and more flexible Alliance, committed to collective defense and able to undertake new missions. The Defense Capabilities Initiative 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. The WMD Initiative will increase Alliance efforts against weapons of mass destruction 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. These three nations will make the Alliance stronger while helping to enlarge 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 our 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.
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 has launched the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council to strengthen political dialogue and practical cooperation with all Partners, and established a distinctive partnership with Ukraine, which provides a framework for enhanced relations and practical cooperation. As a result of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, NATO and Russia launched the Permanent Joint Council to enhance political consultation and practical cooperation, while retaining NATO’s decision-making authority. 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 offers a comparative advantage because it is more cost effective than unilateral action. The November 1999 Istanbul OSCE Summit agreed on principles and modalities to further such cooperation in the Charter on European Security. The Charter commits members to, among other things, the establishment of Rapid Expert Assistance and Cooperation Teams to assist in conflict prevention and crisis management. The Charter also recognizes that European security in the twenty-first century increasingly depends on building security within societies as well as security between states. 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.
The Balkans and Southeastern Europe:
The United States has an abiding interest in peace in this region because continued instability there threatens European security. We are working to advance the integration of several new democracies in Southeastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Slovenia) into the European mainstream. More specifically, the President’s Action Plan for Southeast Europe seeks to promote further democratic, economic and military reforms in these countries, to encourage greater regional cooperation, advance common interests, such as closer contact with NATO, and increased law enforcement training and exchanges to assist in the fight against organized crime. We are working to promote increased security cooperation among NATO Allies and Partners in the region through the Southeast Europe Defense Ministerial process and NATO’s Southeast Europe Initiative. We are also working with the region, the EU and others to strengthen overall democratization, economic development and security through the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, initiated by the EU and launched by President Clinton and other leaders at Sarajevo in July 1999. The Pact also seeks to deepen regional cooperation and draw those countries closer to the rest of Europe and the United States, thereby giving them an opportunity to demonstrate that they are ready for integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Kosovo and Serbia-Montenegro:
After this year’s successful NATO intervention in Kosovo, the stability of the Balkans is still threatened by the vestiges of ethnic hatred and political repression. As the United States and NATO remain engaged in helping the people of the region build a stable and secure future for the Balkans, we remain prepared to address renewed threats to the region’s stability. Constitutional challenges between Serbia and a democratic and reform-minded Montenegro pose a danger for renewed conflict. And in Kosovo, the last decade of Serbia’s systemic repression of Kosovar Albanians leaves a volatile mixture of disenfranchisement, displacement and revenge-seekers.
NATO military operations against Serbia in the spring of 1999 had three clear goals: the withdrawal of all Serb military, paramilitary, and police forces from Kosovo; the unconditional and safe return of all refugees and displaced persons to Kosovo; and deployment of an international security force, with NATO at its core, to protect all the people of Kosovo — Serbs, Albanians and others. Those goals were achieved. Now, NATO, the UN and the international community face the challenge of establishing a stable environment that provides for the security and dignity of all people in Kosovo. Much has been achieved to this end. Mine fields are being cleared; homes are being rebuilt; nearly a million Kosovars who returned to the province are receiving food, shelter and medicine; investigations into the fate of the missing are ongoing; and the Kosovar Liberation Army has been demilitarized.
Over 48,000 troops from 30 countries have participated in the Kosovo Force (KFOR). Our European allies have provided the vast majority of them; America will continue to contribute about 7,000. Russian and other non-NATO participation in KFOR remains an important demonstration of international commitment and provides reassurance to all the people of Kosovo that they will live in peace and security. KFOR continues to operate under NATO command and control and rules of engagement set by NATO. It has the means and the mandate to protect itself while doing its job. Under the security environment established by KFOR, the United Nations has established an interim civilian administration and a 4,700-person international police force that will assist the Kosovars in building institutions of self-government. As local institutions take hold, and as international and indigenous police forces establish law and order, NATO will be able to turn over increasing responsibility to them.