Toward a Europe Whole and Free
Defining a Strategy for Europe’s East

Opening Comments: H.E. Laimdota Straujuma, Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia

Moderator: Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President, Atlantic Council
Speakers: Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Former Prime Minister; Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
H.E. Titus Corlăţean, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania
H.E. Linas Linkevičius, Minister Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania
Karen Donfried, President, German Marshall Fund of the United States
Jean-Paul Paloméros, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, NATO Allied Command Transformation

Toward a Europe Whole & Free

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

DAMON WILSON:  All right.  Welcome back, everyone.  I like the energy in the room.  There’s a good sense of community as we try to galvanize this community for action.  Welcome back; I’m Damon Wilson, executive vice president here at the Atlantic Council.  We’ve had a fantastic program so far, and I thank you for sticking with us.  This next session is going to pick up even, I think, among the toughest of the tasks.

Two housekeeping – if you’re following us and following the conversation and can push the messages out to social media, remember, it’s #EWF2014, Europe Whole, Free 2014.  And if you are using your wireless, we have several hotspots – Atlantic Council or any of the ACUS hotspots that will pop up on your phone.  Givemewireless, as printed at the front of your program – givemewireless, one word, all lowercase, if you’re having trouble getting on the network.

So this session is a special session, because it comes to the heart, I think, of the toughest tasks that we’re facing.  It’s defining a strategy for Europe’s East.  We’ve got an incredible lineup that’s going to take care of this conversation forward from the North, the South, the East and West – both sides of the Atlantic.  We’re going to be considering the future of the Eastern partnership, NATO’s relationship with post-Soviet states, and what a strategic response to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine should entail.

And we’ll consider how (Central ?) Europe itself can lead in advancing the concept of a Europe whole and free.  But we’re going to start this off with a special start – a special set of comments from the prime minister of Latvia.  Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, thank you very much for joining us.  We’re delighted to have you here.  I think it’s appropriate that the prime minister of Latvia is offering the opening remarks to this conversation.  Riga was to serve as the host of the next Eastern Partnership summit.  And between now and then, there’s quite a task to be done to figure out what the Eastern Partnership will look like – should look like going forward.

Latvia, of course, was hit quite hard by the financial crisis, but now is among those of the fastest growing economies and the European Union, just most recently adopting the Euro on January 1st as a vote of confidence in European integration, I would argue.  The prime minister is the first woman to become prime minister of Latvia.  She assumed office in January of this year.  This is her first visit to Washington as prime minister, and we’re delighted to welcome you and to have you at the Atlantic Council on your first visit.  Previously, the minister of agriculture – is a mathematician by training – the Economist has billed the prime minster as Riga’s Angela Merkel.  So with that, Madam Prime Minister, let me welcome you to the podium.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER LAIMDOTA STRAUJUMA:  Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by thanking the Atlantic Council, especially Mr. Huntsman, for holding this very timely conference on Europe, Whole and Free.  For many years, Atlantic Council has been one of the strongest advocates for the trans-Atlantic agenda.  I appreciate this opportunity to add Latvia’s voice to the discussion today.

This year, we mark 25 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Perhaps not so well-known is the Baltic Way, which took place a few months before the wall came down.  A human chain spanning almost 400 miles through Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia showed the world the dream to regain freedom and democracy.  I was part of that chain.

Hardly anyone in those days could imagine that 15 years later, we would be members of NATO and the European Union.  What is my message today?  I believe that the Baltic Way can reach farther and bring freedom and democracy to an even wider area in Europe.  It is the way to make Europe truly whole and free, and at peace.  The Baltic Way showed how much values matter, and membership of NATO and the EU is only a mechanism for achieving these values.

It is not an end in itself.  Every nation has the right to make its own choices without intimidation or pressure from outside forces.  The recent events in Ukraine are not only about geopolitical choice based on economic or historic arguments.  They are also about values, identity and the vision for the future.  Latvia is ready to share with Ukraine its long experience of rebuilding of society based on democracy, human rights and rule of law and the market economy.

This is essential homework for any nation aiming to become a part of the trans-Atlantic family.  We are always wiser when we look back, but I truly believe we all made the right decision 10 years ago to enlarge NATO and the European Union.  Not only has NATO membership given Latvia a strong sense of national security, it has, I believe, made a contribution to the trans-Atlantic alliance.  Firstly, we still have a commitment to the values that bind alliance, but also, in very practical ways, with our involvement in NATO operations, with our determination to increase defense spending of 2 percent of GDP by the year 2020, and with active work on building NATO capabilities.

One clear lesson from Latvia’s 10 years of membership in NATO is that the open doors policy must be maintained.  NATO enlargement has increased the (net ?) security of the alliance.  Countries willing and able to join should let (be in ?).  Likewise, we are fully involved in the European Union.  Our aim is to be at the heart of European integration, even if we are not – even if we are at the outer border.  Our reason for joining the Eurozone  was not only about the economic advantages.  It was even more a strategic choice.  It also shows that the European Union is constantly (evolving  ?)and closer and integration is still an option.

Next January is the first time Latvia will take on the rotating presidency of the European Union.  We have a great responsibility not only to our EU partners, but also to our neighbors, East and West.  The agenda is long, and to paraphrase your former secretary of defense, events happen.  But we will focus especially – (laughter) – but we will focus especially on, first, the trans-Atlantic relationship.  Together, we will be a stronger force if we do two things: conclude a trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership agreement and build a new strategic energy relationship.  Latvia will be a strong advocate for these processes.

Second, as the so-called European Eastern Partnership is an instrument for welcoming those nations that wish to live in Western values.  We expect an association agreement to be signed with Georgia and Moldova this June.  The next summit in Riga in May 2015 will assess the direction of all partner countries in this relationship.  One year from now, you will hopefully see the contributions that Latvia can make.

Ladies and gentlemen, in concluding, one more thought.  Last Friday, 25th April, I greeted U.S. Marines arriving in Latvia as part of NATO training exercise.  This was yet again proof that the USA and NATO takes its mission of collective security very, very seriously.  Earlier today, when I met Vice President Biden, I had the opportunity to personally say how much Latvia appreciates this step.  It is part of a long history of U.S. commitment to Latvia’s independence and to a Europe whole and free.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

MR. WILSON:  Thank you very much, Madam Prime Minister.  Let me invite the discussants to please join me on stage now, and we’ll dig into the session.  Please.

