|SEC. ALBRIGHT ADDRESS|
April 6, 1999
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discussed the Yugoslav strikes and the state of NATO in an address at the Brookings Institution.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The reason that Mike was so tall is that I'm so short. So we had to build me up here. I thank you very, very much for that introduction and good morning to you all. Excellencies of the diplomatic corps; officials of the Brookings Institution; distinguished officials, scholars and colleagues; and members of the media; I am pleased to be here to participate in this National Issues Forum.
I wanted especially to greet your learned panelists Michael Brown, Ivo Daalder, James Goldgeier and Charles Kupchan. Their wisdom will be welcome. For although this is, without doubt, the right time and place for a discussion of the new NATO and the 21st Century, we still have urgent 20th Century business to conduct.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was forged in the aftermath of Holocaust and war, by the survivors of war, to prevent war. It reflected our predecessors' determination to defend hard-won freedoms; and their understanding that while weakness invites aggression, strength is a parent to peace.
During its first four decades, NATO's might deterred conflict in the heart of Europe, the scene of so much past horror. But NATO was more than a peacekeeper. The shield it provided allowed post-war economies to rebuild; World War II adversaries to reconcile; and Europe's integration to begin.
In part because of NATO, the Cold War ended as this decade began. Alliance leaders confronted a new set of questions. How would the Alliance hold together, now that the adversary that had brought it together was gone? If it remained united, what would it do? How should it change? How might the new NATO relate to the new Europe? And what role would Russia play?
President Clinton and his counterparts, with the help of outside experts, including those here at Brookings, have moved steadily but surely to answer these questions. Acting openly and methodically, they have taken steps to modernize and strengthen the Alliance, prepare it for new missions, invite new members, establish partnerships with Europe's new democracies, and develop strategies for the future.
My plan this morning had been to discuss these and related issues with which we have been wrestling in recent years, and which were to be highlighted at the Washington Summit later this month. My intentions have not changed, but the context for my remarks has. For some of the key policies and principles to be affirmed at the Washington Summit are already in practice.
As we speak, NATO is responding to a real post-Cold War threat to its interests and values. We are doing so in a political and security environment that differs dramatically from the past. We are seeing, every day, the importance of military forces that are mobile, flexible, precise and capable of operating together well. By acting on behalf of justice and peace in Kosovo, we are reaffirming NATO's core purpose as a defender of democracy, stability and basic human decency on European soil.
Certainly, we are saddened and outraged by the terrible human suffering we see: the long lines of refugees, the cries for loved ones missing or lost, the cold-blooded butchery. But let us be clear about what is at stake and where the responsibility for this agony resides. As President Clinton has repeatedly urged, we need to consider the map. Kosovo is a small part of a region with large historic importance and a vital role to play in Europe's future.
This region is a major artery between Europe and Asia and the Middle East. Its stability directly affects the security of our Greek and Turkish allies to the south, and our new allies Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to the north. Kosovo, itself, is surrounded by small and struggling democracies that can be overwhelmed by the flood of refugees Milosevic is creating.
Kosovo is part of an area, the southeast corner of Europe, where World War I began, major battles in World War II were fought, the worst fighting in Europe since Hitler's surrender occurred in this decade. Today, this region is the critical missing piece in the puzzle of a Europe whole and free. That vision of a united and democratic Europe is critical to our own security. It cannot be fulfilled if this part of the continent remains divided and wracked by conflict.
Of course, there is more than one source of division in the Balkans, but throughout the 1990s, the most damaging has been the ruthless incitement of ethnic hatred by the authorities in Belgrade: not once, not twice, not three times, but over and over again. President Milosevic has seized every opportunity to advance his own power, by attacking first Slovenia; then Croatia; then Bosnia; and now the people of Kosovo. The result has been a nightmarish cycle of murder and mayhem, that has caused chaos in the region and directly threatened NATO's interests and values.
Make no mistake. The atrocities committed by Serb forces in Kosovo were not the result of NATO bombing; they were the reason NATO had to act. It was Milosevic a decade ago who stripped the Kosovo Albanians of the autonomy to which they were entitled; who launched last Spring a campaign of brutal repression; who violated the ceasefire negotiated last October; whose security forces committed acts of barbarism such as the massacre at Racak earlier this year; and who refused to join the leaders of Kosovo in signing the balanced and just settlement negotiated at Rambouillet.
