THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release
|June 21, 1999
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE PEOPLE OF ALBANIA
The Hyatt Hotel
THE PRESIDENT: To the people of Albania, on behalf of all the American
people, I want to express our gratitude for the courageous stand you have
taken for peace, tolerance and freedom in Southeastern Europe. And I want to
pledge my support for your own efforts to build a strong and prosperous
This spring, when Mr. Milosevic launched his bloody campaign of ethnic
cleansing in Kosovo, no country bore a greater burden than Albania, and no
country did more to help humanity prevail. You opened your skies to the NATO
aircraft that brought this nightmare to an end. You opened your ports and
your airfields to the troops and aid workers who came here to help the
And, most important, you opened your homes and your hearts to more than
300,000 victims of ethnic cleansing -- giving them shelter and food and hope,
even though your own country still faces enormous challenges. History will
record that one of the greatest acts of barbarity Europe has seen in this
century was defeated with the help of one of the greatest acts of compassion
we have seen.
The whole world knows what you have done in the last several months.
And we also know that you have done it while struggling to overcome perhaps
the most cruel legacy of isolation and repression of any of Europe's formerly
communist states. We still have much work to do.
We have to work together to get the Kosovar refugees back to their homes
safely. We'll have to keep helping those who must
remain a while longer in Albania. We'll need to station more
NATO troops in your country to support those keeping the peace in
Kosovo. For the people of Albania, there will be a continuing
burden; but there will also be an opportunity to deepen your
partnerhsip with NATO and your integration with Europe and the
future prosperity that will bring.
America will do all it can to help you recover from the
economic and social upheaval caused by the war, to help you
strengthen your democracy, to enshrine the rule of law and to
attract new investment to create new jobs and new opportunities.
And we'll work with you to build a Southeastern Europe that is
coming together around the promise of freedom and prosperity,
instead of being torn apart by hatred and bloodshed. We want you
to be on the front lines of democracy and prosperous development
in Southeastern Europe, not on the front line of aggression and
You have shown in this crisis that a nation's standing in
the world is measured not just by its wealth, its power or its
size, but also by the principles it upholds and the
responsibilities it is willing to assume. The world's admiration
for Albania has risen immeasurably in the last few months. If
you stay on the path you have chosen, we will stay by your side.
I thank you for all you have done and for all we will do
together in the months and years ahead.