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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 3, 2000


Yesterday, I signed HR 4249, the "Cross-Border Cooperation and Environmental Safety in Northern Europe Act of 2000." This law endorses the Administration's Northern Europe Initiative (NEI) and highlights the need for continued international efforts to address the environmental dangers posed by nuclear waste in northwest Russia. I want to express my appreciation to Representative Sam Gejdenson for introducing, and ensuring the passage of, this important legislation.

We launched the Northern Europe Initiative because we recognized, as the Congress does in this law, the importance of strengthening regional cooperation among the Baltic states, Russia, and all countries bordering the Baltic Sea. Only in this way can we create the stability and prosperity that will lead to full integration of Northern Europe, including northwest Russia, into the broader European and transatlantic mainstream. Our European friends, especially the Nordic countries and the European Union, are full partners in this effort.

The law also highlights the environmental dangers posed by military nuclear waste in northwest Russia. These dangers have been brought to light by the work of courageous independent environmentalists and non-governmental organizations in Russia and elsewhere. Aleksandr Nikitin, a retired Russian Navy colonel, has made important contributions to the international understanding and study of environmental problems in this region. Both environmentalists and non-government organizations face increased challenges today.

We have been deeply involved in helping Russia and its neighbors confront the serious environmental risks that face the Barents Sea, the Baltic Sea and the people who live around them. We look forward to increased cooperation from Russia as we create a legal framework for our common efforts.