White House Briefs Coalition on NATO/Russia Agreement

On May 15, 1997, the day after the agreement between NATO and Russia had been announced, the White House initiated a conference call with representatives of the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), including the Hungarian American Coalition, to brief them on the terms of the agreement.

Mr. Daniel Fried, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, National Security Council, described the process of negotiations over the past several days leading to the final agreement and reviewed each paragraph of the document. He stressed the importance of the ongoing dialogue between the Administration and the CEEC as the process of NATO enlargement proceeds. The conference call enabled each group to express its specific concerns about the agreement and the steps to be taken before the Madrid NATO Summit.

Questions were raised about the role of Russia in NATO decision-making. In response, the White House said that the agreement establishes a new council between NATO and Russia that meets regularly to discuss and resolve issues that arise between NATO and Russia. According to the White House, this, will not grant a veto to Russia over any questions that are traditionally within NATO’s jurisdiction.

The Hungarian American Coalition representative, Frank Koszorús, Jr., asked whether Russia would have a greater voice in NATO matters than the countries invited to join the Alliance in July, and whether the Administration will publicly rebut Russian President Yeltsin’s assertion that Russia now has a veto over all NATO matters.

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