(Off-mic exchange.)

MR. WILSON:  Now let’s get to work and dig into the core issue of what the trans-Atlantic community should be doing – what our approach should be to Europe’s East going forward.  And let me start – we’ve got just a terrific panel lined up for this conversation.  Let me start by introducing, at the far end, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO for Transformation, General Jean-Paul Paloméros; welcome back to the Atlantic Council; it’s terrific to have NATO’s footprint down in Norfolk – former chief of staff of the French Air Force, a fighter pilot by training.  We’re delighted to have you for this conversation.

Next to the General, we have Karen Donfried who has recently returned to the German Marshall Fund, one of our great institutions here in Washington as – taking over the helm as president.  She’s just left the administration as senior director for European affairs and special assistant to the president at the National Security Council – prior to that, had served as chief intelligence officer for Europe and the State Department’s policy planning.

Next to her, we have the Foreign Minister of Romania, Titus Corlăţean.  Welcome.  It’s a delight to have you here.  Been foreign minister since 2012 – previous minister of justice.  He also served as a senator when he was chair of the Foreign Policy Committee.  And next to the foreign minister, we’re delighted to welcome to Washington former prime minister and former foreign minister of Poland Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, currently the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Senat.  Served as prime minister in 1996 – 1997, foreign minister over two governments, speaker of the Senat, a candidate for president.  Appropriate you’re here, as you helped sign this – I believe, Poland’s association treaty with – paving the way into the European Union.

And then, a familiar voice to our Atlantic Council network, the foreign minister of Lithuania, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius.  Thank you very much for being here – essentially, the host of the last Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, the one that has us talking about this today, after which, Euromaidan became a common word to many of us.  Former ambassador to both Belarus, to NATO, former defense minister, he brings a full range of tools to this issue.

So let me start where I ended, with you, Mr. Foreign Minister, if I may.


MR. WILSON:  Yeah, for (dollars ?), yes, yes.  But let me start with you.  You – sir, you were at the center of the storm, if you were, in Vilnius, where, on the path to the Eastern Partnership summit, there were great expectations that Ukraine would move forward with the agreement there.  Talk a little bit about where you now see the Eastern Partnership going next?  We just heard from the prime minister of Latvia.  Latvia will be hosting the next Eastern Partnership in May 2015.  Given what’s playing out in Ukraine today, what is your vision for the strategy the European Union needs to take forward for Europe’s East?

MIN. LINKEVIČIUS:  I would define two camps with regard to this Eastern Partnership and all known cooperation with the Eastern countries in two camps.  One camp is wait and see approach.  Other camp is proactive. At the beginning, this other camp was very small – more voices were for, let’s wait; they’re not delivering, they should do more, which is true.  But on the other hand, we see that that’s not the only center of attraction in the world, so to say, and other camp is also active if we will really care about Europe whole and free and at peace.

If we really care about our European values, if we really are about what we are building or are – (inaudible) – building base on fundamental values and not just on interest, which is not very popular and even more popular.  So we really should be more proactive, because – but I am seeing sometimes, the same game, soccer – the referee the same, rules are the same, but one playing according to the rules, other side playing a bit rugby, a bit wrestling, not only soccer.  And we see the score which is not very favorable in the direction, not very good.  So this is one point.

And then, when you mentioned Vilnius summit, everything started after Vilnius summit took place.  But my point is, everything started much earlier – much earlier in 2008, let’s say, in the – I see batocalia (ph), I see more Georgian friends when this invasion in Georgia happened, and as the result, parts of Georgia were occupied.  We issued some warnings – some concerns, requests, demands, whatever.  Nothing happened since that time.  That’s my point.

So we really believe that this is possible to change something – policy of nonrecognition is good.  It’s important, but it’s not sufficient, because we go back to normal immediately – almost immediately.  And now we see repetition.  We said, we will have more of it.  We even mentioned, by the way, the time, Ukraine – not knowing that would happen, even not believing.  But we mentioned, Ukraine, Crimea, Donetsk, and that happened immediately.  So if we do the same, because, probably, designers of this messy story would like to get back to business as normal again, to find the formal agree to disagree – just to swallow this Crimea and to just to take it is as a – and it’s not the end of the game.  We don’t know what will happen tomorrow.

So maybe this is idea to get back to normal again so that we – huge mistake to put on, again, these rosy glasses and to think that we are really – so far, we are good.  Will be next stop in Transnistria, will be next stop somewhere else, and we cannot blame anyone, just us.  So the point is not to take too much time.  It’s not just about Ukraine.  Secretary Kerry thought, yes, it was a wake up call.  How many wake up calls we need to wake up?  (Laughter.)

MR. WILSON:  Indeed.  I think that’s a great point to end your opening on, Mr. Minister. So let me turn to Mr. Prime Minister next to you, from Poland, please, if I may.  Poland has the closest relationship with Ukraine, the country that is currently at the heart of this crisis.  And we just heard from the foreign minister that perhaps we failed to deter Putin in 2008.

What do you see coming next?  What would Poland like to see coming next?  You actually have forces that have been reinforcing the territory of Poland as we speak.  Whether for NATO or for Ukraine itself, what do you see next, Mr. Prime Minister?

WLODZIMIERZ CIMOSZEWICZ:  Let me start by saying that I’ve (a Reagan ?) already.

MR. WILSON:  (Laughs.)

MR. CIMOSZEWICZ:  If I was asked half a year ago, what should we do – I mean, democratic West – the European Union, the States, with East of Europe – what kind of concept or what kind of strategy we should adopt, I would, in summary, recommend that an additional effort to strengthen – develop cooperation with Russia was needed.

But of course, today, we have completely different situation after Russian aggression, after Russian illegal attempt to incorporate Crimea, after announcing a very aggressive new doctrine of Russian foreign policy that was done by Mr. Putin in his Kremlin speech a couple of weeks ago.  We have, of course, to react to that.

And let me say that I strongly believe that response to all those facts should be for various reasons, strong- stronger than it has been so far.  This is a matter of principles.  This is a matter of international law.  We have faced aggression in Europe.  Naked, not justified aggression.  And this is also a matter of common sense.  It was already mentioned here today –  I believe in wisdom of the historical experience telling us that it is easier and cheaper to stop aggressor earlier than later.

