Remarks at The Wroclaw Global Forum
DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Well, thank you, (inaudible), for that warm introduction and to the Mayor Rafal, to all of you. It’s a great pleasure to be here. This is an important meeting, it’s an important time, and I’m delighted to have a chance to talk a little bit about our perspective on transatlantic relations.
I really am pleased to be here in Wroclaw. It’s a very fitting place, I think, to have this kind of conference. It has been a crossroads of empires for a long time and it has been a very vivid cornerstone of change in the political geography of Europe for centuries. But as Fred said, and others have (inaudible) it’s now the heart and center of Europe. And that, I think, is really – is more vivid a demonstration of what the changes have been than anything else we could point to.
It’s an important time to be here. It’s 21 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. And I think it’s fair to say, as we think of 21 years as a rite of passage from childhood and youth to adulthood, that this part of Europe really has come of age. And it is now in full adulthood, a time in which the children of 1989, the countries of the former Warsaw Pact have made their moves and we’ve gone past the Cold War world to a time where old divisions have been erased and the anxieties about whether these former Warsaw Pact countries could make the transition to market democracies has been conclusively, unequivocally answered, and nowhere more clearly than here in Poland.
As you’ve already heard, at the vanguard of transformation from the days of Solidarity to the extraordinary resilience and confidence in democracy that you’ve shown in the face of this recent national tragedy is a testament to what Poland has achieved.
And it’s really worthwhile that even as we look forward over these next days in these conversations about the future challenges, to reflect back and give praise where praise is due, what my daughters would call a shout-out to Poland and the other countries of Central Europe, because of what you’ve achieved but also what we continue to do together to advance our common goal of a Europe whole and free.
As Fred observed, I’ve had a chance over the last two days to visit in three of the four partners in the Visegrad Process -- Hungary and Slovakia as well as here, and I can tell you from this firsthand tour that the commitment to democracy and market economics remains vibrant and strong in this region. You’ve moved from consumers of security to providers of security and a model to your neighbors, both to the east and to the south. You’re staunch transatlantic partners as we meet and face the difficult challenges we’re working on together through NATO in Afghanistan. You’re showing a path of tolerance as you reach out to create more inclusive societies, including the need to grapple with integrating the Roma people of the region. We welcome the reinvigoration of the V-4 process as a part of the broader European and transatlantic construction.
Central Europe’s success remains at the heart of the European and transatlantic project, and we in the United States are committed to work as your partners in completing the work of European and transatlantic construction and to our equally important task in working as core partners in meeting the global challenges of the future.
So now I want to turn to the future and reflect on the emerging political and economic geography of our transatlantic community, which remains a community of values as well as a community of interests. It’s obviously appropriate to begin with the European space itself, and not only to reflect on how much we’ve achieved through the enlargement of the EU and NATO, through our engagement with eastern partners, as well as our common reset with Russia. I think those are important achievements and gives us a good platform for going forward and, I think, have answered the critics about those choices that we made, as Fred said, in the 1990s.
But we can’t ignore the remaining challenges because this work needs to be completed. And one important part of that, which, as Fred noted, that I’ve spent quite a bit of time on since becoming Deputy Secretary, is the integration of the Western Balkans into our European and transatlantic structures. This is a moment of opportunity, in my judgment. There are a number of forces at work that I think give us a chance to see this transformation completed. With the prospect of Croatia’s accession to the EU and Slovakia and the Polish presidency of the EU, we look forward to that.
The very positive momentum coming out of the recent UN General Assembly resolution on Kosovo gives us hope for new pragmatic engagement between Serbia and Kosovo to try to move forward in a practical way to build relations there. The elections that have taken place in Bosnia largely met all of the standards that we hold democracies to. It creates an opportunity for the new leaders there to come together to work in a pragmatic way to overcome their past differences and to provide the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina the European and transatlantic future that they deserve. This is an opportunity to get past historical divisions and move forward toward inclusion in European and transatlantic structures.
