THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE WILLIAM COHEN, AND DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE STROBE TALBOTT
The Briefing Room
10:23 A.M. EDT
MS. LUZZATTO: We're going to have a briefing now from Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, about NATO enlargement, the trip to Madrid and other places.
MR. BERGER: Thank you, Ann. I'm pleased to be joined by Secretary Cohen, Deputy Secretary Talbott to talk about the President's upcoming trip to Madrid and points south, north and west -- and east, I guess. First, let me put the summit in a somewhat broader context of the work that has been going on over the past two-plus years, since the last NATO summit in 1994, at which the President laid out a vision for -- and a strategy for European integration in a post-Cold War period: political integration around our common democracies, economic integration around free markets, security integration around military cooperation and defense of alliances. It's an interesting speech to look back on, the January 1994 speech at NATO, as you look at where we are now in July of 1997.
That third piece, which is the security dimension, has been something we have pursued very steadily and very deliberately over the past two and a half years. The President's view, which he laid out then and which he has adhered to very clearly since, is that America must remain anchored in Europe, that NATO was the most important vehicle of that anchoring, but that -- and the bedrock of our security -- but that we had to recreate and adapt NATO for a new era in order for it to be relevant for the American people and relevant for the security threats that we faced.
In Brussels, the NATO allies launched essentially a three-dimensional effort. One was to adapt NATO internally to meet new missions, something Secretary Cohen will speak more about. The second was to open NATO's doors to the new democracies of the East, to expand NATO. And third was to forge new relationships with partners beyond NATO. In Paris recently we signed the NATO-Russia partnership, and in Madrid we will sign the NATO-Ukraine partnership.
Over the past two and a half years, we've worked very closely with our allies, very steadily, very deliberately through a period of two and a half years with the Germans, the French, the British, the Spanish, Secretary Solana, and the other 15 -- the 16 NATO partners to reach a point where these strands of this cord come together.
Now, while there have always been through this process differing perspectives and differing views, there has always been a common acceptance in very fundamental propositions. One is that NATO remains the heart of the Alliance; that it's prepared to take on new missions, as it is doing today in NATO; that new members will add to its strength through the process of enlargement; and that practical partnerships beyond NATO and outside the Alliance are vital to integration and stability in Europe.
Madrid really is a milestone in this process, and the effort comes together first in Paris and then in Madrid. There really are three dimensions to what will take place in Madrid and to the process of NATO enlargement and adaptation that will be presumably approved there. One is making NATO stronger by internal adaptation, internal change, and a new relationship between NATO and the WEU so that the allies can use NATO assets for European-led missions. And under this rubric of making NATO stronger is continuing the process that has taken place over the last two years to review and quite dramatically revise NATO's command structure so that it is more streamlined and more reflective of the current realities. So number one is making NATO stronger.
Number two is making NATO broader. We expect a discussion at Madrid that will lead to a decision about enlargement. We expect that that decision will include -- involve Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, and that we will at the same time seek to make clear that the process is an ongoing one and that the first shall not be the last, as we've said before, and that countries like Romania and Slovenia, who some would advocate for membership now, are on the track and we would hope that this process would continue as they continue to grow stronger.
And the third dimension is building NATO's stability beyond its borders. We will adopt measures in Madrid to strengthen the Partnership for Peace program, which was launched back in '94. We will establish something called the Euro-Atlantic Security Council, which is a successor to what some of you may be familiar with, the NACC. That is, it will be a political arm for all of the Partners for Peace and a vehicle for all of the NATO and Partnership members to meet together and discuss perhaps the next -- future Bosnias of Europe. And we will be building partnerships with others beyond NATO's boundaries -- the NATO-Russia partnership that we signed in Paris, and in Warsaw we will be signing similar NATO-Ukraine partnership with President Kuchma. These all fit together in a tapestry of security relationships which have the general effect and purpose of integrating Europe into a united, free and democratic continent.
Let me now quickly take you through the agenda, and then ask Secretary Cohen and Secretary Talbott to focus on aspects of this. The trip, in a sense, begins tomorrow, even though we don't leave tomorrow, with an event here in the White House on July 3rd -- an Independence Day event in the East Room. We expect major veterans organizations to express their support for the enlargement process and, as we celebrate our own freedom and independence, the veterans who went to Europe in World War II will be endorsing that we hope will diminish the possibility that their sons and daughters will have to fight in Europe in the future.
