11:30 A.M. ESTVideoASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
Thank you very much, and good morning, everybody. And thank you for coming.
I’ll look forward to your broad range of questions on European security. There’s a lot of – a lot going on in the news today, but I’d like to begin, if I could, with a few comments about the Secretary’s speech in Paris, which, for us, really framed the way we’re thinking about the issue of European security. As you know, on Friday, she gave a major speech at the Ecole Militaire in Paris, where she laid out our principles and our policy agenda when it comes to engaging with Europe, particularly on the question of security matters.
For us, this was a timely moment to do so. There is a lot of focus on European security policy in this coming year, when NATO is revising its strategic concept and we’re heading towards a NATO summit at the end of the year in November in Lisbon. Russia has come forward recently with some proposals of its own, notably for a European security treaty and a NATO-Russia treaty. Next week is the Munich Security Conference, where numerous leaders from around the world will be coming forward to put forward their ideas. So we thought it was important. We’ve been thinking a lot about European security ourselves and thought it was important for us, for the Secretary, to out – to lay out some of our principles and policies on European security.
The Secretary also wanted to address this now: There have been some questions about how the United States thinks about Europe, the degree to which the United States is engaged in Europe, particularly given what is obvious, which is that we are very much focused on a number of global challenges – in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and Iran and China – and some have asked the question, “Does this mean that the Obama Administration is somehow turning away from Europe and focused on other issues?” And the Secretary wanted to answer that question very clearly, which is that the answer is no, and not only no but rather that the contrary is true, that because the United States faces such a broad and daunting set of global challenges, it needs strong and active European partners more than ever. We believe we have them, and we believe that working together with Europe, as we think about and deal with challenges in Afghanistan, Iran, climate change, the global economy, we need strong European allies more rather than less because of the global agenda that we face.
And that is a further reason why we welcome the passage of the Treaty of Lisbon, and we work – we look forward to working closely with our new EU counterparts as the EU builds on the new institutional structures that they have put together.
We know that there is a lot of work to do, not only globally, but also there is some unfinished business in Europe. We’re obviously proud of what the United States and its EU allies have accomplished together in Europe on the European security front and in spreading stability and democracy and prosperity across Europe, but we recognize as well that that agenda is unfinished and there is more work ahead, and we very much look forward to doing it together with the European Union.
Let me take this opportunity to underscore some of the principles and policies that the Secretary spelled out in her speech. I am sure you have all read it, but to underscore some of the core principles that will be driving us as we head into this year of discussions of European security.
And the first is our dedication to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states. This means that the United States will remain vigilant in our efforts to oppose any attempt to undermine the right of all countries to pursue their own foreign policies, choose their own allies, and provide for their own defense. And the Secretary made clear that we strongly object to any notion of a sphere of influence in Europe, where one country tries to control another’s future.
Second, we recognize that security in Europe must be indivisible. In our view, the security of all nations is intertwined and we must work together to enhance each other’s security by engaging each other’s ideas and approaches. Now, indivisible security is one of the core ideas that the Russian Government has put forward in some of its proposals for a European security and the NATO-Russia treaty. And on that point, I want to say – and the Secretary said – we agree. Security should not be pursued or achieved at the expense of another country in Europe. And there are other elements in the Russian proposals that we agree with as well, including principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-use of force principles, some of the Helsinki Final Act principles. And we want to work together with Russia to reaffirm these principles.
As the Secretary made clear, however, we believe that the principle of indivisible security is best pursued in the context of existing institutions, such as the OSCE and the NATO-Russia Council. But again, we are open to hearing Russia’s ideas and engaging in broad and vigorous dialogue with Russians. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in the U.S.-Russia relationship in the first year of the Obama Administration. The President came in determined to improve what was a deteriorating relationship with Russia. And now, our two sides are moving close to an agreement on the follow-up treaty to START. We are fully implementing the Afghan Lethal Transit Agreement, which helps us very much in diversifying supply routes to Afghanistan. We’ve got the Bi-National Presidential Commission up and running, looking for practical ways to cooperate in 16 different fields. So we want to build on that, and a dialogue on European security can be useful in that regard, even as we make absolutely clear that our approach will be determined by the principles that I’m talking about.