Milosevic poses as the great defender of Serb sovereignty, but it is because of his brutality that an international presence first became necessary to monitor human rights in Kosovo. It is because of his duplicity that the need for an armed international presence to implement any potential peace agreement became obvious. It is because of his cruelty that NATO action became the only option as he prepared to unleash yet another rampage of terror. It is because of his arrogance that NATO attacks have broadened and intensified, as that terror continues.
As a result of all this, the NATO of the 21st Century is being tested now--before the new century even begins. We are determined to pass that test. Using aircraft and facilities from more than a dozen countries, we are striking back hard. We are resolute, because it is in our interests and because it is right, to stop the ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the other indicators of genocide that we see.
George Kennan famously described democracies as slow to anger, but fiercely determined when roused. Today, our Alliance of democracies is roused, as is our collective conscience, by the brutal crimes we witness and cannot accept, and will not allow to pass with impunity.
Militarily, our immediate objective is to continue relentlessly to degrade and diminish Belgrade's capacity to impose its will on others. After less than two weeks, and despite adverse weather, we are beginning to see the evidence that our strikes are having an effect, hindering transportation and communications, sowing uncertainty, demonstrating allied resolve. As hard as it is, we must be patient and persist. We must be prepared for an extended conflict. But day by day, the damage inflicted by NATO power on the sources of Milosevic's power will grow.
As the fighting continues, so do United States and NATO efforts to assist the frontline states in caring for refugees and preventing a spillover of violence. It's impossible, in words, to do justice to the magnitude of the refugee crisis. It is a daunting challenge to governments in the region, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the OSCE, the State Department's Refugees Bureau, USAID and a wide range of non-governmental institutions. There had been a tremendous outpouring of effort, including by millions of average citizens who have donated money and supplies.
Last week, President Clinton committed $50 million in humanitarian assistance over and above the $100 million we had allocated prior to the current offensive. During the weekend, the United States and other NATO Allies agreed to temporarily host 100,000 refugees. Yesterday, the President announced the formation of a high-level team, headed by USAID Director Atwood, to coordinate our overall humanitarian response.
In the days ahead, we know we will have to do more for those in and outside Kosovo, both short-term and long. The need is enormous and will continue to grow. We will be consulting regularly with Congress and presenting the facts to the American people. There should be no doubt that the United States will continue to do its share.
We have also issued a clear warning to Milosevic not to widen the conflict with NATO by seeking to undermine or topple the democratically-elected government of Montenegro. Politically, we are working hard to ensure allied unity and explain NATO's case to the world, and to convey the truth to the people of Serbia, who have been surrounded for too long by Milosevic's lies.
Legally, we are cooperating fully with the international tribunal at the Hague. We want those now directing and committing crimes in Kosovo to pay for them the rest of their lives. We are also insisting that Belgrade treat humanely and release immediately the three American servicemen abducted last week.
Diplomatically, we are in regular contact with Russia, which has expressed strong opposition to NATO actions in Kosovo. We've not been surprised by this; but neither have we given up on trying to work with Russia to bring this crisis to an end. Clearly, this would be in Russia's interests, because no nation in this century has paid a higher price for instability and aggression in Europe.
Russia's hopes for the future lie in a continent that is secure and stable, where those who would exploit ethnic passions are stopped, and countries work together to build prosperity and maintain peace. In the days ahead, we will strive with Russian leaders to make real progress on issues where we have a common interest in moving forward.
We will also continue our search for a way to resolve the Kosovo crisis on acceptable terms. And from day one, those terms have not changed. As President Clinton warned President Milosevic yesterday, "more empty promises and token half-promises won't do." NATO insists that Milosevic halt his offensive and withdraw his security forces; and that the people of Kosovo be allowed to return to their homes under the protection of an international security force, and to enjoy democratic self-government.
Even as we respond to the crisis in Kosovo, we in NATO and NATO's partners must concern ourselves more broadly with the future of the region. The peaceful integration of Europe's north, west and center is well advanced or on track. But, as I said earlier, the continent cannot be whole and free until its southeast corner is also stable.
