NEWSMAKER: MADELINE ALBRIGHT
MAY 14, 1997
Russia redefined its place in the post-Cold War world Wednesday by coming to an agreement with NATO. Secretary of State Madeline Albright called it a "win-win-win situation." She talks to Jim Lehrer about the details of the complicated pact, what will happen as NATO expands into Eastern Europe, and the administration's position on the critical situation in Zaire.
JIM LEHRER: The NATO-Russia deal and the non-deal in Zaire are first tonight. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke of both subjects in a Newsmaker interview conducted from the State Department earlier this evening.
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
May 12, 1997:
Retiring NATO Commander General George Joulwan talks about his experiences in Bosnia and the future of NATO.
May 9, 1997:
A Newsmaker interview with President Clinton's special envoy to Zaire, U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson talks about his experiences in Bosnia and the future of NATO.
May 5, 1997:
U.N. Commissioner for Refugees, Sadaka Ogata, discusses the terrible plight of Rwandans in Zaire.
April 9, 1997:
Herman Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for President Bush, discusses the possible departure of President Mobutu with Jim Lehrer.
March 17, 1997:
After the fall of Kisangani, Zaire's third largest city, the country's future remains in the balance.
March 20, 1997:
Robert Zoellick, former State Department Counsellor to President Bush, and Sam Nunn, former Georgia Senator, address the Clinton-Yeltsin summit and NATO expansion.
December 11, 1996:
Richard Holbrooke and Michael Mandelbaum debate the pros and cons of NATO expansion.
November 15, 1996:
In a Newsmaker interview, Defense Secretary William Perry talks about the future role of NATO.
July 8, 1996:
Poland's President Kwasniewski comes to the NewsHour and explains why he is pushing for Polish NATO membership.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of Russian and European affairs.
Browse the Online NewsHour's Africa Index which contains extensive coverage of the crises in the heart of the Continent.
JIM LEHRER: Madam Secretary, welcome.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Secretary of State: Very good to be with you.
JIM LEHRER: The United States fully supports today's NATO-Russia agreement. Tell us why.
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I tell you, Jim, this is a really historic, important day. What President Clinton has been talking about and working towards is having an undivided, democratic and free Europe. That has been our long-term goal. And today, as a result of this NATO-Russia founding act we are putting into place one part of what is necessary to accomplish that. The other is NATO enlargement. And today what is so important about this is that we are able to anchor Russia within a European system. We all know that it's very important to make sure that Russia is not isolated; that we see a new Russia; and that Russia sees a new Europe and a new NATO; and that's why today is such a great and historic day.
JIM LEHRER: Now, the Russians wanted a voice in the new NATO decisions. Did this agreement give it to them?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Let me explain something. There are really two parts to this--a sacrosanct council, the North Atlantic Council, which makes the military decisions on behalf of NATO. Russia will have no voice in that at all. What this document does is create a new joint NATO-Russia council where Russia will, indeed, have a voice, and where we will be talking about a whole host of issues that have to do with cooperation in Europe or outside of the area, but what's very important for people to understand is that Russia does not and will not have a veto over any action within NATO, itself, the enlarged NATO or the current NATO, and it will have a voice, and we will operate by consensus within that joint council, but if we disagree in that joint council, then NATO can go its own way and Russia can go its own way.
JIM LEHRER: Will that voice be heard before the fact or after the fact? In other words, will they be consulted before NATO makes major decisions, military or otherwise?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that there will be ongoing discussions. Let me also qualify something else. Even now there is a 16 plus 1 NATO plus Russia and other countries discussion about various issues and policies, so what this document also does is in some way institutionalize something that's already going on. There will be meetings within this joint council and Russia will be consulted at times, but the thing that's really important to note is that it will never have a veto over NATO action.
JIM LEHRER: Now, President Yeltsin indicated today, talking to reporters in Moscow, that this agreement does give Russia some power to block NATO decisions. He's just talking about a different agreement, or he's reading it differently, or what?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, he's talking about this joint council in which there will be--we will operate by consensus. So if they disagree with something that is brought to that council which may have to do with issues within parts of Europe, or even outside of Europe, or questions about joint missions or a whole range of consultative activities. If Russia disagrees with that, it will not participate in that particular operation, so technically speaking within the joint council, if Russia disagrees, nothing will happen jointly. But it does not have a veto over NATO action.
JIM LEHRER: All right. On some specific things, what does this agreement say about the placement of nuclear weapons in any new countries added to NATO?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Again, Jim, let me make something very clear here. What is important about this document, it has taken basic known NATO doctrine and embodied it within this document. And it has been NATO doctrine that there were under current circumstances no intention, plan, or reason to use NATO nuclear forces within the new--within the potential new members of NATO, and subsumed under those three no's is that there would also not be any nuclear storage site. So that is a clarification or --it's a restatement of what is NATO doctrine.
JIM LEHRER: It's in the agreement, though.
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: It's in this act.
JIM LEHRER: In the act.
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: And it's a matter of stating what is known NATO doctrine in the act.