A third principle is our commitment to the collective defense and security of our NATO allies, keeping with our commitment in Article 5 of the NATO treaty. We’re working with allies to develop plans to respond to all appropriate contingencies. And we are also engaging in very productive discussions with our allies on the question of missile defense, which, again, as the President recently articulated, is designed to deal with a real and growing threat. Our approach to missile defense is designed to cover all NATO allies and we want to work it through NATO, and we believe that’s in the best interests of ourselves and our European allies. And the Secretary also made clear in Paris that we remain serious about exploring ways to cooperate with Russia on the question of missile defense, as this is one of those areas where we have a common interest.
Our desire to pursue missile defense is not targeted at Russia or designed to protect against Russia; on the contrary. There is a threat common to both of us, and we believe there should be ways where we can work together on that.
Fourth, we’re committed to practicing transparency in our dealings with Europe and Russia. This is an important principle. We need to keep channels of communication open. We need to know what each other is doing. The United States supports a more open exchange of military data, including visits to military sites. The Secretary made clear that the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe treaty also needs our attention. Our goal should be a modern security framework that strengthens the principles of territorial integrity, nonuse of force and transparency and limits armed forces.
Fifth, the United States believes that people everywhere have the right to live free from fear of nuclear destruction. President Obama has declared a goal, a long-term goal, of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. As long as nuclear weapons exist, we will retain a safe, secure, and effective deterrent to protect us and our allies. As I noted, the United States and Russia are close to concluding a new START treaty to reduce our strategic nuclear arsenals, and we also look forward to working with Russia and others on a nuclear security summit in the spring to address the risk of unsecured nuclear material, and to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
Finally, we recognize that true security entails not only peaceful relations among states, but opportunities and rights for individuals who live within them. That is a core principal not only that we all agreed to together within the OSCE, but it’s something that Secretary Clinton personally has been very interested in for a long time and very active on this score, defending human rights to all citizens so that they can live in dignity, free from fear of violence or oppression. We’re working together with our partners in Europe on this agenda, and we will be coming forward, and I’ve already come forward in the context of the OSCE with ways that we think we can broaden respect for human rights, end human trafficking across Europe, and reach out to groups that are subject to prejudice or marginalization.
So you can see we have a full agenda for European security, some concrete ideas that we are pushing forward. We’ll look forward to the dialogue and discussion in the course of this coming year in the context of revising the NATO strategic concept, and in other fora to work together with our European allies in achieving these goals. Thank you very much and I look forward to your questions.MODERATOR:
Well, we might as well get it out of the way right now. Andrei, let’s – why don’t we give you the first question.QUESTION:
Thank you. Andrei Sitov from TASS, from the Russian news agency. Thank you for your – for coming here and thanks to our friends at the FPC for arranging this, even on a busy day. It’s still a great opportunity.
Sir, I was glad to hear that you’re willing to talk with the Russians about new ideas about European security, only I did not get a clear idea of what you want to talk about. My impression is you want to retain what already exists and what the Russians believe, the Russian Government, and more importantly, the Russian public believes – that political commitments made to Russia previously have been broken in some instances, or at least they do not work in important situations such as the one with Georgia.
And so my question to you is: What exactly do you want to discuss? Retaining the status quo or maybe making the commitments more binding in a legal sense? Thank you. ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
Thank you very much for that question. We recognize and agree with the Russian Government that the security situation in Europe is imperfect. I don’t think anyone would claim that the institutional structures, the practices are pristine, don’t need any improvement, whatever, let’s preserve the status quo and we’ll all be fine. We had a war in Georgia a little more than a year ago. If nothing else, that is evidence enough that these structures are imperfect and we need to do better.
And that’s why we actually have new ideas about how to make the OSCE work better, including in crisis management situations. We’ve come forward with ideas to strengthen the chair and office of the OSCE so that if a crisis starts to emerge, the chair, without waiting for a cumbersome decision-making process of agreement by more than 50 states to have a long series of meetings and agree that the chair could take measures to explore what is happening on the ground, report back, and maybe enable us to take some measures to prevent this crisis from emerging. And there are plenty of other ways I’m happy to get into where we seek change.
The issue, however, of making existing commitments more binding, or some of the specific ideas the Russians have come forward with a treaty, we have questions about whether that could be an effective way to improve a situation that we acknowledge is imperfect. A treaty commitment would have to not only be negotiated and agreed and ratified by all of the states involved, which again would be more than 55 different countries – and as the Secretary said in Paris, that could be a very long and cumbersome process – but not only would have to be negotiated; they would then have to be ratified by all of those countries, which we wonder whether we could achieve that goal. And then it would have to be enforceable, and that would be a particular challenge as well, seeing who would be responsible for enforcing such a treaty.
