THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||April 23, 1999|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA
AT OPENING OF WORKING SESSION ON KOSOVO
International Trade Center
9:20 A.M. EDT
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Good morning. Allow me towelcome you all to this first meeting of NATO, heads of state andgovernment of 19. I send a special warm greeting to thoserepresenting their country for the first time at the NATO Summit,and in particular to the leaders of the three new members of theAlliance. I should also like to thank the government of theUnited States of America for its arrangement of the summit.
We have gathered here in Washington for an historic50th anniversary. This Alliance for half a century has assuredpeace, stability and freedom of the European continent. As wecelebrate past achievement, we are determined to see theseprinciples carried into the next century.
As we meet in Washington today, Europe is confronting avery serious crisis. Images of hundreds of thousands of deportedpeople, burned homes, and destroyed villages recall scenes we hadhoped never to see again. The crisis in Kosovo represents afundamental challenge to the values of democracy, human rights,and the rule of law for which the Alliance has its truth sinceits foundation. That is why the 19 democratic nations aroundthis table could not remain indifferent. That is why we had toact.
As we continue our military operations, with theultimate aim of securing a just political solution to the crisis,NATO allies are united in their resolve to see this challengethrough. The Alliance must and will prevail. Milosevic mustknow there is no place for his policies in Europe on the eve ofthe 21st century. The vision of this Europe is one which allnations can live together in peace and in prosperity. It is aEurope whose people feel secure, threatened neither by theirneighbors, nor by their rulers.
NATO is playing its part to help this vision come truetogether with its partners in the Eur-Atlantic community. I'mconfident that our meeting today and of the next few days willcontinue to this goal.
I would like now to give the floor to our host, thePresident of the United States, President Clinton.
President Clinton, the floor is yours.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. SecretaryGeneral. Mr. Secretary General, fellow leaders, let me begin bywelcoming you warmly to the United States. We are honored tohost this 50th Anniversary Summit of NATO. We meet to honorNATO's past, to chart its future, to reaffirm our mission inKosovo, where NATO is defending our values and our vision of aEurope free, undivided and at peace.
Today, we send a clear message of unity anddetermination -- to sustain our air campaign for as long as ittakes; to stand firm in our conditions for ending it; to pursuediplomatic intitiatives to meet those conditions; to increasepolitical and economic pressure against the regime in Belgrade;to stand by the frontline nations threatened by Belgrade'sactions; and to work with them for stability, democracy andprosperity in Southeastern Europe, so that when Mr. Milosevic'svision for the future is defeated, a better one can rise in itsplace.
We will seek to do this together with our Europeanpartners, and with Ukraine and with Russia. We will make clearwhat is at stake. Mr. Milosevic's forces burn and loot homes,and murder innocent people; our forces deliver food and shelter,and hope to the displaced. Mr. Milosevic fans the flames ofanger between nations and peoples; we are an alliance of 19nations, uniting 780 million people of many faiths and ethnic,racial and religious backgrounds. Mr. Milosevic knows only oneway to achieve his aims, through force; we have done everythingwe could to resolve this matter peacefully.
But when we fight, we fight to prevail -- to prevail inthis conflict, and to build the undivided, democratic Europe thatthe founders of NATO envisioned 50 years ago.
Thank you, and welcome again.
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Thank you very much. May Iask the representatives of the media to leave the room? Thankyou very much for your cooperation.