Full transcript of the keynote speech and discussion with James Steinberg, US deputy secretary of state, at the 2010 Wroclaw Global Forum.






Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

JAMES STEINBERG:  This is an important meeting.  It’s an important time and I’m delighted to have the chance to talk a little bit about our perspective on trans-Atlantic relations.  I have to say, Pawel, there’s a lot that I’m prepared to do to support the European Union and the growing integration of Europe.  But I think, along with Corey Pavin, I would say just wait until next time.  (Laughter.)

I really am pleased to be here in Wroclaw.  It’s a very fitting place, I think, to have this kind of conference.  It’s been a crossroads of empires for a long time.  And it has been a very vivid part of the changing political geography of Europe for centuries.  But as Fred said and others have observed, it’s now at the heart and the center of Europe.  And that, I think, is really more vivid of a demonstration of what the changes have been than anything else we could point to. 

It’s an important time 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 a 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 all the visions have been erased, 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 we’ve already heard, 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 worth – even as we look forward over these next days in these conversations to 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 the chance over the last two days to visit now three of the four partners in the Visegrad process in 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 in a model to your neighbors both to the east and the south. You are staunch trans-Atlantic partners as we meet and face the difficult challenges we’re doing together through NATO and 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 trans-Atlantic construction. 

Central Europe’s success remains at the heart of the European and trans-Atlantic project.  And we in the United States are committed to work as your partners in completing the work of European and trans-Atlantic construction and to our equally important task in working as core partners in meeting the global challenges of the future. 

So now, I do want to turn to the future and reflect on the emerging political and economic geography of our trans-Atlantic community, which remains a community of values as well as a community of interest.  It’s obviously appropriate to begin with the European space itself and not only to reflect on how much we achieved through the enlargement of the EU and NATO to our engagement with eastern partners as well as our common reset with Russia.  I think those are important achievements and it gives us a good platform for going forward.  And I think I’ve 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, I’ve spent quite a bit of time on since becoming deputy secretary, is the integration of the Western Balkans into our European and trans-Atlantic 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 either in the Slovakian or the Polish presidency of the EU.  We look forward to that with, I think, the very positive momentum coming out of the recent General Assembly.  It gives us hopes for a new, pragmatic engagement between Serbia and Kosovo to try to move forward in a practical way to build relations there. 

To the elections that have taken place in Bosnia which we’re largely meeting all the standards that we hold democracies to and 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 for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina the European and trans-Atlantic future that they deserve. 

To the opportunity to get past the name issue and move forward with Skopje’s inclusion in European and trans-Atlantic structures.  That’s, of course, an important challenge in the Balkans but we also have this important work to build our ties to the east. 

And as was mentioned, this is an important period coming up both through Slovakia’s chairmanship of the V-4 and then Hungary’s presidency of the EU which will have a particular focus on the European partners of 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 move past these relics of our past and to try to find, again, pragmatic solutions whether it’s in the Trans-Dniester 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 will 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, which will focus on the twin tasks of retaining our commitment to collective defense in Article V while preparing ourselves to deal with the new threats of the 21st century.  And to make sure that that strategic concept is complemented by making sure that NATO has the capabilities to meet those missions and challenges as well as the streamlined and reformed structures that it needs to do this efficiently and effectively in the face of the, obviously 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 with the OSCE.  And while it’s received less attention, it’s something I personally have been involved in coming out of the Corfu process, 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 both the OSCE and related security challenges as we look to find a way to update the CFE and make sure that we continue to move forward on a more stable and peaceful Europe. 

This meeting will not be the end of a process.  It will be the beginning of a process of establishing a new agenda, forward, for the OSCE, but one to which we attach great importance in which Secretary Clinton will participate on behalf of the United States. 

And the third of these important summits coming up later this fall is the U.S.-EU summit – a reaffirmation of the critical role that our partnership sustains, 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 her 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. 