So that’s why the Secretary said we believe that the problems and imperfections that exist can better be handled in some of the institutions we have, and they can be improved, and that’s why we want this healthy dialogue. The OSCE can be improved in the way that I said, but also in many other ways. And I think a more active OSCE, in monitoring elections and monitoring human rights violations and reporting on conflict situations, and the NATO-Russia Council can also be improved.
And we’ve been active. It was Secretary Clinton last March who came forward. The NATO-Russia Council wasn’t used, really, in the Georgia war. Instead, it was just sort of put aside and the Secretary said we have this mechanism; let’s try to use it, and when we have problems, use it for dialogue. And we’ve put forward an agenda for the NATO-Russia Council and haven’t always found Russia as responsive as we would like in strengthening and using the NATO-Russia Council.
So we don’t think that the fix here is inventing new mechanisms or treaties or institutions. We have the appropriate channels; we need to use them.
I would finally add we need to build trust among ourselves. The underlying problem that led to the conflict in Georgia, and sometimes leads to broaden tension, is mutual suspicion, and frankly, an attitude of zero-sum thinking that if it’s good for NATO or the United States, it’s somehow bad for Russia. And that is simply not our view. And I think the Secretary was very clear on that as well.
We think we are now beyond the Cold War. We have very similar interests to Russia in a number of ways, and that’s why I mentioned our desire to pursue missile defense together. We have to get beyond the notion that if it’s good for NATO it’s bad for Russia, or if it’s good for the United States it’s bad for Russia. We have real differences, too, including over Georgia. We have a difference on NATO enlargement. But our view is that NATO enlargement has helped promote stable and secure democracies, some which are on Russia’s borders. And we actually think that Russia has an interest in stable and secure democracies on its borders, and that they don’t threaten Russia but they should actually be seen positively from Russia.
So that’s why – separately from some of the institutional discussions in Europe – we are working to build a more trusting relationship with Russia, and I think we are succeeding. Without overselling it, compared to a year ago, we have a more trusting relationship with Russia. We are working constructively on issues like Iran and North Korea and Afghanistan where we have common interests. And if we stick to that approach, we could get to the point where we understand and see our common interests with the Russians and won’t feel the need to talk about treaties to constrain us from conflicts, because those conflicts will not make sense to anybody in the first place.MODERATOR:
David, maybe you had a follow-up on Georgia?QUESTION:
Thank you. David Nikuradze of Georgian Broadcasting Company Rustavi 2 TV Washington bureau. Secretary Clinton has expressed the U.S. position on Georgia’s territorial integrity. But last year, we’ve seen that Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been recognized by another state Nauru. I understand Nauru is a small country, not a major political player. But let me ask you what Washington and the international community do to prevent another recognition in the future? Thanks, sir.ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
Okay. The first point, I think the verdict of the international community on the declared independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is pretty clear, which is to say that the overwhelmingly vast majority of countries around the world do not recognize their independence and have no intention of recognizing their independence. I think you have Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru, which have stepped forward. That’s not exactly a resounding endorsement. We have a different view from Russia on this issue. And we – and our view is shared by, as I note, the vast majorities of countries around the world.
We do actively engage with countries around the world and make our view clear. It’s not a secret that we don’t think South Ossetia and Abkhazia should be recognized. We don’t think that that promotes stability in the region, and we make our view clear to our international partners. But I would say it does not require an active American campaign to prevent recognitions because just about every country in the world shares our view that Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty should be respected and there should be other ways of dealing with the tensions within Georgia.MODERATOR:
Tulin, take the next one.QUESTION:
Thank you. This is Tulin Daloglu with Haberturk
. It’s a Turkish daily newspaper. I wanted to follow up with your remarks on the Europe missile defense program. You said that you’re engaging in productive talks with your European counterparts. Last week, the Polish defense ministry announced that it will deploy U.S. surface-to-air missiles just 60 kilometers from the Russian border. And I just wonder whether you can put it into context for us that when the Obama Administration first came in, we thought that that plan, which was supposed to be the previous administration’s plan, was totally called off. Now is it back again? And I know that at the time Turkey was also partly a part of these discussions, a part of this missile defense would be launched in Turkey. We are never sure what parts were these. So can you bring – you know, talk to us what it is – what’s happening on that front? Thank you.ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
Sure. Thank you, Tulin. A couple of things. We need to distinguish between what Poland is now talking about, which is a battery of Patriot missiles for air defense and the missile defense architecture that the Bush Administration was talking about. They’re two different things.