We also have important work to build our ties to the east. And as was mentioned, that this is an important period coming up both through Slovakia’s chairmanship of the V-4 and Hungary’s presidency of the EU, which will have a particular focus on the European partnership – the Eastern Partnership Initiative, something which the United States supports strongly and wants to work closely with our European partners to make progress on.
We need to make progress on the frozen conflicts. It’s time to get past these relics of our past and to try and find, again, pragmatic solutions, whether it’s in Moldova or in the Caucasus through the Minsk Process to bring peace and stability and opportunity to the people of our neighborhood.
And finally, there is a critical opportunity in the weeks and months ahead to strengthen the institutions of our multilateral cooperation. And I focus in particular on three key upcoming summits that we’re going to participate in together, beginning with the Lisbon NATO summit, an opportunity to demonstrate very clearly the ongoing vitality of NATO through the adoption of a new strategic concept. It will focus on the twin tasks of retaining our commitment to collective defense under Article 5 while preparing ourselves to deal with the new threats of the 21st century. We will make sure that NATO has the capabilities to meet those missions and challenges as well the streamlined and reformed structures that it needs to do this efficiently and effectively in the face of the serious financial challenges that we all face.
Lisbon will also be a time for us to come together and reaffirm our commitment to our mission in Afghanistan and our common task that has been so important to our own security and which we have committed to do together in concept and in execution.
Second, we have a summit coming up at the OSCE. And while it’s received less attention, it’s something that I personally have been involved in. Coming out of the Corfu Process, it is an opportunity both to revalidate the basic principles behind the OSCE and the centrality of all three pillars of the OSCE – the human rights, political, and economic dimensions – and to remind ourselves of the value of an institution that can help support political reform, economic development, and institutional change throughout our region and in its periphery, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to the values that are enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, as well as to move forward on security challenges as we look to find a way to update the CFE and make sure that we continue to move toward a more stable and peaceful Europe.
This meeting will not be the end of a process; it’ll be the beginning of a process of establishing a new agenda forward for the OSCE but one to which we attach great importance and which Secretary Clinton will participate on behalf of the United States.
In the third of these important summits coming up this – later this fall is the US-EU summit, a reaffirmation of the critical role that our partnership plays, particularly in the post-Lisbon environment, where we have begun to develop even closer ties with the new and strengthened institutions of the EU, particularly in the areas of foreign policy and development. The Secretary just recently hosted Lady Ashton again for one of the many, many meetings that we have had since she assumed office, and it reaffirmed the breadth of our global partnership from the challenges of development to crisis management to counterterrorism to dealing with the nuclear problem of Iran, the Middle East peace process, climate change, and so many others. Our partnership through Europe is strong, vibrant, and critical to our common efforts to deal with the challenges that we face, both in Europe and in the broader world.
Finally, in addition to these three important summits, we have the continued work of building a more productive and constructive relationship between NATO and Russia, through the NATO-Russia Council and through our ongoing engagement, which has been complemented by both the efforts of the United States and European countries to find ways to work more effectively with Russia where interests coincide while recognizing that we’re going to continue to stand firm on the principles that are basic to our own values, including our continued disagreements with Russia over Georgia.
This is an ambitious agenda, and it suggests that we do have the tools available to us to meet the challenges of sustaining a strong transatlantic partnership in the coming decades, but only if we have the political determination to make these institutions work. It’s not for a deficit of capabilities or a need, necessarily, for new treaties or other organizations. Rather what is required is a renewed commitment to make the institutions that we have work effectively to adapt them to the challenges of our time.
Now, two of the important challenges that I think we need to address together are the question of how we relate to Turkey and the challenge of our energy future. We continue to believe in the United States, and I think many of our European partners share this, that a vibrant, economically successful, democratic Turkey is an extraordinarily valuable partner to all of us. And we value Turkey’s participation in NATO and we look forward to closer ties between Turkey and the EU. Obviously, these are choices with respect to the EU that the EU nations themselves have to make. But we believe strongly that a Turkey with strong ties to all of us will be an important partner in meeting the kinds of challenges that we’ve discussed, as well as a strong example to the rest of the world, particularly in countries with large Islamic populations, that we see Turkey as a clear partner and that there are no artificial divisions along the lines of “civilizations.” We need to keep that door open. We need to manage our differences where they occur and find ways to strengthen that partnership.