And, you know, agreeing with almost everything that Secretary Kerry said today in his very good speech, I disagree just with one point: his assessment of the effectiveness of the sanctions so far imposed.  Of course, we know that Russia faces some problems – stock exchange, et cetera, but we do not know if that is the result of sanctions or that is the result of war or conflict they ignited.

Today, I believe we should go farther.  NATO has its role to play, however, I do not believe in any way of military solution – any kind of military solution.  I think that we should look for the solution in the area of economy – economic relations.  And what is needed to be done – not necessarily is to be called sanctions.  It is a matter of making right decisions and necessary decisions.

And again, it was mentioned here today:  Europe in general – in particular, Eastern part – countries like Poland, but also countries like Ukraine even more is too – depends too much on Russia, especially in the area of energy, and there are well-known ways to change it, not in months.  But I believe, in 2-3 years, it is possible, and it should be done.  And it is among the others, the question of taking one simple decision here in Washington, allowing for experts of LNG to Europe that will make a change. 

And then – and we believe – I believe that we, of course, have to support Ukraine, not only in terms of politic rhetoric, et cetera.  We should help them to deal with their economic difficulties.  But considering Polish experience, mentioned by you, we – yes, we’ve been supporting them from the very first day after they declared their independence, is that we also have to be tough with our Ukrainian friends, demanding from them to do their homework, to do what is necessary.

They wasted 25 years not reforming their country, not reforming their state, legal system, economy, et cetera, et cetera.  And it must be done.  It is painful.  It is costly.  We know that very well in my country.  We paid very high social, political price for our fundamental reforms.  But now we see the results of that.  And that is the way we should suggest to them.

MR. WILSON:  Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.  I think that’s an important point, an important message to end on. 

I’m going to turn to the foreign minister next to you, foreign minister of Romania, who, unlike many of your compatriots in the European Union, is a little bit less dependent on Russia for energy.  For example, few allies are actually more impacted in the – in security terms from the annexation of Crimea than you, if you think about how that impacts the Black Sea’s security environment. 

You’re on the front lines – Odessa not far across the border.  Moldova and, of course, Transnistria are very much on the radar screen, as Senator McCain underscored earlier today.  Mr. Foreign Minister, what do you see as the strategic response that both Europe and the United States should be mustering right now to address what’s happening on your border?

MIN. CORLATEAN:  Well, thank you for the question.  First of all, I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me and congratulations for the excellent organizations – organization. 

I think this is the most appropriate moment to discuss this subject here in Washington, and because what is happening in our case – and I’m speaking as a Romania – what is happening is less than 200 miles from the Romania border, Crimea. It’s happening in relation not only to Ukraine but also to Transnistria and the Republic of Moldova.  And it’s a very dramatic situation because – we are speaking about what? 

When someone is re-writing the international law, when someone is modifying or violating the borders, when someone is invoking a right which does not exist in – within the international law of intervening in supporting the key minority, we know what are the European roles between – the relationship between the kin state and the kin minority.  What is allowed to be done and what is forbidden to be done? 

When someone is violating purely and simply the territorial integrity of a state, this is violating the international law, changing the international legal order.  This is fundamentally.  So this is why this generated and generates and will continue to generate in our case, the Euro-Atlantic family, the need.  It is a must to react in a very coordinated and a very – and in very firm and very strong terms.  We don’t have any alternative. 

We have also our past bilateral experience with Russia, with the Russians.  And I’m not making the reference to Putin’s Russia.  I’ve heard today this formula.  It’s not about Putin’s Russia – I’m sorry for mentioning this – it’s the profile of the power and the leadership in Moscow.  It was all the time this, the same patterns.  So when having – being less naïve and when having less expectations from Moscow, and when seeing what is happening at our borders, I think we have to redefine dramatically our political vision and our decision.  Speaking about Europe’s – (inaudible) – the perspective and vision.

I’ll mention – I can mention several topics, of course, but I will mention one very simple things.  We have discussed it – my Lithuanian colleague is here.  We are among those EU member states very active in support of the European perspective, but the European perspective for those who have European vocation and identity, who are promoting reforms.  For instance, the case – and not only the case of Ukraine, but in the case of the Republic of Moldova, what is happening, and when transforming the society in a post-Soviet space, has a double value comparing to what we did in the Central and Eastern Europe previously.

So when having this in mind, I think we have first of all to listen then first.  Usually, you know, we are telling them what to do – rule of law, fight against corruption, et cetera – which is important.  It’s fundamental.  But this time, let’s hear them first.  If they have – and they had specific expectations, a specific political will to do things.  And if they want to be part of our family, and if they have European – (inaudible) – let’s respect and let’s work for that. 

It’s a fundamental different approach – (inaudible) – to what were our discussions, for instance, one year ago or even six months ago within the Foreign Press Council because, once again, what changed dramatically in the eastern side, it implied a dramatic change also in our strategic conduct within the European and the Euro-Atlantic family.  And there is one fundamental issue here, and I want to mention once again, it’s not a surprise, of course, the trans-Atlantic connection is the key element of the situation.

We cannot do it alone, in Europe, without the support of our American – our North American allies.  It’s a reality.  We must do our work to share the – really to share the burden, for instance, in our case, you know, what was constantly our contribution in a different allied operation in the Balkans, in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We decided – and it’s also related to the good economic mood in Romania, we decided to increase the budget for defense.  Last year we did it.  This year we increased with 0.2 percent – .2 percent of the GDP.  And we are going to reach the 2 percent of the GDP for our defense budget, I think, at the horizon of 2016 or ’17.

But it’s our part of the job.  In the same time, we have – we need a stronger, and a – really a very honest coordination at the level of the Euro-Atlantic family.  And I will finish with one single remark.  Last year in September, in the margin of the General Assembly session in New York, we had our classical trans-Atlantic dinner.  John Kerry was there.  And we had a very friendly and very open discussion before the Vienna summit.  And one of the remarks and the requests and proposals that were mentioned by Secretary Kerry addressed to us, the Europeans:  Have in mind the need for those three countries.

And the names were mentioned – Ukraine, Republic of Moldova and Georgia – before the Vienna summit – the signature of the associate agreement and after that accelerating the European path.  Unfortunately, not all of us, of the Europeans – and we were on the good side – we didn’t understand properly at the appropriate moment what was the signal.  Let’s have a real redefining our strategy towards Eastern Europe.

MR. WILSON:  Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.  You’re probably referring to a trans-Atlantic dinner where I bet Karen Donfried may have been there with Secretary Kerry.  Karen, you’ve recently left the administration.  Let’s talk a little bit about – we’ve heard this call for the U.S. role here. 