MR. STEINBERG: (In progress) – our partnership for 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 with 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 our interests coincide.  We’re 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, trans-Atlantic partnership in the coming decades.  But only if we attend to how we make these institutions work.  It’s not from a deficit of capabilities or a need, necessarily, for new treaties or other organizations but rather from 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 questions 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 and democratic Turkey is an extraordinary, 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 this as a kind of partner and that there are no divisions along the lines of civilization.  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 of our future and our focus now, which was the subject of my discussion – 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 the co-chair in 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 needs to work for together. 

All this suggests, as I think Pawel hinted from the beginning, that this is a vibrant, trans-Atlantic partnership and one that remains critical for 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 but 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 in these core times 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, as Pawel and so many have suggested, there are those who question the centrality of this partnership who wonder whether there are other focuses of U.S. policy or whether this is something that’s part of nostalgia but not of the present.  And I hope what I 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 and engaging with India or China or 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. 

There’s been a lot of attention to the recent German Marshall Fund poll and I have to say that everyone can find bad news even in a band of gold.  But I see this as a strong reaffirmation of the deep commitment that we have to each other.  The strong belief in the value of our partnerships, the strong belief in the need for leadership both from the United States and from Europe to lead the world and the values that we all attach to our strong commitment to each other. 

That gives me great confidence about the future and allows me to resoundingly answer the question of the critics that, 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.


MR. KEMPE:  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 Wrocław Global Forum, so the whole notion here was talking about how the trans-Atlantic 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 the trans-Atlantic partnership has worked relatively well.  And then last week, you announced four of Europe’s five biggest oil companies agreed to end their investments in Iran. 

If you could talk a little bit about how you see the trans-Atlantic relationship 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 to a situation of a containment policy rather than a stopping-from-proliferating policy?

MR. STEINBERG:  Well, thanks Fred, and I can’t think of a better example of the critical importance of the trans-Atlantic partnership than our work on Iran.  As you all know, one of the strong commitments that the president made on taking office was to bring a new approach to our strategy on Iran. 

A strategy that was based on engagement but not simply a bilateral engagement by the United States with Iran but to work through – whether you want to call it the 3-plus-3 or the 5-plus-1 – but the core partnership that we have with Europe to provide a common front, both in terms of our diplomatic engagement with Iran and our willingness to work together if that diplomacy does not 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 in the U.N. Security Council and led to the adoption of U.N. Security 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 action 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, that has had an enormous impact on Iran. 

Whether this successfully leads to the outcome we want, 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 has the space to continue in the policies that it has been continuing with respect to its nuclear program.

Now, our engagement goes beyond our combat efforts.  As you know we work together with other countries around the world whether it’s Canada, Australia, Japan and South Korea, all of whom have enacted measures to supplement 1929 and made clear to Iran that there are common international efforts on this.  You’ve heard about the decisions that the Russians have made with respect to arms sales to Iran.  A very powerful signal and a very important operational decision by the Russians not to move forward with these advanced air-defense missions. 

We have the very robust dialogue on both sides – both the United States and the EU with China, 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 send 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. 

But 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 of the West, the United States and Europe to disengage, has a consequence which is far broader than just the monetary one.  It’s the technology; it’s the knowhow, the advanced capabilities of our firms in the energy sector, which is what Iran would really like to have access to and so they have the disproportionate impact when Western firms disengage. 

And it’s not just the energy sector.  What we see it’s true in banking, in transportation and insurance.  So we’ve seen 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 which would respect their right under the NPT to have a peaceful civilian nuclear program but a recognition that given their past track record that the obligation is on Iran to demonstrate to all of us that its activities are exclusively peaceful. 

MR. KEMPE:  And if sanctions in all of that don’t bring the desired effect, would the administration – can you still imagine military consequences?  And when people talk about the trans-Atlantic relationship in that respect, one could imagine a significant rift. 

MR. STEINBERG:  Fred, 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.  (Laughter.)  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. 

