⊙ CLINTON ADMINISTRATION CALLS FOR ENLARGEMENT OF NATO (1998)
(24 Feb 1998) English/Nat
Leading Clinton administration officials testified before the Senate on Tuesday promoting the enlargement of NATO.
The Senate heard a strong endorsement for the expansion of NATO to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
A packed Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard the U-S Secretary of Defence, U-S Secretary of State and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday push for the expansion of NATO.
Proposals are before the influential Committee to approve the inclusion of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright strongly denounced a plan supported by some senators that would limit the expansion of NATO.
Those senators, she said, wanted a permanent freeze on any further expansion of the NATO membership.
"A mandated pause would be heard from Tallinn in the north to Sofia in the south as the sound of an open door slamming shut. It would be seen as a vote of no confidence in the reform minded governments from the Baltics to the Balkans. It would diminish the incentive nations now have to cooperate with their neighbours and with NATO. It would fracture the consensus NATO itself has reached itself on its open door. It would be at once dangerous and utterly unnecessary since the Senate would in any case have to approve the admission of any new allies."
SUPER CAPTION: Madeleine Albright, U-S Secretary of State
General Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff addressed the concerns raised by Russia on the expansion.
Shelton said the inclusion of Russia in the Partnership for Peace was showing some major benefits for both sides.
"Senator Biden, from our perspective this expansion of the Partnership for Peace and getting the Russians more involved in every respect, to include liaison at NATO headquarters is a way to try to turn this Iron Curtain that we've lived with for so many years into a picture window in terms of the Russians. They want us to believe that they are a new Russia - their resistance is in looking at NATO is to think that we really are not against anyone, we are for peace and stability."
SUPER CAPTION: General Henry H. Shelton, chairman, U-S Joint Chief of Staff
As the Clinton administration officials pressed their case for NATO expansion, the Pentagon cut its estimate of the cost of bringing three former Warsaw Pact members into the alliance.
On Monday, the Pentagon issued a report saying the price tag will be 1.5 (b) billion U-S dollars over 10 years - now matching a NATO estimate.
This reduced initial estimates from the U-S Department of Defence of between 4.9 (b) billion U-S dollars to 6.2 (b) billion U-S dollars.
The money would cover such things as hooking up new members to NATO communications and air defence systems.
Despite the reduced price-tag, the US Secretary of Defence said each of the countries seeking admission to NATO would have to pay a high price.
"The price of admission is high. We talked about NATO being an open door - but that open door stands at the top of a steep set of stairs. Each of these countries have to climb a set of stairs in terms of modernising their societies, having an open and democratic society, subordinating their militaries to civilian control, promoting market economies - all of the ideals that we treasure. These countries have to measure up to those standards - so the price of admission is high."
SUPER CAPTION: William Cohen, U-S Secretary of Defence
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