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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2002 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Remarks with Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Prague, Czech Republic
April 18, 2002

DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER PAVEL TELICKA: Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning, I welcome you to this press briefing on the occasion of the visit of Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State of the U.S. I think that we had a very useful and thorough discussion the last two hours in the presence of some of my colleagues from the Ministry of Defense and the President's Office and of course my collaborators here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We have predominantly devoted the time to the NATO summit, which is to be held in Prague in November. I think that we have found out, on the occasion of Marc Grossman's visit to nine NATO countries, on this occasion is there is a great coherence of views on what is to be considered as a successful outcome of the NATO summit. We clearly see three pillars of that event. One is definitely NATO's role in the 21st century and that is also very much about the capabilities of NATO.

This is very much of course linked also to the latest tragic developments, but on the other hand we see clearly also NATO's role to be very much in compliance with what it was throughout the time since it was established. But we see new targets, new goals here, and they have to be sufficiently addressed, and we need to be ready for that, and this is clearly one of the basic goals for the NATO Summit. The second, of course, is enlargement. We have debated that also to some extent. I think that it is still early days for us to speak concretely what can be the outcome of the NATO summit, which countries can be invited. I think that the environment is a pretty positive one for quite a significant enlargement, but it's very much up to the candidates to deliver, to meet the conditions, to meet the criteria, and in this respect they need to be encouraged, because there is still some time left before the decision will be taken. The third pillar, as one could call it, would be the relations of NATO with third countries. I know that the first country that comes to your mind is Russia, definitely it's Russia, it's Ukraine, it's Central Asia, the Caucasus, it can be the Mediterranean.

I think that these issues will be further explored in the future. My colleagues, especially First Deputy Minister Stefan Fule, did give quite a thorough, I would say, insight into the current ten goals of our Defense Ministry of our military, the question of capabilities, professionalization, reform of the army. In this respect we have agreed that the principal of specialization is an important one, and also I would say sort of streamlining. Also the DCI, the goals, which are there for NATO.

So this would be roughly, I would say, the agenda that we have touched upon. I won't go into details, I would appreciate if Marc Grossman would do that to some extent, and then we will take up your questions.

UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE MARC GROSSMAN: Yes, thank you very much.First of all, let me thank you, and thank our hosts here in the Czech Republic for the wonderful hospitality that we have received. I must say that I am in the good position, the happy position here, of being able to agree with the report that the Deputy Foreign Minister has given to you. I also wanted to thank, in addition to our hosts here, I wanted also to pay tribute to Ambassador Stapleton and the wonderful team of Americans that we have here representing the United States in the Czech Republic. The Deputy Foreign Minister was nice enough to say that he received us with a team that represented much of the Czech government. I will say that I also came here with a team to show our seriousness with many parts of the American government. I am accompanied here today by representatives of the Defense Department,by the White House and also by SHAPE. In that way we wanted to show that we wanted to come here and consult with our allies about the upcoming Summit in Prague.

I came here to really try to accomplish three things: first was to try to thank again the Czech government and the Czech people for the strong support and the solidarity in the global war on terrorism, in work we are doing together in NATO, and work we are doing all around the world. I have tried in every place that I have visited, and especially here today, before we got into any more specific business, to thank people here again, for the work that has been done since the 11th of September and work that will be done in the future.

The second reason I wanted to come was to recommit and to reiterate the commitment of the United States of America to this great NATO alliance and to reiterate to our new allies, that for the United States, NATO remains an absolute bedrock of our security and our relationship to Europe.

Third, as the Minister said, I tried to propose to the hosts of the Prague Summit some themes that all of us might agree on, as we move forward to Prague. He has very eloquently laid them out.

First: new capabilities. Can we get, for this alliance, the new military capabilities that will be necessary to meet the threats of terrorism, to meet the threats of weapons of mass destruction? We believe the answer to that question is yes, it will take some work, but we hope that the Prague Summit will be known as the place where we finally got on to some of these issues of new capabilities to meet new threats. Second, is the question of new members. As we agreed that if we had had this meeting a year ago, or 15 months ago, we perhaps would have thought that the only thing to have come from the Prague Summit would have been enlargement. That is still a very, very important issue, and as I reported to the Deputy Minister, we take as our guidance the speech that President Bush made in Warsaw a year or so ago, where he said to look for as much as we can do to promote the cause of freedom through new members and not as little as we can do. We had a very good conversation about that. The United States favors a robust enlargement to all the democracies in Europe who are prepared to take on the responsibilities and indeed the burden of NATO membership. And third, we did talk about new relationships: with Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia. We hope that the Prague Summit will also be a place where these countries will feel that they have a connection to the most successful alliance in history.

