Background Briefing by Senior Administration Official on Meeting of NATO-Ukraine Commission

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 24, 1999


International Trade Center
Washington. D.C.

5:15 P.M. EDT

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay. The NATO-Ukrainemeeting was not too long, but it had a good exchange. PresidentClinton's remarks were on the record; I think you have them.

Q We really don't know what he said or --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I wasn't takingnotes, so -- there will be a transcript.

Q I mean, if you need to know that to get this, wedon't really --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay. Anyway,President Kuchma gave a long presentation about confirming thatUkraine was sticking to its choice for Europe, its course towardsintegration into Eur-Atlantic structures, but expressed concern thatthe crisis over Kosovo had jeopardized that course because it hadgiven some fuel to what he called the revanchist forces in some ofthe countries of the former Soviet Union -- including in Ukraine, butalso referring to the hardliners in Russia and Belarus -- who wouldlike to exploit this to create a new Cold War and drag Ukraine intoit.

But he pledged that he's determined to continue the lineof cooperation with NATO, and to work to build a unified securitysystem. He laid out Ukraine's serious economic problems, which isreally not officially part of the NATO-Ukraine agenda -- (laughter)-- but laid out some of the familiar problems. They're still stuckwith the legacy of Chernobyl, and inherited the Soviet economicsystem, overly militarized, and they're still trying to break out ofthat.

And he appealed for an early conclusion of the Kosovocrisis, and expressed the regret that this time the U.N. had beenparalyzed, and the Ukraine's hope that the next time there was acrisis of this kind, the U.N. would play its proper role. And thenclosed by talking about the need to work together to prevent ethnicconflicts from happening again, of this kind.

A number of the NATO leaders spoke, and sort of stressedsimilar themes about their commitment to NATO-Ukraine cooperation.Speakers were the Turkish President, Canadian Prime Minister, theNorwegian, the Dutch, President Chirac, and the Polish President,Kwasniewski, spoke on behalf of the three new members.

And many of them hit on some of the same things: therecord of cooperation, the Ukrainian offer to the Partnership forPeace of this major military training facility that it has in thetown of Yavoriv, which is the first to be designated by NATO as aPartnership for Training Center, where NATO and Central Europeanforces will train together. This is important because we're alwaystrying to say the partnership is a two-way street, the partners aresupposed to contribute and not just be beneficiaries.

And then there was discussion of -- comments on some ofUkraine's program for cooperation with NATO, which is a veryambitious agenda. So that's the NUC summit.

Q Do you know anything about what happened at the NACsession? There was a little bit of confusion, who was going to go,and then -- you didn't go, did you?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. All they did wasmeet to kind of give the official blessing to the text that had beenfinalized during the lunch, and just after lunch. The foreignministers had reconvened after further consultation, and settled theremaining issues on the European defense section we talked aboutearlier -- some minor Turkish concerns, which have been resolved.

Q So there was nothing on oil at that meeting?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, no. It was simplya laying on of hands to confirm that the communique and the strategicconcept, which had up until then a couple of words unresolved, wereagreed and put into final summit --

Q Earlier, was France the only country that raisedany objection to the military being used to search ships? Or werethere other objections raised, by other countries?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This was in yesterday'smeeting, that the substance was discussed. As I can recall, it wasonly Chirac who expressed some reservation in his opening comments,but joined the decision that you saw in the statement. His mainconcern was not doing things that would impose undue hardship onMontenegro, and that's why you have that caveat in the decision sheetabout taking into account the consequences for Montenegro.

But he confirmed that they stand by the EU decision onan oil embargo, so oil is embargoed. And our military is preparingto take concrete steps to disrupt any efforts to deliver it.

Q No, but I guess we understood from Chirac's newsconference that he's still considering that military cannot be usedto board ships and search them for oil.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think theSecretary General was saying, essentially, watch this space. It'sagreed that NATO will take action, including military actioninvolving our naval forces. Exactly how that's going to be workedout will unfold over the next days.

Q Right. I guess my question is, was France the onlyone that raised this objection to the military boarding ships?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They didn't even get-- it wasn't that specifically raised in the summit. It was just ageneral concern, more related to Montenegro than to the legal issues.Although we've heard the legal issues in Brussels.

Q Did the Ukrainians have anything to say about theembargo issue?