In recent years, the international community has done much to assist countries in the region. Our own Southeast European Cooperative Initiative has facilitated a great deal of the efforts in joint and cooperative planning. We know, because we have seen, that the leaders and citizens of this region want to work and build together.
Once the Kosovo fighting is resolved, we should move forward with new steps. Working with leaders in the region, our explicit goal should be to transform the Balkans, from the continent's primary source of instability, into an important part of the European mainstream. We do not want the current conflict to be the prelude to another. We want to build a solid foundation for a new generation of peace, so that future wars are prevented, economies grow, democratic institutions are strengthened and the rights of all are preserved.
Some say violence is endemic to this region, and that its people have never and will never get along. That is, I believe, a false and self-fulfilling prophecy that we categorically reject. The people of Southeast Europe, including the Serbs, have experienced long periods of living and working together without conflict. If you look at the region today, you will see Greeks and Turks operating side by side as NATO Allies; you will see Macedonians and Albanians and Montenegrins answering the humanitarian call; you will see Christians and Muslims and Jews united in their condemnation of the atrocities being committed.
In Bosnia, you will see NATO and its partners working with ethnic Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks to complete implementation of the Dayton Accords. Success here would remove a major threat to European security, and establish a model of inter-ethnic collaboration that is needed throughout the Balkans and around the world.
Since the peace accords were signed more than three years ago, enormous strides have been made. It is essential, however, that we not allow events in Kosovo to distract us, or simply assume that the future of peace in Bosnia is assured. The nation's bitter divisions are only partially healed. The job of enabling refugees to return safely is ongoing and difficult. Local authorities have not yet assumed the responsibilities for democracy and peace that they must.
The Dayton Accords remain a linchpin of hope for integrating Southeast Europe into a democratic continent. If those accords are to be implemented, NATO must continue to help the people of Bosnia to realize the benefits of peace. At the Washington Summit, our leaders will focus simultaneously on what has been, what is and what will be. Drawing inspiration from the past, they will pay tribute to Alliance founders and salute those who have sacrificed through the years to keep our region secure, prosperous and free.
They will focus on the present, including every aspect of the situation in Kosovo and the surrounding region. They will focus on the future, drawing up a blueprint -- as the title of today's forum reflects -- for the new nation in the new century.
In so doing, they will be guided by the great lesson of the past century, which is that neither North America nor Europe can be secure if the other is not. Our destinies are linked. That is as true now as it was when NATO was founded fifty years ago.
Across the Atlantic, we must stand together and act together, as Allies when allied action is called for; and as friends in helping to shape a more stable, prosperous and lawful world. Some suggest that Europe should take care of Europe, freeing America to concentrate on responsibilities elsewhere. But this makes no sense. It would create the twin false impression that America does not care about Europe and Europe does not care about the world.
Moreover, it would weaken us both in and beyond Europe, by depriving the continent of America's valuable role, while leaving America to assume broader burdens that Europe has the resources and responsibility to share. Such a division of labor would also lead to a division of attention and gradually weaken the indispensable trans-Atlantic bond. We had a taste of divided labor in the early years of this decade in Bosnia.
As our unity in Kosovo now reflects, we will not go down that road again. At the Summit, our leaders will unveil a revised Strategic Concept for the Allliance that will take into account the variety of future dangers the Alliance may confront. They will commit NATO to developing military forces that can perform the full spectrum of Alliance missions.
These include NATO's core mission, the ability to deal with aggression committed directly against one or more NATO members. They include other potential operations, such as those now ongoing in Bosnia and Kosovo. These differ, day to night, from the kind of all-out defense of Europe for which the Alliance prepared for so long.
Such operations will likely differ in size and length than missions undertaken in collective self-defense. Hopefully, they will be rare. But as is now the case, there may be more than one ongoing at any given time. They may be conducted jointly with partners or other non-allied nations. By definition, they will involve operations outside Alliance territory, with all the logistical complications that entails.
We have already made progress in developing the capabilities required, but gaps remain. Many Allies have only a limited ability to deploy forces rapidly outside their country, and to sustain them once they arrive. The need is not so much that Allies invest more in defense, but that we all invest wisely. For example, we need to ensure that command, control and information systems are well-matched. We need to have forces -- not just among a few countries, but throughout NATO -- that are versatile, flexible and mobile. Our benchmark is clear. We must also be as good in dealing with new threats as we are in dealing with old.
