The Partnership Commission of the Adriatic Charter
The Partnership Commission of the Adriatic Charter
Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Press Availability at OSCE Ministerial Meeting
December 5, 2006
Moderator: Good afternoon. We've just concluded a meeting of the Partnership Commission of the Adriatic Charter, which included Foreign Ministers of Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, as well as invited observers, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia. It's a meeting on the margins of the OSCE.
First we'll have Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Dan Fried make some remarks, and he'll be followed by the current Chairman of the Adriatic Charter, Albanian Foreign Minister Mustafaj, then we'll open it up for your questions. Thank you.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Good morning and welcome. We've just concluded two meetings. One was with the Adriatic Charter of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia; the second meeting was an expanded meeting of the Adriatic Charter and the United States plus Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Crna Gora [Montenegro] -- three countries that NATO has just invited to join the Partnership for Peace. I should say that NATO was represented as an organization in both meetings.
NATO decided at the Riga Summit to take the important major step forward of extending invitations to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Crna Gora to join the Partnership for Peace. This is an expression of NATO's confidence that these three countries have the political will to do what they have to do to join the Euro-Atlantic community and its institutions. All three countries have made progress. All three countries have more to do.
NATO also pointed out that Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have more to do to meet their obligations to arrest, apprehend, and turn over to The Hague the remaining war criminals that are still at large, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. NATO, however, has made a gesture and a step of confidence and faith that pro-European and pro-transatlantic leaderships of these countries will do what they have promised to do.
The road to Europe must be open. It is the job of NATO to keep its road open. The European Union has a different set of responsibilities, and it's not for me to speak on its behalf. But NATO will do its part, and the history of the last 15 years has shown that countries that do their part do achieve NATO membership and European Union membership, and that road, that path, is available to all of the countries of the Balkans.
I, frankly, was heartened by what I heard from my Adriatic three partners. These countries have put aside the past. They have rejected the cheap nationalism which like bad alcohol makes you drunk, then makes you blind, then kills you. They have rejected it in favor of Europe and a transatlantic future. Following in their path, I believe that Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro can follow. I wish them the very best. It is my country's intention to help them as they take the steps only they can take.
Foreign Minister Mustafaj: [via interpreter] [Inaudible] country from the A3 project which is coming to its conclusion. I am delighted with the level of conduct of this meeting. The three countries -- Albania, Macedonia and Croatia -- expressed their pleasure for the good news which came from the Riga Summit. But we consider our work until the forthcoming summit as very short but our work as very big. We have a joint endeavor to be determined and increase our performance so that we receive the invitation for membership in the upcoming summit. It's a way to increase cooperation among us, but also with NATO.
The three countries also expressed their delight for the good news coming again from the Riga Summit concerning the invitation for the three other countries -- that is Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina -- for being admitted to the Partnership for Peace. It will also be our pleasure to have these three countries as observers in our roundtable in the upcoming activities. The single unresolved issue for the Balkans is the final status of Kosovo, and in order to increase peace and progress in the Western Balkans I think that all our countries have got significant responsibility in that respect. For the definition of its final status of Kosovo is under process. Therefore we are following this process with particular attention. The six of our countries attending this meeting expressed their will for a peaceful settlement of the final Kosovo status.
In my capacity both as coordinator and as chair of this A3 project for this six-month period, I do have to extend my best thanks to all the six countries and also thank Mr. Dan Fried, the high representative from the U.S. State Department. I do also wish Macedonia quite a successful chairmanship. Let me also assure Macedonia and my distinguished counterpart for our ongoing support with that respect. Thank you.
Question: My name is [inaudible]. I work for [inaudible] from Croatia [inaudible]. I have a question for Mr. Fried.
For the first time one good news for Serbia was not received as bad news in Kosovo. Even Kosovar politicians welcomed the membership of Serbia in the PFP. Do you think and dare hope that this will contribute to the solution for the Kosovo status. And that membership of Serbia in PFP will help that Serbia understands that Kosovo will have to become independent country?
Assistant Secretary Fried: You have said something that I won't quite confirm because the final status of Kosovo will have to be decided on the basis of President Ahtisaari's recommendations, which will be delivered shortly after the Serbian elections on January 21.
But you have pointed out something very important. The Kosovo-Albanian leadership understands something critical -- that zero-sum politics in the Balkans is the politics of the past, and they understand that what's good for Serbia is not necessarily bad for them. A Serbia which faces a European future, which has a real prospect of joining with Europe, is a Serbia which will be the best possible [inaudible] for them.
So I think their reaction demonstrates their growing political maturity, and I think they are correct. It is in this spirit, indeed, that NATO decided to make its offer to Serbia. We want to show Serbia that it has a European future, and then it's up to Serbia to make the decisions to realize this European future. I hope it does. Of course a major test will be Serbia's reaction to the resolution of Kosovo's final status.
I wish we weren't faced with these difficult choices, but we are faced with it because we're dealing with a Balkans after a nationalist wave which did so much harm and resulted in so much death. Now we have to find our way forward as best we can. We need to find a way forward in Kosovo in particular.
Question: Mark [inaudible] from Reuters. I just have a follow-up on that question for Secretary Fried.
Can you give us some idea of the timeframe you're looking at results on the [inaudible] cooperation in Serbia and in Bosnia? Are we talking a question of weeks, or is it actually a longer process? And if there is no cooperation, is the suspension of talks a possibility?
Assistant Secretary Fried: It's a good rule and a good practice not to speculate about hypotheticals, but Serbia has committed itself, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have committed themselves to full cooperation with the ICTY, with the war crimes tribunal. NATO has stated in its decision that it expects them to cooperate fully, and we do.
There is no reason that these indicted war criminals should be at large, and Serbia needs to find the courage to put behind its past and face a European future. This would be a major step toward that.
At the same time, my government was deeply impressed by the commitment of President Tadic and Foreign Minister Draskovic to a European future. They have made their case with conviction and persuasively, and we have decided to put confidence in their stated intentions. I very much hope that the forces in Serbia that want a European future for that country succeed.
God knows Serbia deserves better than what its nationalists gave it in the 1990s and I think the Serbian people have learned that lesson, as have others in Europe in their own time.
Question: The possibility of suspension, is that --
Assistant Secretary Fried: As I said in the beginning, I don't talk about hypotheticals. We have made an offer to Serbia and Bosnia, as well as Montenegro, and we're going to welcome them in the Partnership for Peace. Of course we expect them to do their part.
Question: [Inaudible] Croatian Television. Mr. Fried, as well.
Will you share with us your personal view on the message of the NATO Summit from Riga related to the possibility of Croatia and other partners to join NATO and to [inaudible] the next summit? And what's your government and NATO [inaudible] in favor of a communication strategy in Croatia directed to its public?
Assistant Secretary Fried: NATO enlargement has been a fabulous success. I can think of few initiatives which have yielded such good results in such a short period of time. NATO was one of the instruments of building a Europe whole, free and at peace. Of course the other great instrument was the European Union. I'm proud that NATO did its part and NATO had decided in Riga that NATO enlargement will continue. It decided that at its next summit in 2008 it will extend invitations to those countries that are ready.
If you read the communiquÃ© closely, it's clear that three countries in particular who are in the Membership Action Plan -- Croatia, Albania and Macedonia -- are very serious candidates. My President has spoken of his particular respect for Croatia's candidacy. We do look at national candidacies for NATO membership individually based on that nation's performance, but we look forward to inviting as many countries as are ready for NATO membership.
So it's a good signal for Croatia, and the message to the Croatian people is the road to NATO is in your hands. It is in your hands.
With respect to NATO communications, the government of Croatia has said that it will explain to the Croatian people what NATO is and make its case for NATO membership. NATO will do its part. But the Croatian people will decide their own future, and the message from NATO is that decision can be yours and that future can be yours if you so choose it.
Question: [Inaudible], for Mr. Fried.
I would like to ask you what was the main reason for the United States to change the position about conditionality of ICTY towards Serbia? We in Serbia in this day have a lot of conditions which want to show to people that some [inaudible] was much better in convinced United States to invite Serbia or not. And second question is, what will be the approach of the United States if Serbia [inaudible] anti-European [inaudible]?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Those are very fair questions. We were very influenced, I will be honest, by the strong messages we got from President Tadic and from Foreign Minister Draskovic. President Tadic wrote a letter to President Bush in which he expressed Serbia's commitment to a Euro-Atlantic future. Foreign Minister Draskovic has expressed, including to me personally, his strong commitment to a Euro-Atlantic future for his country. And frankly, this did make a difference. We did listen to our Serbian friends.
As for the question of what happens if the nationalists win, well, the Serbian people have to decide what kind of a future they want for themselves. I would have thought that after experiencing the results of nationalist policies in the 1990s Serbs would have none of it again, but we don't vote in Serbian elections, only Serbs do. The Serbian people have some serious choices to make.
The message from NATO, the message from the United States to Serbia, is the road to Europe is now in your hands. It's available. Choose it.
Question: A follow-up to what Mr. [inaudible] asked. I'm from [inaudible], Croatian newspaper.
