America's commitment to NATOMarc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
April 15, 2002
SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Hello. My name is Marc Grossman and I am the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. I understand that I'm competing with a meeting of the European Foreign Ministers, and I am very glad you all could come out and listen to us today.
I am at the beginning of a week's tour of NATO countries. I wanted to come here, to Brussels, to begin that conversation. It is about three things. First, I want to thank NATO, collectively and all the individual allies, for their continuing strong support that the UnitedStates has received in the continuing War on Terrorism. I wanted to go from place to place to make that point, but I wanted to start here.
Second, I want very much to consult on where we are going, in advance of the Prague summit. We believe very much that consultation with our allies about the themes of the Prague summit is very much in order. My consultation here falls on the heels of Lord Robertson's extremely successful visit to Washington last week, the visit on March the 26th of Deputy Secretary of State Rich Armitage, and in two weeks,Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Elizabeth Jones. We want to consult with this Alliance and we intend to do it seriously.
The presentation I made today, in beginning this consultation about Prague, said that we want to have a successful summit in Prague and we hope that there are three themes that can come out of the Prague Summit.
The first theme -- new capabilities. We believe that the Alliance needs new capabilities to deal with the new threats to our people and to our countries.
Second theme -- new members. We believe that the Alliance should continue to expand to the new democracies in Europe. As President Bush said last year in Warsaw, we want to make sure that we're doing as much as we possibly can to promote the cause of freedom, and not as little as we can.
And third theme -- issues of new relationships -- the new relationship with Russia, the new relationships with other countries interested in NATO, the Ukraine, Mediterranean partners and partners in Central Asia.
New capabilities, new members, new relationships. My proposition to the NAC [North Atlantic Council] today was that these might be useful themes for Prague.
The third thing I wanted to do by my presence today was to reaffirm America's commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. President Bush had a chance to do this with Lord Robertson in public -and in private last week. But I simply wanted to come and do that again and say how much the United States of America values thisAlliance as a bedrock of our security, and a connection between theUnited States and Europe.
I'd be very glad to answer a few questions if someone has them. Yes, sir?
Q: Sir, may I ask you where we are in the discussion about a summit between NATO and Russia? Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy said thatthere is an agreement; it was denied by officials at NATO . . .(unintelligible) . . . summit in Italy . . .
GROSSMAN: Let me see if I can explain this as clearly as I can. First, on Friday, in the United States, our White House Spokesman said that the United States would support a summit in May between NATO andRussia. There is of course a NATO decision to be made, and in fact right now the Council is discussing this. So I would have to leaveannouncements of that to NATO.
Q: There is speculation in the Romanian media about the possible negative attitude from the United States against Romania unless Romania will lift its moratorium on international children adoption. Can you comment on this?
GROSSMAN: We don't have a negative attitude toward anyone. As I've said, President Bush has given us the instructions to do as much as we can, not as little as we can. So, we have had a conversation with Romania on any number of issues. In fact, Foreign Minister Geoana and I talked last week about a number of things that Romania is working on and Ambassador Burns led an interagency delegation there to talk aboutall of these issues.
So, I wouldn't single one thing out or another thing out. These are important issues, and the one you mentioned is important. But we don't have a negative attitude toward anyone. We think that new democracies who meet certain standards, want to be NATO members, and can contribute to security ought to have every right to participate in the Alliance.
Q: I would like to ask you where do you stand in your discussions about enlargement with other members and what do you expect after this week's consultations?
GROSSMAN: Well, I expect after this week's consultation to know moreabout what other people think. As I say, we have taken our guidance from President Bush to support a robust round of enlargement, but we have not made any decisions to name names. And the reason we've not made decisions to name names is we think it's too soon. And I think it's true if you asked every single one of the countries that is anaspirant for NATO membership, they would tell you they still have somework to do. We want them to continue to do that work. So, we think it's too soon, we think the aspirants should continue to work on the Membership Action Plan, but as I've said, we are in favor of a robust round of enlargement.
I'll take one more and then I've go to go. Yes, please . . .
Q: President Bush was speaking last week about a robust enlargement from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea . . .
Q: Is this the principle you are going to support, and secondly, would you support the idea of inviting President Putin to the Prague summit?
GROSSMAN: First of all, I support anything my President says. . .that's our job.
And yes I hope that, as one of the ambassadors said in the hall just now, that the question of President Putin's participation in Praguestill would be on the table. I hope it will be.
Thank you all very much. I really appreciate it.