MR. KEMPE:  Okay, one more non-hypothetical question and then I’ll pass it 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. must build strategic trust with China to match the scope and depth of the trans-Atlantic 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 of the level of the trans-Atlantic relationship with a country that has a different political system?  And this, you know, gets to the whole question of how one interacts with state capitalism, with nondemocratic countries.  And how does the European relationship with the U.S. help us manage our relationship with China?

MR. STEINBERG:  Well, I think it’s a very – it’s an important question because I do think that, you know, the flipside of my observations is that we have demonstrated, in the case of our relationship with Europe, that the issue of strategic trust is simply not a question even when we had trans-Atlantic differences.  And sometimes, they’ve been quite substantial whether it’s the balance of payments or INF or all of those issues. 

But I don’t think there was ever a doubt on both sides of the Atlantic that our core interests and our core objectives were in common.  And so we could deal with challenges as deep as the French, which are all 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 and each other’s objectives. 

And there’s no doubt that, that values-based dimension contributed to that because we had a core conviction that democracies would work together effectively, shared common interests in freedom and open societies that we could preserve our common bonds and our ability to work together. 

It is 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.  So transparency and openness is critical and that’s why we’ve emphasized – and in Geneva, I put such a high emphasis on the importance of restoring the military-to-military dialogue. 

And we’re now taking steps with China to move in 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 relationships 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.  And I think it’s critical because I’ve talked about this, but it needs to be understood that when we talk about strategic reassurances 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 sees its rise is consistent with the interest of countries – its neighbors and others. 

Europeans understand very well the challenge of rising powers 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 we can work together very effectively on. 

The more we communicate in parallel with China 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 to participate in a rule-of-law friendly way in the international trading system to its own efforts on the security side. 

And I think that’s clearly a shared interest.  I know that on the part of the EU, that there’s a renewed focus on developing a 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 common ways forward on those questions. 


Q:  Thank you for that very thoughtful answer. 

MR. KEMPE:  If you could identify –

Q:  Yep.  Bill Drozdiak, president of the American Council on Germany and New York City and senior advisor for Europe with McLarty Associates.  Jim, you spelled out the importance of the forthcoming NATO summit.  There’s talk that President Medvedev of Russia will be invited. 

Has the time come for NATO to consider laying out a road map for future membership in its organization with Russia as a way of completing the transformation of NATO to becoming a pan-European security institution and also cutting through these frozen conflicts and other problems that we’ve had in the past with Russia?

MR. STEINBERG:  It’s not quite a hypothetical, Bill, but I think it’s – at least for now there’s no particular evidence that that’s a path that Russia would like to pursue.  And so I think we need to focus on what is the path that Russia seems to want 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 role 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 after Lisbon or in 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 define ways to look to manage areas where we have differences but also to strengthen areas of cooperation.  For example, we continue to believe that the area of missile defense is an area where there could be much greater cooperation between NATO and Russia. 

We don’t see our interests at adversity; we see our interests as shared ones in terms of developing effective defenses that protect our people without threatening the legitimate interests of any others.  And there’s so many other issues where NATO and Russia could constructively engage.  We need to make progress on CFE adaptation; we’ve obviously been exploring some new ideas and would welcome Russia’s engagement on that as well. 

So there is a path forward.  We certainly believe from President Medvedev and Minister Lavrov that they are interested in trying to pursue that and strengthen it and I think we need to be very creative in how we do that.

Q:  Good morning.  My name is – (inaudible) – I’m the consul general of Germany here.  And firstly, I would thank the organizers for the successful start of the meeting and particularly the guests from across the ocean for coming such a long way to this meeting point, as was mentioned. 

There’s nothing certainly that I could disagree with what you said.  But my concern would be that some of the realities on the ground make things difficult.  I’m thinking, certainly, about the financial crisis and the impact that that might have on the ability of NATO membership countries to invest into the future. 

If you read the newspapers, for example, between France and Germany, some of the projects – some of the common projects – might be cut down drastically or as you know, it is discussed in Germany about the resizing of the federal armed forces.  You know, the situation and the bleak financial situation in many countries like Portugal, Greece and other countries – you mentioned Latvia but there is certainly Hungary; there are many problems. 

