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Approval for Expansion to the East (October 8, 1993)

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Russia is a particularly important factor for lasting stability in Europe. We can only achieve security with – and not against – Russia. We must also take into consideration the extremely difficult situation of reform forces in the intra-Russian debate. But I know from my talks in Moscow that Russia no longer sees the West as a threat. It is in favor of restructuring Europe’s political landscape, as long as it is treated as an active and respected partner whose problems are taken seriously. The Russia of tomorrow is neither the czardom nor the Soviet Union. Whether or not Russia will be a stable, democratic partner is also up to us. Russia doesn’t want to be excluded from the processes taking place in Europe, and it mustn’t be either. It is seeking a new strategic partnership with NATO and a political-economic partnership with the EC. This is why I have said, always and everywhere, that close cooperation with Russia has a special role in the processes taking place in Europe. This cooperation is an essential precondition for the further development of Atlantic-European security structures.

With a view toward our central European neighbors and toward Russia, our policies will be shaped by two key concepts: integration and cooperation. I see the two as inextricable components of a comprehensive political strategy for achieving the overarching goal we all share: pan-European stability. We need both: on the one hand, the EC and NATO must promote cooperation with Russia and expand it to new areas. We also need a corresponding approach for other countries in the East; here, Ukraine plays a special role. On the other hand, the federal government is in favor of paving the way, step by step, for the countries of East-Central Europe to join the European-Atlantic institutions. These include, in addition to the European Community and the Council of Europe, the WEU and NATO as well. We are expecting a definitive signal from the NATO summit in January 1994, one similar to the signal given at the Copenhagen EC summit on EU membership. The German foreign minister expressed this position a few days ago before the United Nations general assembly.

These questions are now being tackled in capital cities on both sides of the Atlantic. At the moment, there are still differing opinions. There are also concerns that expanding NATO could water down the strength of mutual assistance. After all, NATO is the only truly functional alliance. Therefore, it is imperative that it be maintained as an anchor of stability for Europe. For this reason, one important consideration is whether a candidate for admission should first be required to achieve complete internal stability and resolve all existing problems with its neighbors, or whether membership at an early stage could, in fact, advance stability and eliminate lingering conflicts with neighbors.

I presume that Western companies are more willing to invest if external security is assured. That would also give Eastern markets considerable momentum. Postwar West Germany is a striking example of this.

A consensus must be found – among Europeans and between Europe and the United States. It is also in the interest of the United States to have as its partner a Europe that is stable, predictable, and capable of acting, in order to meet common global challenges. There is a contractual link between the WEU and NATO. When new partners join the European Community and the Western European Union, the question of NATO admission is posed automatically. But North America cannot be confronted with European decisions after the fact. The United States cannot be presented with a fait accompli whose consequences it will have to bear without having participated in the processes that preceded it. The United States must participate in the processes underway in Europe from the very beginning, because America has become part of the culture of European security.

[ . . . ]

Source of original German text: “Rede des deutschen Verteidigungsministers Volker Rühe, am 8. Oktober 1993 an der Karls-Universität in Prag (Auszug)” [“Speech by German Minister of Defense Volker Rühe on October 8, 1993, at the Charles University in Prague” (excerpts)]. Press Materials (Federal Minister of Defense, Press Staff, Bonn), No. XXX/16, October 8, 1993; reprinted in Europa-Archiv, Series 3/1994), pp. D 101- 04.

Translation: Allison Brown

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