Obviously the administration put out a new set of sanctions this week that we heard from President Obama yesterday.  Secretary Kerry was here earlier and in many respects expanded the discussion of a U.S. response and more strategic response about energy, about our trade agenda, economic agenda.  At the same time, the president’s been very clear:  No military options are out there.  How do you stop Putin?  What’s the thinking, if you can share with us, on how do you actually preserve a united Ukraine right now?

KAREN DONFRIED:  Well, sure, that’s easy.  (Laughter.)  I’m happy to answer that.  I just – on the trans-Atlantic dinner, I was there.  And there was a very funny story from it, which is – all of you know Toria Nuland.  And Toria said, I don’t understand why you were sitting over on that side of the table.  And it was because I was sitting between Denmark and Estonia because I’m Donfried – (laughter) – so we were joking about Donfried nation.  But it was – because you remember, we were all in alphabetical order by country, but –

MR. WILSON:  Karen, you are a force of nature, yes.

MS. DONFRIED:  It was – it was a very interesting dinner.  And no one foresaw what was coming.  And you know, we’re now in this place where, you know, the title of the session, Defining a Strategy for Europe’s East.  Well, I’m not sure we need to define a new strategy.  I think we still are pursuing this strategic goal of a Europe, whole, free and at peace.  But that policy was premised on a belief that Russia had made a strategic decision that it was in its interest to cooperate with the West, rather than engage in open conflict.

And that’s the fundamental change that we have seen over these past months.  So the sense of inexorability that I think you felt at that trans-Atlantic dinner, that we were moving toward this goal and it was a matter of time, that’s gone.  We’re still pursuing that goal, but it will take longer and the costs are much higher than any of us thought they would be.  So I think we have to have our eyes wide open about that.  And it comes back to your point about why trans-Atlantic coordination on this is so important.

And in my mind, if that’s still the long-term goal, what are the most important short-term steps we can take?  And, Damon, your question about how do we change Russia’s behavior, I don’t know that can change President Putin’s behavior.  Certainly we, Americans and Europeans, are trying to punish Putin, we’re trying to isolate Russia.  We’re doing it in a coordinated fashion, as we saw again yesterday. 

But I don’t think any of us know that that will change his ultimate calculus.  And you referred to the – this public remarks he’s made where that sense of grievance and this view of Kiev as the mother of all Russian cities – I mean, there’s something deeply emotional about how he is engaging on Ukraine.  So I don’t know that we can affect that.  The thing that we can affect gets back to the supporting Ukraine point.  The most important thing we together can do is make Ukraine a success.

And at the core of that certainly is getting Ukraine back on a road to economic health.  The IMF package is the key part of that, no doubt, but as several have pointed out, there are very difficult reforms that go along with that IMF package.  And fundamentally, it is for Ukraine to get itself back to economic health.  But we, Americans and Europeans, will play a critical role in supporting Ukraine on that path – whether it’s the $1 billion loan guarantee the U.S. is putting in place, whether it’s the package of EU measures that has been put forward.  I think those are critical elements of our near-term policy.

So, yes, we do want to impose a cost on Russia for unacceptable behavior for an illegal annexation of Crimea and for the undue escalation and pressure being put on eastern Ukraine.  But we should focus on what we have control over, and working to make Ukraine a success going forward.  So let me stop with that.

MR. WILSON:  Terrific.  Thank you, Karen.  Thank you for that.  I want to turn to our supreme allied commander here, General Palomeros.  He recently convened – and I had an opportunity to be there in Paris when you had the entire NATO leadership with you in Paris for a conversation long-planned that became animated about how this – what’s happening in Europe’s east, and Ukraine in particular – impact the alliance. 

You got to pepper many folks with that question then.  I want to turn that around on you now, and share with us your view and your vision of how has what’s playing out in Europe’s east, how is that impacting the alliance itself?  What is the role for NATO now in Europe’s east?  How has it impacted your transformation agenda?

GENERAL JEAN-PAUL PALOMEROS:  Thank you.  Thank you for the invitation.  That’s a great question.  I would like to link the previous panel, if I may, with this one in trying to answer to this outstanding question.  I don’t see NATO as a club.  I don’t see NATO as a coalition of – (inaudible).  I see NATO as a strong alliance based on shared values and strong commitment.  And this is perhaps – which has guaranteed peace in Europe for 65 years, as it was stressed by Secretary Kerry.  So perhaps this is the best incentive for the new members to join NATO today.

Secondly, the strength of NATO has been built on a trilogy – solidarity, it was stressed many times today; the strong will and responsibility – political will and responsibility, and again Secretary Kerry exemplified that; and thirdly, but not least, the military credibility of NATO.  So – and I think that the answer to this Ukrainian crisis, why there is no military solution per se inside Ukraine – is still based on solidarity, the political responsibility and the military credibility.

I will not come back on the very strong statement by NATO leaders on the Ukraine crisis and Ukraine sovereignty.  But I will try to stress a few objectives of our military answers to this crisis.  And I will summarize that in three words, mainly:  deterrence, prevention, control and I wouldn’t say de-escalation. 

Deterrence, this is the key for collective defense.  This is based upon a set of credible nuclear and conventional forces.  And there must be no mistake – even if NATO faces a lot of challenges with its budget, with improving capabilities, bridging shortfalls, nevertheless, our forces are ready and able to fulfil their task.  And they are more than committed to fulfil the defense collective – (inaudible) – today.

Secondly, prevention – prevention is absolutely fundamental in this crisis to avoid, I would say, any kind of miscalculation, any kind of undesired effect of activity of strong, intensive military activity by the borders of NATO.  That’s why we must reinforce a preventive structure, preventive measures.  And that’s exactly what the NATO military authorities have proposed, it was accepted by the North Atlantic Council, was these measures that you see today, reinforcing air policy, mainly in the Baltic states, and a lot of contribution from many nations, that’s good news. 

Reinforcing strategic awareness – this is key for crisis management, reinforcing – sharing information – (inaudible) – with AWACS flights is kind of – (inaudible) – reinforcing our maritime presence in the Baltic Sea, in the Eastern Mediterranean and even in the Black Sea – in the Black Sea in accordance with accordance with actual conventions – mostly Montreux Convention, which limits the presence of military maritime assets in this – in this part of – in the south part of NATO.