To these ends, we expect the Summit to produce a Defense Capabilities Initiative that will prepare the Alliance to field forces designed and equipped for 21st Century missions. We expect, as well, a related initiative that responds to the grave threat posed by weapons of mass destruction -- or WMD -- and their means of delivery. For we cannot prepare for the future if we do not prepare for the greatest danger of the present and the future.
We also support the strengthening of the European pillar of our Alliance. It is in America's interest to see a more integrated Europe, able to act effectively and cohesively, willing to assume a greater share of our common responsibilities. So we welcome and support efforts to improve European capabilities. We have made the point, however, that to be constructive, such initiatives should be linked to NATO; complement existing activities; and be open to all European members of the Alliance, whether or not they are in the EU.
Last month, at the Truman Library in Missouri, I was witness to history as NATO gained three new members and America three new allies. For the people of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, it was a homecoming -- an irreversible affirmation of their belonging within the democratic community of the West. For the Alliance, it was a strengthening, an enhancement of NATO's muscle and reach.
These three new members are NATO's first since the end of the Cold War, but they will not be the last. We are building a future that erases, not replaces, the division of the past. In today's Europe, destiny is no longer determined by geography. Nations are deciding their own fates. Around the continent, they have been coming together in support of more open political and economic systems. It is natural and inevitable that, as this occurs, other non-NATO countries will achieve the threshold required for serious consideration as new members. A number have already ascended far along this uphill road.
At the Washington Summit, NATO leaders will welcome this progress, and affirm that the door to the Alliance remains open. They will announce a concrete and practical plan to help prepare potential new members to meet NATO's high standards. They will assure aspiring members that they will be judged by what they can contribute to the Alliance, not by where they sit on Europe's map.
Half a century ago, American leadership helped lift western Europe to prosperity and democracy. In this decade, the entire trans-Atlantic community is helping Europe's newly free nations to integrate themselves into the economic and security structures of the continent. This is evident in the direct assistance that has been provided by the European Union and our own SEED program and Freedom Support Act. It is evident in the EU's plan to expand, and in the new roles and missions of the OSCE. It is evident in the partnerships NATO has forged with Europe's emerging democracies.
At the Summit, our leaders will have the opportunity to take these partnerships to a new level. They will consider a framework to guide partner participation in planning, deciding and implementing certain Alliance missions. They will announce a plan to upgrade the forces that partners will have available for future NATO-led operations. The result will be a NATO with wider military options; partner countries with enhanced military capabilities; and a Europe practiced in multiplying NATO strengths by partner strengths to arrive at the product of peace.
The Washington Summit will show how much NATO values its relationships with all of Europe's democracies, including Russia. The inclusion and full participation of each in the trans-Atlantic community is essential to the future we seek. This is true not only from a security standpoint. For in the 21st Century, a nation need not be in NATO to work closely with NATO, to share responsibility for Europe's security, to be integrated into Europe's economy and to reap the benefits of a Europe that is stable and prosperous.
In 1916, when the forerunner of the Brookings Institution was founded, Europe was engaged in a war that had begun in the Balkans and that would soon draw hundreds of thousands of Americans across the Atlantic, many never to return. In 1999, as we meet, the United States and NATO are engaged in another Balkan conflict, determined to halt atrocities and prevent wider war.
Some might conclude that, in the intervening years, we learned nothing, or else that nothing we can ever do will bring stability to this troubled corner of the globe. There is much in recent headlines and broadcasts to support both of these grim conclusions. But I am heartened by other -- and I believe -- stronger currents.
Historically, Balkan conflicts have torn Europe apart. Today, most of Europe is united in opposing tyranny, and all of it, except the leaders in Belgrade, supported a negotiated peace.
Historically, acts of violent repression have occurred off-camera, hidden from public view. Today, despite Milosevic's best efforts, global media coverage leaves no doubt about the savagery taking place; and there can be no question about the world's need to respond.
Historically, violence in Southeast Europe has been contagious, spreading like wildfire amidst the tinder of ethnic grievances and fear. Today we are wary, but encouraged by progress in Bosnia, and by the vigorous efforts of leaders in other parts of the region to prevent violent outbreaks.