I was just wondering whether you have shared any new ideas on the NATO membership awareness [inaudible] to create new ideas that might help the Croatian government explain better the importance of membership [inaudible]?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Look, we're Americans. We don't know Croatian politics and the Croatian people as well as the Croatian government. How should we know? It's up to them. It's up to the Croatian people, up to the Croatian government. We're certainly willing to do our part.
I have been impressed, frankly, by the arguments presented by my Croatian friends that as the door to NATO membership is opened more visibly, that support in Croatia can rise because the Croatian people will realize that we're not fooling. We're not kidding around. This is serious. That's an argument my Croatian friends have made to me, and it's one that we take very seriously. But this is something that is up to the Croatian government and the Croatian people.
For our part, we are impressed by the progress Croatia has made and we look forward to working with Croatia and helping it achieve what it wants.
Question: Mr. Fried, I also have a question for you. You said that the road to NATO is in the country's hands. If you have to choose the most important thing Macedonia's government should do to become a member, what would this be?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Continue your reforms at home. Build a country which looks and feels like Europe. Do what you've been doing successfully. Macedonia is the only country in the Balkans which never suffered a civil war or never went to war. It was a near thing in 2001, it was a very near thing. But the [Inaudible] Accords were a major achievement for the Croatian people -- sorry, the Macedonian people. I suppose it was good for Croatia as well. [Laughter]. For the Macedonian people.
If Macedonia moves forward, NATO membership will take care of itself. That has been the case since 1989. The post-1989 democracies in Europe who have done their job at home have found that membership in NATO and membership in the EU has followed. Do your job at home, and help NATO as you can abroad and the membership issue will take care of itself.
Your future is more in your hands than you realize. It's up to you.
Question: [Through Interpreter] A question of Mr. Fried through Television of Montenegro.
When can Montenegro expect signing of the framework document for PFP, given that Montenegro has met all the requirements? Will this be done individually? Or will this again be done in a package together with Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Go forward. We look at countries individually. It is true that we invited three countries, but we did not invite three countries with the intention of having them linked forever. So Montenegro can go forward.
That said, it's also true that the Adriatic Charter has been good for all three countries part of it. Yes, NATO will judge their candidacies individually, but the solidarity they've shown, the mutual support they've shown, has been good for all of them.
So Montenegro is welcome to proceed with the Partnership for Peace, but at the same time your cooperation with your neighbors will certainly resound to your credit.
Question: [Inaudible], AP.
Mr. Fried, are you worried that whatever the decision the Kosovo [inaudible] might be, are you worried that it will serve as a precedent for other regions not only in Europe, not only in Bosnia or Georgia, but further afield like in Libya [inaudible]? Are you worried that this will set a precedent for how those separatist conflicts will be resolved?
Assistant Secretary Fried: We do not regard Kosovo as a precedent for anything else, and I regret that some other governments have argued that it is a precedent, because I do not find that argument either persuasive or responsible.
Kosovo is not a precedent for any other place, neither in the South Caucasus, neither in Transnistria, neither in the North Caucasus, nowhere. Not Indonesia, not anywhere.
Kosovo was unique, among other things, because the United Nations has been administering Kosovo for the past seven years under the terms of the United Nations Resolution. That same United Nations Security Council Resolution, 1244, states that the future status of Kosovo must be decided at a future date. The international community under a United Nations Security Council mandate has decided that that future date is pretty much now. Frankly, we cannot go back to the past. That's gone. We cannot stay where we are. We cannot stay with Kosovo a kind of ward of the United Nations forever. We must go forward. Going forward means a European future for all of the countries of the Western Balkans, and it also means not playing games with Kosovo final status to gain advantage on distant issues.
There are many separatist movements in the world, but there is only one Kosovo situation, and it is the responsible position, which by the way the Adriatic Charter nations affirmed today, there is only one Kosovo and that does not constitute a precedent.
Question: [Inaudible], Albanian TV.
Mr. Fried, Croatia has much progressed than two other countries in the reforms. I just wanted to ask you, do you believe that the other countries, because we know there is not just defense reform but other reforms, can do it in [inaudible], so Macedonia and Albania can do it in one year?
Assistant Secretary Fried: I'm impressed by the progress that they've made. Macedonia and Albania have done a lot. Think where Albania was in March 1997, think how close Macedonia came to civil conflict in 2001. They've made tremendous progress. They deserve the credit which NATO has given them.
Of course countries are judged by NATO for NATO membership individually, but we're impressed by their progress. They have more to do. It is up to them to take the steps only they can make. We hope that they do. After all, as President Bush said in 2001, NATO should not decide how little it can get away with but how much it can do to advance the cause of freedom.
Moderator: Thank you all.
Assistant Secretary Fried: It's been a pleasure.