And so my concern is that many of the governments because of the domestic, financial problems 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; let’s take Spain as an example; France, Great Britain with a new government. 

There are many question marks certainly and there’s also some question mark that the Europeans have of what will happen 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 you have to – also to take into account if you want to implement these kinds of excellent ideas that you presented to the floor.  Thank you very much. 

MR. KEMPE:  Okay, thank you for that excellent question and I think people have talked a lot about the double, potential deficit for trans-Atlantic relations – political will – but then budget deficits and how this impacts things. 

MR. STEINBERG:  I don’t think any of us underestimate the financial challenges that member-governments face and we see the clear need to take fiscal steps in a number of countries – in some cases very strong ones.  But I’d make two observations about this. 

First, I think it is important, even as tough 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.  That is a top priority and as decisions are made that needs to be kept front and center. 

I was very encouraged and I will not presume to take credit for it;  but just yesterday the government of Slovakia made a very courageous decision, notwithstanding their own very significant financial pressures, to actually have modest increases in their defense and foreign policy budgets.  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 – (inaudible) – for the future so that we make sure that with what resources we have we use the most effectively. 

And, again, I don’t underestimate the challenge but I don’t think it is in 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’re seeing is a very strong commitment on both sides of the Atlantic to try to make sure that NATO and the trans-Atlantic alliance remains relevant and capable as we meet these challenges of the future. 


Q:  Damon 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’re playing on the trans-Atlantic agenda and I think it’s – the administration deserves quite a bit of credit, with your visit building on the visits of Secretary Clinton, Vice President Biden, President Obama to the region. 

I wanted to pick up on a comment you made in your remarks about Europe, whole and free, which is a phrase that captured both concepts – a vision but also an actual policy.  And I think while many folks recognize there’s a lot of unfinished business to completing Europe, the way we go about thinking about this is not quite clear. 

There seems to be quite a strong consensus that over the long run the Western Balkans 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, applied as neatly when we’re thinking about the cases of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, not to mention Belarus or Russia. 

And so I wanted to ask, is this old paradigm of a Europe, whole and free, driven by NATO and EU 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 looking east to the new Eastern Europe and how do we go about achieving them?

MR. 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 as a decision for EU members 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 to zone its construction to consider on an individualized basis the other potential applicants. 

But beyond those memberships, there are factors as well.  First, I think – and I hope I’ve made 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 – 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 in anytime 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 there 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 broader Europe and those values of wholeness and freedom. 

And finally, the initiatives like the Eastern Partnership initiative, whether that leads to membership or not, are ways of supporting democracy, human rights, economic development in the neighboring countries, which is in our interest in this European and trans-Atlantic construction whether or not they become formal members at these other institutions. 

So I think 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 because I do believe that it’s not just a 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 successful, prosperous, tolerant, democratic societies.  And so we all have a deep stake in this and we need to work on each individual case to figure out what the right path is and what the right future. 

MR. KEMPE:  Let me take – let me take one more question.  I think we just have time for one more question.  Please?

Q:  Good morning.  I’m Martin Sarowksi (ph).  I’m from the Czech Embassy.  Mr. Steinberg, speaking about relations with Russia, you mentioned here a conventional forces treaty.  This is a very important agenda, I think, and a very lasting agenda.   And could you more elaborate on it?  Do you see there are really progress in this agenda?

MR. KEMPE:  Because this is a last question let me pile one on.  And I realize this has a – you have a very short time so – but that 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 nondemocratic or not fully democratic countries and the ability to work together, particularly with Central Europeans, on democracy assistance throughout the world?

MR. STEINBERG:  Well, you know, I think on CFE, we – I think we all recognize that there’s a contingent need to adapt the CFE or the issue of conventional forces and security in Europe and in Europe’s periphery 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’ve discussed before.  We’ve together, between the United States and Europe, been developing and exploring ideas for how to take that process forward.  We’ve presented some ideas to Russia. 