With respect to energy, this is one of the critical challenges for our future. And our focus now, which was the subject of my discussions both in Budapest and Bratislava – focus on the critical value of diversification of our energy supplies and transportation routes, not only for our security but also for economic growth and to make sure that we have healthy competition for energy capacity.
This is an important challenge. The Secretary will be meeting, co-chairing the U.S.-EU Energy Council in her upcoming trip to Europe, and it’s something that we’re committed to working together with our European partners. This is a common interest and an issue where we have to work together, not only in dealing with traditional sources of energy from fossil fuels but also as we diversify our energy supplies, to renewables and other climate-friendly sources of energy, because climate, too, is a common challenge that the United States and Europe need to work for together.
All of this suggests that this is a vibrant transatlantic partnership, and one that remains critical to us going forward. As I said, we believe that we have the core institutions that are necessary to sustain this partnership, but we need to redouble our commitment to make them work. We need to reaffirm the founding principles that have animated us throughout the Cold War and, most importantly, in the post-Cold War era, from Paris to Istanbul, and the declarations that reflect our common commitment to a Europe whole and free with indivisible security, the freedom of choice for countries to make the decisions they need to make about their own security.
Even though we appreciate the institutions we have, we shouldn’t be complacent. While we remain faithful to our core values and these core ties, we need to make sure that we undertake the adaptations that we need for the 21st century and that we’re able to meet the new challenges, whether it’s energy or cyber-security or missile defense. All of these are critical to maintaining the relevance and vitality of our institutions and our partnerships.
Now, there are those who question the centrality of this partnership, who wonder whether there are other focuses of U.S. policy and whether this is something that’s part of nostalgia but not of the present. And I hope what I’ve said today makes clear that that’s not the view of the United States, that even when we deal with questions of new and emerging powers, that our willingness to work together in developing common strategies in engaging with India or China, Brazil or the other emerging powers, as well as to deal with these global challenges of the 21st century, that the core begins with this partnership between the United States and Europe. We are each other’s most reliable partners, and together we have the greatest capacity to lead the world in making these challenges.
And all this gives me great confidence about the future that allows me to resoundingly answer your question of the critics. Yes, this is central. This is critical. And we have the will on both sides of the Atlantic as well as the capacity to make it happen. So thank you very much, and I look forward to your comments and questions. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Let me take my spot here and Secretary Steinberg will take questions from the podium. Let me raise one first myself. As you can see, it’s the Wroclaw Global Forum, so the whole notion here was talking about a transatlantic relationship can be applied globally, and you answered some of those questions.
Let me raise one, however, that you didn’t get to which is nonproliferation, and particularly, Iran where transatlantic partnerships work relatively well. And then lastly, if you announced four of Europe’s five biggest oil companies agreed to end their investments in Iraq.
If you could talk a little bit about how you see the transatlantic relationship with work with Europe, how important it is to that goal, but also can one really be successful in keeping Chinese and other companies from filling the void? Are we just working into a situation of a containment policy rather than a stopping from proliferating policy?
DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: I can’t think of a better example of the critical importance of the transatlantic partnership than our work on Iran. As you all know, one of the strong commitments that the President made upon taking office was to bring new approach to our strategy on Iran – a strategy that was based on engagement, but not simply bilateral engagement by the United States with Iran, but to work through – if you want to call it the 3+3 or the 5+1 – the core partnership that we have with Europe to provide a common front in both in terms of our diplomatic engagement with Iran and our willingness to work together if that diplomacy is not going to succeed.
And as you know from the early days, Bill Burns joined with his EU counterparts in our discussions with Iran. We sat down together in Geneva. We offered a way forward which the Iranians were unwilling to take. And as a result of that, we developed a strong partnership that led to the UN Security Council and led to the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, the most powerful set of sanctions that have been adopted to date. And even more importantly, we worked together following the adoption of 1929 to take national actions to supplement and support that, including extraordinary measures taken by the EU, demonstrating, I think, first of the enormous capacity of the EU to act as a global actor, but also our ability to coordinate our efforts.