On Monday, the President and First Lady will fly to Madrid. They actually will fly to Madrid this weekend for a few days in which they will escape all of us.
Q When are they leaving?
MR. BERGER: I believe they're leaving -- Mike will probably know -- I think they're leaving on Saturday, but I'm not sure. I honestly don't know.
Q It's the big mystery here.
Q Are you going?
MR. BERGER: No. That's why I don't know when they're leaving. You can ask McCurry.
Q You're not going on the trip at all?
MR. BERGER: No, they are going by themselves for a few days -- Friday night. Mr. Toiv has definitively answered your question, Rita. The rest of us will leave on Sunday and we will go to Madrid where we will also have with us a congressional observer group consisting of a number of members of Congress who have been deeply engaged in the NATO enlargement process, including Senator Roth and Senator Biden, who are the co-chairs -- or the chair and vice chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group.
Q They go with you on Sunday?
MR. BERGER: This so-called SNOG by the Senate -- NATO Observer Group -- includes not only those who are committed to -- (Laughter.) The acronym of the day.
Q Good thing they weren't a board -- then it would be SNOB. (Laughter.)
MR. BERGER: Includes senators who are for NATO enlargement -- I've lost it with SNOG, I can tell right away. (Laughter.)
Q Are you going to run into trouble with the allies?
MR. BERGER: Let me finish and let us all do a few minutes and then we can answer all your questions.
Q Do they go over when you on Sunday?
MR. BERGER: See that command. (Laughter.) There are a couple of different planes. The Secretaries are in one plane; I will bring out a transportation person for a full briefing of every suitcase, and I expect there's equal attendance when we get to the transportation briefing. (Laughter.)
The President, on Monday, will meet with Secretary General Solana and will speak to the Senate and congressional members who are with him. On Tuesday is the first day of the summit; the North Atlantic Council will meet in the morning and then a working lunch and then again in the afternoon. And at that point, we anticipate that there will be a decision made on which countries to invite to begin the accession talks.
On Wednesday, the second day of the summit, there will be a bilateral meeting with President Kuchma, then the signing of the NATO-Ukraine agreement -- charter -- and then a meeting of the European Atlantic Partnership Group -- that is, all of the other countries of Europe that are in the Partnership for Peace will be coming to Madrid on day two for a working luncheon and an informal meeting of this larger group that includes NATO members and Partnership for Peace members.
On Thursday we will go on to Poland, where the President will speak not only to the leadership, but to the people of Poland, both expressing his pride in what the Polish people have accomplished, as well as talking about the obligations that come with membership in terms of being a full partner of NATO. He will then go on to Romania and speak in Bucharest, and I think there provide a reassuring message to those Romanians and others who were not -- who may not be part of the first group that we've always seen this as an ongoing, organic process of enlargement.
And then finally, the President will go from there to Copenhagen --
Q All on Thursday?
MR. BERGER: Friday in Romania, Saturday in Copenhagen. And that, as you know, originally was planned when the President went to Helsinki and had his injury. We postponed that trip. But this is, in a sense, circling back -- starting in Helsinki and circling back to Denmark has been the journey of the last six months that has led us to this point.
Let me let Secretary Cohen say a few words.
SECRETARY COHEN: The Pentagon press corps is much more disciplined. They at least let me finish before they pound me with questions. But not as much fun? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY COHEN: Well, it depends on whether you're on that side or on this side.
Q Military control.
SECRETARY COHEN: Exactly.
Let me just add a couple of words to what Sandy Berger has just outlined for you. NATO, as we all recognize, has been the most successful military institution certainly that we have witnessed since the end of World War II, and we want to keep it a very successful military institution and organization. Back in 1994, NATO decided it wanted to consider enlarging or expanding its membership. In July of '94, the President created his so-called Warsaw initiative, which included matters dealing with regional airspace initiatives, defense resource management, which is basically dealing with budgets, and also discussing ways in which you could have civilian control over the military. All of those types of issues were part of the Warsaw initiative.
I might say that there was some skepticism that was voiced by many on Capitol Hill, certainly, where I used to work, in terms of the Partnership for Peace program. Would it work? Was it something that would prove beneficial? Would it be a good foundation for NATO enlargement? And the answer is an overwhelming yes. The Partnership for Peace program has been enormously successful. As a result of the President's Warsaw initiative, it has proven the basis for the bilateral relationship that was established between the three countries that we are recommending for accession into NATO: the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary.
And so the Partnership for Peace program also has been instrumental as far as the kind of integration and cooperation and successful operation of forces in Bosnia. So all of this has contributed very much to the promotion of stability in terms of how we have operated with our European allies.
As Sandy Berger has mentioned, when we go to Madrid we will recommend that the three major countries for which there is unanimous support for their admission we'll be recommending; and then, following Madrid, that the President, as Sandy has outlined, will travel to a number of countries, as will Secretary Albright, and I myself will be going on to witness a Partnership for Peace program -- or exercise, I should say -- in the Ukraine, and also stopping in Bulgaria as well.
Costs have been a factor which people have focused upon. I might say that during the past several two and a half years, we have spent roughly $300 million for the Warsaw initiative, money that has been well spent in dealing with upgrading their capability certainly, and how they can become more integrated with NATO operations. All of these countries have had some training in the English language, regional airspace initiative, other types of things that we would focus upon -- their command and control, communications, intelligence, all of that has been very instrumental. We spent roughly $300 million during this past two and a half, almost three years.
With respect to future costs to the United States, we have estimated and filed a report with members of the Congress that indicate that we will spend approximately between $150 million and $250 million each year during the next 10-, 12-year period. We think those costs are certainly acceptable. They're within the range that Congress can, in fact, support. And we believe it would be very helpful in terms of expanding or enlarging our NATO capability.
I would like to conclude by saying -- Sandy mentioned the internal adaptation as well -- and the internal adaptation includes streamlining the command structure. AFSOUTH has been a matter of some controversy, and we would like very much for the French and others to become fully integrated into NATO. And we are hoping that somehow that can be accommodated in the future. But that's part of the internal adaptation that we are currently pursuing, but what we have to do, of course, is to make sure that the command structure is sound, militarily sound, as we try to integrate more and more countries into NATO itself.
I would like to say that the President has pursued a very prudent and responsible course of action, starting with the PFP, showing how that has been built upon and stabilized much of Central and Eastern Europe, and how the countries now who are participating in PFP are eager to continue that. We had some 27 countries who were present in Brussels during the ministerial; we're going to carry on PFP exercises for those who are either seeking future admission into NATO or who wish to continue their relationship with NATO itself.
So I would say, basically, it's been very successful. We think that the President has recommended an extremely prudent course of action for which there is unanimous support for at least the three. And we believe that we can build upon that -- as Sandy has said -- sending a very strong message that the door is open, that we would expect other countries to qualify in the foreseeable future. We intend to reenforce that commitment that the door is open and then proceed accordingly.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Good morning. I'm just going to elaborate on a couple of points that Sandy and Secretary Cohen have already touched on.
When setting the context and the background of Madrid, Sandy emphasized that both the architecture and the construction of a post-Cold War European and transatlantic security order are complicated matters. And our own diplomatic and security efforts have proceeded on a number of courses or tracks in parallel, and I just want to underscore one point in particular in that regard.
I think that among the things said in Madrid next week will be the heavy emphasis on the theme that it is a very healthy, desirable and promising thing indeed that there is a broadening and deepening pattern of cooperation between NATO, even as it enlarges, and the Russia Federation.
Now, Sandy referred to what had been some landmark events over the last six months, particularly President Clinton's meeting with President Yeltsin on March 20-21 in Helsinki. And that, of course, contributed substantially to the signing of the Founding Act between NATO and the Russian Federation in Paris on May 27. That was very much an Alliance-wide effort. President Chirac of France, Chancellor Kohl of Germany, a number of other allied leaders played absolutely instrumental roles in bringing that about. And Sandy, of course, quite properly, stressed the role of Secretary General Solana of NATO itself.