Historically, atrocities have been committed by the strong against the weak, with no stronger force standing guard. Today, NATO is determined to use its strength to halt the abuses, restore stability and return to the people of this region what President Clinton has called, in another context, the "quiet miracle of a normal life."
In our era, the great divide is not between East and West, North and South, or right and left. It is between those ensnared by the thinking and habits of the past, and those inspired by the possibilities of the future, between those who are prisoners of history and those determined to shape it.
From our vantage point at the threshold of a new century, we must vow together to free ourselves from the recurring nightmares of the old. We must dedicate our power to the service of even more powerful ideals. We must affirm our faith in the ability of men and women working together, across national and ethnic lines, to forge a future better than the past.
It is that faith which inspired NATO's founders when they first gathered in Washington fifty years ago. It is that faith which guides NATO in its actions today. It is that faith which will unite NATO's leaders when they assemble again in Washington later this month.
Let us never forget that NATO's preparations and operations are not directed against any particular people, but against aggression, terror and chaos. Nor should we ever fail to remember NATO's intent, which is to develop with our partners a security system that will embrace all of Europe; and enable children on both sides of the Atlantic to grow up and grow old in freedom, security and peace.
To that mission, I pledge my own best efforts, and respectfully solicit both your wise counsel and support.
Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. I now would be very pleased to take your questions.
QUESTION: Thank you for this wonderful speech. It is delighting and refreshing, and we look forward to this summit. It's a great event for the transatlantic community.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
QUESTION: You referred to a broader need for s strategy for southeastern Europe, just to make America live up to its traditions of integrating Europe as a whole. Do you expect the summit to look into a broader vision for that region; and which is the place of NATO, as it enlarged; and what's the place of European Union in America on the economic dimension of this strategy?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. First of all, let me say that I am very pleased with discussions that I've had with (Foreign) Minister Plesu about the kinds of meetings that have now been taking place in Bucharest, as members from the Balkans that are getting along. I use that as an example of what the future can hold: the ability to be able to work together on functional issues and the hope of the future. I salute you and your country for having organized this, and for the role that Romania has been playing.
I think that, also, it is very important, as I outline the goals for the summit, is that we are looking -- generally, there's the open-door, and that is very much our policy, and that will be made quite clear in the Summit Declaration; and our desire to have a more aggressive action plan to provide a road map for how new members can join; and the discussion of new missions that clearly extend to all the regions in Europe. So I think that that future aspect of it will be very important.
I think it is also very important to make sure that the other structures in Europe -- EU, et cetera -- underline the importance of everybody working together, and expanding to the countries that are ready to members of these all-European organizations, in order to underline and strengthen what we have been talking about, a Europe whole and free.
QUESTION: I'm wondering about your personal reflections during the past two weeks, as someone who is a refugee from the last horrible conflict in Europe. What has been going through your mind? I know you perhaps don't want to answer this at this point, but are there any things that you would have done differently, in terms of diplomacy or military strategy, to have tried to prevent what's going on now in Kosovo?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. I'm aware that much has been made about my background, but I think that any American who had the privilege to live in this country, either by birth or by coming here as a refugee, understands the importance that standing up for our values and not allowing ethnic cleansing to recur, that we all share that no matter where we came from because we are Americans, and that is the basis.
I had a conversation this morning with Ambassador Chris Hill in Skopje. He said, if you have a chance to talk to people today, tell them to take a look at the pictures of the refugees on both sides of the border, and that is what we are fighting for. It is our values. Our values have not seeing people separated from their loved ones, of having military-aged men taken off and incarcerated, and I can go on to that. So this is an American value, and I am very proud to be a part of it, and proud to have been someone that had the opportunity to come to this country, where those values are so broadly shared, and that we stand up for.
Let me also say that we will have plenty of time to go back and look at what we did or did not do. I am now completely focused on what we are doing now and what we have to do in the future. And then, as Mike has said, I can come to Brookings. (Laughter.) We'll talk about it.
