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116th Congress      }                                {     Exec. Rept.
                                 SENATE
 1st Session        }                                {          116-5

======================================================================



 
 PROTOCOL TO THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY OF 1949 ON THE ACCESSION OF THE 
                      REPUBLIC OF NORTH MACEDONIA

                                _______
                                

               September 18, 2019.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

          Mr. Risch, from the Committee on Foreign Relations,
                        submitted the following

                                 REPORT

                    [To accompany Treaty Doc. 116-1]

    The Committee on Foreign Relations, to which was referred 
the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on the 
Accession of the Republic of North Macedonia, opened for 
signature at Brussels on February 6, 2019, and signed that day 
on behalf of the United States of America, having considered 
the same, reports favorably thereon subject to seven 
declarations and one condition for the Protocol, as indicated 
in the resolution of advice and consent for the treaty, and 
recommends the Senate give its advice and consent to 
ratification thereof, as set forth in this report and the 
accompanying resolution of advice and consent.






                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page

  I. Purpose..........................................................1
 II. Background.......................................................2
III. Qualifications of the Republic of North Macedonia for NATO 
     Membership.......................................................2
 IV. Entry Into Force.................................................3
  V. Committee Action.................................................4
 VI. Committee Recommendation and Comments............................4
VII. Text of Resolution of Advice and Consent to Ratification.........6
VIII.Annex I.--Hearing of June 12, 2019, ``NATO Expansion: Examining 
     the Accession of North Macedonia''..............................11
 IX. Annex II.--Business Meeting of July 25, 2019....................51

                               I. Purpose

    This Protocol is a vehicle for inviting The Republic of 
North Macedonia to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty (the 
``Treaty'') in accordance with Article 10 of the Treaty and 
thus become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization 
(``NATO''), with all of the privileges and responsibilities 
that apply to current Allies. The core commitment made among 
the Allies is embodied in the text of the Treaty, including the 
collective defense provision in Article 5.

                            II.  Background

    The North Atlantic Treaty entered into force on August 24, 
1949, with twelve states having ratified the Treaty. The 
original parties of the Treaty, and thus the original members 
of NATO, were the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, 
France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, 
Norway, Iceland, and Luxembourg. The alliance has expanded 
seven times: in 1952, Greece and Turkey became members; in 
1955, West Germany; in 1982, Spain; in 1999, Poland, Hungary 
and the Czech Republic; in 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, 
Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia; in 2009, Albania, 
and Croatia; and in 2017, Montenegro.
    The process leading to the enlargement of the alliance has 
been refined since the Cold War. NATO remains a military 
alliance but has also become an agent of peace, holding new 
members to higher democratic and economic standards and 
creating a secure space for newly free nations to develop. 
Military reform and achieving interoperability with NATO 
remains essential, but the democratic character of the new 
allied country is also important. The debate over the last 
several enlargements has centered on what standard of political 
or economic development is adequate for accession to the 
alliance.
    In the 1990s, Secretary of Defense William Perry 
established benchmarks used to assess new members. Important 
considerations include adherence to democratic elections and 
free market economics, protections of individual liberty, 
resolution of territorial disputes with neighbors, a commitment 
to the rule of law, established democratic control of the 
military, and the ability to contribute to defense commitments. 
The Republic of North Macedonia has addressed these issues in 
the course of its NATO membership application and the committee 
has examined the results.
    Engagement with NATO to assist a country's democratic and 
economic development is not the end of reform. The experience 
of previous NATO enlargements suggests that countries continue 
the reform process after admission, and North Macedonia must 
similarly continue this process.

        III. Qualifications of the Republic of North Macedonia 
                          for NATO Membership

    Since the mid-1990's, NATO has been heavily involved in 
peacekeeping operations in the Western Balkans, a region that 
has struggled with instability, and remains volatile. NATO has 
also worked hard to strengthen institutional ties with the 
fledgling democracies of the region, in the hope that full 
integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions such as NATO and 
the European Union (``EU'') would ensure long-term stability 
and security.
    Since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, North 
Macedonia's key foreign policy goals have been EU and NATO 
membership. Key to realizing those goals has been the 
resolution of an issue with neighboring Greece over the 
country's name. The Republic of North Macedonia has also 
improved relations with its other NATO-member neighbors, 
concluding a Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria in 2017, and 
expanding its relationship with Albania.
    NATO invited North Macedonia to begin formal accession 
talks in July 2018, after the Republic of Macedonia and Greece 
concluded the Prespa Agreement. In it, the Republic of 
Macedonia formally changed its name to the Republic of North 
Macedonia, and Greece removed its objections to that nation's 
NATO and EU memberships. North Macedonia has also begun to 
implement the various requirements of the Prespa Agreement in a 
timely manner. By 2008, North Macedonia had already fulfilled 
the technical requirements set out in the Membership Action 
Plan (``MAP'') it began in 1999. However, after its NATO and EU 
prospects were sidelined in 2008, North Macedonia did indeed 
backslide both on defense matters and on its reform agenda. In 
2008, its defense spending was over 2 percent of its GDP; by 
2018, that had dropped to 0.98 percent. Spending has since 
increased and North Macedonia now has a clear and credible plan 
to reach 2 percent by 2024.
    Since beginning its MAP in 1999, the Republic of North 
Macedonia has adopted a wide range of laws aiming to bolster 
the effectiveness and transparency of government institutions, 
and the independence of the judiciary, among other things. 
However, after a long period of positive changes and reforms, 
the country relaxed its commitment to those reforms when NATO 
membership was put out of reach in 2008. That negative trend 
has reversed since 2017, and North Macedonia has recently made 
strong progress on reform, including the establishment of a 
Special Prosecutor's Office focused on corruption and abuse of 
office. Nevertheless, North Macedonia continues to face 
challenges in the following areas: (1) rule of law, especially 
judicial reform and the fight against corruption and nepotism; 
(2) good governance, particularly transparency measures and 
public administration reform; (3) security matters, including 
intelligence and security sector reform, and full 
implementation of its Strategic Defense Review plans; and (4) 
military matters, including removal of unnecessary military 
infrastructure and surplus arms, and continuing to upgrade and 
update its systems.
    In its 2019 annual progress report on the Republic of North 
Macedonia, the European Union noted that the Government had 
continued ``to deepen the reform momentum'' and had ``taken 
steps to restore checks and balances, and to strengthen 
democracy and the rule of law.'' However, they also called on 
North Macedonia's leadership to work to restore public trust in 
the judicial system, demonstrate its commitment to the 
continued fight against corruption in the country, and increase 
accountability and transparency in public administration.

                          IV. Entry Into Force

    The Protocol will enter into force when all of the current 
Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty have notified the 
Government of the United States of America, which is the 
depositary for the North Atlantic Treaty, of their acceptance 
of the Protocol. Once the Protocol has entered into force, the 
Secretary General of NATO shall extend an invitation to the 
Republic of North Macedonia to accede to the North Atlantic 
Treaty and in accordance with Article 10 of the Treaty, North 
Macedonia shall become a Party to the Treaty on the date it 
deposits its instrument of accession with the Government of the 
United States of America.

                          V. Committee Action

    In the 116th Congress, the Committee held a public hearing 
on the accession of the Republic of North Macedonia to NATO on 
June 12, 2019, and testimony was received from the Honorable 
Philip T. Reeker, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of 
European and Eurasian Affairs at the Department of State; and 
Ms. Kathryn Wheelbarger, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense 
for International Security Affairs at the Department of 
Defense. A transcript of this hearing is included as Annex I to 
this Executive Report, beginning on page 11. [On July 25, 2019, 
the committee considered this Protocol and ordered it favorably 
reported by voice vote, with a quorum present. A transcript of 
the July 25 business meeting is included as Annex II to this 
Executive Report, beginning on page 51.]

               VI. Committee Recommendation and Comments

    The Committee on Foreign Relations believes that the 
Republic of North Macedonia has the potential to make 
contributions as a member of NATO. North Macedonia has already 
demonstrated this potential through its participation, since 
2002, in NATO combat and training operations in Afghanistan and 
Iraq. Further, it has long been involved in providing 
logistical support for NATO's Kosovo Force (``KFOR'') and NATO 
and KFOR troops have benefited from the use of the Krivolak 
Training Area, one of the best ranges in Europe.
    The admission of North Macedonia to the alliance will have 
a stabilizing effect on Southeastern Europe and will extend 
NATO's reach in this vulnerable area, providing uninterrupted 
travel from the Black Sea across the Balkan Peninsula to the 
Adriatic. North Macedonia's membership will encourage the 
continued spread of peace and democracy in the region, and its 
willingness to contribute to ongoing NATO operations will 
augment NATO's resources.
    It will take some time for North Macedonia to cement the 
political and economic gains made in recent years. North 
Macedonia still needs to make greater efforts to enhance the 
rule of law, fight corruption, and maintain security sector 
reforms. The Committee believes, however, that as demonstrated 
by its dedication to pursuing NATO membership despite many 
obstacles, North Macedonia's commitment to NATO is strong and 
that its membership in the alliance is warranted.

                               RESOLUTION

    The Committee has included in the proposed resolution for 
the Protocol seven declarations and one condition, which are 
discussed below.

                              DECLARATIONS

Declaration 1. Reaffirmation that Membership in NATO Remains a Vital 
        National Security Interest of the United States

    Declaration 1 restates that U.S. membership in NATO is a 
vital national security interest for the United States. For 
seventy years, NATO has served as the foremost organization to 
defend the territory of the countries in the North Atlantic 
area against all external threats. NATO was successful in 
ensuring the survival of democratic governments throughout the 
Cold War, and NATO has established a process of cooperative 
security planning that enhances the security of the United 
States and its allies, while distributing the financial burden 
of defending the democracies of Europe and North America among 
the Allies.

Declaration 2. Strategic Rationale for NATO Enlargement

    Declaration 2 lays out the strategic rationale for the 
inclusion of the Republic of North Macedonia in NATO. NATO 
members have determined that, consistent with Article 10 of the 
North Atlantic Treaty, North Macedonia is in a position to 
further the principles of the North Atlantic Treaty and to 
contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area, and that 
extending membership to North Macedonia will enhance the 
stability of Southeast Europe, which is in the interests of the 
United States.

Declaration 3. Support for NATO's Open Door Policy

    Declaration 3 supports NATO's Open Door Policy for any 
European country that expresses interest in the alliance and is 
able to meet the obligations of membership.

Declaration 4. Future Consideration of Candidates for Membership in 
        NATO

    Declaration 4 declares that the consideration of future 
members in NATO provided for under Article 10 of the Senate-
approved North Atlantic Treaty is subject to the requirement 
for advice and consent under Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of 
the United States Constitution. Article 10 of the North 
Atlantic Treaty provides for an open door to the admission into 
NATO of other European countries that are in a position to 
further the principles of the Treaty and that can contribute to 
the security of the North Atlantic area. The United States will 
not support any subsequent invitation for admission to NATO if 
the prospective member cannot fulfill the obligations and 
responsibilities of NATO membership in a manner that serves the 
overall political and strategic interests of the United States. 
The Senate emphasizes that no state will be invited to become a 
member of NATO unless the Executive Branch fulfills the 
Constitutional requirement for seeking the advice of the 
Senate, a consensus decision to proceed is reached in NATO, and 
ratification is achieved according to the national procedures 
of each NATO member, including the consent to ratification by 
the Senate.

Declaration 5. Influence of Non-NATO Members on NATO Decisions

    Declaration 5 states that non-NATO members shall not have 
the ability to impact the decision-making process of the 
alliance in relation to NATO enlargement. Outside forces have 
attempted to interfere in the Republic of North Macedonia's 
domestic politics and build opposition to North Macedonia's 
inclusion in NATO, as well as to the conclusion of the Prespa 
Agreement. The Senate notes such concerns and emphasizes that 
non-NATO members shall not have the ability to influence the 
decision-making process of NATO enlargement.

Declaration 6. Support for 2014 Wales Summit Defense Spending Benchmark

    Declaration 6 reaffirms support for the resource 
commitments by alliance members outlined in the 2014 Wales 
Summit Declaration. These commitments obligate each NATO member 
to spend a minimum of two percent of GDP on defense and twenty 
percent of their defense budget on major equipment, including 
research and development. The Senate notes that at this time 
only eight members of the alliance meet the obligation for 
overall defense spending and encourages all members to address 
this disparity at the soonest opportunity.

Declaration 7. Support for The Republic of North Macedonia's Democratic 
        Reform Process

    Declaration 7 affirms that the Republic of North Macedonia 
has made significant progress in implementing reforms to 
address corruption, but recognizes that North Macedonia must 
continue to implement a robust reform agenda. It further 
recognizes the conclusion of the Prespa Agreement between North 
Macedonia and Greece and encourages both nations to continue 
their implementation of the Agreement and encourages the growth 
of a strategic partnership between the two nations.

                               CONDITIONS

Condition 1. Presidential Certification

    Condition 1 requires the President to certify, prior to the 
deposit of the instrument of ratification for the Protocol, 
that (1) the inclusion of the Republic of North Macedonia in 
NATO will not have the effect of increasing the overall 
percentage share of the United States in the NATO common 
budget; and (2) the inclusion of North Macedonia in the 
alliance will not detract from the ability of the United States 
to meet or fund its military requirements outside the North 
Atlantic Area.

                 VII. Text of Resolution of Advice and 
                        Consent to Ratification

    Resolved (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring 
therein),

SECTION 1. SENATE ADVICE AND CONSENT SUBJECT TO DECLARATIONS AND 
                    CONDITIONS.

    The Senate advises and consents to the ratification of the 
Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on the Accession 
of North Macedonia, which was opened for signature at Brussels 
on February 6, 2019, and signed that day on behalf of the 
United States of America (the ``Protocol'') (Treaty Doc. 116-
1), subject to the declarations of section 2 and the conditions 
of section 3.

SEC. 2. DECLARATIONS.

    The advice and consent of the Senate under section 1 is 
subject to the following declarations:
          (1) Reaffirmation That United States Membership in 
        NATO Remains a Vital National Security Interest of the 
        United States.--The Senate declares that--
                  (A) for 70 years the North Atlantic Treaty 
                Organization (NATO) has served as the 
                preeminent organization to defend the countries 
                in the North Atlantic area against all external 
                threats;
                  (B) through common action, the established 
                democracies of North America and Europe that 
                were joined in NATO persevered and prevailed in 
                the task of ensuring the survival of democratic 
                government in Europe and North America 
                throughout the Cold War;
                  (C) NATO enhances the security of the United 
                States by embedding European states in a 
                process of cooperative security planning and by 
                ensuring an ongoing and direct leadership role 
                for the United States in European security 
                affairs;
                  (D) the responsibility and financial burden 
                of defending the democracies of Europe and 
                North America can be more equitably shared 
                through an alliance in which specific 
                obligations and force goals are met by its 
                members;
                  (E) the security and prosperity of the United 
                States is enhanced by NATO's collective defense 
                against aggression that may threaten the 
                security of NATO members; and
                  (F) United States membership in NATO remains 
                a vital national security interest of the 
                United States.
          (2) Strategic Rationale for NATO Enlargement.--The 
        Senate declares that--
                  (A) the United States and its NATO allies 
                face continued threats to their stability and 
                territorial integrity;
                  (B) an attack against North Macedonia, or its 
                destabilization arising from external 
                subversion, would threaten the stability of 
                Europe and jeopardize United States national 
                security interests;
                  (C) North Macedonia, having established a 
                democratic government and having demonstrated a 
                willingness to meet the requirements of 
                membership, including those necessary to 
                contribute to the defense of all NATO members, 
                is in a position to further the principles of 
                the North Atlantic Treaty and to contribute to 
                the security of the North Atlantic area; and
                  (D) extending NATO membership to North 
                Macedonia will strengthen NATO, enhance 
                stability in Southeast Europe, and advance the 
                interests of the United States and its NATO 
                allies.
          (3) Support for NATO's Open Door Policy.--The policy 
        of the United States is to support NATO's Open Door 
        Policy that allows any European country to express its 
        desire to join NATO and demonstrate its ability to meet 
        the obligations of NATO membership.
          (4) Future Consideration of Candidates for Membership 
        in NATO.--
                  (A) Senate Finding.--The Senate finds that 
                the United States will not support the 
                accession to the North Atlantic Treaty of, or 
                the invitation to begin accession talks with, 
                any European state (other than North 
                Macedonia), unless--
                          (i) the President consults with the 
                        Senate consistent with Article II, 
                        section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution 
                        of the United States (relating to the 
                        advice and consent of the Senate to the 
                        making of treaties); and
                          (ii) the prospective NATO member can 
                        fulfill all of the obligations and 
                        responsibilities of membership, and the 
                        inclusion of such state in NATO would 
                        serve the overall political and 
                        strategic interests of NATO and the 
                        United States.
                  (B) Requirement for Consensus and 
                Ratification.--The Senate declares that no 
                action or agreement other than a consensus 
                decision by the full membership of NATO, 
                approved by the national procedures of each 
                NATO member, including, in the case of the 
                United States, the requirements of Article II, 
                section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution of the 
                United States (relating to the advice and 
                consent of the Senate to the making of 
                treaties), will constitute a commitment to 
                collective defense and consultations pursuant 
                to Articles 4 and 5 of the North Atlantic 
                Treaty.
          (5) Influence of Non-NATO Members on NATO 
        Decisions.--The Senate declares that any country that 
        is not a member of NATO shall have no impact on 
        decisions related to NATO enlargement.
          (6) Support for 2014 Wales Summit Defense Spending 
        Benchmark.--The Senate declares that all NATO members 
        should continue to move towards the guideline outlined 
        in the 2014 Wales Summit Declaration to spend a minimum 
        of 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on 
        defense and 20 percent of their defense budgets on 
        major equipment, including research and development, by 
        2024.
          (7) Support for North Macedonia's Process.--The 
        Senate declares that--
                  (A) North Macedonia has made difficult 
                reforms and taken steps to address corruption, 
                but the United States and other NATO member 
                states should not consider this important 
                process complete and should continue to urge 
                additional reforms; and
                  (B) North Macedonia and Greece's conclusion 
                of the Prespa Agreement, which resolved a long-
                standing bilateral dispute, has made possible 
                the former's invitation to NATO, and the United 
                States and other NATO members should continue 
                to press both nations to persevere in their 
                continued implementation of the Agreement and 
                encourage a strategic partnership between the 
                two nations.

SEC. 3. CONDITIONS.

    The advice and consent of the Senate under section 1 is 
subject to the following conditions:
          (1) Presidential Certification.--Prior to the deposit 
        of the instrument of ratification, the President shall 
        certify to the Senate as follows:
                  (A) The inclusion of North Macedonia in NATO 
                will not have the effect of increasing the 
                overall percentage share of the United States 
                in the common budgets of NATO.
                  (B) The inclusion of North Macedonia in NATO 
                does not detract from the ability of the United 
                States to meet or to fund its military 
                requirements outside the North Atlantic area.

SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.

    In this resolution:
          (1) NATO Members.--The term ``NATO members'' means 
        all countries that are parties to the North Atlantic 
        Treaty.
          (2) Non-NATO Members.--The term ``non-NATO members'' 
        means all countries that are not parties to the North 
        Atlantic Treaty.
          (3) North Atlantic Area.--The term ``North Atlantic 
        area'' means the area covered by Article 6 of the North 
        Atlantic Treaty, as applied by the North Atlantic 
        Council.
          (4) North Atlantic Treaty.--The term ``North Atlantic 
        Treaty'' means the North Atlantic Treaty, signed at 
        Washington April 4, 1949 (63 Stat. 2241; TIAS 1964), as 
        amended.
          (5) United States Instrument of Ratification.--The 
        term ``United States instrument of ratification'' means 
        the instrument of ratification of the United States of 
        the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on 
        the Accession of North Macedonia.

  Annex I.--Hearing of June 12, 2019, ``NATO Expansion: Examining the 
                     Accession of North Macedonia''




                     NATO EXPANSION: EXAMINING THE
                      ACCESSION OF NORTH MACEDONIA

                              ----------                              


                        WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2019

                                       U.S. Senate,
                            Committee on Foreign Relations,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:18 a.m. in 
Room SD-419, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. James E. 
Risch, chairman of the committee, presiding.
    Present: Senators Risch [presiding], Johnson, Gardner, 
Romney, Young, Menendez, Cardin, Shaheen, Murphy, and Kaine.

           OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES E. RISCH, 
                    U.S. SENATOR FROM IDAHO

    The Chairman. This morning we are going to talk about the 
potential accession of North Macedonia as a member of the North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO.
    April 4th marked, as we all know, the 70th anniversary of 
NATO. I am glad to have another opportunity for this committee 
to discuss the importance of this alliance.
    NATO is the world's most successful political-military 
alliance in the history of the world. Founded by the United 
States and 11 other nations in 1949, it has expanded seven 
times since its founding and now includes 29 countries. North 
Macedonia would make 30.
    The Senate's consideration of North Macedonia as a member 
of NATO is a piece of unfinished and long-delayed business. 
North Macedonia was originally eligible for NATO entry in 2008 
and was set to join the alliance, alongside Croatia and Albania 
in 2009. An ongoing dispute over North Macedonia's name 
prevented that from happening, but the leaders of both North 
Macedonia and Greece showed great political courage, given the 
tensions in each of the countries on that issue, in reaching an 
agreement earlier this year that has made today's discussion 
possible. The courage of the prime ministers to move the 
situation in the Balkans forward should be applauded. Not only 
does this Prespa Agreement pave the way forward for North 
Macedonia in both NATO and the European Union, but it is an 
excellent example of how other conflicts in the region could be 
and should be resolved.
    Over the past 7 years, NATO has remained a critical piece 
of the framework that supports our collective security, and 
while this small nation has not yet been inside the alliance, 
North Macedonia has worked alongside NATO for many years. From 
2002 until 2014, North Macedonia deployed about 4,000 troops in 
support of the international security assistance force in 
Afghanistan. It is currently supporting the Resolute Support 
mission to assist the Afghan Security Forces. The country has 
also provided support to the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in 
Kosovo. Recently NATO troops have begun training on a North 
Macedonian military training range, which is considered to be 
one of the best in Europe.
    NATO has proven not only to be a military success, but a 
political and economic one. NATO's security umbrella has 
provided the kind of stable political and security environment 
necessary for economic growth and investment. Since joining 
NATO in 2017, Montenegro has seen forward investment from 
members of the alliance double, and North Macedonia has high 
hopes for the same.
    Like most nations, North Macedonia is not without 
challenges. As a small country with a young democracy, it will 
require further government reforms and military modernization, 
as have most new NATO allies.
    For example, it will need to continue its transition from 
legacy Soviet equipment, further reform its intelligence 
services, continue to strengthen its anti-corruption 
institutions, and importantly, resist Russian interference.
    Yet, through its contributions to NATO missions, its 
already substantial democratic reforms, and the Prespa 
Agreement, North Macedonia has demonstrated robust commitment 
to the alliance and its values.
    Just as important as a commitment to shared values is 
allies' commitment to burden sharing. Seven allies currently 
meet their pledge to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, and 18 
are on track to do so by 2024. We urge them to continue 
aggressively in that direction. North Macedonia has pledged to 
meet the 2 percent spending requirement and is already in the 
process of spending 20 percent of that amount on equipment.
    Many Americans might wonder how bringing a small country 
like North Macedonia into NATO will strengthen the alliance. 
North Macedonia brings military capabilities like its training 
center that I mentioned earlier, but it also brings political 
stability to a region long fraught with conflict. In the era of 
great power competition, it solidifies Western values in a 
country that Russia has been desperate to keep in its sphere of 
influence. North Macedonia has wisely declined.
    The West must honor commitments made to countries that have 
painstakingly made the reforms the alliance has asked of them. 
Otherwise, they may have nowhere to turn but towards Russia and 
China.
    Bringing a 30th member into NATO during its 70th year is a 
strong signal to allies and enemies alike that NATO continues 
to be critical to the United States for her security and 
alliance and that it is adapting to modern challenges.
    I look forward to hearing your testimonies and to hopefully 
welcoming North Macedonia into the alliance.
    With that, Senator Menendez.

              STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT MENENDEZ, 
                  U.S. SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY

    Senator Menendez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this 
hearing.
    NATO is vital to the security of the United States, and 
approving its expansion is one of the most important 
responsibilities that this committee has.
    Let me first acknowledge the presence of North Macedonia's 
charge d'affaires, Marijan Pop-Angelov. We appreciate you being 
here and joining with us.
    And let me also acknowledge our newly confirmed Ambassador 
to North Macedonia, Kate Byrnes, who is with us as well. 
Congratulations, Ambassador. You have gone through the gauntlet 
successfully. So we look forward to your service.
    Mr. Chairman, before I begin my remarks, I would like to 
ask unanimous consent that a letter of support for North 
Macedonia's NATO bid from U.S. delegates to the NATO 
Parliamentary Assembly be entered into the record.
    The Chairman. So ordered.


    [The material referred to above is located at the end of 
this hearing's transcript.]


    Senator Menendez. Today's hearing would not be happening 
without the Prespa Agreement between Greece and North 
Macedonia, which resolved the country's longstanding name 
dispute and came into force this past February. I appreciate 
the hard work that these countries undertook, as well as the 
diligent work of American diplomats, to make Prespa a reality. 
I look forward to hearing more from the State Department on 
North Macedonia's progress towards implementing its commitments 
under the agreement.
    I also hope to more broadly examine the geopolitical 
context of North Macedonia's candidacy. We know that the 
Kremlin tried to thwart the Prespa Agreement by clandestinely 
funding disinformation and political manipulation campaigns 
against the name change in both North Macedonia and Greece. We 
must again make clear no country outside of the alliance gets a 
veto over who joins NATO, especially not Russia.
    Though a small country, North Macedonia has made notable 
contributions to international security missions. I understand 
that North Macedonia has deployed more than 4,000 troops to 
Iraq in support of U.S. efforts there. In 2018, North Macedonia 
boosted its contribution in Afghanistan by 20 percent. It has 
also supported missions in Kosovo and actively supports the 
international counter-ISIS coalition, as well as that North 
Macedonia is home to a military training ground, as the 
chairman mentioned, unlike any other in Europe. And I look 
forward to hearing how that will benefit U.S. and NATO military 
readiness. These are all strong arguments in favor of its 
inclusion in the alliance.
    I want to stress the importance of each NATO member 
spending 2 percent of its GDP on defense. Since 2014, countries 
across the alliance have increased their defense spending in 
reaction to a clear and growing threat from the Kremlin, not 
necessarily bullying by President Trump. North Macedonia does 
not currently meet that threshold, but it is making progress. 
It is closer to reaching the second half of the Wales 
Commitment, spending 20 percent of the defense budget on major 
equipment. In 2019, it will reach 18 percent of the defense 
budget. The North Macedonian defense minister committed to this 
committee their intention to hit these targets, and we should 
hold them to it.
    Belonging to NATO is not just a measurement of military 
capability. We were established as a club of democracies that 
abide by a certain set of principles. Former Secretary of 
Defense William Perry laid out some criteria when the Clinton 
administration was considering new members: individual liberty 
for citizens, democratic elections, the rule of law, economic 
and market-based reforms, resolution of territorial disputes 
with neighbors, civilian control of the military.
    I would like our witnesses to address the durability of 
North Macedonia's recent rule of law improvements. Following 
corruption and abuses of authority under the previous 
government, North Macedonia's main political parties came 
together and signed the Przino Agreement to address the rule of 
law issues. In keeping with the agreement, North Macedonia has 
made difficult reforms and taken steps to address corruption by 
appointing a special prosecutor and tackling difficult cases.
    More work remains to continue to perfect North Macedonia's 
democracy. NATO member states should not consider this process 
complete and should urge North Macedonia to fully implement its 
reform commitments.
    Admission of North Macedonia into NATO would mark another 
important step towards fully integrating the Balkans into 
international institutions that have helped to contribute to 
peace and stability over the years in Europe. There is 
unfinished work for peace in the Balkans, and U.S. leadership 
is necessary to resolve these long-running challenges.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Menendez.
    Now we are going to hear from a couple of excellent 
witnesses on this.
    Before I do that, I would respectfully disagree about 
characterizing the President's actions of attempting to get our 
allies to meet their commitments of 2 percent as bullying. 
Indeed, I would think that there is not a member of this 
committee that have not met with our friends and allies in this 
that have not urged them in the strongest terms to meet that 
commitment. The President has done the same, and as we all 
know, he has a unique way of communicating ideas that are in 
his mind. And so I have no doubt that he and all of us on this 
committee will remain united to urge that our allies--and they 
are our allies--meet their 2 percent of GDP defense commitment, 
which is indeed a commitment.
    So with that, we will now hear from the Honorable Philip 
Reeker. He is the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for 
European and Eurasian Affairs. He previously served as a 
political advisor and civilian deputy at U.S. European Command. 
In his distinguished career, Ambassador Reeker has also served 
as Counsel General in Milan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of 
State for European and Eurasian Affairs focused on the Balkans, 
Central Europe, and Holocaust issues, and more importantly, was 
U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia from 2008 to 2011.
    Mr. Reeker, we welcome you and you no doubt have a very 
expert and unique view of this matter. So we are interested to 
hear your view. Mr. Reeker, the floor is yours.

  STATEMENT OF PHILIP T. REEKER, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY, 
 BUREAU OF EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 
                         WASHINGTON, DC

    Ambassador Reeker. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator 
Menendez, and the other members of the committee. It is indeed 
a pleasure for me to be here today some 11 years after I was in 
this same room for my hearing to become the fifth Ambassador in 
Skopje. I am really grateful for the opportunity to discuss, 
along with my colleague from the Department of Defense, the 
critical role that NATO plays in our security and North 
Macedonia's place in the alliance.
    It is my first appearance before the committee since I was 
asked by Secretary Pompeo to take over the responsibilities of 
former Assistant Secretary Wess Mitchell, and I really look 
forward to continuing to uphold the excellent standards 
established by Assistant Secretary Mitchell and our Bureau of 
European and Eurasian Affairs, and that includes working with 
the members of the committee and your staffs and being 
responsive to your questions and concerns. We are very grateful 
for you holding this important hearing today.
    I do want to thank our next Ambassador, my successor, Kate 
Byrnes, who is with us today. I am absolutely delighted that 
she will follow in the footsteps to continue working with North 
Macedonia, which is an important friend to the United States. I 
can think of no better colleague to have there representing the 
United States, and she will be leading a team, along with the 
Bureau of European Affairs, that focuses on exactly the issues 
that Senator Menendez mentioned in terms of working with 
Macedonia to continue their reforms and their strong support. 
And I want to thank the committee for seeing that Kate Byrnes 
was confirmed expeditiously because we are very excited to have 
her get out to Skopje.
    I do welcome the opportunity to explain why the 
administration strongly and unequivocally supports North 
Macedonia's membership in NATO. We firmly believe that North 
Macedonia's membership in the alliance benefits the national 
security of the United States and all Americans.
    As you may know, as you heard, I have a long professional 
and personal connection to the country. I did serve there at 
our embassy in Skopje from 1997 to 1998 as the public affairs 
officer and then later, with the advice and consent of this 
committee, as Ambassador, then as Deputy Assistant Secretary 
for South Central Europe.
    I have seen North Macedonia develop into the strong partner 
and, with the Senate's blessing, NATO ally that we need in the 
Western Balkans. I was also in Skopje after the Bucharest NATO 
summit in 2008, and I can tell you that the people of North 
Macedonia have yearned for and earned this moment, a moment to 
reflect on the long and sometimes difficult path that they have 
had to travel, but one that ultimately has led to a true and 
enduring commitment to peace, democracy, and prosperity for 
North Macedonia and for enduring transatlantic security and 
stability.
    I might note that the 19th century German statesman, Otto 
Von Bismarck, used to refer to the vexing Macedonia question. 
Well, some years ago, with the independence of this country, we 
answered that question. A democracy, multi-ethnic, that shares 
its values with the transatlantic community and now is the 
Republic of North Macedonia--we can continue to see that this 
difficult place in the world with a complicated geography is in 
fact an important element of our transatlantic security.
    Let me begin by reaffirming the role of NATO. As President 
Trump has said, the alliance has been the bulwark of 
international peace and security for 70 years, something we 
celebrated along with many of the members of the committee at 
the ministerial just a couple of months ago when Secretary 
Pompeo presided over the 70th anniversary celebration.
    The alliance will remain the bulwark of international peace 
and security, and NATO's accomplishments are many. From 
deterring the former Soviet Union during the Cold War to 
contributing to international security in Bosnia and 
Herzegovina and Kosovo and Afghanistan and Iraq, to confronting 
emerging security challenges and, throughout it, all the time 
welcoming new members into this critical alliance.
    To be sure, we face complicated security challenges. As 
outlined in the National Security Strategy, the return of great 
power competition is the defining geopolitical fact of our 
time, and the need to systematically prepare for this 
competition is the central task of U.S. foreign policy and, 
indeed, of the transatlantic alliance. The most immediate 
threat to transatlantic security continues to be Russia, which 
is engaged in wide-ranging, nefarious efforts to undermine the 
peace and prosperity the West has built over the last 70 years. 
President Putin seeks to weaken the cohesion among NATO allies 
and to subvert and destabilize our democratic institutions and 
processes. We also face increasing threats from China, which is 
seeking a strategic foothold in Europe by employing so-called 
gray zone tactics, including investments in sensitive 
technologies, critical infrastructure, and natural resources.
    The NATO alliance is evolving to meet these challenges by 
enhancing its readiness, mobility, command structure, and 
ability to face hybrid and cyber threats. Through efforts like 
the NATO Readiness Initiative and additional coordination on 
hybrid and cyber threats, we will be even stronger and more 
prepared to face down emerging challenges. And I will let my 
colleague address those in further detail.
    Let me turn to North Macedonia and the benefits it will 
bring to the alliance when it becomes the 30th ally.
    The implementation of the historic Prespa Agreement and the 
resolution of the name dispute with Greece underscore that 
North Macedonia is willing to make sacrifices and dignified 
compromises needed for peace and stability.
    In recognition of its progress and potential, allies 
unanimously agreed in July 2018 to invite the Republic of North 
Macedonia to begin accession talks. And in February of this 
year, allies signed the accession protocol for North Macedonia. 
2 days later, in an historic moment fulfilling the promises 
made in Prespa, Greece and its dynamic leadership became the 
first country to ratify North Macedonia's NATO accession 
protocol. To date, 16 allies have completed the parliamentary 
requirements for ratification, and I would like to mention them 
for the record. They are: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, 
Denmark, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, 
Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Of 
those, 11 countries have deposited their instruments of 
ratification of the accession protocol.
    Now, as we have heard, North Macedonia has contributed to 
international operations since 2002, deploying almost 4,000 
soldiers with soldiers from the United States, and North 
Macedonia courageously fighting alongside each other in Iraq, 
where I was able to visit the Macedonian contingent. They still 
do so today in Afghanistan. And later this week, over 1,000 
U.S. troops will participate in exercises alongside soldiers 
from North Macedonia and other allied countries at the Krivolak 
training area, already mentioned, a resource that North 
Macedonia has made available for NATO exercises, and I can 
attest from my experience at European Command an extremely 
admired a piece of geography, and it is very important for the 
kinds of exercises that our military and our alliance need to 
do.
    Adding North Macedonia to the alliance will make NATO 
stronger, will enhance regional security and stability in what 
is historically one of the least stable places in Europe. North 
Macedonia takes its burden sharing seriously and has a clear 
and credible plan in place to reach the 2 percent-20 percent 
Wales commitment by 2024, and I reiterated that plan and those 
pledges in the meeting with the minister of defense of North 
Macedonia just last Friday at a conference in Bratislava.
    North Macedonia also has a clear and credible plan in terms 
of spending already 18 percent of its defense budget on 
modernization and capabilities, and they will reach that 20 
percent goal for capabilities already next year. That puts them 
in the upper half of current NATO members when it comes to 
meeting these key thresholds.
    North Macedonia has also made great strides to meet NATO 
standards by implementing deep reforms in the defense, 
intelligence, and security sectors, and I have been able to 
monitor that progress throughout the course of my own career. 
And they have very much taken to heart the mentorship provided 
by the United States and our allies, including through the 
State Partnership Program where the State of Vermont and its 
National Guard have been so crucial in shepherding North 
Macedonia in this path.
    And of course, as the chairman and Senator Menendez have 
already mentioned, North Macedonia has its challenges. We have 
made clear that we expect the reforms to continue and to hold. 
But given the progress and clear commitment to assuming the 
responsibilities of NATO membership, the administration sees an 
historic opportunity to advance United States and allied 
interests in the region by welcoming North Macedonia into the 
alliance, with the hope that it will expand its participation 
in the transatlantic community even further.
    North Macedonia is an example, not just to other countries 
in the Balkans, but also to other NATO aspirants. Its soldiers 
have fought alongside the United States and NATO forces against 
shared threats. Its leaders have demonstrated a true commitment 
to carrying their share of the burden and doing their part to 
secure peace, democracy, rule of law, and common defense. Over 
decades now, the promise of NATO membership and broader 
integration into the Euro-Atlantic family have advanced 
democratic values in the country, respect for the rule of law, 
and the pursuit of security and defense policies in line with 
U.S. and NATO standards and objectives. This is a good thing 
for the United States and our interests. It has also 
incentivized countries to pursue difficult but critical 
political and military reforms over the sustained period, and 
our policy has yielded clear dividends.
    So the rules have not changed. The open door policy is 
strong and NATO membership remains to all European nations who 
qualify and demonstrate the ability to contribute to alliance 
security.
    Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Menendez, and distinguished 
members of the committee, I want to finish just by urging the 
Senate to continue our cooperation on NATO enlargement and at 
the earliest opportunity to provide its advice and consent to 
U.S. ratification of the Accession Protocol for North 
Macedonia.
    Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.
    [Ambassador Reeker's prepared statement follows:]


                 Prepared Statement of Philip T. Reeker

Introduction
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. Thank you for 
the opportunity to discuss the critical role NATO plays in our security 
and North Macedonia's place in the Alliance. This is my first 
appearance before this committee since I was asked by the Secretary and 
former Assistant Secretary Wess Mitchell to assume this position. I 
look forward to continuing to uphold the excellent standards set by A/S 
Mitchell and the European bureau, and this includes working with the 
members of this committee and being responsive to your questions and 
concerns.
    I welcome this opportunity to explain why the administration 
strongly and unequivocally supports North Macedonia's membership in 
NATO. We firmly believe that North Macedonia's membership in the 
Alliance benefits the national security of the United States.
    As you may know, I have a personal connection to North Macedonia--
as the former embassy spokesperson, and later Ambassador--I have seen 
North Macedonia develop into the strong partner and, with the Senate's 
blessing, NATO Ally we need in the Western Balkans. I was also in 
Skopje after the Bucharest NATO Summit in 2008. I can tell to you that 
the people of North Macedonia have yearned for--and earned--this 
moment: a moment to reflect on the long and sometimes hard path they 
had to travel, but one that ultimately led to an enduring commitment to 
peace, democracy, and prosperity for North Macedonia.
NATO
    Let me begin by reaffirming the role of NATO. As President Trump 
has said, the Alliance has been the bulwark of international peace and 
security for 70 years, and it will remain so. NATO's accomplishments 
are many. From deterring the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, 
to contributing to international security in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 
Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, to confronting emerging security 
challenges, and throughout it all welcoming new members into this 
critical Alliance.
    To be sure, we face complicated security challenges. As outlined by 
the National Security Strategy, the return of great-power competition 
is the defining geopolitical fact of our time, and the need to 
systematically prepare for this competition is the central task of U.S. 
foreign policy, and indeed, of the Transatlantic alliance. The most 
immediate threat to Transatlantic security continues to be Russia, 
which is engaged in wide-ranging, nefarious efforts to undermine the 
peace and prosperity the West has built over the last 70 years. Putin 
seeks to weaken the cohesion among NATO Allies and to subvert and 
destabilize our democratic institutions and processes. We also face 
increasing threats from China, which is seeking a strategic foothold in 
Europe by employing so-called ``gray zone'' tactics, including 
investments in sensitive technologies, critical infrastructure, and 
natural resources.
    The NATO Alliance is evolving to meet these challenges by enhancing 
its readiness, mobility, command structure, and its ability to face 
hybrid and cyber threats. Through efforts like the NATO Readiness 
Initiative and additional coordination on hybrid and cyber threats, we 
will be even stronger and more prepared to face down emerging 
challenges.
North Macedonia's NATO Path
    Let me turn to North Macedonia and the benefits it will bring to 
the Alliance when it becomes the 30th Ally.
    In recognition of its progress and potential, and with the 
understanding that North Macedonia and Greece would reach an agreement 
on the name issue, Allies unanimously agreed in July 2018 to invite 
North Macedonia to begin accession talks. In February of this year, 
Allies signed the accession protocol for North Macedonia. Two days 
later, in a historic moment fulfilling the promises made in Prespa, 
Greece became the first country to ratify North Macedonia's NATO 
accession protocol. To date, in total 16 Allies have completed the 
parliamentary requirements for ratification. They are: Albania, 
Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Latvia, 
Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and 
Slovenia. Of those Allies, 11 nations have deposited their instruments 
of ratification of the Accession Protocol. The implementation of the 
historic Prespa Agreement and the resolution of the name dispute with 
Greece underscore that North Macedonia is willing to make sacrifices 
needed for peace and stability.
    North Macedonia has contributed to international operations since 
2002, deploying almost 4,000 soldiers. Soldiers from the U.S. and North 
Macedonia courageously fought alongside each other in Iraq, and they 
still do so today in Afghanistan. Last week, over 1,000 U.S. troops 
participated in exercises alongside soldiers from North Macedonia and 
other Allied countries at the Krivolak Training Area, a resource North 
Macedonia has made available for NATO exercises.
    Adding North Macedonia to the Alliance will make NATO stronger and 
enhance regional security and stability in what is historically one of 
the least stable places in Europe. North Macedonia takes its burden 
sharing seriously and has a clear and credible plan in place to reach 
the 2 percent-20 percent Wales commitment by 2024. It is already 
spending 18 percent of its defense budget on modernization with plans 
to reach NATO's goal of 20 percent next year, which puts them in the 
upper half of current NATO members when it comes to meeting this key 
threshold. North Macedonia has also made great strides to meet NATO 
standards by implementing deep reforms in the defense, intelligence, 
and security sectors, and by taking to heart the mentorship provided by 
the United States and our Allies.
    Of course, North Macedonia also has its challenges. We have made 
clear that we expect reforms to continue and to hold. But given its 
progress and clear commitment to assuming the responsibilities of NATO 
membership, the administration sees a historic opportunity to advance 
U.S. and Allied interests in the region by welcoming North Macedonia 
into the Alliance, with the hope that it will expand its participation 
in the transatlantic community even further.
    North Macedonia is an example, not just to other countries in the 
Balkans, but also to other NATO aspirants. Its soldiers have fought 
side by side with U.S. and NATO forces against shared threats. Its 
leaders have demonstrated their commitment to carrying their share of 
the burden and doing their part to secure peace, democracy, rule of 
law, and common defense. Over decades, the promise of NATO membership 
has advanced democratic values, respect for the rule of law, and the 
pursuit of security and defense policies in line with U.S. and NATO 
standards and objectives. It has also incentivized countries to pursue 
difficult but critical political and military reforms over a sustained 
period. This policy has yielded clear dividends. The rules have not 
changed: the Open Door policy is strong, and NATO membership remains 
open to all European nations who qualify and demonstrate the ability to 
contribute to Alliance security.
    Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Menendez, and distinguished members of 
this committee, I urge the Senate to continue our cooperation on NATO 
enlargement, and at the earliest opportunity to provide its advice and 
consent to U.S. ratification of the Accession Protocol for North 
Macedonia.
    Thank you. I look forward to your questions.


    The Chairman. Thank you very much, Ambassador Reeker.
    I think most members of this committee have already given 
the advice, and we are moving along on the consent as rapidly 
as we can, given our rules.
    Next we will turn to Ms. Kathryn Wheelbarger. She is the 
Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International 
Security Affairs. She oversees policy issues related to the 
nations and international organizations of Europe, including 
NATO, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Western 
Hemisphere. Previously Ms. Wheelbarger served as Vice President 
for Litigation and Chief Compliance Officer at CSRE, Inc. from 
2011 to 2017. Ms. Wheelbarger served as Policy Director and 
Counsel on the Senate Armed Services Committee and as Deputy 
Staff Director and Senior Counsel on the House Permanent Select 
Committee on Intelligence.
    Given that background, we are anxious to hear your 
comments, Ms. Wheelbarger. The floor is yours.

 STATEMENT OF KATHRYN WHEELBARGER, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY, 
    INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 
                         WASHINGTON, DC

    Ms. Wheelbarger. Good morning, Chairman Risch, Ranking 
Member Menendez, and members of the committee. It is a pleasure 
to be here today to describe DOD's support for North 
Macedonia's membership into NATO.
    I will try to be brief, and I apologize in any way that 
this is duplicative of what you have heard thus far. That was 
very comprehensive and we appreciate it.
    For nearly 2 decades, North Macedonia has been a trusted 
bilateral and multilateral partner. As the chairman and ranking 
member already highlighted, they have deployed side by side 
with our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq for years. Moreover, 
North Macedonia is the first country ever to go into combat in 
Afghanistan alongside our U.S. National Guard. It has continued 
to increase its troop contributions in Afghanistan over the 
last 2 years, emphasizing its commitment to NATO and our shared 
security goals.
    North Macedonia also provides logistical support to the 
NATO mission in Kosovo, as we have heard, by offering its 
training facilities for NATO training missions. And just last 
week, it was the center of the largest military exercise in 
North Macedonia since the break-up of Yugoslavia, with more 
than 2,500 NATO forces participating.
    It also cooperates with U.S. counterterrorism efforts, 
especially as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. 
Significantly, North Macedonia was one of the very first 
countries to commit to taking back their foreign terrorist 
fighters and prosecuting under their local laws. And I cannot 
overstate the importance of that leadership to worldwide 
security. They are an example for the rest of the West.
    North Macedonia's political commitment to defense reform 
also demonstrates its dedication as a partner that upholds core 
NATO values. Just recently North Macedonia completed its 
strategic defense review, exerting a significant political will 
to right-size its military and divest itself from legacy Soviet 
equipment.
    Equally important is North Macedonia's commitment to NATO 
pledges. As we have heard and as the Ambassador reiterated, 
North Macedonia has a credible plan to meet 2 percent and 20 
percent requirements by 2024, and again, it continues to serve 
as an example for other NATO allies.
    North Macedonia also budgets for increases in national 
expenditures to acquire Western-made equipment, including U.S.-
made infantry vehicles. Their plans will increase both their 
readiness and NATO interoperability. They also have more than 
900 graduates from U.S. schools and training programs such as 
the International Military Education and Training program. As 
you know, this program is vital. It creates enduring 
connections and relationships for our mutual security interests 
that sustain over decades. North Macedonia proves the value of 
this program, as many of their graduates are in positions at 
the highest level of government in North Macedonia.
    Finally, we just celebrated, as we heard, the 25th 
anniversary of its close relationship with the Vermont National 
Guard through the State Partnership Program. This program is a 
tangible symbol of our long-term commitments to our 
relationship and addressing together our mutual security 
interests.
    North Macedonia's accession presents an historic 
opportunity to further extend the stabilizing influence in the 
Western Balkans, a key strategic region for European security. 
The Department believes North Macedonia is ready for NATO 
membership.
    And I would like just to close by highlighting, from our 
perspective in DOD, a key attribute of North Macedonia, and 
that is not just its capabilities, but it is the will it has to 
contribute to some of our most important and challenging 
missions and they have for decades.
    So we appreciate your time today, and I look forward to 
your questions.
    [Ms. Wheelbarger's prepared statement follows:]


               Prepared Statement of Kathryn Wheelbarger

    Chairman Risch, Ranking Member Menendez, and members of the 
committee, thank you for this opportunity to express the support of the 
Department of Defense for North Macedonia's membership in the North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
    In many ways, this moment celebrates the culmination of the strong 
bilateral defense relationship the United States has fostered with the 
Government of North Macedonia since 1991. NATO membership for North 
Macedonia will advance a longstanding, shared commitment to the fight 
against global terrorism and the promotion of international stability 
in southeastern Europe.
    Following the NATO accession of Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, and 
most recently, Montenegro, the accession of North Macedonia presents a 
historic opportunity to further extend a stabilizing influence in this 
strategic region. Our Allies and partners in the Western Balkans-a 
region where U.S. and NATO forces have intervened twice in the past 25 
years-look to the United States as they strive to deter Russia and 
institutionalize the pillars of Western democratic values. NATO 
enlargement benefits not only our collective defense, but also serves 
to advance core U.S. interests under our National Defense Strategy.
    North Macedonia emerged from the break-up of Yugoslavia to become a 
highly dedicated security partner to NATO, joining NATO's Partnership 
for Peace (PfP) in 1995. Since that time, North Macedonia has 
consistently been an important force contributor, fighting alongside 
the United States and NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 2002, North 
Macedonia has deployed with us in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 
(OIF) and, in Afghanistan, to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the 
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and the Resolute 
Support Mission (RSM) and increased its contributions to RSM in the 
last two years. North Macedonia also maintains staff officers deployed 
to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and to the EU 
mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Operation Althea). North Macedonia also 
notably celebrated its 25th anniversary working closely with the 
Vermont National Guard under the State Partnership Program (SPP) and in 
2010, was the first SPP partner to deploy in an overseas combat tour to 
Afghanistan with a National Guard unit. Most recently, the Government 
of North Macedonia committed to deploy another contingent of forces 
with the Vermont National Guard in 2020.
    North Macedonia participates in over a dozen NATO and U.S. 
exercises each year, including a recent commitment to send a mechanized 
company and a Ranger platoon to U.S. Army Europe's SABER JUNCTION 
military training exercise in September. Additionally, North Macedonia 
provides logistical support to the NATO mission in Kosovo (KFOR) and 
offers the use of its largest training area, Krivolak, to U.S. and NATO 
forces, which provides a unique maneuver training area in Europe. This 
is a cost-saving contribution to KFOR operations. As a future member of 
NATO, North Macedonia will bring this asset to the Alliance, addressing 
the need for additional quality training areas to increase NATO 
readiness levels. Krivolak is also the center of the multinational 
military training exercise Decisive Strike, hosted by North Macedonia 
this month, which is the largest military exercise in the country since 
the break-up of Yugoslavia. More than 2,700 forces, including about 
1,300 from the United States, are taking part in the exercise.
    North Macedonia cooperates with U.S. counterterrorism (CT) efforts 
as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, participating as a 
member of the Foreign Terrorist Fighter Working Group. North Macedonia 
was one of the first countries to publicly announce intentions to 
repatriate foreign fighters from Syria. Seven nationals of North 
Macedonia, captured and held by the Syrian Democratic Force, were 
convicted of terrorism-related offenses and sentenced to between six 
and nine years in prison.
    North Macedonia adopted in March 2018 the 2018-2022 National 
Counterterrorism Strategy and a standalone 2018-2022 National Strategy 
for Countering Violent Extremism. Both were accompanied by National 
Action Plans. The Department of Defense is using the Section 333 
authority to build the capacity of national-level security forces of 
North Macedonia, specifically the Special Police Units, in support of 
counterterrorism operations.
    North Macedonia's resolute political commitment to defense reform 
over several years demonstrates a dedicated partner that upholds core 
NATO values, and that satisfies practical requirements. NATO's 
mechanisms for aspiring members, honed over decades of partnerships and 
numerous rounds of enlargement, serve to confirm North Macedonia's 
ability to satisfy such practical requirements as protecting classified 
planning documents, conducting secure operational communications, 
participating with personnel in NATO's integrated command structure, 
and applying NATO training and doctrinal requirements and other 
essential foundations of interoperability. Complementing these NATO 
mechanisms, the U.S. on a bilateral basis is also working with North 
Macedonia on a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) for defense 
cooperation. Within the general framework of the aims of NATO and the 
PfP, the MOU is intended to guide North Macedonia towards its reform 
goals.
    Going forward now, the election of new pro-NATO President Stevo 
Pendarovski this past May, backed by a pro-NATO Prime Minister and 
Defense Minister, are likely to further accelerate necessary reforms to 
meet the wider range of NATO standards and guidelines for the overall 
capability and posture of the nation's defense forces. The Government 
of North Macedonia is implementing changes to right-size its military 
and is divesting itself of Soviet legacy military equipment. North 
Macedonia also completed its Strategic Defense Review (SDR) in 2018 
with U.S. and NATO guidance. North Macedonia has pledged to meet NATO's 
defense spending commitment of 2 percent of GDP by 2024 and is already 
spending 18 percent of its defense budget on modernization with plans 
to reach NATO's goal of 20 percent next year.
    North Macedonia's defense spending will be in line with NATO 
standards: 50 percent on personnel; 30 percent for operations, 
maintenance, and training; and 20 percent for equipment and 
modernization. Under the SDR, the Government of North Macedonia has 
already begun transforming its armed forces based on its expected NATO 
capability goals. Complementing NATO guidance and support, North 
Macedonia has been a model steward of U.S. security assistance funding 
and plans continued increases in national expenditures for the 
acquisition of Western-made equipment, such as the purchase of U.S.-
made infantry fighting vehicles. These new vehicles will replace 
approximately 25 percent of North Macedonian ground capability with new 
models, resulting in improved readiness and interoperability. 
Additional spending will focus on individual soldier equipment, 
Western-made transport helicopters, and renovation of defense 
information technology systems. North Macedonia also has more than 900 
graduates from U.S. schools and training funded through International 
Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing 
(FMP), and other Department of Defense sources, including a several 
Senior Service College graduates and Intermediate Level Education 
graduates. Many of these graduates are in critical positions at the 
highest levels of North Macedonia's defense establishment.
    North Macedonia maintains positive relations with its neighbors. 
North Macedonia is a founding member of the U.S.-Adriatic Charter 
(along with Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina), 
which promotes regional cooperation and furthers NATO integration. 
Montenegro has assisted North Macedonia in providing insightful 
guidance in preparation for accession as well as NATO's expectations 
after membership is realized. Since the Prespa Agreement, relations 
with Greece have improved, including in the defense sphere. Although 
North Macedonia currently lacks a fixed-wing capability, Greece has 
been particularly helpful in this regard and has provided air patrols 
over North Macedonia's airspace.
    The United States and our NATO Allies cannot be ambivalent toward 
the Western Balkans. Inaction invites Russian malfeasance, as evidenced 
by an attempted coup in Montenegro in October 2016, an aggressive 
disinformation campaign to derail North Macedonia's referendum in 
September 2018, and increased political paralysis in Bosnia and 
Herzegovina since the election of pro-Russian, ethnic Serbian 
nationalist Milorad Dodik to the country's tri-presidency in October 
2018. Russia's underhanded actions across the region have provoked 
widespread skepticism of the Russian Government and have prompted 
several countries to engage even more closely with NATO, especially in 
the cyber domain. North Macedonia has worked closely with the United 
States to counter Russia in cyberspace, including initiating its first 
FMS case for cyber security upgrades. Additionally, in 2018, U.S. Cyber 
Command operated alongside cyber defenders from North Macedonia to 
improve network defense and information sharing on malicious cyber 
activities that threaten both of our democracies. These activities are 
consistent with the Department of Defense Cyber Strategy, which directs 
the Department to expand operational cooperation with our allies and 
partners.
    North Macedonia is ready for NATO membership. North Macedonia's 
accession is critical to the stability and security of the Western 
Balkans, and to the realization of a Europe that is whole, free, and at 
peace. North Macedonia's accession will help rebuff Russian malign 
influence in the region and demonstrate to other countries that NATO's 
door remains open to those who share our values, are willing to make 
necessary reforms, and are committed to the responsibilities of 
membership.
    It is my great honor to appear before this committee. Thank you, 
and I look forward to your questions.


    The Chairman. Thank you very much. I appreciate your 
remarks, both of you.
    We are now going to do a round of questions, and I am going 
to start briefly.
    Mr. Reeker, you mentioned that you talked with the North 
Macedonians recently about the commitment to reach their 2 
percent-20 percent. As we know, they have already the 20 
percent, which is a good sign. And you also noted that they are 
in the upper echelon for people who are reaching for that goal.
    What is your optimism for them getting to the point that we 
want to see that they have agreed to get to and that we all 
want to see?
    Ambassador Reeker. Thanks, Senator.
    Mr. Chairman, I think I am extremely optimistic is the 
simple and short answer based on my experience with 
particularly this government under Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, 
the Foreign Minister, the Defense Minister. Their dedication to 
meeting the criteria to join NATO, as we discussed, has been a 
long-term goal not just of the Government but really of the 
people of North Macedonia across all different lines, across 
political divides. This has been their goal. And they have a 
very credible and well thought through plan fiscally to meet 
that 2 percent criteria.
    They are already, because of the positive benefits of the 
Prespa Agreement, seeing economic benefits in terms of greater 
investment. The trade opportunities that are presented by 
having a very positive relationship with Greece now in terms of 
infrastructure and mobility will pay off results, which means 
they will be in a better position to direct spending on the 
military as required. And we have really seen that. And I think 
a number of you know personally the leadership of both the 
Defense Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Prime Minister 
and how dedicated they are to this.
    So we are quite confident. And of course, our team on the 
ground under our Ambassador and those of us in Washington will 
be working with them hand in hand to hold them to those 
commitments but also to help them with the kind of mentoring 
and advice that we have provided really over the country's 
independence.
    The Chairman. I appreciate that, and I appreciate your 
raising the issue with them. I am not going to ask you about 
your view of the other 22 of our friends and allies who have 
not met that commitment. And I would hope and would urge and as 
chairman of this committee, I want to urge that all of us 
continue to underscore for these 22 allies how important that 
commitment is. All of us over the years have talked to them 
about it, but we always felt that we were being put off and 
patted on the head and told how well they were going toward it. 
And over the last 29 months, we have seen real movement in that 
regard, and I think it is important that we all keep the 
pressure on them for them to understand this is a for-real 
commitment and it is important to every member to meet that 
commitment, just as it is to meet all commitments.
    So in any event, thank you for doing that.
    And with that, I will turn it over to the ranking member, 
Senator Menendez.
    Senator Menendez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Prespa is the reason that we are able to discuss North 
Macedonia's NATO accession, the agreement between Greece and 
North Macedonia.
    What progress has North Macedonia made towards its 
commitment under the Prespa Agreement? What is the United 
States doing either diplomatically or through our security 
assistance programs to support those aspects of Prespa that aim 
to improve ties between Greece and North Macedonia?
    Ambassador Reeker. Thank you, Senator Menendez, because I 
think that is an important thing to highlight.
    The Prespa Agreement, as you know, outlines a timeline for 
full implementation of the agreement and the mechanisms for 
cooperation, including technical, as well as political phase-in 
on the name, ?North Macedonia,? and of course, some of that is 
also tied to North Macedonia's opening of EU accession 
chapters.
    I have long believed--and I think we have had these 
conversations--that North Macedonia and Greece can be, should 
be, and are naturally poised to be the best of friends. And as 
allies and potentially soon EU members, they are really working 
in that direction. The agreement, like any agreement, does take 
time to implement, but I think we have seen strong support. 
There is a bilateral joint commission on historic and education 
matters that has been established that is already meeting. A 
group of experts has been established to advise on commercial 
and trademark use. And most importantly, they are taking it 
seriously at both an official and a private business level.
    And so the United States has remained ready, as we were 
over the past 25 years, but particularly during the period when 
the two governments showed the courage and the true leadership 
to come together and resolve this issue that they have our 
support and our backing as they move forward to implement this.
    My colleague may be able to describe more some of the 
security assistance.
    Ms. Wheelbarger. Just briefly, I think our continued focus 
on NATO interoperability, modernizing of their forces, and 
joint exercises is a key focus of not only their ability to 
partner with all of NATO but Greece in specific.
    Senator Menendez. Secretary Reeker, while North Macedonia 
has made progress in addressing the rule of law issues under 
Prime Minister Zaev, the country has made a lot of progress on 
the rule of law in the 2000s before it slid back in 2008 to 
2015. How would you assess the durability of North Macedonia's 
ongoing rule of law reforms? What are the most substantial 
outstanding areas of democratic reform to be undertaken in 
North Macedonia?
    The mandate for the special prosecutor dealing with the 
2015 scandals expires next year. Should the U.S. advocate for 
the appointment of another special prosecutor to deal with 
corruption cases?
    Ambassador Reeker. Thank you, Senator.
    I have, of course, seen the progress that North Macedonia 
made in its early years emerging from the break-up of 
Yugoslavia as the only one of the Yugoslav republics not to 
experience war. And of course, the support from the United 
States and the international community was important in that, 
including U.S. troops that participated in the UNPREDEP 
deployment back in the 1990s. Their support for our goals 
during the Kosovo war was unprecedented in terms of refugee 
flows and working----
    Senator Menendez. I appreciate that, but since I have 
limited time, I am trying to get to the rule of law reforms.
    Ambassador Reeker. And so, as you saw, they made tremendous 
reform, and then after the Bucharest decision, the Government 
in power at the time slowly began backtracking on these things. 
And I know Senator Shaheen visited us and saw, witnessed what 
we had there.
    The Macedonian people spoke, and they did not cave in to 
the previous regime's methods and efforts to prevent a 
resolution of the name issue. And I think they have shown now a 
dedication to this.
    They do have to finish the process on the special 
prosecutor. That is an important aspect. The prime minister 
realizes that and has spoken to us. Our embassy is regularly 
engaged on that. I feel comfortable and confident that they are 
dedicated to doing this----
    Senator Menendez. Should we seek reappointment of a special 
prosecutor?
    Ambassador Reeker. I think that is something we have to 
continue talking about. I think it plays an important role and 
we do want to see that organization, that institution, which 
has been crucial to the forward movement, and we will continue 
to talk to the Government about that.
    Senator Menendez. Very quickly, Ms. Wheelbarger, I am going 
to submit a series of questions for the record with respect to 
North Macedonia's military force structure, budget, planning, 
and logistics capabilities. Do I have your commitment to answer 
those questions in a timely manner?
    Ms. Wheelbarger. Absolutely.
    Senator Menendez. Thank you.
    The Chairman. Senator Johnson?
    Senator Johnson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Assistant Secretary Reeker, you are well aware of the 
significant geopolitical competition occurring within Central, 
South Central, and Eastern Europe. You mentioned in your 
testimony Russia engaged in a hot war not honoring the 
territorial integrity of Ukraine, China growing investment.
    One thing I have really become acutely aware of is how 
important the required reforms are for these nations to attract 
investment, to grow their economy, create the opportunity for 
their people. And a huge incentive for the body politic is the 
accession, the joining of NATO and the EU. Can you just kind of 
speak to that with your broad experience in the region?
    Ambassador Reeker. Thank you for that because I think that 
is so critical to the transformation that we have seen in the 
western Balkans so that these countries--this broad area goes 
from being a consumer of security to a producer and supporter 
of security. And it has been, as our foreign policy has 
reflected, the reforms required on both these tracks--there is 
a parallel track, the NATO membership, as well as their efforts 
to joint the EU, which we have supported as a matter of 
policy--that has produced that.
    And I think we saw it in Slovakia, a country that is 
celebrating 30 years since the Velvet Revolution that had its 
own challenges after the Velvet Divorce in terms of democracy, 
but used the path to NATO and to the EU positively with the 
full support of their people, their population, to make those 
necessary reforms and now are a strong ally and an economy that 
is booming at a level that would have been thought 
unprecedented just 30 years ago, let alone 75 years ago when we 
liberated Europe and thought about the kinds of institutions we 
needed to build to build a Europe whole and free. And so I 
think that has been a key motivating factor.
    I know I saw in North Macedonia these were the criteria 
they laid out. This was how they developed policy. This was 
where we directed our assistance dollars, whether it was in the 
financial sector or in civil society, and certainly on the 
military side. And we are seeing the fruits of those efforts, 
which contributes then to the security of the whole 
transatlantic area and to the American people.
    Senator Johnson. So if the ability to join NATO and the EU 
would be cut off, that would be a really bad thing for the 
region. Correct?
    Ambassador Reeker. I think it has been a very positive 
force for the region and the backbone of our policy certainly 
in the Western Balkans.
    Senator Johnson. Ms. Wheelbarger, a group of more than 50 
Members of Congress went to the Munich Security Conference 
sending a very strong signal of how important we view those 
friendships, those alliances. In a meeting with Secretary-
General Stoltenberg, one of the members questioning, really 
from the standpoint of a devil's advocate, the enlargement of 
NATO, about the only negative aspect there is, I mean, should 
we really be called upon to defend such a small country. I 
thought the Secretary-General's answer was--and I do not want 
to put words in his mouth, but basically was very simple saying 
we want to enlarge NATO because a larger defensive organization 
like NATO is just a good thing.
    Can you speak to that from the standpoint of the defensive 
nature of the alliance?
    Ms. Wheelbarger. Sure, of course.
    From the Department of Defense's perspective, the continued 
enlargement of NATO with countries that meet the requirements 
is a net gain for our collective security and the security of 
the transatlantic alliance. A country like North Macedonia, 
though small, brings significant capabilities to the defense 
posture in the region and also provides significant stabilizing 
force to what has historically been a very destabilizing 
region. So we actually do see the continued progress on NATO 
enhancement and enlargement as a net positive for our 
collective security.
    Senator Johnson. I have always felt, as important as the 2 
percent commitment is, how that money is spent is maybe even 
more important. Can you talk about the strategic type of 
resourcing and development of individual militaries of these 
different nations in terms of its interoperability and 
cooperation within the NATO alliance?
    Ms. Wheelbarger. Absolutely, and that is a key aspect of 
not only members that are already in NATO but those that are 
aspiring to be in NATO is that they seek our input and our 
cooperation on how to become more interoperable and how to 
reform and advance their militaries in a way that is Western-
aligned, which has a significant, obviously, counter-Russian 
influence just from the beginning.
    As we have seen with North Macedonia and their strategic 
defense review, we worked closely hand in glove with them as 
they developed that, right-sized their military to ensure that 
they have the proper mixture of senior officers to junior 
officers and also a desire to truly create an NCO corps which 
is seen throughout the world as key to military success. So 
again, having the aspiration to join NATO has already allowed 
North Macedonia to make these significant steps forward in a 
way that protects themselves and protects the transatlantic 
alliance.
    Senator Johnson. Well, thank you. Thank you for your 
service.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Johnson. That was an 
interesting point you raised that we have all talked about and 
that is the wisdom of the expansion of NATO. And I think if the 
Georgians were here, we have two regions still occupied by the 
Russians from recent activity, and the Ukrainians were here 
that have one full and one other partial occupied by the 
Russians, I think they could make a very powerful argument as 
to why expansion is an appropriate idea. But a good thought.
    Senator Shaheen?
    Senator Shaheen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I would like to begin by echoing your comments and those of 
Senator Menendez about in recognizing the political courage and 
leadership that it took for both Greece and the Republic of 
North Macedonia to sign the Prespa Agreement. I think that is 
political courage that we do not often see, and so I think we 
should all remember that it is important to recognize that.
    You both talked about the Russian attempt to disrupt the 
agreement between Greece and North Macedonia. And we have seen 
their influence perhaps even more notable in other parts of the 
Western Balkans, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
    So can you speak to, Mr. Reeker, first how bringing North 
Macedonia and Montenegro perhaps into NATO helps to 
counterbalance that influence in the region?
    Ambassador Reeker. Thank you, Senator. It is an important 
question because these are countries that have demonstrated 
clearly that their orientation is to the West. We share broadly 
a set of values in terms of democracy, in terms of respect for 
freedom for the rights of the citizen and free markets and 
collective security. And so by having these countries work 
through the path of reform necessary to meet the criteria to 
join NATO, they demonstrate, with the full support of their 
populations, obviously, that that is their direction. And they 
have not succumbed to some often powerful efforts by the 
Russians? malign activities and intents to disrupt, to sow 
discord, in the case of North Macedonia, to attempt to divide 
with false information, misleading stories, alarmist and 
fearful ideas of what would happen in terms of the Prespa 
Agreement.
    And the people have shown wisdom by coming together not 
allowing the ethnic card to be played, but instead saying we 
have a goal that we have set out now over two or three 
generations since our independence and since setting our sights 
on integration into the Euro-Atlantic family. And I think by 
bringing them in as the 30th member of NATO, they will see the 
real accomplishment of that and they will work with us in the 
region as well to support our values and counter this Russian 
effort.
    Senator Shaheen. Thank you.
    Ms. Wheelbarger, in your testimony you said that North 
Macedonia has worked closely with the United States to counter 
Russia in cyberspace. Can you elaborate on that a little bit 
and why that is important?
    Ms. Wheelbarger. Sure, absolutely.
    And I will just echo the thoughts of my colleague in terms 
of North Macedonia's ability to counter the Russian influence.
    We have recently met with their minister of defense, and it 
was quite elucidating, the experience they had at being able to 
counter the message before the messages were delivered. They 
were very adept at being able to estimate what kind of messages 
they thought Russia would deliver to try to upset the vote and 
prepare their population for their messages and counter them 
before they were even delivered.
    Senator Shaheen. Can you talk about--because maybe there 
are some lessons there that we should take as we look at our 
upcoming elections--how did they prepare their populations? 
What kinds of things did they do?
    Ms. Wheelbarger. My understanding, based on our study and 
conversation with the minister, is they first established what 
they thought would be the messages, what were the key themes 
that Russia was likely to deploy. One of those, of course, is 
anti-NATO rhetoric. Others, of course, would be sowing ethnic 
strife within the country. So my understanding is their senior 
leadership made it their responsibility to have the 
conversation with their people and to explain you should expect 
these kind of messages from the Russians and sort of do not 
fall for it. And they had a pretty significant impact, we 
assess, on the outcome of that vote. So I have suggested that 
we could most significantly learn from their experiences.
    Another key reason that our alliance with these countries 
are so value, because they are on the front lines of a lot of 
this malign influence. And we can learn and adapt from them. 
And that is similar in the cyberspace arena. Especially during 
the last election, we had teams in the region watching and 
learning from what they were seeing in attempting to counter it 
in the cyber realm. And that was important for our own election 
because what we see there is going to come next year.
    Senator Shaheen. Thank you.
    Can you both speak briefly just of how important it
    will be for the United States Congress to move this 
accession agreement as rapidly as possible so that the rest of 
our NATO allies see that, and how do you think they will 
respond to that?
    Ambassador Reeker. Senator, I think our allies, of course, 
always take cues from the United States. We have led the 
alliance now for 70 years. There is unanimity within the 
alliance that North Macedonia should become the 30th member. I 
think our movement quickly on this would demonstrate not only 
that we support something that we have stood behind for a long 
time, but how important NATO is and illustrate to the other 
allies but to the rest of the world, including our adversaries, 
that NATO is going strong, expanding as we have discussed, and 
increasing the security for all of its members as a defensive 
alliance.
    Senator Shaheen. Thank you.
    Ms. Wheelbarger. And I will just quickly add even holding 
this hearing now is extremely important because we are coming 
upon our defense ministerial at the end of June. So the 
prioritization of this committee to hold this hearing now is 
very important because we can highlight to our allies, when we 
head to Brussels in June, that we are taking this significant 
step.
    Senator Shaheen. Well, thank you both very much.
    Mr. Chairman, I hope we can move out of this committee, as 
quickly as possible, the accession agreement.
    The Chairman. The chair is committed to that proposition. I 
have already discussed it with leadership. They are aware of 
our sense of urgency on this matter. I think it is in 
everyone's best interest to get this done. So I commit to you 
that we will continue down that road.
    Senator Cardin, welcome.
    Senator Cardin. Thank you, and let me thank our witnesses.
    I certainly concur in the comments that have been made 
about the importance of NATO and the importance of NATO 
accession and the fact that North Macedonia would have been in 
NATO by now but for the issues concerning the politics of its 
name. I recognize that.
    But I also recognize that we have NATO partners today that 
made certain commitments about values that, if we were voting 
today, we may have questions as to voting for their accession. 
And Macedonia has had a history of challenges in regards to its 
commitment to basic rights and fighting corruption and 
democratic institutions. They certainly are on the right path 
at this particular moment. I would acknowledge that. But we 
would like to use the accession process to have a sounder 
foundation for confidence that this country will, in fact, live 
up to the commitments of the NATO alliance as it relates to 
values.
    So I would just like you to respond as to how we should use 
this time, as we are considering accession, to give us the best 
chances that North Macedonia will remain true to these 
principles and resist the internal politics that we have seen 
occur in other countries backsliding on democratic commitments. 
What advice do you have for us?
    Ambassador Reeker. If I may, Senator. Thank you for the 
question because I think North Macedonia has been a really good 
example of this.
    We saw a government come to power in 2006. We thought we 
could work very closely with that government. We were, of 
course, open to working with whatever democratic government 
there was.
    After 2008 and the Bucharest Summit, when I then arrived as 
Ambassador, we saw an erosion, the erosion you are all aware of 
and talking about. And we raised this repeatedly that we 
understood the frustrations. They had made all these steps 
towards meeting the criteria at Bucharest but were faced with 
this political challenge. And what we tried to do was work with 
them to find a way forward and resolve the name issue. Instead, 
what we saw was lack of real commitment to doing that and a 
consolidation of power and the backsliding on a number of areas 
and real concerns about corruption, sowing divisions within the 
society.
    But the people of North Macedonia, the Macedonians, the 
Albanians, all the other ethnic groups within the country, 
said, you know, we are not going to fall for this. And our 
orientation is West and we are tired of corrupt leadership and 
we want to see this issue resolved and we want to move forward 
to NATO and EU. And I think that is the best statement.
    And we can continue to encourage that. They have robust 
politics in North Macedonia, and that is a good thing. It is a 
small country. People all know each other. But the United 
States can play a strong role there. And by meeting these 
criteria, they will have not only realized what they have 
dreamed about for some time with the full ratification and 
becoming the 30th member, I think that will be a very solid 
lesson not only in that country but for other countries in the 
region where we are still working to overcome some of the 
challenges. And Macedonia is a tough neighborhood, the great 
geographic area. North Macedonia has demonstrated how to 
survive and thrive in a tough neighborhood, and we can be a 
part of that.
    Senator Cardin. So with Montenegro, part of NATO and North 
Macedonia on the way to becoming part of NATO, how does that 
change the dynamic, if at all, in regards to Serbia and Kosovo? 
Is this a positive step or does it tend to put more pressure on 
Serbia--perhaps more vulnerability to Russia--as a result of 
the NATO expansion?
    Ambassador Reeker. Senator, I think it is a very positive 
step. And the Prespa Agreement was the greatest accomplishment 
in the region in terms of stability and peace since the Dayton 
Accords. And, again, it was due to the courage and true 
leadership and convictions of both sides, in Greece and in 
North Macedonia, who said we need to do this. It is difficult. 
It is painful. But we can do this, and with the help and 
support of the international community, including the United 
Nations mediator.
    And I think that sent an important signal to the rest of 
the region. It gave impetus to the Kosovo-Serbia talks, which 
need more impetus. I think seeing North Macedonia actually 
benefit from the results that the West, that the alliance, and 
now with the European Union considering the next steps in North 
Macedonia's accession as a member of the EU also reinforced 
that. And so this is a crucial important step.
    Going back to Bismarck 2 centuries ago, we are solving what 
was called the Macedonia problem. North Macedonia is the 
answer, and they are providing stability in the region, 
providing good neighborliness to Greece and a model for Serbia, 
Kosovo, and also for Bosnia to resolve all of these issues and 
demonstrate the Western orientation despite efforts by Russia 
to disrupt and divide.
    Senator Cardin. Thank you.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman. Thank you, Senator.
    Senator Murphy?
    Senator Murphy. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
    Two comments and I will try to squeeze in two questions.
    The first is to align myself with, I think, the direction 
of the comments of the chairman. A few of us were at dinner 
some years ago with one of the key national leaders inside the 
NATO alliance, and that leader was making the case that had 
Georgia and Ukraine been inside NATO, that we would be at war 
currently with Russia in two different countries. Others of us 
around the table were of the opinion that had Ukraine and 
Georgia been inside the alliance, that we would have sovereign 
and independent countries without Russian invasion or 
interference. So that is why many of us are very glad that this 
agreement is before us and we can bring yet another country 
into the alliance.
    This took not just courage but incredible leadership. There 
were great obstacles on both sides of this agreement prior to 
it getting done. And I am glad that we are recognizing both the 
leadership and courage inside of its accomplishment by moving 
this very quickly.
    Ms. Wheelbarger, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about 
how the work that Macedonia has done to counter Russian 
interference pairs with our debate about the expectations we 
have of NATO members to be in good standing. The fact of the 
matter is the tools that Russia is using to try to do damage to 
the alliance often are met with capabilities that are outside 
of the formal defense structure. And so when Macedonia is 
spending money through the foreign ministry on countering 
propaganda and trying to set up capabilities to distill real 
information from false information, that does not get counted 
towards their 2 percent quota.
    I have made this case before in this committee, but I think 
we generally are gifting the Russians when we only think of 
your participation in NATO through the prism of how many planes 
and how many tanks and how many soldiers you are employing.
    Is the work that Macedonia has done here successfully so 
far not an advertisement for why we might want to have a little 
bit broader understanding of what countries need to do in order 
to be members of NATO in good standing?
    Ms. Wheelbarger. Yes. Most certainly whole-of-government 
approaches to countering whether it be Russia or any threat we 
might face as an alliance is key to the success of the alliance 
and to our collective security.
    I do think NATO does have a very thoughtful process in 
terms of what capabilities and what spending should count 
towards the 2 percent and the 20 percent, which was a very 
conscious, concerted effort on the part of NATO to develop the 
kind of--to have the money attached to the requirements for the 
actual defense of the collective security.
    That being said, of course everything the United States 
does, for example, in the information realm, whether it be 
through the State Department's Global Engagement Center or 
other activities of our interagency, is important to our own 
security. But in a certain sense, we do have to sort of draw a 
line somewhere in the sense of what will count for hard numbers 
and what will not.
    Senator Murphy. I agree. I agree. But we tend to over-
obsess in our discussions about NATO with respect to this 2 
percent number. I would also argue that the country is making a 
concerted effort to break itself from energy dependence on 
Russia, which in no way counts towards the 2 percent standard. 
Their decision and investment in doing so probably contributes 
much greater to their security than the collective security of 
the alliance than the decision to stand up another set of 
capabilities inside a relatively small military. So let me just 
leave that where it is.
    Ambassador Reeker, I wanted, while you are here, to get the 
opportunity to talk to you about another important subject 
connected to our transatlantic alliance, and that is the very 
confusing position of this administration on the ongoing Brexit 
negotiations. The President, no doubt, has been a cheerleader 
for Britain's departure from the European Union. I think that 
is a grave mistake for the future of transatlantic security.
    While I was in Britain talking to them about this subject a 
few month ago, the President's son wrote an op-ed for a major 
British newspaper that went so far as to say that the pending 
agreement before the parliament, which would have protected the 
Good Friday Agreement, was an abandonment of the referendum. 
That was clearly believed to have been administration policy 
given that no one there thinks the President's son puts op-eds 
in major papers without authorization from the administration.
    But then just days after that, the Secretary of State was 
before our committee claiming that it was still the U.S. 
position to try to make sure that the peace process in Northern 
Ireland was protected.
    The President was very enthusiastic about a trade agreement 
while he was there as a reward for Britain's departure from the 
European Union.
    Have we laid down any conditions for that trade agreement, 
for instance, that Brexit be done in a way that does not harm 
the Good Friday Agreement, the Belfast Agreement? Are we making 
it clear that we have some interests that we want to be 
protected throughout the Brexit process and might be a 
condition for them entering into negotiations with us on a 
trade agreement?
    Ambassador Reeker. Thanks, Senator. I obviously stand with 
Secretary Pompeo and his recent remarks there. As you know, he 
has also been recently in the UK, and I joined him a couple 
weeks ago on a visit there prior to the state visit.
    As we said, we support a Brexit outcome that maintains 
global economic and financial stability and minimizes 
disruption to the transatlantic commercial and security ties 
and preserves peace and stability in Northern Ireland. We have 
made that very clear, and it is something we watch closely.
    We do stand ready to negotiate an ambitious free trade 
agreement with the United Kingdom as soon as they are ready to 
do so, as the President has said, and such a free trade 
agreement between the United States and the UK can have 
tremendous benefit for both countries. We have also been very 
clear that we want to continue our strong partnership with the 
European Union as well.
    Senator Murphy. Is the preservation of the Good Friday 
Agreement a precondition for those negotiations on a free trade 
agreement?
    Ambassador Reeker. I think what we said is we are prepared 
to negotiate an ambitious free trade agreement. We have not 
established yet the full criteria there, but I think that 
remains. And we have repeatedly said preserving peace and 
stability in Northern Ireland is critical. The Good Friday 
Accords are vital there. There is a robust democratic system in 
the United Kingdom, and they will make sovereign and democratic 
choices when it comes to Brexit.
    Senator Murphy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Murphy. I think that your 
observations are quite profound regarding the value issues for 
membership in NATO. We do have a tendency to count planes and 
soldiers and what have you. Before you can even sit down at the 
table like that, they have got to be a country that is bound to 
us by the kind of values. And I think that was very profound.
    Regarding your comments on Brexit, why do we not leave 
those for another day? The Rubik's cube will be explored no 
doubt at some point by this committee. Thank you very much.
    Senator Gardner?
    Senator Gardner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    And thank you to both of you for your testimony and 
service.
    As I mentioned to you in the interim prior to the hearing, 
I have been bouncing back and forth to a Helsinki Commission 
hearing and a Commerce Committee hearing. So I apologize for 
being late.
    You may have already discussed some of these questions, so 
if I am asking a question that has been asked before, I 
apologize.
    One of the challenges we have seen in NATO--and I am a 
strong supporter of NATO and serve on the Senate NATO observer 
group, which I think is one of the key architectural frameworks 
this world has ever seen. I have even talked about perhaps some 
day we could see a NATO-like structure in Asia. It has got a 
ways to go, but obviously the power of NATO, the interests that 
unite us, the ability to respond to threats that we face with 
mutual values is incredibly important.
    One of the challenges, though, we have seen in NATO and I 
think one of the questions that has rightfully been asked is 
issues of defense spending and contributions and those kinds of 
things. And perhaps you addressed this already, but would you, 
Ms. Wheelbarger, be able to talk a little bit about the defense 
spending and what you think would happen?
    Ms. Wheelbarger. We did speak about it a little bit 
earlier, but maintaining a focus and ensuring that all allies 
remain committed to their 2 percent and 20 percent Wales pledge 
continues to be a major effort in all of our defense 
ministerials, and it will be a topic of conversation again 
coming up here at the end of June.
    We also like to highlight that it is three C's. It is cash, 
commitments, and contributions. So the importance of allies 
contributing to missions that are important for the alliance 
such as Afghanistan and the RSM mission and OIR continue to be 
a focus of our efforts as well.
    Senator Gardner. Thank you.
    Secretary Reeker, one of the things that we discussed just 
at the Helsinki Commission hearing this morning--we talked a 
little bit about the counterterrorism efforts that Russia has 
made both within and without the country that have the effect 
less of counterterrorism and can be counterproductive actually 
to U.S. values, U.S. ally values, and used less as a 
counterterrorism tactic but perhaps more as a geopolitical 
strategy to push back against U.S. or allied interests.
    Could you talk a little bit about this accession and what 
it means and what we have seen out of Russia?
    Ambassador Reeker. Thanks, Senator. We did touch on that a 
bit in noting how North Macedonia has consistently stood up 
against the Russian malign activities there. The Prespa 
Agreement has faced a lot of efforts at disruption to that by 
Russian activities not only in North Macedonia but also in 
Greece, particularly in northern Greece. And the people have 
spoken with strong efforts by the leadership on both sides of 
the Government to counter that. And I think what we are seeing, 
as they make their way and will become, with the support of 
this committee, the 30th member of NATO, a real decisive 
statement about the importance of that.
    And that goes for counterterrorism, which President Trump 
has highlighted as an important thing for NATO to focus on, and 
they have. The efforts not only, of course, in Afghanistan and 
training missions in Iraq, efforts by NATO to focus resources 
on counterterrorism have been joined by countries like North 
Macedonia, soon to be a member, but as a partner signed up to 
the global counter ISIS group. They have made real 
contributions there.
    Senator Gardner. Should NATO members, should European 
nations, the United States, others--should we be pushing more 
on the OSCE to be a more effective voice in pushing back 
against some of the counterproductive activities Russia has 
pursued, whether it is at the United Nations or any other 
forum?
    Ambassador Reeker. The OSCE I think is a terrific forum 
that is often--I do not want to say forgotten, but does not 
have the profile perhaps that NATO does. But it is another 
institution that was created in the post-World War II era. 
Particularly during the Cold War, it gave us valuable 
opportunities for the types of engagement. OSCE has played a 
very important role in the Western Balkans, including in North 
Macedonia, over the years. This committee and the full Senate 
have confirmed a new U.S. Permanent Representative to the OSCE, 
and we very much look forward to Governor Gilmore taking up his 
role there where I do think the OSCE has an important role to 
play.
    Senator Gardner. Should we be doing more to push back and 
to express----
    Ambassador Reeker. I think it is one of the tools and 
avenues that we have, and we will continue to do that robustly. 
And we look forward to continuing to work very closely with the 
Helsinki Commission on how we do that.
    Senator Gardner. Do you think OSCE has done enough at this 
point?
    Ambassador Reeker. I think one can always do more. OSCE is 
a robust organization with a lot of members in it. It is a 
platform. And in fact, I am meeting with the OSCE chairman in 
office. I met the chairman in office from Slovakia last week, 
and I am meeting with the Secretary-General this week. And we 
will continue to look at avenues they can do and welcome your 
thoughts on that.
    Senator Gardner. Thank you.
    The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Gardner.
    Senator Kaine, your patience is admirable.
    Senator Kaine. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    It has been a great discussion, and I want to thank the 
witnesses for this.
    I add my words to those that you each offered and Senator 
Shaheen congratulating Greece and Macedonia for the diplomacy. 
I noticed May 31 both countries opened up embassies in each 
other's capitals, which was a positive sign. I think the timing 
of this hearing, as you said, Ms. Wheelbarger, is good because 
of the upcoming ministerial level meeting.
    A comment about NATO, and then, Ms. Wheelbarger, I want to 
talk to you about DOD cooperation, mil-to-mil cooperation.
    So NATO, 70th year. I do think it is very important for us 
to continue what is clearly a consensus here, DOD, State, the 
administration, colleagues on both sides of the aisle 
emphasizing the importance of NATO. I was in Paris giving a 
speech on the 70th anniversary of NATO in March, and the 
questions I was getting were really interesting.
    You know, the President makes some statements that make 
people wonder about him, and I expected I might get questions 
about him. But actually the questions I got were more about the 
American public. Is the American public supportive of NATO? 
Presidents can be here for 4 or 8 years, and there can be other 
Presidents. But what does the American public think about it?
    I have a bill that I have introduced that is pending before 
this committee that is bipartisan that would clear up a legal 
ambiguity. The bill basically says that just as it took Senate 
ratification of a treaty to get into NATO, we should not get 
out of NATO unless either by a Senate vote or an act of 
Congress. That is not particular toward any President, but it 
is an expression of will, that Congress believes this is 
important. And I would hope that that might be something we 
could take up.
    I am very open. It is a bipartisan proposal, but 
amendments, changes, making it better. But because the 
questions that I was getting were about what do the American 
people think about the relationship at 70, something like that 
I think can be a very strong statement. And I actually think 
constitutionally it would be wise.
    I think it would be an appropriate policy to say that a 
treaty of this magnitude that is accepted with such a 
consensus, that was entered into with a Senate two-thirds vote 
should not be set aside unilaterally by anyone.
    I am also happy to tell my colleagues that in the Armed 
Services Committee, the NDAA, the text of which is being filed 
today, includes an amendment that says if any President were to 
say we should get out of NATO, no funds could be used to remove 
American troops from NATO missions for a year, giving Congress 
the ability to grapple with that and decide whether that was a 
direction the country wanted to go.
    But I hope we might be able to take this matter up in some 
form and express powerfully that the Senate and Congress 
believe we should stay in NATO until we make a decision that we 
should get out of NATO.
    I want to ask you, Ms. Wheelbarger. You talked a little bit 
about IMET and joint exercises. And the commitment of North 
Macedonia in troops to Afghanistan and other missions has been 
really powerful.
    Talk to us a little more about the kinds of ongoing 
training that we are doing together with folks coming to our 
country for training, the likely exercises in the future. You 
mentioned a couple of them that North Macedonia will do 
together with U.S. troops. Because I think this is really 
important to build relationships, build capacity, send a 
message that is ultimately a message of deterrence.
    Ms. Wheelbarger. Absolutely, happy to do so.
    I think our mil-to-mil relationship with North Macedonia is 
an exemplar for other countries. Their willingness to take our 
advice and be true strategic partners when it comes to 
particularly their strategic defense reforms, which from the 
Department of Defense view, when you are talking about what 
kind of training has the longest-term effects for a country, 
not only the training that they can do in the United States 
through the IMET program, which I will get you specific numbers 
of who is here in the country right now from North Macedonia, 
but in terms of defense institution building. And I know this 
body, the Senate, has been a big advocate for that for many 
years.
    The importance of that I do not think can be overstated 
simply because ensuring the proper civ-mil relationships, 
ensuring the anti-corruption efforts throughout defense 
industries and throughout defense institutions, having the 
right mixture between officers and enlisted, the right mixture 
between senior officers and junior officers, this can be a 
foundational core for any society.
    We heard earlier the concerns about backsliding for a 
country like North Macedonia that had some trouble some years 
in terms of their democratic values. We do believe that mil-to-
mil relationships and MOD-to-DOD relationships can provide a 
background of stability in some ways for those values. Again, 
if a country can get their defense institutions right, 
particularly on values of anti-corruption, values of 
meritocracy, that has an enduring foundation throughout the 
rest of the institutions of that society.
    Senator Kaine. I would also add a value that militaries 
could often perform in a wonderful way are inclusion in any 
society where there is ethnic strife. The Russians were trying 
to amplify that to oppose the agreement with Greece. They often 
go at these ethnic tensions and try to drive them. And if you 
have a military where in the leadership and in the ranks, 
everybody is represented, everybody is treated equally, that 
often is a really powerful example. And I know that is one of 
the things, when we do training, we really work with other 
nations to try to model. So I would encourage you to continue 
in that good work.
    Mr. Chair, thank you.
    The Chairman. Good remarks. Thank you very much, Senator 
Kaine.
    Thank you so much. If you will be patient with us for just 
a few more minutes. Senator Menendez?
    Senator Menendez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have two final 
questions.
    Mr. Secretary, the European Commission has recommended that 
EU start accession talks with North Macedonia, but my 
understanding is that several EU members are reluctant to start 
those talks. Last week, Prime Minister Zaev warned that he may 
call early elections if the EU does not give a date for 
starting talks this summer.
    How would you assess the status of North Macedonia's EU 
accession and what impact would delaying those talks have 
domestically in North Macedonia?
    Ambassador Reeker. Thank you, Senator, for the very timely 
question. It is a subject we have been discussing in my 
meetings with European counterparts. In fact, we were in Berlin 
just last week underscoring the U.S. support for North 
Macedonia's European perspective and the start of talks. We all 
welcomed the European Commission's report for North Macedonia, 
as well as for Albania. Our encouragement has been to look at 
each country on their merits, and I think there is widespread 
support for North Macedonia to move forward with its EU 
membership, particularly with the Prespa Agreement having 
resolved the name issue.
    Some countries, some member states do have their own 
political calendars. That is something that colleagues have 
highlighted for us. Whether June becomes the exact date for 
starting the accession talks or announcing a date to start is 
not yet certain. I think there is still time for that to be--if 
it is June, if it is July.
    Our advice certainly to Prime Minister Zaev and others is 
to look at how far you have come in this path that you have 
taken. They have done all the right things. That has been 
acknowledged by the commission, and I think North Macedonia 
beginning to open these chapters necessary to become a full 
member of the European Union is a foregone conclusion. The 
exact timing is something for the Europeans to work out.
    Senator Menendez. Outside of the timing, if the timing 
delays to a point, what is the purpose of the prime minister 
suggesting that he is going to call some snap elections?
    Ambassador Reeker. Well, politics in North Macedonia is 
complicated, as it is in many countries. I think he continues 
to demonstrate that he has a strong support, strong mandate, 
and that is something he wants to highlight. But this is a 
reason that we have highlighted to our European colleagues both 
in Brussels institutionally but with individual member states 
our belief and the efforts we have made to help move this 
forward and why it would be in everybody's interest to let them 
begin that process as soon as possible.
    Senator Menendez. One last question. China has invested 
hundreds of millions of euros in North Macedonia's 
infrastructure as part of its 17 plus 1 initiative in Eastern 
Europe. And Prime Minister Zaev has stated that he wants to 
expand North Macedonia's cooperation with China.
    Now, I remain deeply concerned about the threat of China's 
investments, particularly in the telecommunications sector, 
pose to the security of the United States and our allies. We 
have seen time and time again that Chinese investment is 
manipulative at best and coercive in some of its worst forms.
    Have you had discussions with North Macedonia regarding 
future China investments, how they impact NATO's security? And 
what measures are you taking to ensure that North Macedonia's 
engagement with China does not negatively impact NATO?
    Ambassador Reeker. We have had those conversations, as we 
have with so many countries, highlighting our concerns about 
Chinese geopolitical and strategic goals, warning of what we 
have seen in other parts of the world. I think North Macedonia 
and its leadership have wide open eyes about that. They do want 
to pursue opportunities in terms of trade and markets, but they 
have to do that knowing about the risks, particularly when it 
comes to things like telecommunications infrastructure. So as 
we have with others, we have highlighted that.
    They are going to make their own decisions, but I think 
they understand and they are keenly attuned to the concerns 
about NATO membership when it comes to telecom infrastructure, 
as the 5G issue has illustrated. And we will continue to have 
those conversations. In fact, I find them quite welcoming of 
the conversations and the information that we can provide to 
them to highlight some of the risks and concerns.
    Senator Menendez. This is an example of why we not only 
need to confront China, but we need to compete with China so 
that countries have other opportunities at the end of the day 
to choose other than Chinese investment.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman. Thank you. Well said, Senator Menendez.
    Well, thank you to both of you for providing us with the 
benefit of your testimony, your information, your expertise in 
this area.
    For the information of members, the record will remain open 
until close of business on Friday. There has already been an 
indication that there are going to be questions for the record. 
So if the two of you would, as promptly as possible, respond to 
those inquiries, it would be very, very helpful to move this 
thing forward.
    So with that, we are adjourned.