But I think it is safe and fair to say that one reason that Helsinki went as well as it did, and one reason that the Founding Act was indeed consummated in Paris at the end of May is because Madrid was a fixed point both on the diplomatic calendar as well as on the map, obviously. And I think the Russian has had many reasons for agreeing to the Founding Act, the overarching one being that they consider it to be in Russia's interests, just as the member states of NATO consider it to be in our interest. But the fact that the enlargement track was going forward on schedule was also a major inducement.
Now, there is a great deal of work still to be done in implementing what has been agreed between the Alliance and Russia. I think some of that will be apparent in Madrid. As Sandy mentioned, on the second day in Madrid there will be a meeting of the new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and President Yeltsin assured President Clinton in Denver that Russia will be represented at a fairly serious level in that meeting. And then in the course of the coming weeks and months we will be discussing -- we, the Alliance -- will be discussing with the Russians when, where and how to hold the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council, which, of course, was set up by the Founding Act.
And, of course, the signing of the NATO-Ukraine Charter will be dramatic evidence that NATO is working to build and codify cooperative relations with a number of the countries of the former Soviet Union and the former Warsaw Pact.
The only other point that I would make is just to give you a little bit of -- you've had the background, I'll give you the foreground on the actual accession process. I'm sure you all understand that what will happen in Madrid next week does not constitute the actual joining of the Alliance by the countries invited or designated to join. Rather, these countries will be invited to begin intense negotiations directly with the Alliance on basically the terms of membership. These are the so-called accession negotiations.
We anticipate that those negotiations will continue for a matter of months. We would hope that they would be concluded by the time there is a NAC, North Atlantic Council, ministerial meeting in December, at which the NAC would approve the so-called protocols of accession. And then those will then constitute basically an amendment to the NATO treaty, which, of course, will then go before the parliaments of all the member states, including the United States Senate, which means that I think we can expect the Senate to formally begin deliberations on the expansion of the Alliance at the very beginning of next year, although as Sandy and Secretary Cohen have already pointed out, we're already deeply engaged with the Senate, indeed with the Congress as a whole, and that will be reflected by the presence in Madrid of some leaders on -- congressional leaders on that issue.
I'll stop right there.
MR. BERGER: Questions.
Q How do you solve problems with the allies in terms of them wanting five countries to come into NATO?
MR. BERGER: Well, as I think either Secretary Cohen or Secretary Talbott said, NATO is an organization that operates on the basis of consensus; that is, will require all 16 to be for accession talks to begin in order for that country to be invited. There are -- I think it is correct to say that all 16 agree with respect to Poland, Hungary, and Romania -- Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, excuse me.
With respect to Romania and Slovenia, I think there is a divided view. Our view is, the answer is not no, but no at this time.
Q Do you expect to have a hard time?
MR. BERGER: And so -- just to answer your question, I would think there would be some lively discussion of this at Warsaw, but at the end of the day I think there will be -- in Madrid, excuse me -- but at the end of the day --
Q Warsaw, too.
MR. BERGER: At Warsaw, too, yes. At the end of the day, I think it's fair to say that there will be a consensus on the three.
Q So, Sandy, you expect this discussion to actually occur on Tuesday? There won't be any kind of a pre-meeting to sort this out? This will be hammered out all during --
MR. BERGER: It is quite conceivable that there will be a discussion on Tuesday that will enable others to articulate the rationale for other countries, and I think that would be a healthy thing. I don't think there is any problems with that. At the end of the day, obviously, there will have to be some sort of a consensus decision. And as I say, our own view has been -- the President's view has been that there is a very -- that both Romania and Slovenia have made enormous progress, but that, for example in Romania's case, we really have seven months of history as opposed to seven years in Poland's case, and that it's, therefore, premature.
Q Sandy, you said Madrid will make clear that the door would remain open. How in practical terms do you intend to do that, since you apparently refuse to include dates or names of candidates who would belong to a second wave? So how are you going to show that this process is open?
MR. BERGER: We are hopeful that NATO will say that the process is open and that the process will be ongoing, that there will be further expansions of NATO. Precisely what words that takes is something that will have to be discussed up to and including Madrid.
Q But many countries are not happy with just words saying the process is open and they would like some commitments including some kind of date. Are you still ruling out an inclusion of a schedule, a calendar, and the name of some countries for a second wave? Is it definite or --
MR. BERGER: There is a progression of events. There presumably will be a summit in '99, at which time the three countries will be -- the three countries that have had accession talks, assuming ratification by all of the national legislatures, will actually be admitted to NATO. That would be one point at which presumably this would be reviewed. So this will be an ongoing process. And I think the important thing is -- we'll see what form the words take, but I think for us, the important fact here is that it be made clear that this is not the end of the road here.
Q Are you ruling out a compromise along these lines, including some kind of a date and names in whatever form, relating to the second wave? Are you ruling out such a compromise?
MR. BERGER: The fundamental proposition is that we believe that at this summit NATO ought to decide to enter into accession talks with Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, and that, at the same time, there ought to be a clear statement on the part of NATO that this is an ongoing process. Whether that includes benchmarks along the way or points of reference along the way I think is something we'll have to discuss with our partners.
Q How do you deal with the argument from other NATO allies that strategically NATO needs strengthening precisely where Slovenia and Romania would provide in the south; that's where the threat is, and that they add more strategically than Poland and the Czech Republic --
MR. BERGER: Let me take the first whack at that and then Bill or Strobe. We recognize that the future of NATO and that the future security challenges in Europe are likely to arise in the south. And that's why we want to encourage countries in the south like Romania and Slovenia to continue the process of reform and the process of democratization and the process of evolution and development of their militaries.
But there's no exit door from NATO. Once you come into NATO there's no door on the back that says, this is the door for countries that didn't make it. And therefore, the President has decided that the prudent course here is to take in at this first tranche the three countries that have the strongest record, that have the strongest case to make, without prejudice to the future, and looking down the road and accepting other members as time goes on.
SECRETARY COHEN: Let me just add one other comment to that, and that is we will look at NATO enlargement also in the context of enhancing the Partnership for Peace program. I have met on several occasions now with the leadership of both Romania and Slovenia, and encouraged them to continue the path that they have been on. We will enhance our relationship with those two countries and others through the Partnership for Peace program. So we will, in fact, have an enlarged NATO with the countries who we judge to be the strongest for candidates for membership while enhancing the PFP program to make sure that the two countries and others who may be candidates for admission -- and that's one of the reasons why we really can't say who is in and who is out, because if you start to define that you're excluding other countries.
So what we'll do is indicate that the process is open, we will enhance our Partnership for Peace programs, hoping -- not hoping, but encouraging them to continue the path on which they are on. And we still will have a very strong relationship with them and other countries.
Q If I could follow -- do you feel you get a strategic benefit, enough of a strategic benefit through the PFP to give you some stability enhancement in the south?
SECRETARY COHEN: The answer is, yes. It's very helpful to have the PFP program and NATO working together. That gives us enough of a strategic reliability and security. Can it be better? The answer is, yes, and we will seek to do that in the future. But we're satisfied now that the three most important ones to bring in are the ones which we have unanimous for.
MR. BERGER: If I can just add one fact -- there are now, I believe, 34 countries engaged in the Bosnian enterprise, and this is essentially the Partnership for Peace countries -- the NATO countries plus the Partnership for Peace countries. So that has proven to be an effective vehicle in this particular instance.
Q Could you just lay out what it was about those three countries specifically that were the greatest strengths as you saw it for bringing them into NATO?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: They're furthest along -- furthest along in the evolution of the institutions of democracy, the functioning of democratic institutions, the development not only of a market economy, but of economic and other forms of integration into the community that we used to call the West, but was -- has always been a little bit of an anachronism, and especially now that so many countries in the East aspire to membership in it -- also, of course, in their willingness to be net producers of security; that is, they are going to make a contribution in military terms to the Alliance -- which is not, by singling them out, to discourage or put down any of these others.
I'd just like to join my colleagues in pushing back against any implication that anybody in Madrid is going to be saying no to Romania or Slovenia or, indeed, to a number of other countries. The answer -- the most negative answer is, not yet, but in many ways the answer is, yes. And you have already heard from President Clinton in Denver, and you'll hear from him again, I'm sure, and from other national leaders, that if Romania and Slovenia stay on the right track that they're now on there is every reason to believe that they are very credible candidates for membership in NATO in due course.