QUESTION: Both you and the President, unsurprisingly using similar phrases, have said NATO's determined to prevail. Can the US prevail without ground troops? What's holding up that decision? Is the president's ear close to the ground? I mean, you have here in this folder, certainly this type of institutional academia -- or some people would say the intellectual elite -- saying that ground troops indeed should be considered. Can you prevail without ground troops, is the basic question?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we are engaged in a sustained air campaign, which is in its initial phases. We have all said that weather hampered some of the activities early on, and we are going to continue in this intensive air campaign. We will do so until there is an agreement that allows for all the Serbs -- the Serb forces to be out; for the refugees to be able to come in; and for there to be an international security force that is able to be in a permissive environment.
As we have repeated over and over again, the President has no plans or intentions for ground forces in a non-permissive environment. We believe that a sustained air campaign can accomplish the objectives that we have laid out, and also to severely degrade, damage and make it increasingly difficult -- if those particular conditions are not met -- for Milosevic to loosen his grip and be prevented from this kind of butchery.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you indicated a firm view that those engaged in war crimes in Kosovo should remain vulnerable to prosecution and, if I understood, carry this threat with them for the rest of their lives -- I think that was your phrase. Can you imagine an outcome in which Slobodan Milosevic, having ordered the actions in Kosovo, would not himself eventually be charged for war crimes?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that the War Crimes Tribunal is working its way through this, and it is following the facts. The war crimes -- there is no statute of limitations on war crimes. I am not going to predict a legal issue, but I think that, politically, if one looks at it, it is very hard to not say that these orders are being given from the top; and that this is not some kind of a spontaneous ethnic cleansing by lower-level officials.
We believe that it is important for all countries to contribute as much information as possible to the War Crimes Tribunal. We have sent -- we have already over the years contributed a great deal to the War Crimes Tribunal. We are contributing more in terms of getting personnel over there to interview the newest victims, and to be able to put together for the War Crimes Tribunal their best possible case. But I think it's inappropriate to predict specifically the outcome of a legal proceeding. But I think it's very had to disconnect Milosevic from what is going on.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think we are very aware of the dangers for the Hungarian minority in the Vojvodina. I have actually had a chance not only to discuss it with you, but with your Foreign Minister, Martonyi, to talk about the potential threat. I think that we have to, and we will, continue to make very clear that the spreading of this holds very dangerous consequences for Milosevic. I think a very important part here is to do exactly what you have done, Mr. Ambassador, is to alert ahead of time that there is this danger also in Vojvodina. I think that we all have a tendency to focus on the unpronounceable name of the day, and it is now important to keep thinking about the other regions, and to acquaint the American public with the surrounding areas and the fact that the dangers of spreading in Vojvodina and Montenegro.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I wonder whether you could explain the term "permissive environment?" Does that require a written permission, or could there be an alternative, such as the troops, the Serbian troops, in Kosovo being degraded to a point that they cannot put up a significant fight and, thus, making the territory a permissive environment?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think we believe that there has to be a clear indication by actions, either the signing -- there has to be some way to know that it is a permissive environment, so that there has to be acceptance of the fact that there will not be Serb forces that will attack the population, or the forces that would go in in such an environment.
So we believe that a signed agreement is the best way to go. An agreement, as we have all said together, based on the spirit, the framework of Rambouillet: the framework of Rambouillet being that Serb forces must be out; refugees must be in; that there needs to be an international security force; and that there be a move to self-government. As the President said, you have to be able to have the people that go there be able to fulfill their dreams. So I think that we believe that there has to be provable actions that it is a permissive environment.
QUESTION: Is it still realistic to expect that once the signing is done and there is a permissive environment, that the ethnic Albanians and the Serbs would continue to live side-by-side in a province of Yugoslavia? If not, what do you think is realistic?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that, as one looks at it now, it looks very difficult. But I think, depending upon how we are able to end this part of the conflict, we have to see. That has to be our hope, is that they can in fact live side-by-side, and we have seen that that is possible in Bosnia. None of these difficulties can be overcome immediately. But it is very important that we move in a way that allows for the Kosovo people to have self-government, and for the Serbs to be able in some way to have their holy places protected and accessible. But those are all, I think, in the future. We now have to end this butchery.
