NATO remains the anchor of U.S. engagement in European security matters, the foundation for assuring collective defense of Alliance members, and the linchpin of transatlantic security. As the leading guarantor of European security and a force for European stability, NATO must play a leading role in promoting a more integrated and secure Europe; one prepared to respond to new challenges. At the same time, the United States actively supports the efforts of our European partners to develop their own European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). We further support European efforts to increase and improve capabilities for collective defense and crisis response operations, including the capability to act militarily under the EU when NATO, as a whole, is not engaged. We seek a relationship that will benefit current, and the potential future, members of both organizations, and we intend to remain fully engaged in European security issues, both politically and militarily. The United States has maintained approximately 100,000 military personnel in Europe to fulfill our commitments to NATO. They provide a visible deterrent against aggression and coercion, contribute to regional stability, respond to crises, sustain our vital transatlantic ties, and preserve U.S. leadership in NATO.
NATO is pursuing several initiatives to enhance its ability to respond to the new challenges it will face in the 21st century. At NATO’s Fiftieth Anniversary Summit in April 1999, Alliance leaders adopted an expansive agenda to adapt and prepare NATO for current and future challenges. This included an updated Strategic Concept, which envisions a larger, more capable and more flexible Alliance, committed to collective defense and able to undertake new missions. The Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) aims to improve defense capabilities and interoperability among NATO military forces, thus bolstering the effectiveness of multinational operations across the full spectrum of Alliance missions, to include Partner forces where appropriate. NATO and the EU are also forging a strategic partnership that will further reinforce European capabilities and contributions to transatlantic security. NATO’s WMD Initiative, the other activities of NATO’s senior groups on proliferation, and U.S. bilateral NBC defense cooperation with key allies, will increase the ability of the Alliance to counter the threat of NBC weapons and their means of delivery.
NATO enlargement has been a crucial element of the U.S. and Allied strategy to build an undivided, peaceful Europe. At the April 1999 NATO Summit, the alliance welcomed the entry of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic as new members. The accession of these three nations has made the Alliance stronger and has reinforced Europe’s zone of democratic stability.
Together with our allies, we are pursuing efforts to help other countries that aspire to membership become the best possible candidates. These efforts include the NATO Membership Action Plan and the Partnership for Peace. We are also continuing bilateral programs to advance this agenda, such as the President’s Warsaw Initiative, which is playing a critical role in promoting Western-style reform of the armed forces of Central and Eastern Europe, and Eurasia and helping them become more interoperable with NATO. Some European nations do not desire NATO membership, but do desire strengthened ties with the Alliance. The Partnership for Peace provides an ideal vehicle for such relationships. It formalizes relations, provides a mechanism for mutual beneficial interaction, and establishes a sound basis for combined action, should that be desired. This can be seen in the major contributions some Partnership for Peace members have made to NATO missions in the Balkans. Also, on a bilateral basis, the United States has concluded security of classified information agreements with all former Warsaw Pact countries.
NATO is pursuing several other initiatives to enhance its ability to respond to new challenges and deepen ties between the Alliance and Partner countries. NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council continues to strengthen political dialogue and practical cooperation with all partners, and the Alliance values its distinctive partnership with Ukraine, which provides a framework for enhanced relations and practical cooperation. We welcome Russia’s re-engagement with NATO and Permanent Joint Council on the basis of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. Our shared goal remains to deepen and expand constructive Russian participation in the European security system.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has a key role to play in enhancing Europe’s stability. It provides the United States with a venue for developing Europe’s security architecture in a manner that complements our NATO strategy. In many instances, cooperating through the OSCE to secure peace, deter aggression, and prevent, defuse and manage crises, broadens international support for the resolution of a particular security issue, and gives regional actors greater latitude to develop their own stability mechanisms. The Charter also recognizes that European security in the 21st century increasingly depends on building security within societies as well as security between states. In Istanbul, President Clinton joined the other 29 parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) in signing the CFE Adaptation Agreement, which will replace obsolete bloc-to-bloc force limitations with nationally-based ceilings and provide for enhanced transparency of military forces through increased information and more inspections. The United States will continue to give strong support to the OSCE as our best choice to engage all the countries of Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia in an effort to advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and to encourage them to support one another when instability, insecurity, and human rights violations threaten peace in the region.
Kosovo – Securing the Peace
On March 24,1999, after repeated attempts at diplomatic solutions had failed, NATO intervened militarily to end a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing launched by the Milosevic regime in Belgrade against the ethnic Albanian community in Kosovo. During the eleven-week air campaign that comprised Operation Allied Force, fourteen of the Alliance’s nineteen members participated in more than 38,000 combat sorties, almost one third the number flown during the 1991 Desert Storm campaign. In the end, due to the application of force in concert with continued international pressure, Milosevic capitulated, agreeing to NATO’s conditions including the return of all refugees, the withdrawal of his military and police forces, and the deployment of an international civil and military presence. This unprecedented display of alliance solidarity ended Belgrade’s reign of terror and prevented the real risk that violence in Kosovo would create turmoil throughout the region, undermining its new, fragile democracies and reversing our progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina. NATO’s intervention also set the conditions for creating a stable, peaceful, and democratic way of life in Kosovo.
Today, assisting the international community to accomplish those objectives is a NATO-led force (KFOR) of approximately 40,000 personnel from nearly 35 countries (including 6,000 Americans) who continue to protect the peace achieved by last year’s military action. The United