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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 46, May 2000

Albright-Fischer Press Conference

"Remarks by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright at joint press availability with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer," US Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, May 8, 2000

Remarks by Albright

"The Foreign Minister and I…discussed a number of issues facing our NATO alliance, including progress in developing a European security and defense capability. The United States welcomes this. America needs a strong European partner able to act if NATO as a whole is not engaged. Germany needs to play a strong role in Europe if such a capability is to succeed.

I briefed Foreign Minister Fischer on Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov's recent discussions here in Washington, and previewed our preparations for the upcoming summit in Moscow. We had also the opportunity to continue our ongoing consultations on the national missile defense. …"

Remarks by Fischer

"We had the possibility - I came from the informal summit of the Foreign Ministers of the EU in the Azores on Saturday and Sunday - to inform Secretary of State directly about…developments in the European Security and Defense Policy. We are very happy that there is now a common understanding within the EU and between EU and NATO that we will form working groups and go ahead in closer cooperation. We are committed to the realization of the headline goals and, all in all, in the strengthening of the European pillar. It's not directed against NATO but it's a strengthening of the European pillar within NATO.

Second, we had a very broad discussion…about the situation also and the debate in Europe about the national missile defense. We understand, on the one hand, fully the concerns of the United States and we realize the debate here in the United States, and we know that this is a national decision; but, on the other hand, the United States is the leading power in the world. This is a national decision with a very strong international impact… We had our discussion. I explained the concerns within our parliament and public opinion, and we discussed all aspects. …"

Questions and Answers

"Question: 'I have a question for Secretary Albright. The strategic threat of the so-called rogue states is not only targeted at the United States, but it might also affect Europe as such. So why, in a shared alliance like NATO, you didn't try to find a consensus on this difficult subject in the Alliance before you started your unilateral approach? And one short question for Foreign Minister Fischer. You are very staunch supporter of arms control, not only in the past as well as in the present. So is NMD an example for trying to find a common European approach on this subject, and did you already do so?'

Albright: 'First of all, let me say we are doing just what you're saying, because the President has not yet made a decision as to whether to deploy NMD. He is going to be doing it according to four criteria, which is: the threat, the feasibility of the system, the cost, and its effect on the arms control regimes generally. Obviously, in talking - in moving forward, dealing with our allies is very important. We are in the process of having consultations and briefings. But I also think that it is very important for any President of the United States, as is true of any leader, to do what is responsible as far as protecting one's people. But we are exactly in the process of consultations.'

Fischer: 'Obviously, this national decision of the United States will have a strong impact on the interests, security interests, of all Europeans and we are working very hard to coordinate, not only within the discussion across the Atlantic with the United States to bring our concerns into the discussion, but also together with the Europeans in the framework of the NATO. And, obviously, there is a discussion everywhere in Europe about that, and we are looking forward in unifying the position. But the interests are not homogenous within Europe so we will need some time for discussion for that.' …

"Question: 'Madame Secretary, how serious is such a threat you mentioned before concerning the defense system? And to Minister Fischer, you mentioned your concerns, especially the concerns of the government and in the public. Did you have talks with the Russian Government as well?'

Albright: 'Well, let me first, from my perspective, we believe that there is a threat to the territory of the United States from…North Korea and from Iran. That is the basis of this discussion. As we brief our friends and allies, we make that point quite clear and make clear the importance of…not assisting in terms of transfer of technology to those two countries.'

Fischer: 'Obviously, we also discussed with the Russian Government, and we will discuss with the new Russian Government which is formed just now. I hope we will continue this discussion as we do it with the United States and all the others. It's a very difficult discussion, and for us it's a key, key element whether this will lead to a confrontation between the United States and Russia and the question of arms control and arms reduction or not. This is a very important issue.'

Albright: 'Can I just add, for us we don't see this as anti-Russian. That is the whole purpose of it: it is not against the Russians; it is against the threats from those states that possess weapons of mass destruction that we feel are a concern to the territory of the United States and our people.'"

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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