And thirdly, I would say prevention measures are there to reinsure just the – those allied which feel the stress and, as you stated, of the presence and the effect of the – the direct effect of Ukrainian crisis.  So today in terms of the effect on transformation of the alliance, what Ukraine’s crisis show us is that there couldn’t be – there cannot be any pause in the transformation of the alliance. 

That should reinforce in our will to keep on transformation, to deliver transformation.  And I see the next summit in Wales in September as key in reinforcing our will to reinvest, reinvest smartly in smart defense, multinational cooperation, training exercise and perhaps to revisit our security cooperation alongside with our partners.  This is true, that partnership is not membership.  And that’s why we have to redefine what is a partnership today.

MR. WILSON:  Thank you very much, General.  I want to come back to that issue of partnership.  But first, let me take something you said and bring it back to our European ministers – our guests that are here.  You referred to the flow of NATO forces that have been moving to NATO allies in the east, to many of your countries. 

If I could ask the ministers, I think – I think NATO officials, U.S. officials have referred to this presence as a persistence presence, recognizing the fact that first in 1996 among allies and then in 1997 with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council agreement, there was a unilateral statement, given the security environment, that NATO didn’t intend to station permanent, substantial combat forces on the territory of new members, your countries. 

In your view, has – because the security environment has – is changed, has your view on that position changed?  Should NATO forces in your countries now be a permanent presence?  If you could just give me answers, the three of you, I’ll start with that.  Please, Mr. –

MR.     :  A few points coming to my mind.  First of all, you are right to say that this is – this is said about substantial deployments.  So what means substantial we should define.  What we are talking now it’s really not substantial by far.  Then we – when talking about unilateral obligations, as you also rightly said, so this is part of the agreement also – the bilateral agreement between NATO and Russia. 

But that by that time, Russia violated all possible international commitments, all possible I would say – bilateral, multilateral, even explaining some moves which is unexplainable even – I had in United Nations now quoting Article 51 of U.N. Charter, the right to self-defense.  That means, invade the territory of foreign country just for self-defense, which is interesting move – but also interesting interpretation of international agreements.

So when we will stick to what was done some time ago, it will be not logical.  NATO should do whatever is necessary to do with full trust in military authorities.  We’re meeting with general – and also with your colleague, General Breedlove, and a very serious approach.  I personally have no doubt that the commitment is here and we will do whatever is necessary to do – guarantee our security.  And this is the fact. 

But what we have to discuss now also, how to do utmost in order to help our partners.  We’re talking about partnership exercises, training, seminars, but they need security.  And exactly what we need now, not just to respect their right to choose, but to defend their right to choose.  Defense of their right to choose is not their business; it’s our business as well.  And we are not realizing that so far, seeing that – covering but it’s not – we’re not (tied ?) with the obligations of security commitments – which is true – but we should do more, really, to change the situation, 21st century, what’s happening now in our eyes and our presence.  We really should do more.

MR. WILSON:  Understood.  Let me just ask you quickly, Mr. Prime Minister:  Would you like to see the forces permanent on Polish territory?

MR. CIMOSZEWICZ:  Let me tell you that couple of days ago I was interviewed on radio and our next guest was our minister of defense answering the question about those 150 guys from NATO recently deployed in Poland.  I said that it’s nice, but a little bit funny, in my eyes.  So, of course they ask also him.  His answer, his reaction was that we should remember that those 150 boys and girls have 1,300,000 friends and colleagues.  (Laughter.) 

That is of course so, but speaking seriously, I believe that in the present situation, because of needs of prevention the general mentioned, we should have more presence of NATO in eastern member-countries, including Poland.  Saying more presence, I mean also personnel, but also some institutions, training centers, et cetera, et cetera.  And I would support that.

Talking about that, I wouldn’t go as far as (Mr. Sikorski ?), who mentioned about – who spoke about two brigades, heavy brigades, deployed in Poland, but I would like to mention one theoretical or legal problem, because when (Radosław Sikorski ?) made that comment, there was a reaction by German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, who remembered some declarations, some self-restrictions declared by NATO before that big – the first enlargement, 15 years ago. 

And I would like to say that having faced Russian aggression, dealing with an aggressor, we should not forget about international law and consequences of aggression.  No self-restrictions declared 15 or 17 years ago are ever more binding.  Let’s forget about it.  And let’s not let them make fools of us and tell us that we have – we are obliged to respect everything that was said in the past concerning relations with Russia and they are free, they can go – they can do whatever they want, whatever they believe is in their interest.

MR. WILSON:  Mr. Foreign Minister, do you agree?  As others are tearing up international laws, are we too self-bound in terms of our troop restrictions in the east?

MIN. CORLATEAN:  Well, the brief answer to your question is yes – definitely, yes.  Just one minute to develop a little bit the subject.  I was very critical, many years ago, on Brussels and on political planning in Brussels, for not putting high on the priorities agenda, the agenda of priorities of Brussels, EU – both EU and NATO – the Black Sea – (enlarge ?) the region.  When discussing about such a region, which implies fundamental political security interests, geopolitical (games/gains ?), economic aspects, energy security – and one having protracted conflicts – and Russia and direct access to the Black Sea, it was very difficult to receive the explanation why on earth we cannot – we are not in the position to put high on the agenda the Black Sea region.  Now we see the results, the consequences.  So definitely we need, first of all, for us – for the allies at the eastern border, eastern flank of the alliance – more substantial and a permanent presence of NATO capabilities.

And to finalize my long comment:  I explained to our allies, speaking about the Black Sea, that inter alia, if you have the access of Russia also on the resources – the gas and oil resources; which are part of the (recurring ?) Black Sea continental shelf – and if Russia has access to these resources and cutting the access of Ukraine, it’s close to the Romanian territory, which is not only the interest of my country; there are very substantial Western interests being present in drilling in the Black Sea continental shelf. 

So it’s a very complex, very complicated issue.  We need a very strong presence there.

MR. WILSON:  Thank you very much. 

Karen, I want to come back to where you began.  Karen started her comments exactly how we started this conference this morning.  The whole idea of a Europe whole and free was premised on a Europe that actually had a place for Russia in that concept, that was done a cooperative way.  And it was a vision that was backed up by a strategy which was twofold:  NATO and EU enlargement, essentially, as well as partnership and cooperation and outreach to Russia.  And that’s what’s broken down.  And frankly that’s the core of what we’re struggling with over these two days.

So given that, enlargement hasn’t exactly been on the table.  You said Europe whole and free should remain our valid goal, but our strategy is disrupted, if you will.  So first of all, is that wrong?  Should enlargement perhaps be on the table?  If not in the east, there’s still from Montenegro to Georgia and Macedonia.  Or is it time that we look more formally at what Dr. Brzezinski vehemently defended today on this stage, a basic understanding and agreement of a Finland-like scenario.  Despite the assault of Finns on his argument, he stood firmly by his position today. 

So just come back to that core point:  If that’s our vision, and the strategy is hitting the bump in the road right now, where does enlargement – or is it a more formal agreement à la Finland that’s in play?

 MS. DONFRIED:  I think it’s important to keep those questions separate, because I think the enlargement question is certainly affected by what’s happened in Ukraine, and I think there’s a consensus in the NATO context that at the Southwest Summit this September, it is incumbent upon the alliance to make clear that that open-door strategy remains viable, that that door is open.  Even if there is not a country that walks through that door in September, how is it that we illustrate that countries are making progress and encourage those countries that have made substantial progress to keep on that path?  And I’m not sure anyone has a good answer to that question.  Unless – I’m seeing the Swedish ambassador here – Sweden decides it would like to walk through that door in September. 

But, you know, I think that’s what people are wrestling with.  And people are drawing – Americans and Europeans, and within that I break it down further – are drawing different conclusions of what’s happened in Ukraine.  I think you have a lot of Americans saying, my goodness, if we had given Ukraine and Georgia MAP in 2008, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.  You have others saying, thank goodness we didn’t give them MAP in 2008; then where would we be?  So there is not a consensus within the NATO alliance on that point.

Now, your second question about what should be the model for Ukraine going forward, should it be Finland?  Should there be an agreement among us, NATO members, that Ukraine won’t be pursuing membership, that that wouldn’t be accorded to Ukraine?  And on that, certainly the Obama administration feels very strongly that it is for the 46 million Ukrainians to decide what their future should be. 

And I think that would be my response to Dr. Brzezinski:  It is not for us in this room to decide what Ukraine’s future is.  If what we are defending in Ukraine, if the model that President Obama spoke about three weeks – in Brussels was a model of democracy and free-market economy and democratic aspirations being recognized, how then can we determine what Ukraine’s future allegiances should or should not be?

MR. WILSON:  Terrific.  Thank you, Karen. We’ve got a very large Swedish social media following, so your comment has already – (laughter) – sparked a nice debate, which will be helpful for the ambassador.

MS. DONFRIED:  Oh, dear.

MR. WILSON:  No, I’m teasing you, but not really. 

General Paloméros, let me come back.  I want to ask one more question to the general and then come out to the audience and get some questions.  You included the idea of partnership in your opening comments, and your command has actually put quite a bit of emphasis on how to include partners in the work that you do. 

Given what’s just played out, is it time to think, particularly as we head towards the NATO summit in Wales – should there be sort of a renewed thinking about maybe a modernized partnership for peace that is actually focused on the post-Soviet countries around Russia that are not on a path or in a conversation about enlargement, but need help in thinking about their territorial integrity, their sovereignty, their independence?  Is it time to animate, modernize our partnership tools for these countries?

GEN. PALOMEROS:  We have to take any lessons of this crisis.  But much more than that, I mean, what we have seen during the last two decades, and certainly during the last 10 years in crisis management in Afghanistan, in Libya – I was there – and in many other instances is the growing role of partners in supporting NATO.  This is amazing, and it was not stressed enough.  They are bringing something to NATO, a valuable human contribution, at their risk, and a valuable – capable, I would say – contribution, provided, then, that NATO is able to help them – to support them in getting the sufficient interoperability with us.  And this is a great demand from the partners. 

So this is the first part of the equation, recognizing the value of partners in NATO’s missions and mainly in crisis management, in cooperative security – (inaudible).  This is the key partnership.  It’s key to cooperative security, and that’s why NATO enjoys so many partners around the globe today.  This is quite amazing to see the outreach.  We will have a major conference in Sophia next – in June, where we’ll gather around 70 countries together.  This is absolutely outstanding – amazing. 

So we cannot stay like that.  We have to define what are our strategic objectives.  And I would posit that at this stage we would have to do that more or less on a bilateral basis, because the interest – the security interest and the objective of each partner is different from each other, which is absolutely understandable because this is their own national strategy.  At a certain stage there could be a – (inaudible).  And I remember when we discussed this issue together in your former post, and this is my position. 

We have to go deeper into the security concern and the security objectives of each partner to see how much we can push the effort – the common effort in helping those countries, whether to build capabilities or to get interoperabilities or both, and helping them to increase their security level.  This is the (aim ?), and which will, in turn, increase the overall security in term of cooperative security. 

So perhaps we have not stressed as much as we should this point.  And what Ukraine shows us is the necessity to go deeper into this partnership, not only at the technical level, not only at a tactical, I would say, level, but more on a strategic perspective in term of security.

MR. WILSON:  Terrific.  Thank you, General. 

We’ve done a lot of work on partnership here at the Atlantic Council.  Frank Kramer and others have led some of that work.  And part, we think about it now – part of a strategic response to what’s happening in the east is to see a NATO that has global partners in Asia and the Middle East.  You mentioned 70 partners joining.  That’s quite a sign.

I want to turn to the audience.  We’ve got about 15 minutes left, so let me pick up these two questions right here.  You have the microphone.  Let’s go back to the center.  We’ll pick Ian up on the side.  Yes, please.  And then pass the microphone for Ian for the second one, please.  Thank you. 

Q:  Mike Mosettig, PBS Online NewsHour.  If strategy is classically a matter of making choices, are we going to be confronted in Wales and in meetings leading up to it with the issue:  Do we focus more on our core business, doing the job that we have to do, rather than on expansion?  One of the things that provoked me into this was a column in yesterday’s Washington Post raising the question whether NATO has the capability at this moment to deter or withstand Russian messing around in Estonia, and the fact that there’s political division in NATO even on this limited reinforcement that we’re sending to this part of the world.  And is the Ukraine situation a warning call?  We keep hearing that we – that NATO has to really focus on increasing its military capabilities so that it is a deterrent to the Kremlin, as Secretary Kerry just warned about. 

MR. WILSON:  Terrific.  So we’ve heard a lot today about a European call for American leadership.  What about a European call for European capabilities in this case? 

Ian, second question.  I’ll collect a couple of questions up here.

Q:  I’d like to kind of draw on the issue of what kind of military support we can provide Ukraine.  I’m struck by the West’s response, which – to provide assistance to Ukraine, which emphasizes long-term goals:  energy security, which is three, four, five years from now; domestic economic reform – three, four, five years from now; political rule of law reform – three, four, five years and on, if it’s an accelerated pace. 

Those are long-term goals.  The reality is that Putin’s operating on a much shorter time frame.  He’s got capabilities built up on the Ukrainian border that can change life in Ukraine in two hours or 12 hours.  So while we focus – the West focuses on the intangible and the future, we’ve got a reality we seem to be blinded to, which is the Russian military build-up and intervention in Ukraine today. 

So to the civilians on our audience I’d like to ask:  Should be providing the Ukrainians defensive military weapons along the way that Senator McCain and others have suggested to deter the Russians by presenting them a situation – to deter Putin by presenting him a situation in which if he did invade Ukraine more forcefully, he would face a protracted, bloody, costly conflict? 

And to the – to General Paloméros, I’d ask, since I know he can’t commit NATO, but as a military expert, and if he’s looking at the situation in Ukraine, what kind of military assistance should – could Ukraine benefit from?  What kind of military equipment could it benefit from to enhance its ability to deter and defend against a Russian invasion?

MR. WILSON:  Thank you, Ian.  Let me pick up one of – I think one of our NATO future leaders here.  Actually, both of you.  Quick questions, and then we’ll bring that back to the – please introduce yourself.

Q:  Yes, Jana Kamiska (ph) from the European Parliament.  I have a question.  Don’t you think that our – and I mean here both NATO and the EU policy towards Russia in last 10 years have been rather more reactive than active, and the crisis in our neighborhood is the result of a lack of engagement of Russia in the conversation about prosperity and security in the shared neighborhood?  Thank you.

MR. WILSON:  Thank you.  And a quick question behind you.

Q:  So Barta Shidliski (ph), Foundation of Aleksander Kwaśniewski.  Minister Linkevičius said that current situation in Ukraine was a wake-up call, and Prime Minister Cimoszewicz said that he has been awakened already.  I would like to ask you if it is also wake-up call for the Common Security and Defense Policy for the European Union, because, as everybody knows, that not every European Union member is a member of NATO.

MR. WILSON:  Thank you very much.  I’m going to bring this back to the panel, then I’m going to pick up Sasha (sp?) and Battu (ph) up here.  Maybe we start with you, General Paloméros, and come back.  Don’t feel like you have to answer each of these, just pick up – we have NATO’s core business, Ukrainian military assistance, the reaction to Russia, and the wake-up call for a CSDP, perhaps.  General Paloméros, please.

GEN. PALOMEROS:  Well, as far as the core function, we have to strike – the real balance, in my perspective, is not so much about the enlargement.  I wouldn’t like so much the term expansion.  We don’t expand ourself.  We enlarge ourself, depending on the will of the nations and the will of NATO nations to do that.  It is a real gentlemen agreement – it should be.  So, but what – the balance we have to strike is between a kind of collective defense capabilities, on the one hand, and crisis management.  And we have been involved, everybody knows that, in crisis management for 20 years.  We have still focused our attention on collective defense, but, obviously, we have to elaborate, I would say – to reinforce our ability, our flexibility, our mobility, to answer to this call of more reinforcement of, let’s say, the eastern flank of NATO or the (southern ?), because perhaps one of these day we will face a crisis as well in the south.  We have to imagine that possibility for different reasons.

So I think mobility, flexibility is the key to answer to your question.  That will raise another long-term issue about the balance that we have to strike with the capabilities which are available and which raise the, in turn, the question of resources and the right mix of resources.  But the best answer today is the – a more flexible, more mobile, more capable NATO forces.  And well-trained and well-equipped, I would say, as well.

As far as the Ukraine partnership, I mean, we have enjoyed a strong partnership with Ukraine.  Ukraine has been involved in Afghanistan – largely involved in Afghanistan – in a NATO response force, in many exercises.  I think the lessons that we have to learn is, it’s never too early to try to help those partner-nations to build their security and their national forces, to help in building capacity, to building training, to building in exercise.  And we are doing that with many partners.

So what could be done more than that?  As far as NATO is concerned, there are limits, so I would see that more on a bilateral basis.  But my best wish is really with Ukraine that we can carry on this strong partnership that we have had so far.  And I would say that when you see the behavior of the Ukraine forces during this crisis, this is very responsible and very – they show restraint, which is the mark of a kind of a great responsibility, and perhaps an outcome of this could be an outcome of this strong partnership that we have enjoyed. 

MR. WILSON:  Thank you very much, General.  Thank you.  Just with my eye on the clock, let me turn to you, Karen, if you have a – just a brief response.

MS. DONFRIED:  Sure.  I’ll pull out one of the questions and the one from Ian about military assistance for Ukraine. 

I think the complicated piece of that – I mean, the reality we’re facing is that we have at least 40,000 Russian troops stationed on the border with Ukraine, and we have a Ukraine army that has been underfunded and underdeveloped for a couple of decades now.  And so when you look at that situation, I think the bias of Americans and Europeans in policymaking roles has been that the thing we want to avoid at all costs is that Russia crosses that border and that there’s a war in Ukraine because it would be tragic for Ukraine. 

And then when you ask about military assistance, the question is would providing large-scale military assistance to Ukraine be something that would deter Russia or could be provocative.  And if you think there’s a real chance that it could provoke Russia, then you want to think really carefully before you do that. 

And so the shared policy between Americans and Europeans has been a way to try to deter further escalation by the – on the part of Russia has been with the threat of large-scale sanctions – we call them sectoral sanctions, the Europeans call them economic sanctions – if Russia were to engage in further provocative action. 

And, you know, the other piece of the strategy has been to make clear that there is a diplomatic off-ramp for Russia, that if Russia chooses to pursue a different strategy, that we would be supportive of that.  One could argue how successful that policy has been to date, but certainly, that was the intent behind the negotiations at Geneva and the other times that secretaries engaged with Foreign Minister Lavrov.  But that’s just some of the thinking that’s informed the way the policy has been pursued to date. 

MR. WILSON:  Thank you.  Thank you very much. 

