15 November 2002
Rice: NATO Summit "Historic Event for Europe, Transatlantic Alliance"
(NSC advisor backgrounds November 21-22 summit and Bush trip) (1150)
By Wendy S. Ross
Washington File White House Correspondent
Washington -- Adding new members to NATO, transforming the alliance to
deal with 21st century needs, and continuing to forge a new
NATO-Russia relationship are the focus of the November 21-22 NATO
Summit in Prague, President Bush's National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rice says.
It will be only the second time since the end of the Cold War that
NATO has welcomed new members, Rice pointed out November 15 at a White
House background briefing on the upcoming meeting.
The first time was at the NATO Summit in Madrid in 1997 when Hungary,
Poland and the Czech Republic were invited to join, bringing the
membership to 19 nations.
Many analysts have speculated that seven new members -- Bulgaria,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia -- will be
admitted to the alliance at this 2002 summit.
Rice characterized the upcoming meeting as "an historic event for
Europe and for the Transatlantic Alliance, as Europe continues to move
closer to realizing the vision of a continent that is whole, free, and
"This is a summit that is going to celebrate an historic moment for
NATO, which is the expansion of NATO into territories that I think
nobody ever thought NATO would expand into," she said. "And that is
really the central purpose of this summit. It is also the central
purpose of this summit to talk about how to improve NATO's
capabilities to deal with the threats that we face today."
Rice pointed out that President Bush long has maintained America's
commitment to a strong NATO alliance and to a robust expansion of
NATO, a point that he made dramatically in a speech at Warsaw in
November of 2001 "when he said that the alliance should do as much as
possible, not as little. And I think you will see that at the NATO
summit that charge has been taken up."
On transforming the alliance, Rice said "the end of the Cold War has
meant the end of the Cold War threat of massive armies contending for
the Central European plains. And all NATO members today face common
threats from terrorists and the states that sponsor them. These
threats require a different kind of military force to defend against,
a force that is lighter, more agile, and more flexible. NATO members
are working to transform their forces to meet new threats and to
increase the ability of our forces to work together."
"One of the things that we will discuss at the summit is how to think
about getting new capabilities for NATO members," she said. "You will
have a lot of small members of NATO, for instance, for the first time.
And they cannot -- across the entire range of military capabilities --
contribute. But they can contribute in specific ways, in niche ways to
the overall military capability of NATO. So that will be discussed,"
The United States, itself, she said, "is having to make a
transformation and having to assess capabilities. And I think you will
see that this is an issue that the NATO alliance takes seriously, that
member states take seriously, and that we will make some progress on
Lastly, Rice said, "this summit and this round of expansion will be
further evidence of America's and Europe's new strategic relationship
with Russia, which is formalized in agreements such as the Moscow
Treaty and the NATO-Russia Council. An alliance founded to wage the
Cold War will once again show how far it has come since that task was
completed," the national security advisor said.
Asked if Iraq would be a topic at the summit, Rice responded that "of
course, we expect that Iraq will be discussed and, of course, the
president will discuss Iraq in bilaterals and probably in the NATO
Council, as well.
"I suspect that we will hear from NATO partners what they are prepared
to do and what they can do," and there will probably be some kind of
statement from NATO about this, she said, "but that's not the purpose
of this summit."
"The purpose of this summit is to invite new members in, to celebrate
NATO's future, and to talk about how far NATO has come and how it
remains a vital and viable alliance some 11 years after the end of the
Cold War," Rice said.
President Bush spoke by phone for about ten minutes November 15 with
NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson to discuss the upcoming summit,
White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters at
his noon briefing.
"They talked about NATO enlargement, strengthening NATO's military
capabilities, and the NATO-Russia relationship," McClellan said.
Prior to the official opening of the summit, Bush on November 20 will
deliver remarks at the Prague Atlantic Students Summit "where he will
discuss his vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace," Rice said.
That same day he will hold five bilateral meetings -- with Czech
President Vaclav Havel, Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, Turkey's
President Ahmet Needet Sezer, France's President Jacques Chirac and
NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.
"At each of the meetings the President will discuss NATO issues, Iraq,
the war on terrorism, and bilateral matters," Rice said.
Asked why Bush was not holding a bilateral meeting with German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Rice said there are scheduled bilaterals
with very few leaders at the summit.
She pointed out that the two leaders talked by phone about a week ago.
"The relationship with Germany is very important and it will work and
continue to work to the benefit of both countries," she said.
Regarding Germany's position against participating in any possible
military action in Iraq, Rice said "Germany will have to decide what
role it can and cannot play to enforce U.N. Security Council
resolutions if that's necessary."
She noted, however, that Germany has done a lot in Afghanistan, in the
war on terrorism there, in counterterrorism. We appreciate that very
much," she said.
Rice acknowledged that during the NATO Summit, United States military
planes will patrol the airspace over Prague. It is perfectly
appropriate for one NATO member to offer that kind of assistance to
the alliance, she said.
Following the summit, President Bush will fly to St. Petersburg,
Russia, November 22 to "discuss a host of issues, including Russia's
emerging relationship with NATO," with Russian President Vladimir
Putin, Rice said.
Later that day, Bush will fly to Vilnius, Lithuania, where he is
scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting the next morning, Saturday,
November 23, with Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus, as well as
hold a joint meeting with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and
Later November 23 Bush will travel to Bucharest, Romania, where he
will meet with Romania's President Ion Iliescu and make remarks to the
Romanian people at a square in central Bucharest, before returning to
Mrs. Bush is accompanying the president on the trip, Rice said. The
couple leave for Europe the morning of Tuesday, November 19, and
arrive in Prague that evening.
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