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Washington Journal: Albright Says NATO May Commit To Future Operations

Washington, 7 April 1999 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says NATO leaders will unveil a revised strategic concept for the alliance at its summit in Washington that will include potential operations such as those now ongoing in Kosovo.

Albright told a conference on Tuesday at the Brookings Institution -- an independent research organization in Washington -- that at the summit later this month, NATO leaders will take into account a variety of future dangers the alliance may confront. She says ultimately NATO must commit to developing military forces that can perform a "full spectrum of alliance missions."

Albright says operations, like the ones in Kosovo and Bosnia, are likely to differ in size and length from missions undertaken in collective self-defense.

She says: "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, and by definition they will involve operations outside alliance territory, with all the logistical complication that entails."

Albright says progress has already been made in developing the capabilities required to carry out such operations, but adds that gaps still remain. She says many allies have only a limited ability to rapidly deploy forces outside their country and to sustain them once they arrive.

Albright explains: "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; and we need to have forces, not just among a few countries, but throughout NATO, that are versatile, flexible and mobile."

Albright rejected the suggestion -- supported mostly by France -- that the European members of NATO be responsible for the defense of Europe, while the U.S. and Canada concentrate on responsibilities elsewhere.

Albright says such an idea "makes no sense" and would create the "twin false impression that America doesn't care about Europe and Europe doesn't care about the world." She adds that it would also weaken the U.S. both in and beyond Europe, by depriving the continent of America's "valuable role" while leaving the U.S. to assume broader burdens that Europe has the resources and responsibility to share.

Albright insisted that NATO has both a moral and security responsibility to stop the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and urged the public to "consider the map."

Albright called Kosovo "a small part of a region with large historic importance," adding that the region has a vital role to play in Europe's future. She says the region is a major artery between Europe and Asia and the Middle East and its stability directly affects the security of NATO members Greece and Turkey to the south and new allies, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to the north.

Albright adds: "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 and it cannot be fulfilled if this part of the continent remains divided and wracked by conflict."

In regards to Russia, Albright says that while Russia disagrees with NATO bombings of Yugoslavia, she believes it shares the alliance's goal of a peaceful Europe.

She explains: "Clearly, this would be in Russia's interest 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."

U.S. President Bill Clinton also spoke about the situation in Kosovo on Tuesday. He reiterated that the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia would be ended quickly if President Slobodan Milosevic withdraws his forces from Kosovo and agrees to the deployment of an international security force to protect not only ethnic-Albanians but Kosovo's Serb minority as well.