Aerojet Tests Part For Missile Interceptor (Mar. 29)
NATO faces challenges, but the Bush administration believes that the transatlantic link is vital and must be preserved because it is the best guarantee of security for all, said Ambassador Alexander Vershbow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations in Clingendael March 23.
Vershbow, the U.S. Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council, identified the following five key challenges for NATO:
**The Balkans: "We have won a fragile peace. We must now sustain and strengthen that peace," he said. The Alliance must show that it can "draw down its peacekeeping missions as successfully as it ramped them up," modify the number of troops "to reflect new realities on the ground," and transfer "responsibility from our military forces to international civilian agencies and, ultimately, to local governments that are becoming too comfortable as international protectorates."
Vershbow assured his audience that "the U.S. has no plans whatsoever to 'cut and run' from the Balkans. Secretary Powell assured Allies of this in February and I want to reassure you. We went in together, and we'll come out together."
Regarding the situation in southern Serbia, Vershbow said: "NATO is doing an impressive job to quell Albanian extremists: cutting off supply routes, cracking down on those who support violence and lending NATO's reputation and expertise to facilitate a peaceful solution." He also reiterated U.S. support for the efforts of the democratic government in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to preserve the country's stability and multi-ethnic civil society.
**ESDI/ESDP and Capabilities: U.S. support for NATO's European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) and the European Union's European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) is "conditioned on ESDI or ESDP being done right," Vershbow said.
ESDP could be good for the Alliance and the transatlantic relationship, "but done poorly, this new venture could divide the transatlantic Alliance, diminish European capacity to manage crises, and possibly weaken the U.S. commitment to European security."
He stressed the need for increased European defense capabilities; coordination of NATO and EU defense planning; strengthened NATO-EU cooperation and consultation; guaranteed EU access to NATO operational planning; the sharing of NATO assets and capabilities; and the regular involvement of non-EU Allies.
**NATO Enlargement: The key challenge in NATO enlargement is "to maintain the Alliance's vital role in unifying Europe through the admission of additional members, while preserving NATO's military effectiveness and political cohesion," Vershbow said.
All of the aspirants need to do "much more" on defense reform and other areas, he said. Each aspirant should be assessed "by the progress it makes in fulfilling its MAP [Membership Action Plan] goals and its prospects for becoming responsible members of this great Alliance, and not on the basis of political favoritism."
**Russia: "The Bush administration wants to engage with Russia, but we must avoid the overly optimistic expectations of the last decade," Vershbow said. "Russia must decide whether or not it wants to be a constructive partner with the West. For our part, we will continue to search for opportunities for constructive engagement where it can benefit both sides. If Russia does the same, we have an ambitious and challenging agenda before us."
**Missile Defense: "President Bush has been unequivocal; America must and will build effective missile defenses, based on the best available options, at the earliest possible date," Vershbow said. But he included an assurance "we are committed to consulting closely with our Allies on this project... We are committed to hearing your views, explaining our approach, and inviting your participation."
The United States wants "to work within NATO to develop a coordinated approach to missile defense, without drawing artificial distinctions between 'national' and 'theater' missile defense."
He added that the United States "is committed to working with Moscow on this issue, both bilaterally and through the NATO-Russia relationship." Vershbow said he believes the United States and Russia will further converge in their approaches to missile defense "once we convince Moscow that it cannot drive a wedge between the U.S. and its Allies on this question."
"We see missile defense as an opportunity for dialogue and giving Moscow a real stake in its relationship with NATO," he said. (ends)
Click here for full text of speech on State Dept. website (scroll down to end of introduction)
Aerojet Successfully Tests Attitude Control System Thruster Pack For Missile Defense Interceptor