What I’m going to do – I promised – I’d just bring in Ambassador Catelli (sp) and Ambassador Vondra very quickly because I want to come back to the ministers to help close out the rest of the conversation. I mean, you said you had a short point there. 

Q:  Thank you.  My question is –

MR. WILSON:  I hope it’s short. 

Q:  Yes, it’s a little – (inaudible) – I’m from Georgia.  Just a continuation of the question that (Ian ?) asked but from a different angle.  Will NATO or NATO countries continue the military assistance to Russia?  The French decided to sell Mistral – missiles to Russia after the Georgia war, and as I know, this deal is still ongoing.  So will we see the Mistral shaping the Crimea?  Thank you. 

MR. WILSON:  Thank you, Ambassador.  Ambassador Vondra? 

Q:  Just to, at some – (inaudible) – to (Bibi’s ?) question in a more concrete way.  So you, in general, were speaking about the need of deterrence, so – it’s broadcasted so –

I would be interested to listen your views both from NATO and from the three ministers from the eastern flank whether there is a not a time to re-think our thinking about tactical nuclear weapons because we were discussing about disarmament in the last couple of years.  Now if we are talking about deterrence and it goes into a concrete way so to (seminars ?), trainings, it’s not a deterrence at all. 

MR. WILSON:  Thank you very much, Ambassador Vondra. 

So Minister Linkevicius, why don’t I come – start with you, and I’ll ask the three minister to help close out the panel by picking up those last strands as well. 

MIN. LINKEVICIUS:  Many interesting questions.  Just a brief reaction.  On provocation, on the containment, I believe by non-acting, not doing something, not (enlarging ?) where provoking, we can – we can discuss endlessly, but in 2010, we were discussing to give MAP to Georgia and Ukraine at that time or not, and we – some colleagues said it would be provocation to give a MAP, but it’s provocation not to give a MAP because it was immediately a war in South Caucuses. 

Now again, so to do at the expense of core functions.  After Lisbon – let me remind, in Lisbon, we adjusted our new security strategy of NATO’s three core functions – three core tasks, not just one: self-defense, Article V; crisis management; and partnerships.  So let’s do nothing at the expense of these core tasks, but let’s respect all of these three.  This is, so to say, mutually, I believe, supported each other.  So this is very important. 

With regard to the wake-up calls, it was not addressed to the Prime Minister Miscevic (ph) – he’s already waken up, as you said – (laughter) – but there are some colleagues which are not.  So that was my point.  And it’s – indeed, we need really – we do not need another stress to take seriously what we should do as business as usual, as we should do not as a provocation because sometimes our – some colleagues say that, look, even training exercises, according to Article V, is provocation.  But can we be serious about the implementation of all Washington treaty, if not trained to do what we’re supposed to do.  This is provocation not to do the things which we should do.

MR. WILSON:  Terrific. 

MIN. LINKEVICIUS:  So I have time for more, but that’s enough. 

MR. WILSON:  Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.  Let me turn to Minister Cimoszewicz to –

MIN. CIMOSZEWICZ:  Two brief answers or comments.  Supplies of defensive arms to Ukraine, I believe we should answer the question is that is lack of arms that is the reason for if Ukrainian military person is unable to act, which is evident in eastern Ukraine.  I believe it is not a problem of equipment, it is a problem of their minds. 

And what were the reasons – what was the reason of the crisis?  Of course, we have no analyze that in depth.  I certainly believe that there were many reasons.  We should realize – we should understand that probably starting many years ago – approximately 10 years ago – we probably neglected some signals, some symptoms. 

For instance, now I remember a very surprising speech by Putin – it was probably 2004 or ‘5 after the Beslan tragedy – when he was speaking about threat to Russian security coming from the West.  We couldn’t – we believe that was a kind of mistake, that his famous Munich aggressive speech, et cetera.  There were signals, there were signals which were probably misinterpreted by us. 

MR. WILSON:  Terrific.  Thank you.  Mr. – Minister Corlatean, please, your final word. 

MIN. CORLATEAN:  Well, thank you.  Just a few brief comments on one single item.  I put it on my paper the following formula: the transformation power of both NATO and the EU.  Pull of attraction for the – (inaudible) – countries that still want to become members of both EU and NATO.  I don’t think we have a dilemma when speaking about the next NATO Summit agenda.  Between doing our job profoundly, properly in order to enhance our capabilities on one side, and the open door policy on how to deal with this very important and delicate subject. 

I think we should respect once again the free choice, the free will of the nations.  During our cases, the Central Eastern European Countries, the Baltic states, it was our choice to become Euroatlantic and members of the European Union.  And we had so many obstacles from Russia at that – at that time.

Looking on the – on the agenda, Romania is the contact point in the case of Georgia.  We worked hard on them, we are supported for being inventive, for being creative, for making a step forward at the next NATO Summit in the Balkans. 

I have one single subject that I want to raise and I will finish.  We had a discussion during our last ministerial meeting, and I said to the colleagues, look, until now, the question – the request was fulfill the criterias – fulfill the criterias.  And they are advancing for fulfilling the criterias.  This time, because of these dramatic changes on the eastern side, we have to change our modality to put the question, do we want – do we have the political will to enlarge the alliance?  If we have it, if we understand that we need to move forward in the Balkans, for instance, we are looking on the subject and we see that in the one case, they’re advanced with the transformation, the reforms.

The biggest issue, the intelligence issue, the former old connection with the eastern side, we are speaking about an operational team of 50 persons.  If we are serious and if we want it, we can do it, yes?  Thank you. 

MR. WILSON:  Thank you very much, Minister Corlatean.  And I want with you connected to the panel just before because part of what we’ve been talking about is a strategic response in the east, actually consolidation in your neighborhood in the south.  I also wanted to conclude with you because, thanks to your embassy, we’ll be having some Romanian wine a little bit later on this evening – (laughter) – thanks to Ambassador Buga. 

This was one of the most difficult panels I think because this is the crux of the problem that we’re facing.  I thought this was a terrific conversation, helped shed some light on the real challenges that we’re facing.  I want to thank you very much for your thoughts, your ideas, your time. 

I want to encourage our audience to stay for our final closing session. We’ll be having General Scowcroft.  We have Horst Teltschik here and the Dutch foreign minister as well will be here in 15 minutes, at 5 o’clock for a discussion on the origins and the future of a Europe whole and free with some of the actual architects themselves. 

So please join me in thanking our session and the terrific conversation we had.  (Applause.)