German president Roman Herzog on June 7 assured his Polish host, President Aleksander Kwasniewski, that Bonn remains committed to admitting into the NATO alliance new members from Central and Eastern Europe. On the eve of a two-day summit of nine Central European leaders, Kwasniewski thanked Herzog for Germany’s continued support in this area and emphasized once again Warsaw’s desire for full NATO membership, with all its rights and obligations. His remarks followed recent indications from Russia’s Foreign Ministry that Moscow might acquiesce in NATO’s enlargement so long as its military infrastructure was not extended to the territories of new alliance members. Kwasniewski made clear, however, that Poland reserves the right to resolve such issues in bilateral negotiations with NATO. (Reuter, June 7)
In much the same vein, German defense minister Volker Ruehe was quoted over the weekend as saying that NATO intends to station neither nuclear weapons nor foreign troops near Russia’s borders following the admission of new alliance members. But — calling speculation over whether this might constitute the basis for an agreement with Moscow a "phantom debate" — Ruehe emphasized that new members would be fully integrated into the alliance’s military structures. His remarks appeared in the German magazine Focus. (Reuter, June 8)
Meanwhile, French president Jacques Chirac said on Saturday in Paris that the European defense pillar within NATO should rest on a strong European Union, a transformed Atlantic Alliance, and a European security organization that gives Russia its rightful place. On the eve of Russian elections Chirac said the West should back Russian reform and strive "neither to weaken nor to isolate" Moscow. (Reuter, June 8)
European Security Talks in Moscow.