As the Minister said, I believe that in many of these areas, indeed in most of these areas, we saw things very clearly together. There is a lot of consultation to do, there is a lot of burden, obviously on the Czech Republic here to put on this Summit, but we want to do everything possible to make it a success. If we can come out with new capabilities and new members and new relationships, I think we will have gone some way to doing so.

So sir, I thank you very much again and we would be glad to answer any questions.

TELICKA: Maybe just two or three points of still supplementary nature. First I am glad that the discussion was quite a detailed one, that the administration came with some concrete views, and we will further discuss them in the near future. Secondly and thirdly, that's much more important, the Under Secretary has appreciated the role of the Czech Republic in the anti-terrorist alliance. I need to do the same, and I do it in a very sincere and genuine way. This is a common goal, this is something that the U.S. has the main burden of, and we definitely don't see it that this is just for the pure reason that the attack took place on its territory. I appreciate the leadership there, and I think that this is something that we are proud to stand by the U.S. in, in the fight which is still ahead of us. So once again we do appreciate that, and of course we also appreciate the strong commitment on the U.S. presence in Europe. So the floor is yours.

GROSSMAN: We would like to take some questions, please. Could you just identify yourself, please.

QUESTION (Radio Free Europe): I have a question about the talks with Russia ... . Secretary General Robertson and Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov were upbeat the other day about the prospects for wrapping up talks in time for the signing in Rome in May. Could you say which issues, if any, are still outstanding and in which areas ... Russia will have a say in the Alliance?

GROSSMAN: Well first of all we should talk about time, and then let's talk about the forum itself. What I have been saying, and I think Lord Robertson would agree with me, is that NATO foreign ministers, when they last met in Brussels last December, made a promise essentially to themselves, that by Reykjavik there would be a new NATO-Russia Council. Like Lord Robertson, I am optimistic that we can get that job done. This is a negotiation between NATO and Russia, but I think that it's going very well, and I believe that when foreign ministers meet in Reykjavik, they will be able to say, yes there is a new way of doing business with Russia, and it is this new NATO-Russia Council.

So, I am optimistic about that. I don't know the specifics of the last issues. But what we want to do is make sure that we have a NATO-Russia Council, in which NATO and Russia can talk about things that matter in Europe. At the same time, we want to make sure that for NATO, and NATO allies and NATO members, we maintain the autonomy that we all joined this Alliance to have, which is to say that Russia does not get a veto on what NATO does, that this is not a back door to NATO membership. So what we are trying to do is establish a framework so that NATO and Russia can work together, and then establish certain initial subjects on which NATO and Russia can accomplish things together. For example, people have talked about joint work on counter terrorism. People have talked about joint work in emergency response. People have talked about joint work on countering weapons of mass destruction. These are very serious issues, and I believe that if the framework could come out right, and we can get the right initial topics in there, this is going to be something that will be quite successful.

Thank you. Any further questions?

QUESTION (Czech TV): I have two questions. The first is if you can say if enlargement is going to be more like Big Bang or just enlargement for two or three members? And the second question is about the new members: the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary have ten years for obtaining what you call mature capability. Do you think the new members will have the same time?

GROSSMAN: For what kind of capability, I'm sorry?

QUESTION (Czech TV): Mature capability, could you.....?

GROSSMAN: Let me divide those questions into two. First in terms of the United States' view, in terms of enlargement, and I certainly let the Minister speak for himself, we are for the most robust enlargement possible. As President Bush said, NATO membership ought to be available for people from the Baltic to the Black Sea. We are also for making sure that every single one of the aspirants understands that they have work to do to be part of this alliance. We are not inviting people to be members of a country club, we are inviting people to be members of a military alliance, and I think that our newest members having joined just before military action in Kosovo might have something to say to the aspirants. So, we are for as much enlargement as we can do, we are for moving NATO towards new democracies, but the aspirants have something to do. I can't answer your question specifically because I don't intend to name names today; it's too early to name names. We want to say to all of the aspirants, keep moving on your Membership Action Plan, keep working on your responsibilities, keep going in the right direction. But it is for heads of state and government to decide in the end whether people have met these standards. I think that if we name names today, we would lose a lot of time as people continue to move forward.