And there’s no doubt in my mind that has had an enormous impact on Iran, whether this successfully reached the outcome we wanted, of course, is still open. And a clear example of this is the willingness to work together to create an environment where firms have recognized that it’s not in their interest to allow Iran to feel that it will pay no price to continue with the policies and it has been continuing with respect to its nuclear program.
Now our engagement goes beyond our common efforts. As you know, we’ve worked together with other countries around the world – there’s Canada, Australia, Japan, and South Korea, all of whom have enacted measures to supplement 1929. You’ve heard about the decisions that Russians have made in respect to arms sales, which provides a very powerful signal and a very important operational decision by the Russians not to move forward with these advanced air defense systems
We’re also engaging together with China. Both the United States and the EU were trying to make clear that we do expect them to be attentive to the consequences of continuing or deepening their engagement with Iran in ways that would be sending the wrong signals to Iran. And I think what’s critical, we obviously hope that China sees why in its own interest that taking prudent measures now will help reinforce the diplomacy that China would like to see take place.
And I think it’s equally important to recognize that although there are places in which other countries may make a difference, that our willingness, and the firms in the West, the United States and Europe, to disengage has a consequence which is far broader than just the monetary ones. The technology, the knowhow, the advanced capabilities of our firms in the energy sector which is what Iran really would like to have access to, and so it has disproportionate impact when Western firms disengage. And it’s not just the energy sector. What we see is true in banking, in transportation, and insurance.
So we see a really remarkable response by the international community, and now there’s an opportunity for Iran to take a second look at this question, to reengage in the diplomacy, to get back to a set of discussions where – which would respect their right under the NPT to have a peaceful civilian nuclear program – but given their past track record, the obligation is on Iran to demonstrate to all of us that it’s (inaudible) and peaceful.
QUESTION: And if sanctions and all of that don’t bring the desired effect with the administration, can you still imagine military consequences? And when people talk about a transatlantic relationship in that respect one could imagine a significant rift.
DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Matt, when I was a professor at UT, hypotheticals were an important part of my job. As Deputy Secretary I don’t find them very useful. I would simply observe that we have said that all options remain on the table, and we’ve also made clear that we all would prefer a diplomatic resolution. That’s what we’re focused on. I think we have an opportunity now and that’s where we’re going to focus our efforts.
QUESTION: Okay. One more quick, non-hypothetical question and then I’ll pass to the audience and I’ll see hands. There was also – not in your speech, but obviously, you can’t put everything in – we’re here sitting in Europe at the time of one of the most dramatic, political, and economic shifts from West to East. You recently in Geneva said that the U.S. wants to build strategic trust with China to match the scope and depth of the transatlantic relationship. Also, you’ve talked about a strategic reassurance with China to build a more comprehensive relationship.
My question would really be: Can you build a strategic trust with a kind of an upper level transatlantic relationship with a country that has a different political system? And this gets to the whole question of how one interacts with state capitalism, with non-democratic countries. And how does the European relationship with the U.S. help us manage our relationship with China?
DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Well, I think it’s a very – it’s an important question because I do think that this is the flip side of my observations regarding our relationship with Europe. The issue of strategic trust is simply not in question with Europe even when we had transatlantic differences such as balance of payments or IMF or all those issues.
But I don’t think there was ever a doubt on both sides of the Atlantic that our core interest and our core objectives were in question. So we could deal with challenges as deep as the French withdrawal from the unified military command, or all the other issues that we’ve had to deal with over the past 60 or 70 years because we had that level of strategic trust and confidence in each other – in each other’s objectives. And there’s no doubt that that shared values contributed to that because we have more conviction that democracies would work together effectively that share a common interest in creating an open society that we could preserve our common bonds and our ability to work together.
It’s a much more daunting task, not simply because of the lack of democracy in China, but because of its very closed and nontransparent system. And there are clearly steps that can be taken, even short of political reform in China, that would help that process of transparency and openness that’s critical. And that’s why we’ve emphasized – the importance of restoring the military to the military dialogue. And we’re now taking steps to try and move into that direction – that they be more transparent about their military modernization, about their activities around their periphery, about their natural resource investments around the world which have raised questions around the world, including in terms of their relationship with Iran.
I think inevitably we will never achieve the same level of confidence with a country that doesn’t share our political values and our system, but I think a lot of progress could be made if China is prepared to provide the kinds of reassurances that are necessary. It needs to be understood that when we talk about strategic reassurance with China, the challenge particularly in a closed society and for an emerging power like China, is for it to reassure its neighbors and the rest of the world that it pursues its rise consistent with the interest of other countries, its neighbors, and others.
Europeans understand very well what the challenge of a rising power is and the need for those powers to provide that kind of reassurance. And that same challenge is what we face in East Asia today. It is a critical challenge and it is something that the U.S. and Europe can work together very effectively on. The more we communicate in parallel, which are on our objectives and our interests, the more effective we’re going to be, and that we communicate both in terms of economic policy and the importance of China taking responsible measures to rebalance its economic strategy and participate in a new rule of law for everybody in the international trading system through its own efforts on the security side. I think that’s clearly a shared interest. I know that on the part of the EU that there’s a new renewed focus on developing strategy towards China, and I welcome the fact that Lady Ashton and others have reached out to the United States to see if we can find a common way forward on those questions.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Thank you for that very thoughtful answer. If you could identify –
QUESTION: Bill Drozdiak, president of the American Council on Germany in New York City and senior advisor for Europe with McLarty Associates. (Inaudible) you spelled out the importance of the forthcoming NATO summit. You (inaudible) that President Medvedev of Russia will be invited. Has the time come for NATO to consider or do they have a road map for future membership in this organization with Russia as a way of completing the transformation of NATO to becoming a pan-European security institution and also cutting these frozen conflicts and other problems that we’ve had in the past with Russia?
DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: You’ve framed quite a hypothetical, Bill. But I think it’s – there’s -- and at least for now there’s no particular evidence that that’s the path that Russia would like to pursue. And so I think we need to focus on what is the path that Russia seems to what to pursue, which is to revitalize and make more effective the NATO-Russia engagement. And I do think that that’s something that we all feel could have a more central and a more productive role.
There was an important meeting of the ministers in New York just a few weeks ago, of the NATO-Russia Council, and we would welcome either at Lisbon or at another time and place an opportunity for a leadership meeting with President Medvedev. I think in the near term that is the place we need to focus our efforts and to find ways to look to manage areas where we have differences, but also just to get areas of cooperation. For example, we continue to believe that missile defense is an area where there could be much greater cooperation between NATO and Russia. We don’t see our interest as adverse; we see our interest as shared ones in terms of developing effective defenses that protect our people without threatening the legitimate interest of any other.
And there are so many other issues that NATO and Russia could constructively engage. We need to make progress on WTO. We’ve obviously been exploring some new ideas and we welcome Russia’s engagement on that as well. So there is a path forward. We certainly believe President Medvedev and Minister Lavrov that there is interest in trying to pursue that and strengthen it, and I think we need to be very creative in how we do that.
QUESTION: Good morning. My name is (inaudible). I’m the (inaudible) leader. First, I want to thank you for organizing this successful (inaudible), particularly the guests from across the ocean for coming such a long a way (inaudible) as was mentioned. There’s nothing that I could disagree on what you said. But my concern would be that we’re – that some of the realities on the ground make things difficult. I’m thinking certainly of the – financial crisis and the impact that that might have on the ability of NATO membership and this – to invest into the future.
If you read the newspaper, for example, between France and Germany, some of the projects – some of the (inaudible) projects might be cut down drastically or (inaudible) the discussions in Germany about the resizing of (inaudible) armed forces. You know the situation in – the bleak financial situation in many countries like (inaudible) Greece and other country there. You mentioned Latvia, but there are certainly – I believe there are many problems there. And so my concern is that many of the elements, because of these domestic financial problems, are – have become sort of inward-looking and the focus seems to be on overcoming these kinds of problems.
If you look around in Europe – let’s take Italy as an example – (inaudible) example France, with the new government there are many question marks, certainly. And there is also some question mark which the Europeans have after what happened after the 2nd of November, if the polls are correct, do we have to be concerned that there might be another lame duck period for another two years? I think these are the things that we have to – or to take into account if we want to (inaudible) excellent ideas that you presented to the floor.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Thank you for that excellent question. And I think people have talked a lot about the double potential deficit for transatlantic relations and political will. But then much of that (inaudible) how this impacts things.
DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: I don’t think any of us underestimate the financial challenges that member governments face and we see the clear need to take physical steps in a number of countries, in some cases very strong ones. But I make two observations. First, I think it is important even as top-line decisions are made about reducing the size of national budgets, that we keep in mind the priority that we need to attach to our common security. I was very encouraged that the government in Slovakia made a very courageous decision notwithstanding their own very significant financial pressures to actually have moderate increases in their defense spending. So I think it is possible even in a time of reducing deficits to take the decisions that are necessary to retain core capabilities.
The second thing I would say is it’s all the more reason that we work together more effectively. And that’s why NATO’s Core Capabilities Initiative is so critical, that we focus on top priorities, that we look for opportunities such as the NATO reform to achieve efficiencies where we can, to look for ways to work together more efficiently within the alliance, to make sure that our capabilities are complementary and focused well on the challenges for the future, so that we make sure that with what resources we have, we use them most effectively.
And I – again, I don’t underestimate the challenge, but I don’t think it is an insurmountable barrier to making sure that we can do what we need to do. I do believe, far more important than the specifics of budgets is the question of political will, and I think what we are seeing is a very strong commitment on both sides of the Atlantic to try to make sure that NATO and the transatlantic alliance remains relevant and capable as we meet these challenges in the future.
QUESTION: David Wilson with the Atlantic Council. First of all, I just wanted to thank you for your remarks. Thank you for your presence. I think it underscores the role that we can see, essentially, you are playing on the transatlantic agenda. And I think it’s – the Administration deserves quite a bit of credit, with your visit building off of visits by Secretary Clinton, by President Biden, President Obama to the region.
I wanted to pick up on a comment you made in your remarks about a Europe whole and free, which is a phrase that captures both concepts, a vision but also an actual policy. And I think while many folks recognize there’s a lot of unfinished business to complete in Europe, the way to go about thinking about this is not quite clear. There seems to be quite a strong consensus that, over the long run, what’s involved in this will earn its place within the institutions of Europe. But as you look to the east, it gets a little bit more complicated. It’s not quite clear that the process of EU-NATO integration, backing up the vision of a Europe whole and free, applies (inaudible) when we’re thinking about the cases of Ukraine, Moldova, or Georgia. Not to mention Belarus or Russia.
And so I just – I wanted to ask, is this old paradigm of a Europe whole and free, driven by NATO union enlargement – is that paradigm over in some respects? Is it no longer the same applicable instrument tool that we’ve had in the past 20 years? And what, essentially, are our goals, at looking east to the new Eastern Europe, and how do we go about achieving them?
DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Well, thanks, David. There are obviously a lot of different dimensions to that question. I think it is an important commitment and one that we do need to remain both faithful to and serious about. But there are lots of elements of what allows us to achieve that vision.
First of all, I do think it’s critical and I expect that NATO will reaffirm the open door policy at the Lisbon summit. I think that remains critical. We’ve made clear over the past several years that there are different paths to membership, but that that door remains open. And as I said, we have to reaffirm the Istanbul principle that countries should be free to make the choices that they want to make about their own security arrangements.
Second, obviously, the decision on EU and EU membership is a decision for EU members, and I – and we recognize that there are multiple factors there. But there are important commitments that have been made, especially vis-à-vis Turkey, which I think are important to understand the deep significance of and as Europe continues its own construction, to consider, on an individualized basis, the other potential applicants.
But beyond those memberships, there are other factors as well. First, I think – and I hope I’ve made it clear the importance that I attach to it and I think our Administration attaches to it, there is the complementary role of the OSCE, which is also another values-based institution that reflects the principles of Helsinki, and of democracy and human rights, which is another element of our wholeness. And I think that’s why we believe we do need to work hard to make that work.
We’ve been very engaged, for example, in Kyrgyzstan. I don’t think any of us believe any time in the near future we’re going to be discussing whether Kyrgyzstan should be a member of NATO or the EU, but we do have an interest in a democratic, stable, tolerant Kyrgyzstan that can both meet the needs of its people and not provide a source of insecurity in the region. And the OSCE is a critical vehicle for us to engage them, whether it’s through a police presence or through its support for democracy-building there. These are critical institutions that deal with the broader geography of our
And finally, initiatives like the Eastern Partnership Initiative, whether that leads to membership or not, are ways of supporting democracy and human rights, economic development in the neighboring countries, which is in our interest in this European and transatlantic construction, whether or not they become formal members of these other institutions.
So I think that the commitment is there, the tools are there. There are multiple strategies that have to be tailored to the individual circumstances of the countries in question, but we need to maintain that sense of possibility because I do believe that it’s not just the values commitment to these countries, but also in our own interest. We’ve seen the values of stability and prosperity that come from making sure that the European space is inhabited by a successful, prosperous, tolerant, democratic society. And so we all have a deep stake in this and we need to work in each individual case to figure out what the right path is and what the right future is.
MODERATOR: Let me take – let me take one more question, and I think we just have time for one more question.
QUESTION: Good morning. (Inaudible) from the Czech Embassy. Mr. Steinberg, speaking about relations with Russia, you mentioned here conventional forces treatment – treaty. This is a very important agenda, I think, and a very lofty agenda. And could you more elaborate on this? Do you see there really progress in this agenda?
MODERATOR: Because this is the last question, let me pile one on. And I realize this has – you have a very short time, so – but I think we should touch on this briefly – and that is the question of democracy assistance. And since Russia came up, how do you balance these two things: the desire to engage more closely with non-democratic or not fully democratic countries and the ability to work together, particularly Central Europeans on democracy assistance throughout the world.
MR. STEINBERG: Well, I think on CFE, we – I think we all recognize that there’s a continued need to adapt CFE and address the issue of conventional forces and security in Europe and in Europe’s periphery in a way that is true to the realities of the modern political landscape. And we’re all, I think, collectively prepared to do that. There are a lot of different ideas out there, but a lot of them require a willingness by our partner in Russia to take this exercise seriously and to do it consistent with the basic values and principles that I discussed before.
We’ve, together, between the United States and Europe, had been developing and exploring ideas for how to take that process forward, we’ve presented some ideas to Russia. I think that the door is still open as to whether Russia is prepared to deal with that. And clearly, we have a fundamental problem – particularly with respect to the stationing of troops outside of the country – that needs to be addressed. And I think there is an opportunity that would benefit everyone. Russia is saying that’s something that they would like to do as well. And I think we have a common commitment to show that we’re prepared to undertake those explorations, but it has to be consistent with the security of our members and the principles that we believe in.
On democracy, Fred, as you know, the President spoke quite extensively about this at his UN General Assembly speech just a few weeks ago. And this remains critical to us, that we understand that, both because of who we are and because of what we believe in, that the United States needs to stand on the side of democracy and to work with those who are trying to establish democracy in places where it is – it is not firmly rooted or it’s not rooted at all.
We recognize that there is no single solution to it. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But at the same time, it is a critical and central part of our own agenda. And it is always more effective when we do it in partnership with others because, frankly, we understand as the world’s dominant power that there’s a different quality to it when it comes solely from the United States. And it does, unfortunately in some cases, allow the adversaries to try to categorize our agenda as being other than the values-based agenda that we have. But when we’re supported by partners who share those values, like Central Europeans, like Europeans, but also like Asian democracies or African democracies, then our legitimacy, our credibility is even stronger.
That’s why the Secretary and I have both put such an importance on the community of democracies, and why she came to Poland, because she believes very strongly that this is the kind of vehicle that gives credibility to that effort and demonstrates that this is not one civilization against another, but reflects universal values in the UN Charter as something that all people aspire to.
