February 21, 1997
Plans to expand NATO with Russia's former allies in Central Europe with two reports. The first on negotiations today in Moscow with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The second on the inclusion of Poland and the 90 percent of Poles who favor joining.
JIM LEHRER: Now those plans to expand NATO with Russia's former allies in Central Europe. We have two reports, the first on negotiations today in Moscow with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
LAWRENCE McDONNELL, ITN: At talks in which Sec. Albright described Boris Yeltsin as a president very much in charge, the two sides discussed the form a new NATO-Russia relationship might take following the expansion the Americans say they're committed to.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Secretary of State: It was a serious and constructive exchange, but it was clear that we have some complex questions to resolve. We discussed this matter in the context of a changing Europe and a new security situation following the end of the Cold war.
LAWRENCE McDONNELL: Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov added he'd do his best to minimize complications that might arise should expansion go ahead. Outside the American embassy Moscow extreme Nationalist MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his supporters demonstrate against Sec. Albright's visit. But the issue of NATO expansion has fired up the hard left, as well as the hard right. Both predict a new Cold War.
ALEXI PODBERYOZKIN, Communist Member of Parliament: We are forced to do it. That's very simple. If you put your gun out of the belt and plan just to show me that I am disarmed, my reaction must be at least to put the gun as well, right?
LAWRENCE McDONNELL: But former Russian Minister Andrei Kozyrev says it's a mistake for the government to adopt the same line as the opposition.
ANDREI KOZYREV, Former Foreign Minister: (speaking through interpreter) That's why Communists want to recreate the image of NATO, because that restores their role, but what we need to do in a post Communist Russia, democratic Russia, we need to have an arrangement with NATO on strategic partnership because they are partners of democratic Russia, as they were enemies of the Communist Russia.
LAWRENCE McDONNELL: This afternoon, Madeleine Albright left a Moscow still sore at NATO's plans to move closer to her borders, but at least the two sides were still talking. There will be many more talks to come.
LINDSEY HILSUM, ITN: An abandoned Soviet airfield in the East of Poland, frozen in time. Just 60 miles from the German border near the town of Legnizca, these rusting reminders of the Cold War were once the core of the Soviet military presence in Poland. At the height of hostility between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union stationed nearly 60,000 troops on Polish territory. Occupied first by the Nazis and then the Soviets, Poland has been a prisoner of its geography. Now it wants to be where it feels it's always belonged, in Western Europe. In Legnizca town, teenagers at the local secondary school learn the languages and ways o the West. They have an acute sense of their country's place in the world, and they reflect the views of 90 percent of Poles who favor joining NATO.
STUDENT: It brings a lot of benefits to Poland because when we join to NATO, Poland will be associated with other West European countries, and maybe our economy will improve and, you know, Poland will develop.
ANOTHER STUDENT: If our country will be in danger, other countries could help us, and there will be no--no danger.
THIRD STUDENT: History is my favorite subject, so I still remember about the Second World War when nor Great Britain, neither France didn't help Poland when the German attacked us.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Some Poles regretted the departure of Russian troops. Its presence brought a measure of prosperity to Legnizca. But none mourned the decline of Russia as a power. Russia may not be a threat to Poland now, but experience breeds fear. Andrzej Karkoszka is the government minister negotiating Poland's entry to the alliance.
ANDRZEJ KARKOSZKA, Deputy Defense Minister, Poland: We have historical chance to make real fundamental friendly relations with Germans and the western family of nations, and at the same time be very friendly, having good relations with the Russians. I mean, it is the first occasion in several hundreds of years.
LINDSEY HILSUM: British troops in maneuvers on the Polish plain last autumn. One NATO country already taking advantage of Poland's enthusiasm to join the Western club, but it's not clear whether troops like these would protect Poland if the threat wasn't attack but the messier, modern problem of instability, spilling over the border from fragile states such as Belarus, Ukraine, or even Russia, itself. At the moment, it's people and goods coming over those borders. This is where Poland meets Russia, at the frontier with Kaliningrad. This crossing only opened when the Cold War ended. Trade of all types is increasing. Earlier this week they were checking for drugs or weapons, worried about Mafia-related crime affecting Poland. But the biggest find of the day was a few packets of American cigarettes inexpertly smuggled in by a Pole. As the date for Poland's NATO membership invitation, Russia is pushing hard for concessions in the alliance, and they're also testing the Polish government's nerve, making increasingly hostile noises.
ANDRZEJ KARKOSZKA: It's all on the surface. I think while on the declaratory side we have this barrage of different pronouncements from the Russian Federation, at the same time the reality is very positive.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Hungarian flags join Poland's at Warsaw's War Memorial. To appease Russia NATO has suggested that there won't be any increase in ground weapons in either country. But the Russians are still pushing for a legally binding contract providing security guarantees. For Poles memories of the war and then Soviet domination are still raw. Joining NATO is a way of overcoming that. But if Poland is to become more secure and prosperous, it can't just look West; it has to have stable relations with Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. The danger is that by joining NATO Poland may antagonize those neighbors to the East who are being excluded from the club. Few Poles see Russia as a threat today, but that's not what's uppermost in people's mind. Here, the past casts a longer shadow over the future than does the present.