JIM LEHRER: What about limits on troop deployment in the new countries?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, again, what this did was take a document that was issued by NATO in March of this year in which the NATO members agreed that they had no plans to station substantial combat military forces in the new countries, but that they needed to fulfill their mission by having inter-operability, the ability to reinforce and to coordinate, to integrate, and that is a NATO statement and, again, adjacent to that or subsumed within that is the idea that those forces will need to use some existing infrastructure, and they will use the infrastructure that they need in order to fulfill that particular mission, and frankly, if you look at this very specifically, the fewer the number of forces in a country stationed there, the more likely it is that there will be a necessity of having infrastructure in order to be able to receive them when they go in to reinforce.
JIM LEHRER: So when you say infrastructure, you mean military installations, right?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Right.
JIM LEHRER: Military bases.
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Military bases or--
JIM LEHRER: No special limits put on the number of potential NATO installations in this agreement?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: No, there are no limits on that. They are to be adequate for the mission, as I described it.
JIM LEHRER: As decided by NATO, not in consultation with Russia.
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: As decided by NATO.
JIM LEHRER: Now, the NATO Secretary-General Celano, who negotiated this thing, said today that the reason this deal was struck was because reason finally came to the fore. What did he mean by that?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think here it's very important to know that what has happened here doesn't happen very often, but this is a win-win-win situation. It's good for the United States, it's good for the Europeans, and it's good for Russia. I think that the Russians saw that this was in their national interest. They, by the way, also want to see stability in Europe. They saw that we were restating NATO doctrine that--and this is the part I think maybe what Secretary-General Celano really meant--is that this NATO is not directed against Russia. Obviously throughout history NATO has been a powerful alliance with a single enemy. The NATO doctrine previous to this has made it very clear that there is no single enemy; this is not arrayed against Russia. The enemy, if there is one, is basically the instability that is created by having these countries feel as if they are in a gray zone. And I think Russia saw--the Russians saw that this alliance is not against them. There is a new Russia, and there is a new NATO.
JIM LEHRER: Does Russia have to do anything new or differently as a result of this agreement?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, Russia I think is basically going to be more cooperative within this agreement through this joint council. I think they will be in a mode along with us and the other NATO members of looking at subjects together, rather than separately. They--also, there's a whole under-structure to this which is the CFE Treaty on conventional forces in Europe, which is also a part of this. And through that, there will be limitations on forces.
JIM LEHRER: And did they formally--do they formally agree under this agreement to drop their objection to the expansion of NATO?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think they will not ever be happy with the expansion of NATO, and they will make those statements clear, but I think that what we have managed to do is to make sure that two very important goals of the United States have now been put into place. One is to make sure that Russia is a part of Europe and is not isolated, and the other is that we are able to enlarge NATO according to the wishes of the current NATO members.
And, Jim, I just have to reiterate that the historic aspect of this day, Europe has been either divided or unstable throughout the century, and President Truman was incredibly proud of having created NATO. I think now President Clinton has the ability to bring about the next historic moment, which is to do for Central and Eastern Europe what could not be done at the end of the Second World War, and to finally end a division that we have all had with Russia, and so this, I just have to keep repeating, this is a great day. We are on our way to a series of very historic decisions. We will be talking about this all throughout the summer, and I think throughout the next year, as we go through this process. This is a very important historic initial step.
JIM LEHRER: And it is not subject to approval by the Congress, is it?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: No, this is not a treaty. This will be politically binding by the signatures of the political leaders. But there was no kind of negotiation in this that would put it into the treaty mechanism. Obviously, NATO enlargement is something that will be going before the Senate.
JIM LEHRER: And that will be done in July, when NATO actually does that, right?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, it will be in the ensuing months.
JIM LEHRER: Ensuing months.
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: What will be happening in July is we will invite those members and then we will have some time in order to get the ratification of that.
JIM LEHRER: And just for the record, that's most likely Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic, right?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, it's unclear at the moment. We have not said who the members are going to be, and when we meet in Portugal as foreign ministers at the end of the month, we will be looking at the mechanism for making that decision.
JIM LEHRER: One step at a time, in other words.
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Yes.
JIM LEHRER: Okay. Finally, before we go, Zaire--today's meeting between President Mobutu and Kabila, the rebel leader, didn't come off. What happened, Madam Secretary?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, there were some hang-ups in terms of questions as to whether some of the aspects of the meeting. We are very disappointed that the meeting did not take place. It is very important that the two meet, and it is really important for Zaire to have a process where there can be a movement towards a government that has been elected, some kind of a peaceful transitional process, and we have to do something about the tragic situation to do with the refugees. It is a very tough situation. We have obviously tried with the South Africans to bring the two together. We are going to keep all of the international community will be pursuing that because it's essential that they get together and we have some kind of a peaceful transition.
JIM LEHRER: Is there an agreement of any kind on the part of President Mobutu to step aside?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think that he is looking for ways to have a transition but I can't go into the details of that.
JIM LEHRER: If there--do you think there will be a meeting tomorrow?
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: We hope so. As I said, we are very disappointed that one did not take place today, and we believe it is essential that the two meet.
JIM LEHRER: Madam Secretary, thank you very much.
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much.