And I have to say, as I travel around the world, I am convinced that this is a critical part of our agenda. I was in Mongolia a few months ago and I believe very firmly that if the people of Mongolia can choose and work hard to build democracy there, it demonstrates that this is the universal good and it’s something that benefits people everywhere. And so we can’t be shy about our conviction about that, and do it in a way that is not designed to threaten but also to make clear that we do think it’s critical to the future.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Before I thank you on behalf of the audience, let me just tell – ask people to stay in their seats. We’re going to start the other panel right away, and I’d ask the three panelists, as Secretary Steinberg leaves, to –
QUESTION: Excuse me, (inaudible). Why did you not give me a chance? I have been –
MODERATOR: Well, there were about –
MODERATOR: Excuse me. There were four – there – I didn’t see you at the mike and there were four other people who had –
MODERATOR: We had –
QUESTION: -- democracy question. (Inaudible) give me a chance, 30 seconds (inaudible).
MODERATOR: It’s hard to give you a chance and not give four or five other people a chance. This is not a protest rally.
MODERATOR: Yeah. Thank you for being so polite in your questioning.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. My name is (inaudible). I have a slightly different approach. So my question is, since you also professor, I think (inaudible) NATO over the last 20 years or so has been not becoming irrelevant, or how to stay relevant, since the conceptual praises of NATO is collective defense, not collective security or cooperative security; collective defense. And it tries to have antagonisms (inaudible) an enemy even, as you know, what (inaudible) now emphasized a few days ago (inaudible) about this. So who could be this (inaudible) enemy? Could it be stopped? And is that why NATO is now in Afghanistan? What is the rationale of deploying in Afghanistan? Is it – it seems perfectly absurd. I have been (inaudible).
MODERATOR: So the question (inaudible) –
DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: I have your question. So let me (inaudible) answer.
QUESTION: Don’t you (inaudible) create new enemies, more enemies (inaudible)?
DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Let me talk about – let me talk about NATO and Afghanistan. I’ve heard both are questions and I’m willing to talk about – on the rationale and just brief as I can.
On the rationale, I don’t need to tell this audience – this is an audience which is about as sophisticated on the history of NATO as anybody – that there was more than just a defensive alliance against the Soviet Union. It was a community that helped solidify the economic side of Europe’s recovery from World War II and create a framework in which the past conflicts within Europe could be resolved. About NATO, which I won’t repeat here, but is well known to most of you. But it was a framework that allowed European integration to move forward and to create a new partnership. And it was always in Article 4 as well as in Article 5.
So I don’t accept the proposition that NATO requires an enemy. It was an important part of what we did when we had the challenge from the communists and the Soviet Union, but it was not the only part of what we did. And that’s why it is to my mind not difficult to imagine a NATO that isn’t dependant on an adversary but rather the common challenges and common opportunities. And I think the success of our adaptation and enlargement of NATO over the last 20 years is admirable testimony to that.
With respect to Afghanistan, I sometimes find it odd that people don’t remember history. But certainly, Americans remember that the reason that 9/11 happened was because we were unable to reach an adversary who was ensconced in Afghanistan and who ultimately attack our homeland. And that attack was an Article 5 attack which NATO recognizes. It was an attack on a member state. We cannot allow a circumstance to arise again in which there’s a haven in Afghanistan that will pose a direct threat both to the United States and Europe.
It’s got nothing to do with Islam. It’s got to do with the very tangible threat to our security. And that’s why we’re all there and that’s why we’re doing it through NATO, because it is a threat to the NATO members.
And we made clear that that’s the objective. The President, Secretary General, and all the member states in NATO are very clear on our objectives there. And it’s very important to stay focused on that because it’s important to remind our publics just what the stakes are.
So I think there is a very compelling case for our engagement there. And it’s very compelling that we’re doing it in the way we’re doing it, which is in partnership with the Afghan people and the Afghan Government because in the long-term, this is – requires the capability of the Afghans themselves to provide a basic level of security and governance that will make sure that Afghanistan does not become a threat again.
Thank you for your question, and thank you for – (applause).
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