QUESTION: I'd like to know what your policy is towards Russia. How do you view Mr. Primakov's policies? Is Russia fishing in troubled waters by sending its ships into the region right now? Do you feel that this conflict could help to destabilize Russia, by assisting the nationalists against, perhaps, more democratic elements in Russia?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all as I've said, and I've said a number of other times, is that we disagree, obviously, with Russia about the NATO bombings and the NATO actions. We do not disagree in terms of short, medium and long-term goals of working together on a number of issues, and we've proven that in the last days by signing agreements and continuing negotiations on CFE and issues that are of long-term importance to both the countries.
We have said that it is important for the Russians to participate in trying to find a solution to this. Tomorrow there will be a Contact Group meeting at a non-ministerial level to see how we carry on. I speak to Foreign Minister Ivanov on a regular basis. We're in touch with Prime Minister Primakov. There is a genuine process, a working process, to keep us all together, because we understand the importance of the US-Russia relationship, and Russia, as I said in my remarks, their stake in a peaceful, stable Europe. I believe that ultimately Russia would prefer to be on the side of a peaceful and stable Europe, and not on the side of darkness and the kinds of evils perpetrated by Milosevic right now. But I can assure you that it's a relationship that we are working on -- we consider important -- understand some of the domestic political pressures and problems within Russia at this stage.
QUESTION: One of the benefits or good things that might come out of this horror is a strengthening of an international consensus that governments are not allowed to mistreat their citizens to this extent; and secondly that international intervention is permitted into a sovereign area when these kinds of horrors are perpetrated. My question to you is two-part: would you agree that this might be a goal, striving towards strengthening this element of international law, international custom; and B, if so, what steps might you and the government consider to move toward such a goal?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, last night I went to a very moving event which was the honoring of Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, the president of the War Crimes Tribunal, an American judge, who talked about, first of all, the fact the War Crimes Tribunal is now six years old and everybody -- I was there at its birth -- people were very skeptical about it, and thought nothing would come of it. It is now, she described -- I urge you all actually to try to get her remarks, because she described the fact that before there were no prisoners, they had nothing to do, they were in an insurance building, no courtroom -- they now have a lot of business. They have simultaneous trials going on, and there is a process that is really working. That is building. They had no procedures; they really developed a whole new case study for international law in this. I consider it a very important step, and we will continue to support the War Crimes Tribunal.
I think that -- I believe that at the end of the bloodiest century, where a lot of the blood was caused by the fact that horrendous things were happening inside borders, that people were not paying attention to; that today, in our completely open systems, that it is impossible for people with values to stand by and watch the kind of horrors that we are seeing in Kosovo and not do something and that the concept of humanitarian intervention, I think, is something that needs to be examined very closely.
There obviously are questions of sovereignty. I think the whole issue of sovereignty is one that is complicated by the fact that, when somebody like Milosevic has been an aggressor in other places, he is some ways gives up some of his rights, in terms of protecting what is going on inside his country. He has transgressed, in the most serious way, on the fabric of how the international community operates. So I'm not prepared to give you definitive answers, but I can tell you that it is moving in a direction where there is a sense of co-responsibility by nations for what happens inside.
I'd like to return to a point in my remarks -- and I think a good way to conclude, because I think I must -- that what has been so remarkable to me through this terrible period, is not just an attempt to find the silver lining, but also to express what is going on, is that the unity of not just the alliance, but other countries in Europe, in their pursuit of the right ending here, is something that I think we should all rejoice in. I spent, I can't tell you how many hours a day, talking to my fellow foreign ministers, laying out strategies for how now -- whereas before force was supporting diplomacy, now how diplomacy can support the use of force -- how we are acting together and the sense of unity that is there now that has never been there, as we have had to work in real time on a serious problem.
I think that it shows that when countries with similar values are able to work together, that we will prevail. We won't prevail in 36 hours or very quickly, because this is a tough problem. Democracies have the right values, and they also must develop the right patience. I thank you all very much for your attention today, and also for your dedication to this work, because as I look around the room, this is the group of people who have asked questions and prodded and supported the kinds of comments that I made in my last remarks about the unity and the importance of NATO.
We might not all agree on every aspect of the NATO goal, or as policy "wonks" look at what the various aspects of how we move forward, but I think we are agreed that, in celebrating the anniversary of NATO, we are not only celebrating the history of the world's strongest military alliance, but the history of an alliance that has belief in the right values.
Thank you very much.