THE PRESIDENT'S TRIP TO RUSSIA (Senate - May 10, 1995)
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, earlier today Senator McConnell suggested on the Senate floor that the President's trip to Moscow has been a wasted effort--that there has not been a shred of progress made there. I do not want anyone who may have been l istening to that statement to be misled by it, for, in my view, it simply is not accurate. It is important to review the reasons President Clinton went to Moscow and to assess his trip to Moscow--which is not yet over--with those goals in mind.
The President went to Moscow to honor the sacrifices of the Russian people to defeat the Nazis and fascism in World War II. Russians lost approximately 20 million people in that war--more than any other Nation. With the end of the cold war, this is the Un ited States first opportunity to convey our appreciation. Our policy's to seek better relations not only with the Russian Government, but with the Russian people as well to help democracy take root there.
The President also went to Moscow to pursue discussion on key issues. The United States expectations were low, and our progress has exceeded those expectations. Among the accomplishments so far--and I emphasize that the trip continues tomorrow--are:
First, with respect to European Security, the Russians agreed to implement two Partnership for Peace agreements that are important to realize our goal of a comprehensive system of security in Europe.
Second, on the issue of theater missile defenses. The Russians agreed to a Statement of Principles that preserves the ABM Treaty and enables us to proceed with deployment of theater missile defense systems.
Third, the Russians agreed not to provide a gas centrifuge enrichment facility to Iran and to continue to review and discuss the proposed sale of light-water reactors. That review will be through a special group created at the March ministerial meeting of Secretary Christopher and Foreign Minister Kozyrev.
Fourth, President Clinton secured an agreement with respect to nuclear materials to enable both countries to cooperate to ensure the safe storage of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons materials.
Finally, agreement was reached on a statement to guide economic relations between the two countries that is important to our efforts to keep the Russian economic reforms on track.
So, in my view, a substantial degree of progress has been made with regard to Iran, with regard to the ABM Treaty, with regard to a number of issues relating to European security. And, as I indicated, the trip continues.
That list of substantive accomplishments is impressive; to expect more from one trip is, frankly, unrealistic.
Overall, the progress is indicative of the continuing interest of both countries to cooperate where we can and manage our differences constructively.
We should not judge this relationship or this meeting against an arbitrary scorecard, and we must not forget that this is not the old Soviet Union. This is a process to develop our relationship with the new Russia--again, not just its government, but also its people; to build on the potential that resides within that relationship that must be rooted in democracy and a mature and balanced dialog.
It is an important relationship, and the President is wise to invest in it. I applaud his efforts, and the fact that he has accomplished as much as he has in the last 2 days.
Perhaps President Clinton said it best today:
I should also note that, regarding Chechnya, the President spoke out strongly and publicly against Russian action in Chechnya at an event at Moscow State University. He has made clear to President Yeltsin and to the Russian people the United States positi on. Tomorrow he will meet with opposition leaders and with the family of Fred Cuny, the American aid worker still missing in Chechnya.
So I would say the President certainly went to Russia knowing we have serious differences with Russia, but committed to the essential process of supporting democratic roots and institutions in Russia and developing our relationship with the Russian people . The list of accomplishments is impressive, and the trip continues.
I only hope that in the interest of ensuring the greatest degree of success, at least until he returns, we give him the greatest benefit of the doubt, that we offer him our support, that we send the right message to the Russian people that we stand behind this President as he negotiates, as he continues to confront the many very perplexing issues that we must address in our complicated relationship with the people of Russia and certainly Russian leadership.
So, again, I must say I think in 2 days it is remarkable the President has developed the list of accomplishments he has. I hope we could continue to add to that list in the remaining time the President spends in Russia. It was a trip well spent. It was a trip I think we can look on with some satisfaction. I hope as the President continues to travel we can demonstrate our support for him and for his efforts, and wish him well as he continues.
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