I think the door and the question is still open as to whether Russia is prepared to deal with that.  We clearly have a fundamental problem, particularly with respect to the stationing of troops outside of the country, that needs to be addressed. 

But I think there is an opportunity that would benefit everyone.  The Russians say 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 expirations 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, you know, 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 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 not firmly rooted or it’s not rooted at all. 

We recognize that there’s 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 importance on the community of democracies and why she came here 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 U.N. charter and 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 a democracy there demonstrates that this is a universal good and 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.


MR. KEMPE:  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 –

Q:  (Inaudible) – you don’t give me a chance.  I have been –

MR. KEMPE:  Well, there were – but – excuse me.  There were four – I didn’t see you had the microphone.  There were four other people with hands up.  We actually have to –

Q:  (Inaudible, cross talk) – give me a chance.  Thirty seconds to –

MR. KEMPE:  (Chuckles.)  It’s hard to give you a chance and not give four or five other people a chance.  This is not a protest rally and –

Q:  (Inaudible) – give me the microphone – (inaudible, cross talk) –

MR. STEINBERG:  Go ahead.  Just go ahead. 

MR. KEMPE:  Thank you for being so polite in your questioning. 

Q:  Yeah, I’m sure.  My name is Ameau Plas (ph).  I have slightly different approach.  So my question is since you’re all so (professional ?),  I think the biggest challenge for NATO for the last 20 years or so has been not becoming irrelevant or how to stay relevant, since the conceptual basis of NATO is collective defense, not collective security or cooperative security; collective defense, that implies to have an antagonist, a strong opponent and enemy even – and you know what the late very – now, he just died a few days ago – Albert has said about it.  So who could be enemy?  (Inaudible) – no, no, no.  Could it be Islam?  And is that why NATO is now in Afghanistan?  What is the rationale of the war in Afghanistan?  It seems perfectly absurd – (inaudible, cross talk) –

MR. STEINBERG:  I got your question.  Let me try to answer it for you. 

Q:  – the only rationale it can have is to create new enemies, more enemies have (Islamophobia ?)

MR. STEINBERG:  Let me talk about – let me talk about both of them – no, no, they’re both good questions and let me talk about both the rationale and just briefly about Afghanistan. 

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 NATO is 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. 

There’s a famous – (inaudible) – 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 real partnership.  And there was always an Article 4 as well as an Article 5 to NATO. 

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 Communism in 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 dependent on an adversary but rather on common challenges and common opportunities.  And I think the success of our adaptation and enlargement of NATO over the last 20 years is admirable proof of that. 

With respect to Afghanistan, you know, I mean, I sometimes find this kind of odd that people don’t remember.  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 threatened and ultimately attacked our homeland. 

And that attack was an Article 5 attack which NATO recognized with an attack on a member-state.  Those of us who were in government at the time we recognized that we needed to be able to respond to that and we cannot allow our 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. 

And I think we’re all aware, as we contemplate current events and the current trade environment, that, that remains as relevant today as it did 10 years ago.  So we’re not in there.  It’s got nothing to do with Islam.  It’s got nothing to do with any of those things.  It’s got to do with a very tangible threat to our security and that’s why we’re all there and that’s why we’re doing it as NATO because it is a threat to the NATO members within the terms of our treaty.

And we’ve made clear that, that’s the objective the president,  the secretary general and all the member states of NATO have been very clear about our objectives there.  And it’s very important that we stay focused on that because it’s important to remind our public just what the stakes are. 

So I think there is a very compelling case for engagement there.  And it’s very compelling that we’re doing it the way we’re doing, which is in partnership with the Afghan people and the Afghan government because in the long term this requires the capability of the Afghan themselves to provide that basic level of security and governance that will make sure that Afghanistan does not become a danger to all of us again. 

So thank you for your question and thank you for all of you. 

MR. KEMPE:  Secretary Steinberg, thank you for your graciousness – (applause) – and thank you for the importance of your visit.  Thank you.