    [Whereupon, at 11:35 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]



                              ----------                              


              Additional Material Submitted for the Record

                              ----------                              


      Responses to Additional Questions for the Record Submitted 
             to Philip T. Reeker by Senator Robert Menendez

    Question 1.  As part of its NATO and EU accession processes North 
Macedonia has made a number of reforms:

    What specific reforms has North Macedonia made thus far to tackle 
        corruption; improve the judiciary; strengthen the electoral 
        system's credibility; and clean up the bureaucracy and 
        especially the intelligence services? What are their reform 
        plans for those areas going forward? What is the current and 
        future role of the U.S. in supporting those reforms?

    Answer. Over the past year, the Government of North Macedonia made 
significant progress in implementing reforms needed for the country to 
align with NATO and EU standards. We agree with the European 
Commission's May 29 accession report which confirms North Macedonia has 
made significant reform progress in a range of areas including 
strengthening rule of law and judicial independence, media freedom, 
transparency, intelligence reform, and government accountability. The 
Parliament passed significant judicial reform legislation this spring 
with opposition support, including amendments to laws governing the 
courts, Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils, administrative disputes, 
and access to information. On intelligence reform, the implementation 
of an independent Operational Technical Agency continues to move 
forward, and in late May, Parliament adopted a law to replace the 
Department for Counterintelligence and Security (UBK) with a new body 
independent of the Ministry of Interior and with increased 
parliamentary oversight.
    Another key step was the enactment of a new Law on Prevention of 
Corruption and Conflict of Interest in January 2019 that provided for 
the re-constitution of the State Commission for Prevention of 
Corruption and Conflict of Interest, giving it greater independence and 
strengthened competencies. It can now examine public officials' bank 
records, political party and election campaign finances, and all 
political appointments, as well as request prosecutions. Reflecting 
these efforts, North Macedonia moved up 14 places between 2017 and 2018 
in Transparency International's Public Perception of Corruption Index, 
now ranking 93rd out of 180 countries surveyed.
    At the Government's request, we continue to support these important 
reform efforts.

    Question 2.  During the hearing on Montenegro's NATO accession in 
2016, several members of this Committee noted that Montenegro still had 
work to do on its democratic and rule of law reforms--much like North 
Macedonia does now. How would you assess Montenegro's progress on those 
reforms since it joined NATO?

    Answer. Montenegro is a strong NATO Ally, and we commend its 
commitment to regional and NATO collective security. Montenegro 
provides stability in an unsettled region and offers a positive example 
to NATO and EU aspirants.
    Since 2016, it has made notable strides in advancing democratic 
principles and respect for the rule of law. As part of a package of 
rule of law reforms enacted in the lead-up to its NATO invitation, the 
Government of Montenegro (GoM) established a new independent Office of 
the Special State Prosecutor that handles major cases involving 
organized crime and corruption, and appointed an independent Chief 
Special Prosecutor. A Special Police unit focused on corruption and 
organized crime supports the Special Prosecutor. The GoM also created 
the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption as an administrative body 
to oversee the implementation of anti-corruption laws and regulations. 
These new institutions are supported by a team of U.S. Embassy rule of 
law and police advisors with combined decades of experience. With the 
support and mentoring from Embassy Podgorica, these Montenegrin 
authorities have conducted hundreds of disruption raids against 
suspected organized criminals.
    To further bolster democratic and rule of law reforms, Embassy 
Podgorica also supports civil society and independent media, which are 
important watchdogs on the Government; the work of the independent 
human rights ombudsman in Montenegro; and ongoing efforts to make 
Montenegro's law enforcement institutions more professional and 
competent.
    As the State Department documented in the annual 2018 Human Rights 
Report, pervasive corruption--marked by nepotism, political favoritism, 
weak controls, and conflicts of interest in all branches of the 
Government--contributes to serious human rights problems, as does 
impunity. Attacks on, and harassment of, journalists, and several 
prosecutions remain unresolved. While some media outlets demonstrate 
willingness to criticize the Government, threats of violence and 
economic or political pressure lead to self-censorship or biased 
coverage. Trafficking in persons and crimes involving violence against 
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons are 
also areas that the GoM needs to address.
    We will continue to advocate for these and our other policy goals 
in Montenegro.

    Question 3.  Prior to North Macedonia's name change referendum, 
U.S. officials warned of secret Russian efforts to influence the vote 
by funding pro-Russian groups that opposed the name change in both 
Greece and North Macedonia. Russia continues to oppose North 
Macedonia's accession to NATO and in the past it has gone to great 
lengths to stop new countries from joining NATO, even supporting a 
failed coup in Montenegro:

    What actions, whether overt or covert, have we seen Russia take to 
        obstruct North Macedonia's accession to NATO? Which individuals 
        or organizations received support from Russia in opposition to 
        the country's name change, both in Greece and in North 
        Macedonia? Answer can be provided in classified format if 
        necessary.

    Answer. Russia has employed malicious tactics against the United 
States and Europe to drive a wedge into the transatlantic relationship, 
weaken confidence in America's commitment to Europe, and undermine the 
successes that we have achieved since the end of the Cold War. It 
continues its aggressive behaviour toward others by interfering in 
elections processes, promoting corrupt practices, and advancing non-
democratic ideas. Toward these malign ends, Russia has worked to 
undermine implementation of the Prespa Agreement with Greece. These 
actions are consistent with Russia's destabilizing activities across 
the region. We have been clear that any efforts to undermine democratic 
processes by a foreign power are unacceptable. We are working with our 
Allies and partners in Europe to identify and expose Russian 
disinformation and to promote accurate messages that advance freedom, 
prosperity, and security in Europe.
    The United States and Russia have very different visions for the 
future of the region. Russia believes its interests are served by 
sowing friction and tensions. The United States believes that the 
interests of the people of North Macedonia are best served by respect 
for human rights, fundamental freedoms, transparency, rule of law, and 
understanding based on shared values and a shared future.

    Question 4.  According to the Open Society Institute's Media 
Literacy Index North Macedonia is the European state least prepared to 
deal with fake news, largely due to challenges with its education 
system. Russia is actively promoting Russian-language media outlets in 
North Macedonia, giving them a vehicle to easily spread disinformation:

    What is the United States doing to help North Macedonia increase 
        its resiliency to disinformation campaigns, particularly 
        Russian disinformation campaigns?

    Answer. Russia does not accept the post-Cold War choices made by 
countries in favor of integration with the West. In contrast, the 
United States supports EU membership for all the countries of the 
Western Balkans and NATO membership for those that seek it.
    In the case of North Macedonia, Russia has spoken out against the 
country's democratically chosen NATO path and in advance of the 
referendum on the Prespa Agreement it sought to make overcoming this 
long-standing dispute and reaching an agreement on the name much 
harder. The U.S. Embassy in Skopje works alongside the State 
Department's Global Engagement Center to monitor the spread of 
disinformation on Prespa and NATO. In addition, we support civil 
society efforts to analyze and debunk disinformation.
    USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives has provided technical 
assistance to three of the largest and most influential media outlets 
in North Macedonia, improving their ability to counter malign 
disinformation campaigns. The U.S. Embassy also supports training for 
government communicators and journalists to learn how to succeed in 
disinformation-laden environments.

    Question 5.  In a March 2019 report, State's Overseas Security 
Advisory Council reported that approximately 156 North Macedonia 
nationals traveled to join terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria 
and that 83 of them have returned to North Macedonia:

    Other than the seven who have been convicted and sentenced, what 
        has happened to them? What is North Macedonia's strategy for 
        dealing with returning foreign terrorist fighters? Do they pose 
        a threat to North Macedonia or to NATO forces that may in the 
        country?

    Answer. We commend North Macedonia for repatriating seven of its 
citizens in August 2018, who had been detained by the Syrian Democratic 
Forces (SDF) while fighting for ISIS. In March, these seven Foreign 
Terrorist Fighters pled guilty to terrorism-related offenses, and each 
received sentences between 6 and 9 years in prison.
    With the repatriation and convictions, North Macedonia set an 
important example for all members of the Coalition to Defeat ISIS and 
the international community. As the United Nations recognized with U.N. 
Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2396 in 2017 and UNSCR 2178 in 
2014, foreign terrorist fighters are a global problem requiring the 
attention of the global community. International cooperation to address 
the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters in SDF detention is 
critical. Only repatriation provides a long-term solution to detained 
foreign terrorist fighters who traveled to Syria to join ISIS.
    Further, the Government of North Macedonia adopted in March 2018 
the 2018-2022 National Counterterrorism Strategy and a standalone 2018-
2022 National Strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, both 
accompanied by National Action Plans. The National Committee to Counter 
Violent Extremism and Counterterrorism (NCCVECT) partners with the 
international donor community to implement the action plans. This 
cooperation includes programming to prevent violent extremism, develop 
community resilience, and reform prison practices.



                               __________


       Responses to Additional Questions for the Record Submitted
         to Philip T. Reeker by Senator Senator Jeanne Shaheen

    Question 1.  North Macedonia's membership would increase the 
integration of the entire Balkan region into Western structures and 
institutions. What economic benefit to the region do you anticipate 
from North Macedonia's NATO membership and how could that benefit in 
turn be strategically useful to NATO?

    Answer. North Macedonia's NATO membership will contribute to 
regional stability, security, and prosperity. The greater stability and 
security membership brings give confidence to consumers, businesses, 
and investors--including foreign investors--boosting economic growth. 
Increased consumption leads to greater opportunities for employment; 
more public investment leads to better infrastructure. Economic 
prosperity engenders good neighborly relations and open trade. A stable 
and vibrant economy attracts high-quality investment from foreign 
companies that respect the rule of law and demand a level playing 
field. North Macedonia has already seen an increase in foreign direct 
investment during the NATO accession process, and its economy is 
projected to sustain steady growth rates. NATO membership and 
associated reforms that strengthen the rule of law and fight corruption 
will bolster North Macedonia's institutional framework and provide it a 
stronger base for pushing back on Russia, China, and other malign 
actors. Stronger, more prosperous NATO Allies in turn contribute more 
to collective burden sharing.

    Question 2.  How would the increased military, political and 
economic integration of the region due to North Macedonia's NATO 
membership offset foreign influence from Russia, China or other 
countries working against U.S. interests? What threats would it help 
mitigate?

    Answer. North Macedonia's membership in NATO will counter Russian 
efforts to sow discord and division in the region and other 
destabilizing threats. Allies have broadened their attention to China's 
activities in Europe too. The United States is leading the discussion 
by highlighting the potential dangers to NATO command & control and 
communications posed by Chinese telecom providers, such as Huawei. The 
United States emphasizes to Allies and partners the potential 
consequences of Chinese investment in, and ownership of, critical 
transportation infrastructure such as ports and airports.
    Countries like North Macedonia, which have faced direct effects of 
Russian disinformation and problematic Chinese investments, contribute 
to a unified response to malign actors in Europe. Coordinated action by 
NATO Allies strengthens regional stability and our collective security.

    Question 3.  How would increased people-to-people (and military-to-
military) integration make the Balkan region less vulnerable to Russian 
disinformation?

    Answer. Russia does not accept the post-Cold War choices made by 
countries in favor of integration with the West, and has employed a 
range of malicious tactics against the United States and Europe to 
drive a wedge in the transatlantic relationship, weaken confidence in 
our commitment to Europe, and forestall the Western Balkan's Western 
integration. It aggressively seeks to incite divisions, interfere in 
elections processes, promote corrupt practices, and advance non-
democratic ideas. In contrast, the United States supports EU membership 
for all countries of the Western Balkans and NATO membership for those 
who want it and are capable of meeting the requirements for accession.
    We are supporting North Macedonia's further steps towards Western 
integration and pushing back on Russia's attempts to hinder these 
efforts. As part of the NATO accession process, military-to-military 
partnerships led by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Ministry of 
Defense of North Macedonia continue to strengthen the country's Western 
orientation. The State Department also supports a variety of 
programming to increase people-to-people ties. The State Department's 
Global Engagement Center monitors the sentiment of social media 
conversations and the spread of disinformation on NATO and other 
political events. Those analyses inform targeted, public engagement 
activities by the U.S. Government and our partners, which are making 
the region less vulnerable to disinformation. People-to-people 
exchanges are further integrating the people of North Macedonia and the 
Balkans within Western institutions, further countering the 
disinformation narratives Russia peddles.

    Question 4.  How is the Prespa Agreement and North Macedonia's NATO 
accession an argument against nationalist political movements 
throughout Europe and how can the negotiations of the Prespa Agreement 
serve specifically as a model for the resolution of other conflicts or 
disagreements?

    Answer. The implementation of the historic Prespa Agreement and the 
resolution of the name dispute with Greece underscore that North 
Macedonia is willing to make the sacrifices and compromises needed for 
peace and stability. North Macedonia serves as a model to the region, 
and the Prespa Agreement underscores to Serbia, Kosovo, and others in 
Europe that forward-looking agreements based on compromise can secure a 
better future.



                               __________


      Responses to Additional Questions for the Record Submitted 
           to Kathryn Wheelbarger by Senator Robert Menendez

    Question 1.  Ms. Wheelbarger stated that seven North Macedonia 
nationals were convicted of terrorism-related offenses and sentenced to 
6-9 years in prison. What is North Macedonia's plan for ensuring that 
after their release from prison they do not pose a threat to North 
Macedonia or to any NATO forces that may be in the country? How will 
North Macedonia handle any attempt by those nationals to travel abroad 
following their release?

    Answer. Answer: North Macedonia remains committed to cooperating 
with the United States and the international community to crack down on 
violent extremists. This commitment is underscored by the fact that in 
March 2018, North Macedonia's Government adopted the 2018-2022 National 
Counterterrorism Strategy and a standalone 2018-2022 National Strategy 
for Countering Violent Extremism, both accompanied by National Action 
Plans. Following their release, local security services will monitor 
the seven convicted terrorists using physical and technical means. Any 
continued association with ISIS or other terrorist groups would be 
documented and could be used as evidence in future prosecution. North 
Macedonia also maintains a travel watch list, which they actively 
monitor and utilize. The watch list includes any individuals convicted 
of terrorist activities. The Border Police Unit is committed to 
enforcing North Macedonia's border security related laws.

    Question 2.  In a March 2019 report, State's Overseas Security 
Advisory Council reported that approximately 156 North Macedonia 
nationals traveled to join terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria 
and that 83 of them have returned to North Macedonia. Other than the 
seven who have been convicted and sentenced, what has happened to them? 
What is North Macedonia's strategy for dealing with returning foreign 
terrorist fighters? Do they pose a threat to North Macedonia or to NATO 
forces that may in the country?

    Answer. North Macedonia continues to be proactive, taking a strong 
stance against returning foreign fighters. Local security services 
closely monitor all individuals of concern in a counterterrorism 
context. North Macedonia has sought to investigate, detain, and 
prosecute any individuals associated with terrorism, including the 83 
known returnees. Police operations resulted in the arrest and 
subsequent prosecution of 25 of these individuals; prison sentences 
ranged from one to seven years. Security services continue to 
investigate the individuals who remain at large with the goal of 
developing enough evidence to allow for detention and prosecution. 
North Macedonia's strategy for future returnees is to prosecute them in 
accordance with recently implemented national plans. The North 
Macedonian National Committee to Counter Violent Extremism and 
Counterterrorism (NCCVECT) partners with the international donor 
community, including the United States, to implement the action plans. 
This includes programming to prevent violent extremism, develop local 
community resilience, and reform prison practices, among other areas.

    Question 3.  Ms. Wheelbarger stated that national-level security 
forces are receiving DOD counterterrorism training. How would you 
assess the capability of North Macedonia's local security forces and 
police to handle terrorism issues, particularly returning foreign 
terrorist fighters who may be in their jurisdictions? Is the U.S. 
assisting with training local security forces to deal with terrorist 
threats?

    Answer. North Macedonia's law enforcement capacity to detect, 
deter, and prevent acts of terrorism continues to improve as a result 
of training programs and the development of operational plans to 
prevent and respond to possible terrorist attacks. The U.S. Embassy's 
Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) and Regional Security Office, 
working with the Department of State's Counterterrorism Bureau and 
Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Antiterrorism Assistance program (DS/
ATA), offered various types of training events for members of the 
National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism and Countering 
Terrorism (NCCVECT), law enforcement officers and investigators, 
prosecutors, and other government stakeholders.

    Question 4.  Please describe how North Macedonia's troop 
contributions have specifically benefitted U.S. and NATO missions in 
Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo.

    Answer. North Macedonia's valuable contributions to regional and 
global security far outweigh its size. Since the Kosovo Force (KFOR) 
mission began in 1999, North Macedonia has continuously provided a 
dedicated element of 13 individuals that provide logistics support to 
KFOR. North Macedonia has deployed 490 military personnel to Operation 
Iraqi Freedom (OIF), 2,700 military personnel to the International 
Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and more than 400 
personnel to the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan. These 
personnel have served alongside U.S. and NATO forces. For example, 
North Macedonian forces conducted a co-deployment with the Vermont 
National Guard, performing base security and staff officer work. This 
represents more than 3,500 personnel that the United States or other 
NATO Allies did not have to send into theater.

    Question 5.  I understand that U.S. forces have conducted some 
training exercises at North Macedonia's Krivolak Training Area and it 
has terrain unlike any other training area in Europe. What specific 
value does access to Krivolak provide for NATO forces? Please provide 
the specific plans that the U.S. and NATO have to conduct exercises at 
Krivolak over the next two years.

    Answer. North Macedonia's training area at Krivolak is indeed 
unique and provides substantial value to U.S. and NATO forces. The main 
attraction of the Krivolak training area is the unfettered maneuver 
space that it offers. Krivolak's current usable area allows for a 
battalion-sized maneuver space. Once the northern portion of the range 
is cleared and declared safe of old unexploded ordnance, the training 
area will be even larger, including a total of 225 square kilometers. 
In addition to this, the Ministry of Defense has intentions to expand 
the borders of the training area to encompass 340 square kilometers, 
upon which a brigade-sized element could maneuver. The geographic 
location of Krivolak (three-hour drive from Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo) 
makes it much more attractive, from a cost, time, and mission 
perspective, than having U.S. KFOR units train in Graffenweohr, 
Germany. The U.S. forces to the KFOR mission rotate every nine months. 
The last two iterations have trained at Krivolak to maintain their 
warfighting skills and readiness, and future rotations plan to continue 
this practice as part of regular training. Currently the 56th Stryker 
Brigade from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard is participating in 
the DECISIVE STRIKE military training exercises in Krivolak. A total of 
approximately 1,300 U.S. personnel will be involved in the exercise, 
the majority coming from the two participating battalions of the 56th, 
with additional soldiers from the 19th Special Forces from the Colorado 
National Guard and personnel from U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR). North 
Macedonia's army is also participating with approximately 1,300 
personnel. Other NATO Allies participating are Albania, Bulgaria, 
Lithuania, and Montenegro. USAREUR is discussing plans to utilize 
Krivolak for its DEFENDER '21 exercise; initial assessments are for a 
brigade-sized force to train at Krivolak.

    Question 6.  I understand that NATO will have to fund 
infrastructure upgrades at the Krivolak Training Area to maximize its 
utility for military training. How much will those upgrades cost, and 
how much of that cost will the U.S. bear? How valuable would such an 
upgrade be for military readiness?

    Answer. North Macedonia is committing national funds to improve the 
training area, including rehabilitation of a previously defunct rail 
line to facilitate transportation of equipment to and from Krivolak 
from other European destinations. NATO would only invest funding if 
doing so would be of direct benefit to the Alliance. The Ministry of 
Defense and the General Staff are currently developing their long-term 
improvement plan for Krivolak. USAREUR and 7th Army Training Command 
have provided recommendations of what to upgrade/construct to enable 
brigade-level operations.

    Question 7.  Ms. Wheelbarger stated that the U.S. is working on a 
bilateral MOU with North Macedonia that is "intended to guide North 
Macedonia towards its reform goals." Upon completion of the MOU, do you 
commit to share the MOU with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? 
Which reforms specifically does that MOU address? What will DOD's role 
be in helping North Macedonia achieve those reforms?

    Answer. Yes, the document is in final review, and we will share the 
MOU once complete. Specifics will be contained in the final document; 
however, the Department's role in helping North Macedonia achieve 
reform goals will be similar to our role with other partners and Allies 
and will be conducted in accordance with applicable law, policy, and 
regulations.

    Question 8.  I understand that since North Macedonia does not have 
its own air defense capacity, Greece and Bulgaria have volunteered to 
provide air defense support (contingent on acquiring F-16s in 
Bulgaria's case). Will their support be sufficient, or will 
contributions from other countries be required? Which other countries 
would be willing to provide air defense support if needed? Is North 
Macedonia planning on developing its own air defense capacity and if 
yes, on what timeline?

    Answer. The support offered by Greece and Bulgaria is sufficient to 
meet current threats and is also a strong indicator of the Alliance's 
overall capacity to deter or defeat threats in potential threat 
scenarios. Upon accession and full membership, any air defense plan 
would fall under the alliance air defense strategy, which may involve 
other nations as deemed appropriate by military planning and allocation 
of NATO assets. This would like mean that there would be no independent 
requirement for North Macedonia to develop a fixed-wing air defense 
capability.

    Question 9.  North Macedonia is working to reduce the number of 
personnel in both its army and its Ministry of Defense (MOD) in order 
to reduce the share of the defense budget spent on personnel. What 
progress has North Macedonia made with these cuts? Has there been 
opposition from within the military or external groups to the personnel 
reduction and if yes, what impact has their opposition had on the 
process?

    Answer. The North Macedonian Ministry of Defense has made a 
priority of optimizing its defense budget through the reduction of 
defense personnel. The Ministry of Defense's (MoD) plan to reduce the 
number of personnel to 650-700 has been drafted and is in the approval 
process. The reduction of forces in the Armed Forces is a multi-faceted 
transformation plan over the next 3-5 years. The planned method for 
reduction of both the MoD and the Armed Forces is primarily via 
attrition through retirement/separation and a simultaneous reduction of 
authorized billets within the force structure. This approach, although 
not immediate, will alleviate social and political repercussions and 
mitigate opposition to the reduction. There will still be some MoD 
employees who will need to be transitioned to other government agencies 
or to the private sector workforce; however, this is pending approval 
of the MoD reduction plan.

    Question 10.  To improve its budget planning and military 
procurement system North Macedonia needs to change a number of its 
laws, including one that requires government contracts to go to the 
lowest bidder regardless of the quality of their product. Do all key 
political actors, including major opposition parties, support such 
legal changes despite their potential cost? Are companies or interest 
groups that stand to lose from changes to procurement laws opposing 
those improvements and if yes, what impact has their opposition had on 
the legislative proceedings?

    Answer. All key political actors have voiced support for making the 
necessary changes to the military procurement law. There are no 
indications of any key stakeholders planning to oppose the law. 
Additionally, the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation-Skopje supported 
the North Macedonian Ministry of Defense in organizing multiple 
seminars with members of Parliament and their staff. The purpose of 
these seminars is to: increase and improve executive-legislative 
relationships; increase understanding of Army transformation and 
modernizations goals; jointly develop and understand requirements of 
the MoD and the Army; and determine what the Defense and Security 
Commission needs in order to advocate within broader Parliament for the 
passing of defense-related reform laws.

    Question 11.  Last year the North Macedonia army reviewed its 
current equipment to determine what should be disposed of and what will 
be needed going forward. What progress has North Macedonia made in 
implementing the findings of that review? In particular, North 
Macedonia reportedly has excess quantities of small arms and ammunition 
due to its personnel reduction. What is the Government's plan for 
safely disposing of the surplus arms and ammunition such that it does 
not end up in the wrong hands?

    Answer. North Macedonia recognizes the need to dispose of equipment 
properly in order to prevent proliferation or misuse. North Macedonia 
has previously donated small arms, ammunition, and hand grenades via 
U.S.-facilitated weapon donation programs. The majority of the 
equipment was inherited from the former Yugoslav National Army, 
purchased with national funds, or donated from partner countries. The 
plan for divestiture of obsolete and unessential equipment is complete 
and is pending final approval by the Government. The plan calls for the 
disposal of equipment, weapons, ammunition, etc., in the following 
ways: transfer to other government ministries/agencies; sale to 
approved countries; donation to approved countries; demilitarization 
and sale/donation to museums, etc., or destruction and sale as scrap 
metal as appropriate. North Macedonia has identified all obsolete 
equipment, catalogued it in detail, and created a plan to seek the 
required approvals. In order to proceed with the divestiture of donated 
equipment, the MoD must obtain approval from the donating country and 
is proactively addressing this. The list of obsolete equipment is a 16-
page document containing 462 items varying from pistols, rifles, 
machine guns, ammunition (7.62 and 20mm), mortars and ammunition (60mm, 
82mm, and 120 mm), 76mm guns, 122mm Howitzers, 20mm Anti-Aircraft guns, 
a variety of unguided rockets of multiple calibers, and a variety of 
spare parts and tools. North Macedonia has requested U.S. advice on 
best practices for divestiture. The Embassy's Office of Defense 
Cooperation will work with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), 
USEUCOM, and the State Department's Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA) 
office to assist with the safe storage/destruction of weapons and 
ammunition as requested or required.

    Question 12.  I understand that North Macedonia's MOD was set to 
complete a review of its existing infrastructure to determine what 
surpluses can be disposed of by June 2019. What is the status of that 
review? Please provide any documentation of this review that is 
available to the Department of Defense.

    Answer. The review is in its final stages. It includes an 
assessment of all existing infrastructure including locations, 
requirements, roles, responsibilities, use, management, current 
condition, and refurbishment needs. It will result in recommendations 
for future needs, which sites and facilities to retain, opportunities 
for consolidation, and options for disposal.



                               __________


      Responses to Additional Questions for the Record Submitted 
            to Kathryn Wheelbarger by Senator Jeanne Shaheen

    Question 1.  North Macedonia has been a steadfast partner in 
international operations such as Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation 
Enduring Freedom and the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. 
What does North Macedonia's military capability offer to NATO missions 
specifically and what is the value to NATO of incorporating smaller 
members of NATO in missions beyond their immediate region?

    Answer. North Macedonia's commitment to the Alliance exceeds its 
size. North Macedonia has demonstrated its willingness, capacity, and 
capability to provide support to NATO missions. In addition to these 
missions, they have provided support to NATO Allies including the 
United States through the provision of access to training ranges, 
support to logistics, and strong political action with regard to 
returned foreign fighters. Once a member of NATO, these same 
capabilities will be enhanced as interoperability continues to improve. 
North Macedonia will be able to provide these improved capabilities 
once it is a full member, able to act in NATO's common defense and able 
to provide forces directly when and where the Alliance may need them.

    Question 2.  North Macedonia's membership would increase the 
integration of the entire Balkan region into Western structures and 
institutions. What is the strategic benefit of such integration from a 
military perspective?

    Answer. North Macedonia's membership in the Alliance will solidify 
two decades of positive momentum towards regional security in the heart 
of the Balkans, where U.S. and NATO forces have twice been forced to 
intervene militarily. It also advances the Balkans towards western 
integration and helps to inoculate it from Russia's malign influence. 
The inclusion of another Ally who is interoperable and able to share 
military information seamlessly enhances the full range of military 
operations in the region. NATO accession also demonstrates that NATO's 
Open Door Policy remains strong and serves as an inspiration for other 
countries in the region to undertake reforms and make commitments 
required to enhance domestic and regional stability.

    Question 3.  How would you quantify the benefit to NATO and U.S. 
interests of bringing North Macedonia into the Alliance as a full 
member rather than continuing to engage them as merely a reliable 
partner?

    Answer. The entrance of North Macedonia as a full member not only 
increases the stabilizing influence in the strategic area of the 
Western Balkans but allows for increased capability and capacity of the 
alliance to deter Russia, to fight against global terrorism, and to 
continue advancing interests as outlined in the National Defense 
Strategy. Already a strong partner, as evidenced by its support to 
operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as a full member, North Macedonia 
would provide a solid commitment towards the goals of the Alliance and, 
if required, commit resources necessary to respond to threats. This 
commitment includes, but is not limited to, the commitment of forces as 
part of NATO's collective defense, a commitment to meet NATO defense 
capability targets, and resource burden sharing. The Government of 
North Macedonia is already committed to meet the goal of defense 
spending at 2 percent of GDP by 2024. Furthermore, adding North 
Macedonia fills in the continental land bridge, providing continuous 
freedom of movement from the northern part of Europe to the southern 
flank. Its accession provides continuous access from the Black Sea to 
the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. All told, NATO membership is a key step 
in continuing to optimize the Alliance.



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              Annex II.--Business Meeting of July 25, 2019



                            BUSINESS MEETING

                              ----------                              


                        THURSDAY, JULY 25, 2019

                                       U.S. Senate,
                            Committee on Foreign Relations,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:41 a.m., in 
Room S-116, The Capitol, Hon. James Risch, chairman of the 
committee, presiding.
    Present: Senators Risch [presiding], Rubio, Johnson, 
Gardner, Romney, Graham, Barrasso, Portman, Paul, Young, Cruz, 
Menendez, Cardin, Shaheen, Coons, Udall, Murphy, Kaine, Markey, 
and Merkley.

            OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES RISCH, 
                    U.S. SENATOR FROM IDAHO

    The Chairman.  The committee will come to order. I want to 
thank all of you for coming today. We have got a robust agenda 
with some legislation on it, one treaty, and a number of 
amendments. We are going to commit that we are going to 
consider today two major pieces of legislation, which have been 
in the works for months regarding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
I appreciate the hard work of the many members of this 
committee who have contributed to this debate, and virtually 
everybody has contributed in one fashion or another.
    The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have had a history of shared 
strategic interests, but Saudi Arabia's recent conduct is cause 
for grave concern. Everyone agrees that the murder of Jamal 
Khashoggi was truly a horrendous crime that demands a response. 
Like other members of the committee, I meet with officials of 
virtually every other country, including that of Saudi Arabia, 
and I have told the Saudis that they are only one Khashoggi 
type event away from having to find a new partner. That has 
consequences obviously for both sides, both for us and for the 
Saudis, not the least of which is that the most likely partner 
would be one of our two major competitors, and that would cause 
considerable grief for us in the region. But nonetheless, 
things cannot go on the way they are.
    We have a couple of bills that have been produced, both 
with a lot of input from other people. And I understand the 
members' frustration with members of the royal family in Saudi 
Arabia, and I understand members' frustration with arms sales 
in the region, but if it is possible, we want to change Saudi 
behavior. We want to change their conduct, and I believe we 
ought to give them an opportunity to do that. And if that does 
not happen, obviously, as I said, there is going to be--we are 
both going to go in different directions.
    We can either send a messaging bill, and I view one of 
these as a messaging bill, to the President for a vetting, or 
we can enact legislation that will drive and, more importantly, 
form foreign policy as indeed this committee is charged with 
doing and constitutionally we have the responsibility to do. 
For this reason, today I will be opposing many--I will be 
opposing most of the amendments that have been offered to 
SADRA. Myself and others have negotiated the SADRA bill with 
the White House, with the State Department, and with many 
members of this committee, indeed, I think all members of this 
committee.
    When we get to it, we will offer the bill and the first 
amendment--the first bill we are going to consider is Senator 
Menendez's bill, which has a different approach than the SADRA 
bill does. Obviously it sanctions members of the royal family 
and also goes after arms sales in the region, both of which 
will draw a certain veto from the President. I am going to 
offer my bill, the SADRA bill, mine and Senator Shaheen's bill, 
SADRA also. Senator Coons is a co-sponsor and so is Senator 
Barrasso. There are other co-sponsors which I will mention in a 
minute, too.
    We have a number of amendments to that bill. The first 
amendment that we are going to take up will be Senator 
Menendez's amendment, and he can speak to that when we get 
there, but it is similar to, if not identical to, the bill that 
we will have voted on before that. If his amendment passes, I 
will be withdrawing SADRA, and by that if--this is not sour 
grapes or anything else. It is just we all have--we are all 
busy people and we have other things to do. If his amendment 
passes, that will also draw a certain veto to the bill, and we 
accomplish the same thing by simply going to the floor and 
making speeches or holding press conferences or what have you.
    My objective truly is to have us have a say in foreign 
policy. I want this committee to have that, and if we can pass 
SADRA, I have reason to believe that it will become law, and we 
will actually participate in the formation of foreign policy, 
which we have all longed to do for a long time. I am going to 
ask my colleagues to support the SADRA legislation unamended 
and assert our voice and, more importantly, our authority as 
the Foreign Relations Committee as we move forward.
    The founding fathers really were very clear in a lot of 
areas when they divided the responsibilities and power between 
the first and second branch of government. They did not do this 
on foreign policy. They indeed gave us each a say in it, and 
that is what we are doing today is trying to effect our say in 
it. I know everyone on this committee is anxious to have our 
voices heard and reflect the formation of foreign policy, and 
this SADRA bill gives us the opportunity to do that.
    We are here today to engage in debate and consider the 
legislation and nominations before us. This bill, the SADRA 
bill, is not a partisan matter. It is a matter of grave 
importance to the people of America. My objective here is to 
have a substantive debate and to reach an agreement. And we 
will reach an agreement, and that is whether we want to 
participate in foreign policy or sit back and cede it to the 
second branch of government.
    However this comes out, I want to thank Senator Shaheen, 
Senator Rubio, Senator Coons, Senator Barrasso, Senator 
Gardner, Senator Isakson for co-sponsoring SADRA. I would also 
like to thank Senator Merkley for his work and his inspiration 
in the ESCAPE Act for which we have--which is the genesis for 
Title 3 of the SADRA bill. I also want to acknowledge Senator 
Young's work for attempting to end the war in Yemen. He was not 
the only one. There are others, but I think he has been the 
leader on that, and I would say that that is an inspiration for 
a significant part of this bill also.
    I also want to thank Senator Menendez and Graham for their 
construction of the Menendez-Graham bill, which takes an 
entirely different tact. I really think that that is going to 
be constructive as we deal with the Saudis. I suspect that bill 
is going to get a very significant vote, and I think that we 
will be able to use it as we--as we talk with the Saudis and 
urge them to change their conduct. It will not become law, but, 
nonetheless, I think that it will actually help move the needle 
as we urge them to change their conduct.
    Also on the agenda is Senate Bill 1441, the Protecting 
Europe's Energy Security Act of 2019. I want to thank Senator 
Cruz and Shaheen for working on the Cruz substitute amendment 
for this bill, which I will be supporting. This bipartisan 
measure would sanction companies that laid pipes for the Nord 
Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines. It nears a similar bill 
which passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by voice vote. 
The pipelines could result in further destabilization and grave 
injury to the Ukraine and the enrichment of the Putin regime. 
They put at risk the security of NATO member states. This bill 
reflects a specific targeted approach to push back against 
Russia. I believe it could have a path forward for its 
enactment if it stays narrow and targeted, and, thus, I will 
oppose all amendments besides the Cruz substitute.
    Finally, we will consider the proposal for the North 
Atlantic Treaty of 1949 and the accession of the Republic of 
North Macedonia. Welcoming North Macedonia into NATO will 
finish a long-overdue piece of business, cement the Prespa 
Agreement between Greece and North Macedonia, and strengthen 
Allied defenses against Russia malign influence in the Balkans.
    The nominations on the agenda today are incredibly 
important, none more than so than Kelly Craft to be U.S. 
ambassador to the United Nations. This position has been 
unfilled for 6 months. We need Ambassador Craft in place before 
the U.N. Assembly in September. We also have nominees on the 
agenda each for Libya, Mexico, the UAE, and the OECD. We need 
to get these noms to the floor as soon as possible. And with 
that, I will turn to the floor over Senator Menendez.

                STATEMENT OF HON. BOB MENENDEZ, 
                  U.S. SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY

    Senator Menendez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me start off 
by saying I am very pleased that we were able to come together 
and reach an agreement on a path forward for the legislation on 
the agenda today as well as a package of nominations. And I 
also want to thank all of the other senators on this committee 
on both sides who worked to get us to the agreement today and 
who spoke out on the importance of maintaining the tradition of 
bipartisanship on this committee.
    For many decades, this committee has stood alone in the 
Senate, a bipartisan haven in the midst of the tidal wave of 
partisanship. It is in this committee that senators from both 
parties have come together to craft critical pieces of 
legislation at times of great crisis in our country. We are the 
Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We represent America's face 
to the world, and it is always better when we can speak with 
one voice about America's foreign policy. That is why I am 
pleased we were able to come together on an agreement today on 
legislation and nominations.
    Let me outline what that agreement is. We have agreed to 
place 13 nominees, including Kelly Craft, the nominee to be 
ambassador to the United Nations, on the agenda. I would note 
that while I do not support a number of these nominees, we have 
completed their vetting process, and I supported adding them to 
the agenda. However, for Mr. Zuckerman and Mr. Manchester, we 
still had outstanding requests related to allegations of sexual 
harassment and a hostile work environment. I am glad that the 
chairman agreed to withdraw them until the White House responds 
to my letter requesting that Diplomatic Security conduct 
additional vetting. If the White House responds to my letters 
requesting additional vetting, both of those nominees will be 
cleared for a business meeting in early September.
    I am also shocked that the White House has refused to 
provide the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with full and 
complete copies of the U.S. agreements with Mexico and 
Guatemala on migration. As was clear in our hearing yesterday 
where we had the State Department legal adviser that I was 
pursuing, the administration is refusing to even answer basic 
questions about these agreements, including whether they are 
binding under international law. I appreciate that the chairman 
has agreed to hold an open hearing on Mexico in September and 
that he will be joining my request for the full Mexico and 
Guatemala agreements and implementing arrangements. Once those 
steps are completed, in spite of my deep concerns about Mr. 
Bremberg's policy positions, which are out of line with most 
Americans' and many Republican views, I will also agree to put 
Mr. Bremberg on a business meeting.
    I also look forward to discussing with you, Mr. Chairman, 
in the weeks ahead a broader path forward on how we can get 
timely and full responses from the administration on basic 
informational purposes so that we can maintain the bipartisan 
tradition that our predecessors so wisely chose. I sincerely 
hope that this broader discussion is a fruitful one, not just 
for the smooth running of the committee and this 116th 
Congress, but for the benefit of future Congresses and all 
Americans to come.
    When the next war comes, when the next attack strikes 
America, the leaders of this committee will need to bring the 
two parties together, indeed, to bring the entire American 
people together, to respond to the crisis of their time. As 
senators we have a responsibility to nurture and strengthen the 
institutions that we are a part of. And our predecessors, 
Republicans and Democrats alike, left us a strong committee, 
one where Democrats and Republicans respect each other, where 
we work out our problems based on comity.
    But I just want to make one observation about comity. 
Comity is not the mere acquiescence or capitulation to the will 
of the majority, whoever that majority may be at any given 
point. That is not comity. Comity is the deliberate, 
consultative, negotiated process in which the majority and the 
minority come together to form a pathway over to consensus. We 
may not agree, as we will not today, on legislation, we may not 
agree as it relates to the nominees, but we agree to a pathway 
forward. And that pathway forward has to also observe the 
rights of the minority, the rights that I have observed when I 
was the chairman of this committee. And there needs to be 
preserved a tradition that has continued today, and we see it 
continue today. It needs to be preserved going forward, and I 
look forward to working with the chairman and all members of 
the committee to do so.
    I want to speak briefly concerning the legislation on the 
agenda. When we come to the Saudi bill, I will speak more 
extensively on it. But I would just say to the chairman, with 
all due respect, and I appreciate that he is trying to do 
something that sends a message, I think it is a rather weak 
message. And I would also say that I do not believe that that 
bill can become law because I do not believe it will pass the 
House of Representatives as presently written.
    Secondly, if we as senators and this committee start down a 
path in which the suggestion that a president, regardless of 
which president is sitting in the White House, will not sign 
something and that should be an automatic veto upon what we 
decide to do, that is a dangerous path. If that was the view, 
CAATSA would have never become law. When I and others joined 
together to write CAATSA, we were told the same thing, it will 
not become law, and then the Russians did what they did, and 
ultimately CAATSA became the law of land, a critical law at 
this point in time. I do not think we should be vetoing 
ourselves before we have an opportunity to pass legislation 
that we think is meaningful, and I will speak more directly 
about the choices as we move forward.
    I appreciate Senator Cruz and Shaheen's leadership on the 
Nord Stream bill. I am opposed to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline 
project. It poses significant risk to European energy security. 
If completed, this pipeline will create a permanent alternative 
export route to the Ukraine pipeline system. This means that 
Nord Stream 2 would further undermine Ukraine's economic 
security and potentially increase its vulnerability to further 
Russian military incursions. Putin has complete disregard for 
international rules. The Russian Federation has repeatedly used 
its energy resources as a lever of power. It would be foolish 
to think that Putin would not do so in the future and to give 
him another powerful lever to use it against the West. So I 
support that effort.
    I support--though a small country, North Macedonia has made 
notable contributions to international security missions. It 
has deployed more than 4,000 troops to Iraq in support of U.S. 
efforts. In 2018, North Macedonia boosted its contribution to 
Afghanistan by 20 percent. It has also supported missions in 
Kosovo after its support to the International Counter ISIS 
Coalition. It is home to a military training ground unlike any 
other in Europe, which will be a critical asset for all of 
NATO. These are all strong arguments in favor of its inclusion 
in the alliance. Admission of North Macedonia into NATO would 
mark another important step towards fully integrating the 
Balkans into international institutions that have helped to 
contribute to peace and stability over the years, and I urge my 
colleagues to support the protocol.
    Mr. Chairman, we have a number of nominations on the 
agenda. I support all of the nominations except for Craft and 
Rakolta, and I will speak about those two as well as some 
remarks I want to make prior to both. I am also pleased to see 
that we are moving nine Foreign Service Lists. It is absolutely 
critical that we move these expeditiously as the talented and 
dedicated men and women of the Foreign Service depend on it. 
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman.  Thank you. Let us start with the Craft 
nomination due to its importance. Is there a motion to----
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman, I would like to speak on 
the Craft nomination.
    The Chairman.  And actually there are two nominations. One 
is to the U.N. Security Council and the other is to represent 
the U.N. General Assembly. Is there a motion and a second?
    Voice. So move.
    The Chairman.  It has been moved and seconded. Is there 
debate? Senator Menendez.
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman, thank you. Let me start by 
saying I oppose Ambassador Craft's nomination. I do not believe 
that Ambassador Craft has the foreign policy or diplomatic 
experience for a position as important as the U.S. ambassador 
to the United Nations. In fact, prior to serving in Ottawa, she 
had no relevant foreign policy experience at all. Given her 
excessive time away from the post while in Canada, which I 
believe is a dereliction of duty, I also believe that she lacks 
the seriousness and professionalism needed to be our U.N. 
ambassador.
    As U.S. ambassador to Canada, Ambassador Craft had one job: 
to represent the United States in Canada. Instead she spent 
356, or 56 percent, of her time outside of Canada. Not within 
Canada traveling. Outside of Canada. Let me repeat that. During 
her 21 months assigned to Ottawa, she spent an entire year out 
of Canada. Let that sink in. Now for my colleagues who want to 
rush to say she was engaged in USMCA negotiations, I want to 
underscore that State Department records show she spent only 40 
days of those 356 days on travel related to USMCA. Instead she 
spent 210 days in Kentucky or Oklahoma where she has homes. I 
repeat, she spent 7 of her 21 months at home in the United 
States. Last time I checked, not a single round of the USMCA 
negotiations took place in Kentucky or Oklahoma. Should she be 
confirmed as an ambassador to the United Nations, I would be 
concerned that when an international crisis arises, we will 
find her Kentucky instead of New York.
    Perhaps most importantly, however, I do not believe 
Ambassador Craft has the necessary experience to represent us 
at the United Nations. This is a place where countries send the 
most seasoned individuals they have to pursue their country's 
interests on a global stage. Unlike previous nominees to this 
post, she does not possess the foreign policy, diplomatic, or 
experience in government of prior United Nations ambassadors. 
Her only professional experience was running her own consulting 
firm. Never in our Nation's history have we nominated such an 
underqualified person to this critical post simply for being a 
donor.
    During her nomination hearing, Ambassador Craft displayed a 
lack of knowledge on basic foreign policy issues. When asked 
about the most pressing issues the U.N. faces, Mrs. Craft did 
not mention North Korea's aggression, or nuclear proliferation, 
or ongoing threats from Iran, the challenges of China's growing 
influence, or the situation in Libya. When asked about the two-
state solution, she could not articulate a viewpoint. I am 
convinced that Ambassador Craft has neither the experience nor 
the skill set to successfully challenge the world's most 
seasoned and often the most ruthless diplomats around the globe 
working on behalf of their countries at the United Nations.
    This nomination underscores the Trump administration's lack 
of respect for diplomacy, for our diplomats, and for the U.N. I 
will be voting against this nomination, and per committee 
rules, I will also be filing minority views on Ambassador Craft 
to be submitted to the clerk. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman.  Thank you. Further debate?
    [No response.]
    The Chairman.  If there is no further debate, there is a 
motion to adopt----
    Senator Menendez. I ask for a recorded vote.
    The Chairman.  The recorded vote has been requested. The 
clerk will call the roll.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Rubio?
    Senator Rubio. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Johnson?
    The Chairman.  Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Gardner?
    Senator Gardner. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Romney?
    Senator Romney. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Graham?
    Senator Graham. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Isakson?
    The Chairman.  Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Barrasso?
    Senator Barrasso. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Portman?
    The Chairman.  Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Paul?
    Senator Paul. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Young?
    Senator Young. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cruz?
    Senator Cruz. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Menendez?
    Senator Menendez. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cardin?
    Senator Cardin. No.
    The Clerk.  Mrs. Shaheen?
    Senator Shaheen. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Coons?
    Senator Coons. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Udall?
    Senator Udall. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Murphy?
    Senator Murphy. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Kaine?
    Senator Kaine. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Markey?
    Senator Markey. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Merkley?
    Senator Merkley. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Booker?
    Senator Menendez. No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman?
    The Chairman.  Aye. Report?
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman, the ayes are 15, and the noes are 
7.
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman, I have a parliamentary 
inquiry, and it is not because I will object, but I want to 
establish it for the future. I understand that our dear friend 
and colleague, Senator Isakson, is ill and is not in the 
Senate, and since this is a case of first impression, he is 
casting a proxy vote. Most of the time proxy votes are for 
members who are in another meeting, but within the Senate 
itself. So I assume that the rule will now forever be that any 
member, even if they are ill and not in the Senate, will be 
able to cast a vote by proxy. Is that a fair statement?
    The Chairman.  I think that is a fair statement. I mean, as 
a matter of comity, we have always allowed members to cast a 
proxy vote if they are not here.
    Senator Menendez. A lot of them cast proxy votes when they 
are not here in the committee, but as I--if some of us have a 
Finance Committee markup going on right now or something else, 
Judiciary, that is when a proxy has taken place. But when they 
are not physically in the Senate, they have not been allowed. I 
am not challenging it. I just want to establish it as the rule 
for the future so when a future colleague on either side of the 
aisle is ill and is not present, that they will be allowed to 
file a proxy vote.
    The Chairman.  Senator Menendez, my ruling is going to be 
that they can cast a proxy vote, whatever the reasons for 
absence. I do not think either the chairman or the committee 
or, for that matter, the Senate ought to be in the business of 
litigating whether it is an excused absence, or a good absence, 
or what have you.
    Senator Menendez. That is fine by me.
    The Chairman.  But we are going to allow----
    Senator Menendez. I just want to make sure that there is 
not an objection in the future.
    The Chairman.  Thank you very much for establishing that. 
So did we announce the vote? What was the vote?
    Voice. Fifteen to seven.
    Voice. So we are headed for Bermuda now.
    [Laughter.]
    The Clerk.  Fifteen to seven is the vote.
    The Chairman.  Leave your proxy. All right. The roll call 
is 15-7, and the motion has been adopted.
    What I would like to do now is to take the rest of those--
since we have got so much business to do this morning, I would 
like to do the rest of them by voice vote with people being 
able to record a no vote if they want to. Is that acceptable to 
you, Senator Menendez?
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman, I would only ask for a 
recorded vote on Mr. Rakolta. I am willing to accept all the 
others as a voice vote.
    The Chairman.  Well, let us----
    Senator Menendez. And then I have some remarks I want to be 
included in the record on Marks.
    The Chairman.  Okay. Well, let us start with Rakolta and 
take that one.
    Senator Rubio. Mr. Chairman? And I do not object to the 
voice vote on all the other nominees. I do want to point to one 
thing. There are two Western Hemisphere nominees here, one for 
Colombia, one for Mexico. I am not going to hold that up or 
object to it. But I did want to point something out, and that 
is we have been working now for the better part of a month to 
schedule a hearing for the State Department on Western 
Hemisphere topics. We agreed to delay one a few weeks ago 
because they could not send us a witness. They were going to be 
traveling with the Secretary. And then again now we cannot get 
a--we cannot get a witness. We cannot get a State Department 
witness from the Western Hemisphere to appear before the 
subcommittee for reasons that no one will explain to us. They 
are just--they are never available. And it just cannot be that 
we sit here forever and can never hold hearings on the Western 
Hemisphere because they refuse to show up. So I am not going to 
hold up these nominees today because of that. These are 
important posts. But I got to tell you, they are testing at 
least my patience, so----
    The Chairman.  Thank you, Senator. I know a couple of 
people that would be interested in that message, and I will see 
that they do that. It is valid consideration. So is there a--on 
the----
    Senator Young. Mr. Chairman, I just--I want to publicly go 
on record and indicate to Senator Rubio that if indeed you feel 
like you reach that point, we will stand in solidarity with you 
and do whatever it takes to get the State Department----
    The Chairman.  I think we all will.
    Senator Young. I have had some previous challenges, so.
    The Chairman.  I think we all do. All right. So let us--you 
wanted a roll call vote or----
    Senator Menendez. I would like to speak first on that.
    The Chairman.  Please.
    Senator Menendez. Okay. And I share Senator Rubio's 
concern, not only the Western Hemisphere, but his challenges as 
the chairman of the subcommittee in getting administration 
witnesses is a challenge we collectively face when we are 
trying to get witnesses before the full committee from the 
State Department. So I am happy to join him in that.
    The Chairman.  Senator Menendez, before you speak on 
Rakolta, can we have a motion to send that to the floor, the 
past recommendation?
    Voice So moved.
    The Chairman.  It has been moved and seconded that Rakolta 
been sent to the floor. Senator Menendez.
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman, the United Arab Emirates 
continues to be an important partner of the United States in a 
part of the world where we need reliable, capable partners. The 
Emirates host the Al Dhafra Air Force Base and have made 
significant positive reforms. I do have some serious concerns 
with their foreign policies over the past few years, including 
their military involvement in Yemen and associated concerns 
over detainees as well as their ongoing support for various 
actors across Libya and Sudan, although I do applaud them for 
moving out of Yemen as they have stated that they will leave. 
That is part because of what this committee and individuals 
have done as well.
    I believe that we are best served with qualified, capable, 
and transparent ambassadors promoting American interests around 
the world. I also believe Mr. Rakolta is a successful, 
competent person who will represent and advocate for the United 
States. However, I have serious concerns about Mr. Rakolta's 
failure to be fully transparent to this committee. When asked 
in this committee's questionnaire, Mr. Rakolta initially failed 
to list more than 50 companies on whose boards he sits. Now, 
you might be able forget one or two, but you cannot forget 50 
of them.
    He also did not initially disclose that he served on the 
board of a nonprofit that was the subject of a Federal 
investigation. While serving on that board, in 1 year he 
approved $150,000 in payments to the organization's executive 
director, who was also a government employee that was already 
receiving $180,000 salary for doing the same work that the 
nonprofit reported to do. During and after Mr. Rakolta approved 
those payments, that same government official oversaw the 
development of the budget and bidding process for a $220 
million government contract, and then ultimately guided the 
selection of the winning bidder, his construction company. An 
independent audit later found that the contract award process 
appeared to have been designed to provide an unfair advantage 
to Mr. Rakolta's company.
    As we have discussed, so many of the challenges we are 
having with some of the nominees before this committee are 
related to the White House's apparent lack of thorough vetting, 
yet here we are. I appreciate that Mr. Rakolta cooperated in 
following up with our questions, but I believe we must be the 
ones to hold our nominees accountable. I will be voting against 
this nomination, and per committee rules, I will also be filing 
the minority view for Mr. Rakolta. I will be submitting to the 
clerk by Monday.
    The Chairman.  Thank you, Senator Menendez. Is there 
further debate?
    Senator Romney. Mr. Chairman, yes.
    The Chairman.  Senator Romney.
    Senator Romney. I think it is helpful to offer some 
background on the many companies upon which Mr. Rakolta serves 
as a board member. He is the chief executive officer and owner 
of one of the largest construction companies in the world that 
provides--builds airports, hospitals, and factories all over 
the world. And any time they begin any project, they form an 
LLC or a similar entity for a particular project. And over his 
lifetime, he has literally been on hundreds of boards or 
entities. And when he was asked to write down the name of the 
entities where he served as a board member, my understanding is 
he put down all those where he is a board member of an entity 
that is currently operating, but did not think to put down some 
where the project has been long completed, the project is no 
longer underway.
    And so it would be quite impossible to have a memory to 
delve back into all those LLCs. He ultimately engaged in an 
effort to try and find all the LLCs where the entity had not 
been closed, but where he still is shown as a--as a board 
member. I would also note that he is a person of high integrity 
and great capability. I have a personal connection there in 
that he is--by law he is an extended family, if you will. He 
was the brother-in-law of my brother before the divorce.
    [Laughter.]
    The Chairman.  We are going to need a legal opinion on 
that.
    [Laughter.]
    Senator Romney. That is a truly attenuated relationship, 
but I have--I have a great deal of personal respect for Mr. 
Rakolta and for the ethical conduct of his business practices, 
and the formation of many, many LLCs associated with the type 
of business that he participates in. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman, a brief comment.
    The Chairman.  Yes, Senator.
    Senator Menendez. Number one, I see that you are--I 
appreciate your warmth that you can speak so highly of him 
notwithstanding the present relationship.
    [Laughter.]
    Senator Menendez. But I would just simply say that if we 
could on a tertiary look find the 50 companies, that I am sure 
he could have as well. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Senator Shaheen. Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman?
    The Chairman.  Yes?
    Senator Shaheen. Can I just get a clarification from 
Senator Romney as to whose divorce it was?
    [Laughter.]
    Voice. Not yours.
    Senator Shaheen. I am just kidding.
    [Laughter.]
    Senator Romney. That would be complicated.
    Senator Rubio. But no matter what, Mr. Chairman, anyone 
with those kind of relationships should never be allowed to 
vote by proxy.
    [Laughter.]
    The Chairman.  We will put that as a footnote, sir. Okay. 
The motion has been made to accept Mr. Rakolta. The clerk will 
call the roll.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Rubio?
    Senator Rubio. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Johnson?
    The Chairman.  Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Romney?
    Senator Romney. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Gardner?
    Senator Gardner. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Graham?
    Senator Graham. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Isakson?
    The Chairman.  Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Barrasso?
    Senator Barrasso. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Portman?
    Senator Portman. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Paul?
    Senator Paul. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Young?
    Senator Young. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cruz?
    Senator Cruz. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Menendez?
    Senator Menendez. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cardin?
    Senator Cardin. No.
    The Clerk.  Mrs. Shaheen?
    Senator Shaheen. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Coons?
    Senator Coons. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Udall?
    Senator Udall. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Murphy?
    Senator Murphy. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Kaine?
    Senator Kaine. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Markey?
    Senator Markey. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Merkley?
    Senator Merkley. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Booker?
    Senator Menendez. No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman?
    The Chairman.  Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman, the ayes are 15; the nays are 7.
    The Chairman.  The motion has been adopted. Let us move to 
consider the other nominations and the 650-plus service 
officers on the nine Foreign Service Lists, and we will allow 
anyone to register a no vote on any individual if that is okay.
    Voice. Motion to consider en bloc.
    The Chairman.  Okay. To adopt en bloc.
    Voice. And to adopt en bloc.
    The Chairman.  Is there a second?
    Voices. Second.
    The Chairman.  All right. It has been moved and seconded 
that we adopt en bloc. Is there debate?
    [No response.]
    The Chairman.  There being none, all those in favor, 
signify by saying aye.
    [A chorus of ayes.]
    The Chairman.  Opposed, nay.
    [No response.]
    The Chairman.  The ayes have it. Is there anyone who wants 
to be recorded as a no on any of these?
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman, I just want my remarks on 
Ms. Marks to be included as if I had made them.
    The Chairman.  They will be included. Senator Merkley?
    Senator Udall. Mr. Chairman, I would record myself as a no 
on Marks.
    The Chairman.  Senator Udall will be recorded as a no on 
Marks. Any further additions, subtractions?
    Senator Markey. Mr. Chairman, could I be recorded as no?
    The Chairman.  Yes, Senator Markey will be recorded as a no 
on Marks. All right. Having gotten that behind us, let us move 
to the North Macedonia Treaty, and I think this one has been 
talked about at great length. Is there debate on the treaty?
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman.  Senator Menendez.
    Senator Menendez. I have to cast a vote in the Finance 
Committee, and I will go cast it and come right back. Will you 
please hold the Saudi----
    The Chairman.  Yes, I will wait until you get here. I will 
do so.
    Senator Menendez. Thank you.
    Voice. That is where I will be going as well.
    The Chairman.  Okay.
    Senator Paul. I have an amendment. Do you want me to talk 
about that now or do you want to talk just----
    The Chairman.  Senator Paul, if you want to offer an 
amendment, now is the time.
    Senator Paul [continuing]. All right. As most of the 
members of the committee know, I have not been for expanding 
NATO. I do not think it adds to our national security. North 
Macedonia spends about $120 million a year on their defense, 
8,000 soldiers. I see North Macedonia and these small 
countries' addition to NATO really more as being tripwires to 
war and less of an asset to our national security. To put North 
Macedonia's military spending in perspective, Bryce Harper has 
a contract for $330 million from the Phillies, and North 
Macedonia spends $120 million. That is about 1 percent. I think 
like most of the other people we add to it, they will never pay 
the 2 percent that we request.
    And the amendment that I have to offer is an amendment that 
would be put in as a reservation, and it is an amendment to 
point out really the problem I see in us picking up all of the 
money to pay for NATO. We pay about 70 percent of NATO's costs 
now. The President has railed against this often. And I think 
really we ought to pay proportional to our voting privileges, 
and if there is 28 people in NATO, we ought to pay 1/28th of 
the bill.
    And so that is what my amendment essentially would do is 
change our NATO fees to be proportional to our voting 
percentage in NATO. And I ask for a roll call vote.
    The Chairman.  Are you moving to adopt Paul 1st?
    Senator Paul. I do not know what the number is. It is the 
one that makes----
    The Chairman.  We know which one it is.
    Senator Paul. Okay.
    The Chairman.  And this requires everyone to pay the same 
amount to NATO.
    Senator Paul. Everybody would pay the same amount to NATO.
    The Chairman.  Okay. Everybody understand it? Any further 
debate? Any questions?
    [No response.]
    The Chairman.  Will you accept a voice vote on this?
    Senator Paul. I would like a roll call vote.
    The Chairman.  Okay. A roll call has been requested on the 
Paul First Degree regarding payments. Senator Paul, you have 
not made a motion yet to adopt. Do you want----
    Senator Paul. Motion to adopt.
    The Chairman.  There has been a motion to adopt. Is there a 
second?
    Senator Rubio. For purposes of a vote, yes.
    The Chairman.  There has been a motion and a second to 
adopt the Paul First Degree. The clerk will call the roll.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Rubio?
    Senator Rubio. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Johnson?
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Gardner?
    Senator Gardner. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Romney?
    Senator Romney. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Graham?
    Senator Graham. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Isakson?
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Barrasso?
    Senator Barrasso. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Portman?
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Paul?
    Senator Paul. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Young?
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cruz?
    Senator Cruz. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Menendez?
    Voice: No by proxy.
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cardin?
    Voice: No by proxy.
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mrs. Shaheen?
    Senator Shaheen. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Coons?
    Senator Coons. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Udall?
    Senator Udall. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Murphy?
    Senator Murphy. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Kaine?
    Senator Kaine. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Markey?
    Senator Markey. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Merkley?
    Senator Merkley. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Booker?
    Voice. No by proxy.
    The Chairman.  No by proxy. The clerk will report.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman?
    The Chairman.  No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman, the ayes are 1; the nays are 21.
    The Chairman.  The amendment has failed. Is there--I would 
like--Senator Menendez is not here, but I will offer Menendez 
First Degree, Number 3, and that is the sense of the Senate 
regarding NATO. Oh, okay. Well, that is fine. If he does not 
want it, then I will withdraw it. I will withdraw that.
    [Laughter.]
    The Chairman.  Anyone else? Now is the time.
    [No response.]
    The Chairman.  There being none, is there a motion to adopt 
the protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty?
    Senator Shaheen. So move.
    Voices. Second.
    The Chairman.  It has been moved and seconded that the 
protocol be adopted.
    All those in favor, signify by saying aye.
    [A chorus of ayes.]
    Opposed, nay?
    [No response.]
    Senator Paul. No. Mr. Chairman, can you just record me as a 
no?
    The Chairman.  Senator Paul will be recorded as voting no. 
The ayes have it and the protocol has been adopted, and the 
matter will be referred to the clerk.
    Let us move to Senator Cruz's bill, Senate 1441, Protecting 
Europe's Energy Security----
    Senator Paul. Mr. Chairman, I have a point of inquiry.
    The Chairman.  The senator may inquire.
    Senator Paul. We placed a formal request to hold this bill 
over before the start of the meeting. I am just inquiring as to 
why we would be bringing it up.
    The Chairman.  I am sorry. I did not realize there was a 
formal request to do that. Are you requesting that now, Senator 
Paul?
    Senator Paul. Yes.
    The Chairman.  Okay. There has been a request that this be 
held until the next business meeting. Is that correct?
    Senator Paul. Yes.
    The Chairman.  Okay. First of all, I do not want to set a 
precedent with this, but it is discretionary with the chairman. 
And there has been a tradition, I guess, in this committee 
where that was honored under usual circumstances. This is an 
unusual circumstance in that this is a matter of urgency. And, 
Senator Cruz, if you want to speak to that, you can.
    Having said that, I am still going to honor Senator Paul's 
request. However, we are not going to hold this until after the 
September recess. Senator Menendez and I will negotiate for a 
time for a business meeting next week, and we will take it up 
next week and have a vote on that next week. Senator Cruz, are 
you all right with that?
    Senator Cruz. Mr. Chairman, if we can follow through and 
get it done----
    The Chairman.  We will get it done.
    Senator Cruz [continuing]. As you noted, there is 
considerable urgency in terms of the timing of this because 
Russia is proceeding rapidly with building Nord Stream 2, and 
every day of delay benefits Russia at the expense of the United 
States.
    The Chairman.  I understand that. With that, I will hold 
this over, and Senator Menendez and I will in good faith get a 
hearing set for your bill next week.
    Senator Cruz. Thank you.
    The Chairman.  A business meeting set. Okay. With that, we 
are down to two bills. One is Senator Menendez's bill, and the 
other is a number of ours bill. And Senator Menendez has asked 
us to wait, and that is a tough deal because everybody has got 
other commitments. He indicated to me he was just going to cast 
a vote and come back, so can we be patient for Senator 
Menendez?
    Senator Rubio. Can we start debating?
    The Chairman.  You know, his is the first--I want to run 
his first. I think we will be able to move through. Lock the 
doors, Bertie.
    [Laughter.]
    Voice. [Off audio.]
    [Laughter.]
    The Chairman.  Senator Shaheen?
    Senator Shaheen. Have we voted on the two Foreign Service 
Lists?
    The Chairman.  We did. You were recorded as an aye.
    Senator Shaheen. Okay, I did not realize that. Yes, I did, 
but I did not realize that was wrapped into all of the other 
noms.
    The Chairman.  Well, we did. I thought I was pretty clear 
that we put all those together.
    Senator Shaheen. That is fine. I just wanted to make sure--
--
    The Chairman.  Is there somebody on the 650 that you did 
not like?
    Senator Shaheen. No. No. No.
    The Chairman.  Senator Murphy?
    Senator Murphy. Mr. Chairman, I sort of know how this is 
going to play out, so I am happy to offer my remarks right now.
    The Chairman.  Well, if you know something----
    [Laughter.]
    The Chairman  [continuing]. Could you put that in a sealed 
envelope and----
    Senator Murphy. Well, I guess there may be somebody who 
would want to offer general remarks on the legislation.
    The Chairman.  Yeah, okay. Well, let us go there.
    Senator Murphy. Maybe this is the time to do that.
    The Chairman.  This would be a wonderful time.
    Senator Murphy. Okay.
    The Chairman.  We will all listen intently.
    Senator Murphy. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for 
bringing this process to the committee. I hope that we are 
going to report out the strongest bill possible. I would 
associate myself with the remarks of Senator Menendez. I do 
think we have an independent responsibility as the Article I 
branch to be able to come to our own determination as to what 
lies in the best interests of American national security.
    And in this case, I think there is bipartisan consensus 
that the administration's policy, both with respect to Yemen 
and Saudi Arabia, has lost its way. And I would rather that we 
come to an agreement, Republicans and Democrats, about what 
that new policy should be regardless of whether the executive 
is prepared to sign it or not, and I think we could do that. 
That would be messy I certainly understand, messier for members 
of the President's party.
    But I think the stakes are so important in Yemen where we 
have a humanitarian catastrophe like we have seen nowhere else 
in the world, and with our relationship with Saudi Arabia, that 
we should have taken that course. I understand that is not 
where we are today, but I still believe it is our better option 
to report out as strong a bill as possible so as to not give 
the impression that we are simply endorsing the 
administration's policy on Saudi Arabia, but to continue to 
send the message that both parties want a new direction, both 
in Yemen and in the bilateral relationship.
    The Saudis, importantly, have had a number of opportunities 
to right the ship. Senator Durbin and I met with the new 
ambassador yesterday, and she recognized that she is dealing 
with what she called an oil spill. And the problem is that the 
Saudis, instead of cleaning it up, have just poured more oil 
out over the course of the last few months. They have continued 
their campaign of repression, locking up women and journalists 
and political activists at a rate that we had not seen even 
before relationships here went sour. They still have not 
fulfilled their commitment to the United Nations. U.N. 
programs, food programs, health programs are shutting down as 
we speak inside Yemen because of the Saudis, and also the 
Emirates have not made good on their commitment.
    And so I am at the point where I believe only with a 
relationship by Congress are we going to be able to change 
their behavior, and I think the way to do that is to report out 
the strongest bill possible this morning. So I just wanted to 
offer that as the reason for why my vote will be to strengthen 
your bill, Mr. Chairman, and then to vote out Senator 
Menendez's bill. I am glad, though, that this committee has 
turned its full attention, not just to the relationship with 
Saudi Arabia, but also to the war in Yemen.
    I raised this issue first 4 years ago on the Senate floor 
when not very many people in this country knew what was 
happening in Yemen, and it does--and it is meaningful to me 
that members of both parties recognize that the U.S. has a lot 
to do with the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe, that al-
Qaeda and ISIS are getting stronger inside Yemen. And I am also 
grateful to the Administration that I think just in recent days 
and weeks has recognized that there is a unique role to play 
for us for this country in trying to bring a political 
settlement. And I am hopeful that that will bear fruit in the 
coming days and weeks. So those are my general comments as to 
the way forward.
    The Chairman.  Senator Murphy, thank you. Thank you for 
those remarks, and there is very little of that that I disagree 
with. This relationship, as you have pointed out, is on the 
wrong trajectory, and if it does not correct, the relationship 
is not repairable. And they are going to find another partner, 
and we are going to have to live with that. My bill attempts to 
give them one last opportunity to course correct. I suspect 
that the more punitive bill, I suspect that there are 
sufficient votes on this committee that the bill is going to go 
out of here. I am hoping we can send both bills out. Like I 
said, there is very little I disagree with there. Senator Rubio 
was next and then, of course, Senator Coons.
    Senator Rubio. Just in the interest of time for the same 
general comments, I would acknowledge at the outset that our 
alliance with Saudi Arabia is among the most difficult and 
tenuous of those anywhere in the world. It is clear that we do 
not share common values on many issues with those who govern 
that nation. This is a country whose treatment of women is 
abhorrent. There is zero religious tolerance. There is a series 
of policies internally that are just not acceptable.
    Their practices as well. I mean, this is a crown prince who 
kidnapped the prime minister in Lebanon, which is an amazing 
thing to say. He kidnapped a head of government from another 
nation. Obviously we know of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, which 
I have no doubt could never have been orchestrated without the 
knowledge and/or approval of the crown prince, not to mention 
it is a nation that has shown--a government that has shown 
tolerance and, even in many cases, I think, contributed to the 
spread of Sunni-based terror, whether it is through its 
incitement of textbooks or allowing the folks to operate. So we 
have a lot that makes this relationship very difficult.
    What complicates it, however, is the situation in the 
Middle East today as it stands is extraordinarily dangerous, 
the role the Saudis play in confronting not just a dangerous, 
but something that is really a tinderbox, which is what the 
activities are. I cannot emphasize enough how every single day 
we are one or two actions away from a broader regional conflict 
that I do not think anyone has totally thought through in terms 
of its implications and what it could mean.
    And they do serve a role. As an example, the U.S. has 
increased its defensive posture in the region. We have 
additional military personnel stationed there now. They provide 
a valuable role in that regard. So this balance between human 
rights, of which I believe, without overstating it I hope, that 
my commitment to human rights is, I think, equal to that of 
anybody on this committee or, frankly, in Congress. And there 
are human rights issues that we have not been deeply involved 
in, but sometimes that has to be balanced by some pragmatic, 
real-world realities. That has always been true of foreign 
policy. It remains true in this era, and that is the balance we 
are trying to strike.
    And so I would just say the bills that are up before us 
today, particularly the one you have worked on which I am happy 
to co-sponsor, I think takes some pretty concrete steps forward 
dealing, in my view, pretty strongly with someone who with a 
nation, with a government that also happens to be a key 
linchpin of our regional strategy in the Middle East. But I 
think we have to always do so with the acknowledgment that we 
also have to measure some of it, at least in the short- to mid-
term, because of the realities of what we are living with in 
that region.
    And so I hope we all keep that in mind that is it is 
possible to condemn the things that the crown prince has done, 
his recklessness, which I actually think makes the region more 
dangerous, while at the same time not seeking to completely 
implode a strategic alliance, at least at the given moment, 
that is critical to our national security. It is a tough 
balance. Oftentimes with foreign policy, we do not get a choice 
between a really good option and a really bad one. We get a 
choice between multiple terrible options, and we are trying to 
pick which one is the least terrible. And I certainly think 
this comes to mind when viewing these two issues that we are 
about to confront.
    So I just wanted that to be on the record. That is going to 
be the chorus on some of my amendments and explanations, and I 
think we are just saving some time. So thank you for the 
opportunity.
    The Chairman.  Thank you, Senator Rubio. The list I have 
got is Senator Coons, Senator Gardner, Senator Kaine, Senator 
Paul. I am going to start with Coons.
    Senator Coons. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First, let me just 
express my appreciation that you and the ranking member have 
worked a way for us to move forward while respecting the 
decades-long comity. We have moved through a number of 
important ambassadors, and we need to continue supporting and 
processing qualified ambassadors. Yet we are standing for the 
fact that this committee needs and expects witnesses for 
hearings, background information on nominees regardless of who 
the President is or the party in control.
    There were many, many amendments filed for today. I wanted 
to briefly speak to one.
    The Chairman.  Two hundred and fifty, give or take.
    Senator Coons. Two hundred and fifty, give or take. Having 
talked to a number of members, I recognize that the structure 
and the language of this particular--it is Coons First Degree 
Number 1--that many members may not have appreciated the way in 
which I think. This particular amendment, which I got directly 
from Congressman Malinowski in the House, strikes a good 
balance. It is just a tick tougher in terms of accountability, 
reporting, and under what conditions the President can waive 
sanctions against those responsible for the murder of 
Khashoggi, than the Risch bill which I have co-sponsored.
    And I think many of us are looking for that point that is 
the strongest possible imposition of requirements of reporting 
and sanctions that has a shot of passing the Senate and 
conceivably being signed. Whether it takes passing it by a 
veto-proof majority or whether it takes further engagement, 
this is in the NDAA. In the House it got 400 votes. I think it 
strikes the right balance. But, Mr. Chairman, I understand you 
are willing to make a commitment if I did not advance this for 
a vote today. Is that correct?
    The Chairman.  I am.
    Senator Coons. And what is that?
    [Laughter.]
    The Chairman.  Well, what is your understanding?
    [Laughter.]
    The Chairman.  We are you going to have--you are going to 
introduce it as a standalone, and we are going to have a vote 
on it. Is that your understanding?
    Senator Coons. That is my understanding because that then 
allows members the chance out of the 250 amendments filed today 
to take a moment and read it----
    The Chairman.  Fair.
    Senator Coons.--and process it, and think it through 
because I think today we have a fairly stark choice between 
legislation that goes full bore after accountability for the 
murder of Khashoggi and the role of the Saudis and a number of 
other things we are troubled about, and a bill that is 
carefully crafted to be enactable. And we may not achieve 
enactment of--passage of an enactable bill today.
    The Chairman.  I think you have got that----
    Senator Coons. And so I will leave this on the table, if I 
might.
    The Chairman.  And I will make that commitment.
    Senator Romney. Mr. Chairman, could you repeat the deal 
was?
    The Chairman.  This is a side deal.
    [Laughter.]
    Senator Coons. No one is getting divorced here. It is on a 
need-to-know basis.
    [Laughter.]
    The Chairman.  Yeah, it has nothing to do with the divorce. 
It has got nothing to do----
    Senator Romney. Proxies?
    The Chairman.  Senator, what we have agreed to is that he 
is going to introduce the bill as a standalone bill, and we are 
going to have a vote on it in this committee.
    Senator Romney. Excellent.
    The Chairman.  Fair enough?
    Senator Romney. Excellent.
    The Chairman.  Let us see. Next I had Senator Gardner.
    Senator Gardner. Mr. Chairman, is this open mic time, or 
are we sticking to Saudi Arabia?
    The Chairman.  Yeah, let us----
    Senator Gardner. If it is open mic, I will talk about 
another important matter I think the committee ought to pick 
up, and that is in light of the action that Kim Jong-un has 
taken again out in North Korea yesterday with the two 
additional missiles firing, and his obvious failure in 
negotiations to live up to the promises he made originally in 
Singapore.
    So I would hope that we could move the LEED Act. We moved 
it last Congress. The Secretary of State supports the LEED Act. 
It is Senator Markey's and I legislation that we have teed up, 
and hopefully that is something that this committee could move 
forward, tee it up, and get it out because of the continued 
intransigence of North Korea.
    The Chairman.  We will discuss that further. I think there 
is some information we need. Thank you, Senator. Senator Kaine.
    Senator Kaine. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for doing 
the work to bring this to a head. I will support the strong--
the strongest versions of the bills before, and I just wanted 
to say why quickly. One of the things I admire about members of 
the committee and I have noticed over the years is committee 
members are really tough for their own people. So if you have 
got a--if you have got a pastor who is imprisoned somewhere, 
Mr. Chair, you have been very, very active for that. And I 
think of Rob Portman on behalf of the Warmbier family, Otto 
Warmbier.
    Jamal Khashoggi was a legal resident of Virginia. Aziza al-
Yousef, one of the primary leaders of the women's rights 
movement in Saudi Arabia, has been repeatedly imprisoned, was a 
legal resident of Virginia for a long time studying at Virginia 
Commonwealth University. Aziza al-Yousef's son, Zalil Habir, 
who has been in prison for supporting women's rights, is a 
legal resident of Virginia. And these are people who are 
entitled to the home State senator going to bat for them. The 
horrible way they have been treated, even if they were from 
another State, I think I would be for the tough version of the 
bill. But they are Virginians, and I want to go bat for them, 
and so that is why I am going to support the stronger version.
    I will say one other thing. I think it is always important 
for the committee leadership to try to work with the White 
House to find items of common accord, but I will sort of second 
the statement of Senator Menendez. There are some points 
where--that the White House might beat on something. That does 
not trouble me. I remember introducing the Iran Nuclear Review 
Act in February 2015, and President Obama both had me to the 
Oval Office and got me on the phone the day of introduction and 
said you are my friend, do not introduce this, and I guarantee 
you I will veto it. And I said you got to do what you got to 
do, but I got to do what I got to do.
    And, you know, and what happened was that it obtained such 
strong support in the body that they could not veto it. They 
could not, and they had back down. And so sometimes a veto 
threat is a threat. Sometimes we got to do what we can do and 
send a strong message, and presidents can learn from that. But 
I think this is one where we got to do what we got to do. Thank 
you.
    The Chairman.  Thank you, Senator Kaine. I appreciate those 
remarks. Senator Paul.
    Senator Paul. I am going to support the Menendez amendment. 
I think the very least we can do is suspend arms sales to Saudi 
Arabia until we see a change in behavior. In fact, I think our 
arms sales to everybody ought to be conditional on behavior. I 
do think there is a fatal flaw in the wording, though, that 
will make this amendment not really work that well.
    The point is that there is a waiver in there where the 
President can resume arms sales if there is any evidence that 
Iran is supporting the Houthis. Well, there is evidence every 
week of that. I mean, there is a U.N. report to the Security 
Council within the last 6 months that says intervention is 
illegally providing fuel to the Houthis. I mean, there is 
evidence almost every day of that. So if you write in there 
that we have to stop arms unless Iran is helping the Houthis, 
well, we are really not stopping arms, and so I think it will 
not work. And my only recommendation is that if we get a veto, 
if you will look at the language, I think we can do better on 
making the waiver less loose.
    We always complain--we do stuff, and then we complain when 
the President does not listen to us and he takes advantage of a 
waiver, but the problem is we gave him the waiver. So anyway, 
that is just a thought, but I will support the amendment.
    The Chairman.  Thank you, Senator Paul. Senator Menendez.
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman, first of all, I want to 
thank you. We had a markup on prescription drug pricing in the 
Finance Committee, so it was a particularly important vote that 
we were dealing with. So I appreciate the courtesy of allowing 
members to speak. Procedurally, is there any one of the two 
bills presently up before us or are we speaking in general?
    The Chairman.  We were waiting for you.
    Senator Menendez. Okay.
    The Chairman.  It was open mic. Some of it was on this 
subject and some of it was not, but we will now take up Senate 
Bill 398, your bill, so.
    Senator Menendez. If I may.
    The Chairman.  You may.
    Senator Menendez. Mr. Chairman, for the past few years, we 
have watched new Saudi leadership come to power. Many of us 
were hopeful that new leadership would bring welcome change and 
reform to the Kingdom. The United States and Saudi Arabia have 
a complicated, but ultimately important, strategic partnership. 
And I think most of us would like to course correct this 
partnership in order to feel confident that we are effectively 
promoting our interests and our values.
    So I have called on my colleagues to do--over--the past 
year or so to look at some of the actions the Kingdom has 
taken. The imposition of a blockade on Qatar has done nothing 
to promote our interests in our security. In fact, we can all 
agree that Iran has benefitted the most, and I am concerned 
about the negative implications for regional security and 
military integration. The Saudi leader effectively kidnapping a 
Lebanese prime minster has done nothing to diminish the 
influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon. In fact, Hezbollah now has 
more political support.
    I could spend a whole meeting talking about Saudi Arabia's 
atrocious human rights record, but let me just focus on its 
disastrous campaign in Yemen, which has left 15 million people 
on the brink of starvation, displaced 3 million, left tens of 
thousands dead. The Houthis, who bear a responsibility as well 
for these horrifying numbers, have only been emboldened 
throughout this conflict, and Iran's influence in Yemen has 
only grown. And then finally, in October of this year, the 
Saudi Government and the U.N. special rapporteur just came out 
with her report. I met with her, I think it was yesterday. It 
became very clear that this is a state-sponsored murder. A 
state-sponsored murder, they ordered the brutal murder of 
American resident and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi 
consulate in Istanbul.
    This administration and we need to respond. The 
administration cannot or will not seriously evaluate our 
partnership with this country and then align with the gentle 
embrace of autocrats in rejection of democratic values and 
human rights. The President seems incapable of condemning the 
crown prince for his actions. So when the President will not, 
Congress must.
    And I am proud to have worked across the aisle with 
Senators Young, Reed, Graham, Shaheen, Collins, and Murphy on 
crafting a bill that does not throw away our partnership with 
Saudi Arabia, but also sends a strong signal that our partners 
cannot act with impunity. The bill carefully calibrates the 
sentiment that I just expressed while continuing to support 
Saudi Arabia's legitimate security concerns. The bill limits 
the sales of the kinds of weapons the Kingdom has used to 
slaughter civilians in Yemen. We believe we should, however, 
continue to support Saudi Arabia's legitimate defense and 
needs.
    While we have stopped now, we affirm that we should no 
longer refuel Saudi coalition aircraft for operations in Yemen, 
clearly correlated with the rise in civilian casualties. And we 
have to do what we can do all we can to support the U.N.-led 
political process in Yemen and impose exacting costs on those 
who are working against it and who are blocking humanitarian 
access and providing material support to the Houthis. And 
finally, this bill reaffirms that the administration must 
follow the letter of the Global Magnitsky Law and must take a 
firm stance for these human rights when it comes to Saudi 
Arabia.
    So I urge my colleagues to support the bill, and in the 
interest of time, I know the chairman will be calling up his 
bill. Here is our problem. If at the end of the day the only 
thing that goes to the floor is something less than the type of 
consequence in which you will not have MBS high-fiving Putin at 
the next summit, then we need to have a bill that has serious 
consequences. I think that the chairman has tried to create a 
piece of legislation that is an expression and I appreciate 
that, but when the White House--when it has supposedly been 
negotiated with the White House, it tells you everything about 
what the bill does or does not do. It is the same White House 
that has refused to condemn the crown prince for his role in 
the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the same White House that in the 
face of the mounting civilian deaths and humanitarian disaster 
in Yemen saw fit to try to subvert congressional authorities 
and push more weapons to the Kingdom and into this deadly 
conflict, the same White House that has been silent about Saudi 
Arabia's gross human rights abuses.
    So while I appreciate the chairman's bill recognizes that 
there is some reckless behavior, as the bill suggests, if at 
the end of the day the crown prince can walk away and say to 
himself, you know what, all I got was at best--at the very 
best, classified a slap on the wrist, because the bill largely 
gives the President permission to do all the things he can 
already do. All the things he can already do. And that is why I 
will be offering the bipartisan legislation that I understand 
the chairman wants to vote on first as an addition--the 
substitute, but as an addition to the chairman's mark. And in 
the interest of time, I will consolidate----
    The Chairman.  Thank you, Senator. Is there further debate?
    [No response.]
    The Chairman.  Would you like to make a motion to adopt, 
Senator?
    Senator Menendez. I so move.
    The Chairman.  Is there a second?
    Senator Kaine. Second.
    The Chairman.  The motion has been made and seconded that 
the committee adopt Senate Bill 398. Do you want a roll call?
    Senator Menendez. Roll call.
    The Chairman.  A roll call vote has been requested. The 
clerk will call the roll.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Rubio?
    Senator Rubio. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Johnson?
    Senator Johnson. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Gardner?
    Senator Gardner. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Romney?
    Senator Romney. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Graham?
    The Chairman.  Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Isakson?
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Barrasso?
    Senator Barrasso. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Portman?
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Paul?
    Senator Paul. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Young?
    The Chairman.  Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cruz?
    Senator Cruz. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Menendez?
    Senator Menendez. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cardin?
    Senator Menendez. Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mrs. Shaheen?
    Senator Shaheen. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Coons?
    Senator Coons. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Udall?
    Senator Udall. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Murphy?
    Senator Murphy. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Kaine?
    Senator Kaine. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Markey?
    Senator Markey. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Merkley?
    Senator Merkley. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Booker?
    Senator Menendez. Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman?
    The Chairman.  No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman, the yeas are 13 and the nays are 
9.
    The Chairman.  The motion has been adopted. Senate Bill 398 
will be sent to the floor.
    I have before the committee Senate Bill 2066, the Saudi 
Arabia Diplomatic Review Act, SADRA. There is no sense dragging 
this out. The first amendment I am going to consider after our 
agreement with Senator Menendez is Senator Menendez's First 
Degree Amendment Number 82, as modified by the second degree 
filed to it, which reflects the content of Senate Bill 398.
    And so, look, we have had a long discussion about this. 
Everybody knows what is in here. Again, like I said, if this is 
added, it is no longer my bill. I will be withdrawing my bill 
and the meeting will be over. No hard feelings to anyone. It is 
not sour grapes, but it is--I am interested in spending time on 
something we can actually do, and there is certainly a lot of 
discussion that can be had on the floor. So with that, Senator 
Menendez, did you----
    Senator Menendez. I have spoken to it. I will move the 
amendment.
    The Chairman.  Okay. The amendment has been offered, 
Menendez First Degree Number 82. Has anybody got any comments 
or questions?
    Senator Young. I do.
    The Chairman.  Yes, Senator Young.
    Senator Young. Mr. Chairman, I just do not want my vote to 
be misconstrued. I have already spoken with the ranking member 
about offering this piece of legislation, which he and I worked 
together on, and I would--I would much prefer it to the 
chairman's, though I do appreciate the chairman's handiwork in 
trying to produce something that the President will actually 
sign into law. I think that is important work. But my intention 
is to vote no on this because I do not believe it would sink 
your efforts. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman.  Thank you, Senator. Is there further debate? 
Further comments?
    Senator Menendez. So move.
    The Chairman.  The motion has been made and it has been 
seconded. The clerk will call the roll on Menendez First Degree 
82.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Rubio?
    Senator Rubio. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Johnson?
    Senator Johnson. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Gardner?
    Senator Gardner. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Romney?
    Senator Romney. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Graham?
    The Chairman.  Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Isakson?
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Barrasso?
    Senator Barrasso. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Portman?
    The Chairman.  No by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Paul?
    Senator Paul. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Young?
    Senator Young. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cruz?
    Senator Cruz. No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Menendez?
    Senator Menendez. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Cardin?
    Senator Menendez. Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mrs. Shaheen?
    Senator Menendez. Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Coons?
    Senator Coons. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Udall?
    Senator Udall. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Murphy?
    Senator Murphy. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Kaine?
    Senator Menendez. Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Markey?
    Senator Markey. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Merkley?
    Senator Merkley. Aye.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Booker
    Senator Menendez. Aye by proxy.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman?
    The Chairman.  No.
    The Clerk.  Mr. Chairman, the yeas are 12; the nays are 10.
    The Chairman.  The motion has passed, and with that I am 
going to withdraw the bill. Thank you, everyone, for your, I 
think, good faith participation in this. And the committee is 
adjourned.


    [Whereupon, at 11:49 a.m., the committee was adjourned.]

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