Tuesday, August 19, 2008

North Atlantic Council

I have just finished attending a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Foreign Ministers. That meeting has produced a declaration, which I am certain you now have copies of, which is a comprehensive response to the crisis in Georgia. This was an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council. And that, in itself, is a clear indication of NATO’s interest in this crisis and NATO’s concern that this crisis has a real impact on peace and stability in this region and therefore is crucial to the alliance

There are several elements to the declaration. But perhaps most important, I think the declaration clearly shows that NATO intends to support the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Georgia, and to support its democratically elected government, its democracy, and to deny Russia the strategic objective of undermining that democracy, of making Georgia weaker or of threatening Georgia’s territorial integrity.

In that regard, a number of steps will be taken to support Georgia, including the creation, as the Secretary General has just said, of a NATO-Georgia Commission to oversee cooperation with Georgia on a wide range of matters and to oversee the program to achieve the goals of Bucharest. The Council reaffirmed the Bucharest Declaration of our heads of state, as well as developing this program of specific steps that we will take.

Secondly, there was very strong language in the declaration and very strong language around the table of the need for Russia to honor the ceasefire commitment that its president has undertaken. It is time for the Russian President to keep his word to withdraw Russian forces from Georgia, back to the August 6/7 status quo ante and to return, in fact, all forces that were not in South Ossetia at the time of that – of the outbreak of that conflict.

That means that Russian peacekeepers “who were there” are one thing, but those who reinforced in some way into the zone of conflict should also return to the status quo ante.

Finally, this document is a very clear statement that this alliance, NATO, having come so far after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in achieving a Europe that is whole, free and at peace, is not going to permit a new line to be drawn in Europe, a line between those who were fortunate enough to make it into the transatlantic structures and those who still aspire to those transatlantic structures.

And thus, as I have said, there was the reaffirmation of Bucharest that the circumstances for Georgia and Ukraine to become members of MAP will be taken up by the ministers in December, as was envisioned in Bucharest, but that there will absolutely be no new line.

NATO does not accept that there is a new line, and we are acting as if there is no new line. That is why both the establishment of the NATO-Georgia Commission and the meeting that will take place next week of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, as well as the visit of NATO permanent representatives to Georgia are important steps that demonstrate that principle.

NATO has an open-door policy to all European democracies that qualify for its membership. This is not a matter of forcing countries into one alliance or another.

It is simply a matter of giving them the choice that free peoples deserve.

And NATO stays true to that principle and stays true to the Bucharest Declaration that declared that NATO – that Georgia and Ukraine, having declared that they wish to pursue a transatlantic future, will become members of NATO.

Thank You Very Much

Sylvie Lanteaume, AFP Madame Secretary, the Europeans seem obviously reluctant to isolate Russia as you would like. They don’t want to treat the Russia of today as the Germany of the past. Do you think – do you think these concerns are legitimate? Do you understand them?

Sec Of State Rice: Well, Sylvie, the United States doesn’t want to isolate Russia. It’s the United States that has a strategic framework for cooperation with Russia that has everything in it from economic cooperation to political cooperation, cultural cooperation, indeed even offers of defense cooperation. So the United States doesn’t seek to isolate Russia.

The behavior of Russia in this most recent crisis is isolating Russia from the principles of cooperation among nations of the communities of states when you start invading small neighbors, bombing civilian infrastructure, going into villages and wreaked havoc and wanton destruction of this infrastructure. That’s what isolates Russia.

And so it is not an act of the United States or Europe or anybody else to isolate Russia; it’s what Russia is doing. And I would just call your attention to the language that there can be no business as usual with Russia while this kind of activity goes on.

And so I want to be very clear: the United States sought precisely what we got in this statement, which is, most importantly, support for Georgia’s democracy; secondly, a very strong message that the Russian President ought to keep his word; and third, a very clear statement of principle from this alliance that a new line in Europe where Russia somehow asserts that there are those who cannot opt for a transatlantic future is unacceptable.

Thank You

Dr RiCe iS GrEaT sAtAn"s SeCrEtArY oF sTaTe


Findalis said...

NATO can do very little. Georgia is no member of that gang. Georgia is a wannabe member, not yet ready for the gang, but will be ready soon.

Poland on the other hand is a full member of the NATO crew. Attacking Poland will be attacking NATO.

This is a piece of paper nothing more. And Russia will use it as toilet paper. For that is all its worth to them.

kevin said...

findalis is right, look at the way Russia treated the cease fire.

Karen Townsend said...

NATO blew it with not admitting Georgia. The time will come.

Poland's defense shield placement agreement will poke the bear. It makes me smile.

Nikki said...

I agree with Karen...take that Russia. Rice for Prez! :)N