The Bush Administration had plans in place to deploy ground-based interceptors in Poland to defend against and medium- and long-term – I’m sorry, medium- and long-range ballistic missiles, some of which could strike Europe, some of which could strike the United States. And that was the core, along with an X-band radar in the Czech Republic of the Bush Administration approach to global missile defense.
The Obama Administration, in the President’s announcement last September, concluded that it didn’t make sense to move forward with the 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and the X-band radar in the Czech Republic, and to pursue the phased adaptive approach to missile defense, which we have explained would include – which would be based on the Standard Missile-3, including a site in the north and a site in the south of Europe.
That is a different issue from the announcement you were referring to in Poland about deploying Patriots in Poland. Patriots that could eventually contribute to Polish air defenses is something that was underway in a separate track for a long time. There’s an agreement between the United States to rotate in Patriot air defense batteries for the purposes of training in Poland so that, if they choose to do so down the road, they could purchase and incorporate Patriots into their air defenses. But that’s an issue that is separate from the issue of a missile defense.
And as you note, I noted we were engaging in productive talks with our NATO allies on that separate issue of missile defense, and indeed we are. We’re talking to a number of allies about how they might fit in. We’re engaged in discussions at NATO about the appropriate NATO role in missile defense. At the NATO ministerial in December, allies recognized the contribution that the Obama Administration’s phased adaptive approach to missile defense could make in the protection of their territories and populations and deployed forces. So those talks go on, but it’s a separate matter from Patriots in Poland.QUESTION:
David, El Pais
I wanted to ask you --QUESTION:
Thanks. I wanted to ask you if you can confirm that the President will be skipping trip of upcoming trip to Europe, as to Spain that had been announced by the White House and his participation in European Union summit and what the reasons may be for this.ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
Sure. Let me just clarify, the White House had never announced such travel. But let me also put the issue of a US-EU summit in context. The context is that the United States, as I mentioned in my opened remarks, is strongly committed to the relationship with the European Union. Indeed, we are very interested in expanding our engagement with the EU structures following the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty.
And the President, as you all know, has traveled more to Europe in his first year probably than any president has ever done in the past. And he looks forward to continuing this engagement bilaterally with European allies and directly with the European Union. And by the way, that also applies to Spain, where he has had at least two meetings with President Zapatero and looks forward to welcoming the king in Washington later this month. The President never had on his schedule a trip for a spring US-EU summit. US-EU summits take place – tend to take place annually. In the President’s first year, the schedule was somewhat altered because of his early trip to Prague – remember there was, in April, the NATO summit, and then he wanted early on to see all of the EU leaders and he saw them in Prague. And then in Washington we hosted, under the Swedish presidency, a US-EU summit last month – sorry, in December, early December.
And then the question was opened about how to move forward with US-EU summits in 2010. And we’re still working that issue out with the European Union, but a summit in Spain wasn’t on his agenda in the first place.QUESTION:
I’m sorry -- QUESTION:
A quick follow-up. Right here, Paul. QUESTION:
Oh, here. Sorry.QUESTION:
Hi, it’s Macarena Vidal with the Spanish News Agency. I just wanted to check whether – when exactly the decision was made or not made, and whether the results in Massachusetts have any influence on travel plans. ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
No, this is something, again, the White House had been looking to sort out the President’s 2010 schedule for some time, and I think it was always a given that he was going to be going to Europe fewer times in 2010 than he went in 2009. I would not tie this in any way to domestic developments – certainly, recent elections. It is true that the President has an enormous domestic agenda and international agenda, so there is – there are limits to how many foreign trips he can take, how many trips to Europe he can take. Undeniably, he has an awful lot to do at home, but it is not linked to that. Again, a trip to Spain for a summit was never on his agenda. He strongly values the bilateral relationship with Spain, which, again, I think is manifested in the fact that he hosted President Zapatero here, looks forward to welcoming the king in the White House, and ultimately concluded that as we continue to think how best to move forward and organize the next US-EU summit. MODERATOR:
Let’s get Corine here from Le Monde
Thank you. Thank you for coming. On Iran, this is anniversary of the revolution. I was wondering how the democracy or the protest movement is affecting the engagement, your policy of engagement. Is it making it more complicated or is it just not a problem?ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
Well, thanks, Corine. I mean, I think all questions on Iran require – or would necessitate a certain bit of speculation. It is difficult to know the degree to which or how or in what ways the domestic protests might be affecting the engagement strategy and the decisions of the government. So I don’t – I won’t engage in such speculation. I think the short answer is we don’t know.