On your second question, NATO capabilities are things that all countries are working on all the time. NATO has been in operation for 53 years, and for 53 years, whether it's the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Greece or our new allies, everybody is always trying to increase their capabilities and make them more relevant. When you think of the kind of capabilities people had in 1950 and the kinds of capabilities people have today, different threats, different capabilities. This is a constantly moving set of issues, and why I agree very much with the Minister that this issue of new capabilities here in Prague is going to be so important. Everybody has got to have new capabilities. New members, old members.

TELICKA: In fact I would say, that very much the outcome of the NATO summit, in terms of the capabilities, will also be sort of a definition of what the accession talks will be about. The second question that you had, I think, very much, is linked to the accession talks which are still ahead of us, and I think that we can hardly prejudge what the outcome will be.

On the first question, whether its going to be a big Bang, or two or three countries, it doesn't depend on us, it depends exactly on the candidate countries -- how many of them will meet the necessary conditions and the criteria. I think that the Under Secretary has clearly said, there is a positive environment and a decision in fact for a robust enlargement, but how robust it's going to be, very much depends on the candidates. They need to be aware that the conditions are there, they need to meet them. For the sake of what is to be accomplished by NATO in the coming years, I think that we will have to take into account very seriously their level of preparedness.

GROSSMAN: He has just answered that question better than I did, so, take his answer and apply it to us both.

QUESTION (Newsweek International): What kind of changes are you looking for at the Prague summit, is it just the members and structures, do these need to be radical changes, and do you agree with Lord Robertson, when he said in Prague about a month ago that all NATO members need to increase their defense spending?

GROSSMAN: The idea is to make the changes necessary to meet new threats. So for example, when people ask me if we need to rewrite the strategic concept of 1999 that was agreed at the Washington Summit, my answer to that question is no, because if you look at the strategic concept of 1999, what does it tell you? It tells you that the threats that are coming to NATO are coming from weapons of mass destruction, from terrorism. I think embedded in the documents and the philosophy that we have in the Alliance is all that we need now to get the practical job done. I would very much agree with the Minister that if coming out of Prague we can create some practical new capabilities to meet these new threats, we have been a success. So I don't sort of characterize one way or the other. I say we have got the guidance we need, we now need to make practical changes.

GROSSMAN: I'm sorry? For example, we talked a little bit today about the need to have more countries in the NATO alliance be able to get their forces to the fight. There needs to be more transportation, so Europeans, for example, are considering buying the A400. The Czech Republic is in an arrangement to have more transportation aircraft. We are looking for more transportation aircraft. People also need to be able to get their forces to the fight with more sealift. Once they get to the fight, they need to be sustained, they need to have the right medical care, the right food, the right equipment. Once they are there they need to be able to communicate with one another, so that Czech forces and American forces are able to be on the same electronic networks. These are basic things, these are not radical things to use your word. These are the things to say, get to the fight, sustain the fight, win the fight. And if we can lay those foundations in Prague, I think that we will have done the alliance a considerable bit of good.


GROSSMAN: I think just as the United States has done, I think to do so, allies will have to do two things. I think in the vast majority of cases allies will have to increase their spending. Secondly, they'll have to be better defined in spending on what. We talked, as the Minister reported to you in his introduction, we talked about pooling, we talked about specialization. So it isn't just spending more money

-- you have to spend your money in the right place, in the right structure, to create the right outcome. I don't want to be quoted here as saying people should just spend more money. They should spend more money, but they should spend more money smartly.

TELICKA: Smartly and in a meaningful way, and I think that what our First Deputy Minister Stefan Fule of Defense has said today in the meeting is clear that we are very much heading in that direction. And I would say some of the latest arrangements that were made in Moscow, were finalized in Moscow, once again going the direction, but this is not the end of it. This is a process in which we definitely will be still for some time.

One more question.

QUESTION (CTK Press Agency): My question concerns another topic. This is the Presidential Decrees. Because Mr. Putin and Mr. Blair declared recently the Russia and Great Britain position on the Decrees ... so I would like to know if there is also an American position, an American view?

GROSSMAN: On the Presidential Decrees? I'm sorry, I can't hear you.

TELICKA: On the Benes Decrees.

GROSSMAN: On the Benes Decrees, I'm sorry. We did not talk about this this morning. I read what Prime Minister Blair here said a week ago, and I think it's very easy for me to associate myself with what he said.

TELICKA: Thank you

GROSSMAN: Thank you, very much

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