Q Do you have any comment on reports out of Germanythat they're not going to pay for the -- foot their part of the bill,or foot the bill for air strikes, like they did in Iraq?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I haven't seen that. Imean, in a NATO operation, each nation pays its own way -- its ownforces, supports them, sustains them. There's no reimbursement fromany NATO central account. NATO doesn't work the way the U.N. works.So if they have planes flying, they pay for the planes, the fuel, andall the forces on the ground to sustain those forces. That's the wayit works. Nobody else pays for them.

So I don't think they intend to pull out, either. Thesense I got from the Germans is that they very much supported theintensification of the air campaign, and we hope they'll respond toSACEUR's call for some additional contributions.

Any other questions coming out of the morning session?

Q On the possible entry of new NATO members, howspecific is the list? Are they going to narrow down from the pool ofnine at all, give any sort of strong hints about who might be next?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The communique -- youdon't have it yet?


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I have an advance copy,but I -- don't all dive for it at once.

You'll see a very complex and detailed treatment of theopen door, beginning in paragraph seven. It's a paragraph with about-- I don't know how many sub-paragraphs, it goes on for a page and ahalf -- which, first it welcomes the three new members who've justbeen inducted; then it reaffirms the openness of the alliance, andpledges that we will continue to welcome new members -- this issimilar to what we said at Madrid.

Then it goes through and recognizing -- recalls what wedid in Madrid in recognizing the progress of certain countries --remember, some were named and some were not. And then it says,"today we recognize and welcome the continuing efforts and progressin Romania and Slovenia. We also recognize and welcome continuingefforts and progress in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania" -- who werenot named by name last time, they were only named as the BalticRegion.

And then, since the Madrid Summit, "we note and welcomepositive developments in Bulgaria, and we also note and welcomepositive developments in Slovakia." So now they've been named.

And then, slightly different treatment in the sameparagraph, the other two candidates, Macedonia and Albania. Weexpress gratitude for their cooperation with NATO, and welcome theirprogress on reforms. So the nine candidates all get that verynuanced treatment.

And then it goes on to explain the basic elements of theMembership Action Plan, which is the key initiative, here, to shiftNATO from a more reactive posture towards candidatestowards a proactive posture. We will now work actively to preparethem, to groom them, for membership in a more active way, with --you'll see the points in the communique.

And then finally, it says that Foreign Ministers aredirected to keep the process under review, and that the leaders willreview the process at their next summit meeting, which will be heldno later than 2002. So that kind of puts an outer limit on when thenext round of enlargement is likely to occur. This is not acommitment to invitations in that time frame, but certainly it's asignal of an inclination to go in that direction.

So, after you study this document, I'd be happy toanswer other questions. Thirteen pages --

Q That's all the Mapping the Way -- that's theMapping the Way document, right?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, no. This is thesummit communique. An Alliance for the 21st century.

Q What time is that expected to be released?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They're just makingzillions of copies right now, because it was finalized about 45minutes ago.

But this has -- all the summit decisions are summarizedin here. You've got the key elements of the strategic concept, whichis also being Xeroxed. It has the enlargement stuff I justmentioned, it has the business about ESDI. It has the DefenseCapabilities Initiative in summary form, and then some stuff aboutcontinuing our work in Bosnia.

Oh, I would call your attention to decisions onSoutheastern Europe, if you're interested. In the communique, inparas 16 and 17 -- 16 through 19, actually. The Southeast Europeanpiece, in the context of the crisis, it talks about the increasedimportance, and then it lays out a number of initiatives, includingproposing tomorrow morning to the seven countries that will beattending the meeting at 9:30 a.m. -- the neighboring states -- theestablishment of a consultative forum, the 19 plus 7 Forum, thatwould be created as an ongoing mechanism with a variety of activitiesthat would be pursued with those specific countries.

Q This is indefinitely, not just for the Kosovocrisis?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. It's indefinite,there's no time limit on this. I mean, the proximate cause is thecrisis, but this would be established as an ongoing mechanism -- aslong as it's useful, I guess. It doesn't say anything about timing.

And -- then there's stuff about the EAPC, Partnershipfor Peace, where there's -- we've got four major initiatives onenhancing the Partnership for Peace. Russia, Ukraine, MediterraneanDialogue, Weapons of Mass Destruction Center, and the other parts ofthe weapons of mass destruction issue.

This is your basic text.

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