Q That sounds so defensive. I mean, I just asked you a question, not why you aren't putting the others in, but what the specific strengths are. You gave a very abbreviated, non-specific answer. What do you mean by "contributing to the military structure"? Could you maybe try to put that in English for the rest of us?
Q Polish army.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Sure, I will plead guilty to brevity, but I did not mean to sound --
Q Not brevity, just brevity on the question that I asked you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Well, first of all, Rita, it was actually an answer, while brief, that touched on a number of different things, not all of them military and security related. NATO is an a lliance of democracies. It's an alliance of countries that share certain values and institutions. And as I think Sandy made clear, in the case of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, they have been on a reformist course for quite some time now, and are quite simply ahead of other candidates in those respects. I think maybe it would be more appropriate for Secretary Cohen to say a word about what they will bring to the alliance in military and security terms.
SECRETARY COHEN: Well, essentially, all three countries have the capacity to be, as Strobe has used the phrase, producers of security as well as consumers. This is something that I mentioned in my own opening remarks. NATO is primarily a security institution, a military institution that obviously has political overtones as well. But we wanted to focus upon those countries who have the greatest capability at this time for enhancing the security relationship, and we believe that the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland --
Q How do they?
SECRETARY COHEN: -- by virtue of having a military capability which can be enhanced. We have been working with these countries in our bilateral relationship for the past two and a half years to upgrade their communications, command, control, intelligence, upgrading English language, as I indicated regional air space initiatives -- all of that has contributed to their ability to integrate more quickly and more capably into the NATO structure itself. They will be in a better position to enhance their receptivity to reinforcement should it ever be necessary. And so, both from an economic point of view as well as a civilian point of view, their military contribution will enhance NATO's security and not simply consume its security.
MR. BERGER: I think the very fact that there is unanimity among the 16 on these three reflects a shared view, as Strobe has said, that they are farther along on the process of democratization and economic reform than the others.
Q Sandy, there are those who say that this is again a case of the United States doing for Europe what Europeans could and should do for themselves; that the real answer to pan-European security is economic integration. With this expansion, does the United States have any guarantee from the Europeans that they will expand the EU to take in Eastern European nations?
MR. BERGER: First of all, I don't think this is something we're doing for Europe. I think this is something we're doing because it's in the interests of the United States. The transatlantic security partnership has been essential to maintaining the peace for the past 45, 50 years. It was obviously in Europe that turmoil and instability led to American troops having to go fight twice in the most bloody wars of history.
So NATO really anchors us into Europe, and I think our view very strongly is that anchoring not only serves Europe's interests but serves our interests as well.
Q So are there any guarantees that --
MR. BERGER: The EU is also expanding to the East. These two processes are not linked together in a automatic sense, but they are both proceeding forward.
Q Two questions about Tuesday. Number one, is it still possible that on Tuesday there will be a vote to include not three but five --and that the United States would find itself in a position of casting the dissenting vote on that? Is it still possible that that vote will take place?
And a question about the future calendar. Strobe, when you alluded to one of the good things being that Russia knew that there was a date certain that NATO expansion was going forward, wouldn't a date certain for future and further expansion serve the same purpose that it did now, in the future?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I think in the answer to your first question, Sandy made clear that the Alliance, whether at the level of Perm reps, which is to say our ambassadors there or ministers, like Secretary Cohen, Secretary Albright when they go, or the heads of state, they don't operate by majority rule or by votes, they operate by consensus.
On the second point, I think it will be clear to everybody coming out of Madrid, from the communique -- and there is a lot of work already going on about that -- and from what the various leaders say, that this process is going to go forward. And it will set sort of terms of reference and objectives for that process as it goes forward.
I think that the critical thing is that the Russian Federation has made a fundamental decision here, and that is, while it objects to NATO enlargement -- it's made no bones about that -- it considers it of overriding importance that there be a cooperative relationship between the two, even as NATO enlarges.
Q Is that why Yeltsin won't be there, because of the objection?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I think, as I said, President Yeltsin's participation or non-participation obviously was a decision only he could make based on a whole lot of considerations, including his own situation at home. He has undertaken to make sure that Russia has a serious representative there, which is most welcome.