What I can say or what we can do is deal with the government that’s in place. We don’t have the luxury of waiting to see how that plays out and finding out the answer to the question that we can’t know by not pursuing every mechanism we can to forestall an Iranian nuclear program with this government that is in place. So while being clearly and publicly critical of the way the regime is responding to the protests, we are moving forward, both directly with Iran and insisting to the Iranians that the engagement strategy remains in place, that our – what we consider to be reasonable offers remain on the table – we hope the Iranian Government will respond to those; and pursuing our ongoing dialogue with partners around the world, certainly P5+1 partners but also others, on making good of what the President said all of last year, which is that we’re serious about engagement, we’ve put forward some ideas to Iran, but if by the end of the year hadn’t shown itself to be responsive, we would have to look at other approaches and a way to make clear that there would be consequences for Iran’s lack of response.
I think it is fair to say that we have not seen Iran respond positively. I think it’s also fair to say that most of our allies agree with that assessment and it’s time to start talking about other approaches. So the engagement possibility remains on the table. The proposals we’ve made remain on the table. We are watching with interest the developments inside Iran and have made clear, as I noted, our strong disapproval of some of the ways the regime has responded. But we can’t – both because we can’t know how that affects the regime and we don’t have time to let it play out – we’re moving forward to deal with the nuclear program because there’s urgency behind doing so.QUESTION:
Excuse me. There is no slowing down of the pursuit of sanctions because of this movement?ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
No, I don’t think so. I think the discussion of possible sanctions is moving ahead, needs to move ahead, and for the reasons that I’ve given. MODERATOR:
Okay, let’s go right here.QUESTION:
Hello, Martin Martin Klingst of the German weekly Die Zeit
. Thanks for coming. How far are we with the START treaty and when is it ready to be signed? And if you look at the Russian-American relations, has the reset button be pushed?ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
Has the reset button been pushed on Russian-American relations? Yeah, we pushed it a long time ago. (Laughter.) I think maybe you’re asking has the reset -- QUESTION:
Is it working?ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
Is it working? I addressed that a little bit. On START, a treaty is never concluded until it’s concluded, so by definition, there’s more to do. It think both presidents have publicly stated that we have made significant progress in recent weeks. We believe that we are nearing completion of the START treaty. I think there’s been confidence expressed on both sides that we’re going to get this done in our mutual interest. I can’t put a timetable on it. The START treaty is very complicated and technical and negotiators have some work to do. But I think the presidents are satisfied that on the biggest issues we are seeing eye-to-eye and are confident that we’ll get this done in the very near future. But can’t put a schedule on it because both sides have to be satisfied that it meets their national interest before they move ahead. And that may have taken longer than we ideally would have liked, but that’s the way it is.
On your broader question, I think I, at least in part, answered that before. We never expected pushing the reset button, if you want to stick with that metaphor, was going to lead to a revolution in U.S.-Russian relations. We still have some different perspectives and different interests, and we will. But have we improved the relationship and done some serious and practical things over the last year? I think absolutely, we have. And I gave you some examples. And I think the atmosphere in our discussions is also healthier. We never expected it to remove some differences that we have. We are critical of some of what Russia does; they’re critical of some of what we do. But we have a serious and constructive dialogue and want to keep building on it and getting to the place that I described as our ambition for the relationship with Russia.MODERATOR:
Brian Beary, right here in the middle.QUESTION:
I’m Brian Beary from Europolitics
You mentioned the Lisbon treaty and how that might change the relations with Europe. Can you be a bit more specific? What are the type of things that the United States will deal with the EU that it didn’t do before? For example, is missile defense going to be coming up in the EU-U.S. summits? And on missile defense, you mentioned the north – the plans for the north and the south. Can you say a little bit more? Has it been specified which seas they’d like to – are you talking about these mobile missile interceptor units?MR. GORDON:
On working with the EU, I think this will be a gradual process rather than some dramatic new area where the U.S. and the EU are going to work together, firstly because the EU itself has to start implementing the Lisbon treaty. And I think there are still some details to be sorted out on exactly how the new post-Lisbon EU is going to function. And we – look, we have our own transition when a new administration comes to power and I have some sympathy for the EU as it gets up and running with a new set of mechanisms and procedures and people.
