members will pay about a third of the total estimated costs, the existing European members will pay a third to a half, and we would pay no more than $200 million under your estimate, has that been agreed to by the NATO members, or is that still to be negotiated?
MR. STEINBERG: Obviously, it was impossible for NATO to determine what the costs were going to be until NATO determined who the new members are going to be. Now that we have the new members, NATO is obviously going to have to refine its plans.
But a number of these costs, as I say, were already embedded in what NATO is doing in terms of its own adaptation of its strategy. The more that NATO moves towards a more flexible and adaptable approach towards conducting its own defense, the ability to move forces forward -- we are not going to depend, as you've all heard many times, on the stationing of large number of troops forward.
And so the costs to the existing members will be in largely two categories: one, sort of the adaption of their own forces to carry out the new strategy, which is a fundamental change that's taking place with or without new members, and most of those costs are things that are being developed in the NATO planning process quite independent of enlargement but will have a big application to enlargement; and then some very specific costs of common infrastructure which are funded normally through the infrastructure program. Those things -- NATO decides on those formulas. Those formulas exist. Obviously, they could be changed.
But to the extent that a project is approved for infrastructure through the infrastructure program, there is an existing mechanism. That doesn't cover all the costs we've talked about, it covers just these common infrastructure costs.
Q Are you saying the French couldn't back out even if they wanted to?
MR. STEINBERG: No, I didn't -- I said the formula could be changed. And obviously countries could refuse to meet their obligations. France has a somewhat different role in these things in any event, because France is not a member of the integrated military command, and so how France participates itself in the NATO force planning process is somewhat different. And that itself is evolving as France has become closer to NATO, but not fully integrated into the military command.
So there are obviously a number of issues that are going to have to be addressed here as NATO develops its military concept. As France defines its own role within the NATO military concept, it will obviously be affected by any decisions France should take to get more integrated militarily.
So I think these are issues which will be worked through the Alliance. Again, you're offering comments that I have not seen, so I am not commenting on anything specifically that was said.
Q Jim, can you tell us what -- the President talked about specific actions to be taken to get the Middle East process going. Can you be specific about what he meant?
MR. STEINBERG: I think for some time the President has indicated that he's concerned about the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process since the Hebron agreement and that we have wanted to try to help the parties find ways for themselves to move forward. It's always been a role that the United States has played, to offer ideas and suggestions to the parties. And the President, I think, told you that he's been very interested in trying to be helpful in ways that we can through contacts with the parties in terms of putting suggestions forward. As he also indicated to you, that one of the ways that we can be helpful in putting suggestions forward is giving it to the parties in confidence and not necessarily doing them in public.
But the focus of what we are doing is helping the parties who ultimately have the responsibility themselves to reengage in this process. And we think it's very important that they do that. Because we're in contact with both of the parties, we're often in a position to give some views or some suggestions as to how we think it might be possible to move forward. But these are decisions that the parties themselves have to take. And that's what we're looking for right now.
Q Doesn't he need to signal that he has some idea now that he hasn't had in the past? I mean, he said this kind of thing in the past, but he seemed to suggest there was something new on tap.
MR. STEINBERG: Well, I think the nature of the
situation is, as time goes on and the failure to engage, we obviously are all trying to explore new avenues, to think of new approaches to try to get this going. But it's an ongoing process. I mean, one of the things you always ask is, are we engaged or not engaged. It's a reflection of the fact that we remain engaged in trying to help the parties who themselves have the responsibility to move this forward to try to -- as they examine the situation, as the situation evolves, to try to see what we can do to give them thoughts and suggestions about how to move forward.
Q Jim, if I can return to Susan's question for a second. Often, on a trip like this, the White House has a specific plan of who's going to fan out to TV shows, meetings with Congress, speeches. The impression you're leaving with your answer to Susan is that the President is going to generally sell this, but that you have no specific strategy at this point as far as --
MR. STEINBERG: I think -- if you are deeply interested in the specifics of the plan, I will get you Jeremy Rosner, who, as I was indicating before, is the President and the Secretary of State's special advisor, whose sole job in life is to worry about getting NATO enlargement ratified. I am not enough directly involved in the specifics of what Jeremy has planned.
I can assure you, though, that one of the things we will do is -- we had the members of Congress here. We will be meeting with them as soon as we get back to get their impressions. We will be meeting with all the members of Congress to brief them on what came out of here. There will be speeches that all the senior members of the administration are going to be making. We're going to be consulting with the leadership and the very strong group of supporters that we have in both houses to move that forward.
There is quite an extensive series of activities, but I'm just -- this is not my particular thing. And what I can't tell you is specifically what's the next major speech that the President will give. But this is -- the President identified the development of an undivided, democratic Europe, including NATO enlargement, as his first priority in the State of the Union speech this year. The President has spoken to it on a number of occasions the same time as he recognizes that this is something that only when we really have to face the real decision will the American people begin to focus on this.
As of yesterday when NATO has made that decision, the United States Congress, and particularly the Senate, is now going to be facing that real decision. So what we look forward to is the opportunity -- now that the issue is crystalized, it's real, people know that a concrete decision has been made, will have to be ratified by the Senate. I think it's a tremendous opportunity to engage with the American people. I think we're looking forward to doing it. The State Department holds town
meetings around the country. We're very engaged in doing that and I think you will see a very, very active program of activities.
Q Why do you keep saying an undivided Europe when it isn't? It is divided. -- this is the worst act since World War II. And you act like NATO wasn't created against the Russians, which it was and it still is. Every new member you've taken in was under Russian domination, their greatest fear. The reason they want to come into NATO was because of those fears. And that's a fact.
MR. STEINBERG: I think you have to take the words for the countries themselves who are part of this process. One of the things that virtually every speaker said, including the Russian speaker at the EAPC today, was that we were erasing the divisions in Europe. I think it is something that was shared not only by the people who were invited to join, but what was most striking is some of the countries which wished to join, but were not yet invited to join, all of whom applauded the fact that the lines were being erased.
One of the things that Serov, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister said, was that it was significant that as a result of the NATO-Russia Founding Act, that Russia no longer considers NATO an adversary and that NATO no longer considers Russia an adversary. The fact that the Russians themselves see it that way seems to me the strongest indication about the kind of change that's taking place.
There was an artificial line in Europe before we moved forward with an enlargement because those 16 nations that became members of NATO were a reflection of the line that was drawn by Stalin during the Cold War. That's gone. Now we have a map that's developing, that's emerging, where those lines are erasing and there are opportunities for every democratic nation in Europe to become part of NATO. So this is, I think, a very significant development in which --
Q Well, why did Primakov say that?
MR. STEINBERG: I think that Primakov has made clear that while they would not have gone forward this way, that they had different concepts for how to develop an undivided security structure, that they were here participating. They said that they wanted to continue to participate in the EAPC. They're looking forward to energizing the new NATO-Russia Partnership Council. At Secretary Albright's last meeting with Primakov in Hong Kong they discussed in detail how to get that up and running. So I think that there are obviously some differences of view about how to move this forward. But everybody recognizes that this is how it's going forward, and I think the constructive attitude that we saw throughout the two days is a real sign of the changes that are taking place.
MR. MCCURRY: Let's just take one or two more.
Q Jim, of the 44 countries at the EAPC summit, is Russia the only one not represented by head of state --
MR. STEINBERG: No, there were several. I don't have the exact count; I was trying to get it before I came here.
Q I'm not talking about --
MR. STEINBERG: There were -- a number of the countries of the former Soviet Union were not represented at the head of state level, but I don't have the exact numbers.
Q Do you have any more detail -- anti-NATO campaign?
MR. STEINBERG: He wasn't talking about an anti-NATO campaign. What he was talking about was the historical anti-NATO attitudes of people who lived in the former Soviet Union because of the propaganda under what they grew up, and he was talking about the need for a pro-NATO campaign, in effect, to convince people and to make them understand about the changes. And he welcomed the fact that NATO had opened an office in Kiev to begin and help in that process.
Q What did the President and Tony Blair discuss on Northern Ireland? Did they discuss ways to try to get the IRA to institute a new cease-fire --
MR. STEINBERG: The President and the Prime Minister have had the chance on a number of occasions over the last couple of weeks to discuss the peace process in Northern Ireland, and particularly the real tremendous desirability of moving forward that peace process at this time.
The Prime Minister has tabled some ideas which he has now talked about publicly before the Parliament. The
President has welcomed the fact that Prime Minister Blair has put those ideas forward, that he's shown a real interest and desire to develop an inclusive process to get that process moving, to get it past the formalities and into substance. And they exchanged views on how to make that happen.
Q Did the President offer any of his own opinions as to how to get a cease-fire out of the IRA?
MR. STEINBERG: I think what the President indicated was the United States was prepared to be supportive of both the British and the Irish government as they come up with ideas; that the United States role in this has been not as a mediator ourselves, but rather to support the efforts of the two governments, particularly their new proposals that they've come to together on moving that process forward.
MR. MCCURRY: We have got some paper in the back of the room, and then as far as we know that's it for us today unless there are pool reports coming from Granada.
Q Did the President take off, actually?
MR. MCCURRY: Did we get a confirmed wheels up? We did, according to Josh.
Q Mike, why was the President more than a half-hour late for that Ukraine session?
MR. MCCURRY: We had a call this morning from Spanish protocol indicating they wished to avoid the situation we had yesterday where there was some motorcade interruptions. In fact, at one point I guess yesterday, the President had to stop down. They had concern about the motorcycle policemen in particular. They had had, apparently, some near misses yesterday. They asked us to hold at the hotel until approximately 9:00 a.m., or shortly after 9:00 a.m., so that they would avoid some of the motorcade problems they had yesterday. And we attempted to make sure the other leaders understood that the delay had been at the request of the security officials.
Anything else for today? Okay.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
MR. MCCURRY: See you tomorrow.
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