Q Sandy, why do you think so many of our allies, though, feel that Slovenia and Romania are ready to join the Alliance? What do they see that we perhaps don't?
MR. BERGER: Well, I think what has happened in Romania over the last seven months has been quite admirable. There was an election in either October or November of last year, a new government, and that government has moved quite admirably to put that country on a course of economic reform, to settle a lot of the ethnic disputes that Romania had with the Hungarians and others. I think there are a number of countries that border on Slovenia that see the value of having Slovenia in NATO in terms of the southern flank security.
We share those views. I think the question really is not whether, but when. And I think in the case of Poland, for example, when you've had seven years of making these very hard decisions and going through the kinds of tests that inevitably take place in reforming -- in transitioning an economy from a state-run economy to a market economy, and they have weathered those storms and they have in each instance maintained the course; the same with the Czech Republic; same with Hungary -- I just think we need some more time working with Romania and Slovenia to make sure that they maintain the same path. And I have no doubt that if they do they're on the path to NATO membership at some point.
Q Will American forces that are now in Europe and helping in NATO be moving to any of these new NATO countries physically? And where does most of the expense come for the $150 million a year over 10, 12 years?
SECRETARY COHEN: Most of the expense would come in upgrading the interoperability of our command-control --
Q Like what?
SECRETARY COHEN: Well, our communication system, that we would have to have a capability of having integrated communications systems so that in a time of crisis we'd be able to communicate effectively and expeditiously. That would be where the bulk of the expense would be. We've already spent, as you know, a considerable amount of money in terms of our force projection capability. And there are three essential areas of contribution.
I should point out that each of these countries would have to spend a good deal more money if they were to try to upgrade their military outside of NATO itself. I think everyone recognizes that alliances save money. And these countries, were they not to be included, the three, would find themselves in a position of perhaps spending even more. So it's a cost-effective mechanism for them to upgrade their capability and they would have to do so in any event.
Secondly, we have the existing NATO countries, excluding the United States, who have an obligation to upgrade their force projection capability. We already have that force projection capability. Our contribution into the common fund would deal for the issues I mentioned -- command-control, upgrading their intelligence capability, and so that's the essential --
Q And American troops --
SECRETARY COHEN: American troops may or may not be deployed on a temporary basis for training exercises, something that we do even today. In Hungary, for example, we have training exercises. We don't foresee at this point a large forward deployment of American troops in other areas. We've indicated that in the past. We would expect trainee exercise from time to time. We have members of NATO that we currently don't have troops stationed in their country on a permanent basis. So it would depend upon the circumstances, but I would envision more of training exercises, continuing essentially trying to upgrade interoperability.
Q In terms of restructuring the command and control, are we still in charge? Are we basically still in charge? And are France and Italy still trying to get the southern flank?
SECRETARY COHEN: The French, of course, have indicated they would like to have the AFSOUTH command, and that's something -- we want the French to come into NATO on a fully integrated basis. We're eager for them to do so. At the same time, we're trying to work out an acceptable arrangement whereby the command structure remains intact and is the most efficient and effective as possible. And so a number of formulations have been offered and those so far are still in the process of negotiation. We hope at some time that that can be worked out, but the most important thing, of course, is too make sure that it's militarily effective and supportable.
Q Secretary Cohen, on the cost question, you estimated that it was going to cost about $200 million a year --
SECRETARY COHEN: $150 million to $200 million.
Q -- for 10 to 12 years. It's a big hunk of change for an American public that we led to believe that the end of the Cold War would bring a peace dividend. How do you persuade the American public that this is worth that amount of money?
SECRETARY COHEN: As we've indicated before, the entire purpose, or at least the central purpose by enlarging NATO, is to promote greater stability. I think that the total requirement for the United States, somewhere between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, is an acceptable amount of money that the American people would be willing to pay for a stable, prosperous, secure Europe.
We can find, for example, what has taken place in Bosnia. As you know from the kind of questions being raised on Capitol Hill, we will spend in excess of $6.5 billion by virtue of our presence in Bosnia. To the extent that we can prevent future Bosnias, this would be a very wise, sound investment of the American dollar to promote greater stability, greater harmony, greater interoperability, and promotion of American and NATO values. So if you look at it from a perspective of cost, this will be a far less cost and a much more wiser investment in taxpayer dollars to get this kind of stability and prosperity and peace and democracy throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
Q Secretary Cohen, on Bosnia, that was an issue that was raised in Denver, as you know. The allies were criticizing the U.S. for sticking to its pledge about withdrawing U.S. troops in the summer. When you first took office, you made a very firm statement that U.S. troops would be out this summer. Since then, the President has been a little squishy on that point. What are you going to be telling the allies about the withdrawal of U.S. troops next summer?
SECRETARY COHEN: I will be telling the allies essentially what we have all been discussing with the allies -- we discussed this in Brussels at the ministerial there just a few weeks ago -- that this is not a U.S. decision to terminate or end the mission of SFOR in June of '98; this was a NATO decision. NATO has indicated the mission shall end at the end of June of next year, and so this is not a unilateral decision on the President's part or my part.
If you read what the President has said, all of what he has said, all of what Secretary Albright has said, that we expect that the mission is going to end, what we ought to do is to focus our energies and creativity on getting the civilian half of Dayton Accords implemented between now and June, and that should be our focus. And frankly, there has been no disagreement on that amongst our allies.
I have mentioned this time and time again with virtually every leader that I have met with, both foreign ministers and defense ministers in Europe, and they agree that what we need to do between now and June is to focus all of our energies on implementing Dayton in full sense.
Q But it was the NATO countries in Denver -- it was the NATO allies. Well, if could just get Secretary Cohen and then --
MR. BERGER: But he wasn't in Denver; I was going to try to help you with Denver a little bit.
Q But basically it sounds as though, if NATO would then decide, yes, we'd like them to stay longer, then the U.S. would go along and have the U.S. troops stay.
MR. BERGER: First of all, the discussion in Denver was focused very much on what we can do now. The discussion in Denver was not focused on when is this over. The discussion at dinner on the first night in Denver was focused on, as the President said, the most important day, which is tomorrow, the next day, the next day. And they went through a whole series of elements of implementation, from refugee resettlement to building the police, to economic reconstruction, and the others, and talked about what we could be doing together to intensify that effort.
And the more that those who are in Bosnia from the international community are successful over the next 12 months, the greater capacity there will be for a self-sustaining peace.
Q What specifically are you -- the President promised in Denver there would be actual specific actions that the allies would take to enhance refugee return and all the things you listed. What are those actions?
MR. BERGER: We have a very elaborate action plan on each of these subjects, and we could do a separate briefing on that.
Q Secretary Cohen, you didn't actually answer. The question is, if NATO should decide let's go beyond -- ask the U.S. to go beyond next summer, what would be the U.S. reply?
SECRETARY COHEN: I think I very clearly -- I don't answer hypothetical questions. It's premature. I indicated this in Brussels -- as a matter of fact, this morning with a visiting minister of defense, talked about this issue . We should not be trying to speculate what happens at the end of June of '98, beyond that. What we need to do is understand that we're going to concentrate all of our effort between now and then to fulfill the Dayton Accords. And any speculation beyond June of '98, when we expect the SFOR mission to end as NATO has said it would end would be counterproductive and would undermine the energies that we think need to be devoted to fulfilling Dayton now.
Q Secretary Talbott, what do you say to critics who maintain that this is a bad bargain because with all the efforts you're making to bring the Russians in, nevertheless, you're going to stir nationalist trends in Russia and basically kill off any further chance for arms reduction, that START II and START III are dead after Madrid?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I'll take the two points in reverse order. The very good conversation between President Clinton and President Yeltsin in Denver made clear that the strategic arms control process is very much alive. President Yeltsin reiterated his determination to put his own shoulder to the wheel in getting the ratification of START II and moving on to deeper reductions in START III.
As for the impact of NATO enlargement on internal Russian politics, obviously, we can only see what's happened to date, but I would just point to the fact that Russia today has the most high-powered, innovative pro-reform team that it has had in a very long time, which I think should at least partially allay the concerns of those who are worried about that impact.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 11:41 A.M. EDT