So it will take some time. But the point I was trying to make is we are ready to go as far as Europeans in the EU are ready to go. This is up to Europeans. They will decide the degree to which they want EU institutions to represent them or to get engaged in one issue or another. And I am simply saying we are ready to work with them, if and as they make those decisions.
The Secretary has had several excellent meetings with High Representative Catherine Ashton, including Baroness Ashton’s visit to Washington, D.C., where she spent a significant amount of time with the Secretary and her other counterparts, and again in London this week. And we look forward to working with her as the empowered High Representative for European Union foreign policy.
So I think in a number of ways on a number of issues on which this relationship could be expanded and made more effective. Ultimately, of course, it’s up to the Europeans to decide on what issues they want the EU to take a greater role on as opposed to national ones.
And on missile defense, there are specifics being worked out. I mentioned that it will be based – instead of the ground-based interceptors in Poland, it will be based on the SM-3 missile with one site in the north and one in the south. But we’re still talking to different countries about precisely where those sites will be. I think you mentioned ships in the sea. There are also naval versions that can contribute to a missile defense as well. The Polish Government has expressed potential interest, and we’re engaged in useful discussions with Poland on the potential for a northern site. There are a number or options in the south as well. And ultimately, we will get to a place, we believe, that we have a missile defense that is pursued through NATO and covers all of the NATO allies.MODERATOR:
Next, we’ll go to our Polish colleague for a follow-up.QUESTION:
Jacek Pryzblyski from Poland’s national newspaper Rzeczpospolita
I would like to follow up on Patriot missiles. When Patriot missiles are going to be deployed in Poland? And do you expect it could raise some tensions with Russia?ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
I don’t want to speculate on what – how Russia will react or not. You’ll have to ask the Russian Government. I would just say that, in our view, there’s no reason it should provoke tensions. All countries in Europe, to one degree or another, already have some form of air defenses. It’s reasonable for all countries to be asking themselves how best they can improve their air defenses. And that is the operative word. These are defensive systems and are designed only to protect the airspace of a country. They are not useful in any way to launch an offensive attack. I don’t see why this should be a cause of concern between Poland and Russia.MODERATOR:
Okay, we have time for two more questions. So, this gentleman in the back here. Thanks.QUESTION:
Yes, sir. Hisham Melhem, Al Arabiya Television. Thank you, Secretary Gordon, for meeting with us.
There is concern in Turkey that the failure to ratify the Turkish-Armenian agreement could lead to resurrecting the attempts here in the Congress to pass the Armenian genocide resolution. What’s the state of play with that agreement, anyway? Are you doing anything as the United States? And how concerned are you that this could lead to a revival of the Armenian genocide resolution?ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
This is an issue of great importance to us. As you know, the protocols on establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries were signed last October. We said at the time and continue to believe that both countries now need to move forward in ratifying them and implementing them. And we believe that because we believe this is an opportunity to overcome really historic differences between the two countries in a way that would benefit both – to establish and normalize relations between the two countries and open the border would contribute to peace and stability in the region.
And we think that is true regardless of other issues, that it needs to move forward independently of other issues simply because it is in the interests of the two countries. So we are in regular touch with both governments and encourage them to move forward with that process. And that’s where it stands. We will continue to work with both of them.
As for any links, I think President Obama has addressed the other issue you mentioned about congressional legislation and our view on that is no different, that Turkey-Armenia normalization is a good thing in and of itself, and it should move forward because of that.MODERATOR:
Okay. We have one last question – how about our Russian colleague all the way in the back? QUESTION:
Ekaterina Alexandrova, Infox TV Russia. In her speech in Paris, Secretary of State stated that the safety provided by missile defense in Europe could extend to Russia if Russia decides to cooperate. What is your vision of this cooperation? Under what condition this extension would be possible? And what do you mean by this extension, exactly? ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON:
Right. Well, that’s precisely what would be up to the parties in any discussion to decide. I mean, that is what we need to sort out. I would say that all options are open. I mean, it could range from the very limited sharing of information about proliferation risks, and we’re already in discussions about that – Presidents Obama and Medvedev agreed at their summit in Moscow in the summer to pursue a joint assessment of ballistic missile proliferation risks.
So it could start with something quite small about discussing the risk, but it could extend to joint cooperation on not only technology, but implementation so that the United States, NATO, and Russia are actually working together to defend themselves together against a ballistic missile threat. But this is precisely what we are ready to talk about, and we look forward to those discussions. MODERATOR:
All right. Thank you, everybody, appreciate you coming today.QUESTION: