Washington, 9 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher has called for a formal charter to regulate NATO consultations and joint actions with Russia.
Speaking on Friday in the German city of Stuttgart, Christopher said the charter would provide a permanent mechanism for crisis management, making it possible for NATO and Russia to respond immediately to eventual challenges.
"NATO and Russia need a charter because we share an interest in preventing armed conflict," said Christopher. He said both sides are equally threatened by proliferation, nuclear smuggling and disasters like the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
Speaking to the Russian people, Christopher said NATO and the United States welcome Russians as full partners in building a new Europe.
"We want to work with you to bring Russia into the family of market democracies. We want you to have a stake and a role in the institutions of European security and economic cooperation. That is why we seek a fundamentally new relationship between Russia and the new NATO. Such a relationship is possible. It is important to us all. And we are determined to make it happen," he said.
Christopher also said that prospective new NATO members will be invited to a NATO summit next year to begin accession negotiations. He said the summit could be convened as early as next spring.
Christopher said that after the first new members, as he put it "pass through NATO's open door, it will stay open for all those...able to shoulder the responsibilities of membership."
He said the selection of countries to be invited to the 1997 summit will be based on what he called an intensive dialogue that NATO is currently conducting with interested countries.
After next year's summit, Christopher said NATO will begin a new round of "intensified dialogues with all those who continue to seek membership after the first candidates are invited to join."
Christopher's speech outlined America's vision for a new Atlantic community in the 21st century. The speech commemorated an historic address in Stuttgart 50 years ago by U.S. secretary of state James Byrnes on reconstructing Europe after World War II.
Christopher arrived in Stuttgart from Bonn where he met earlier Friday with Chancellor Helmut Kohl for talks on European security issues.