THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||April 24, 1999|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA
TO THE OPENING SESSION OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC COUNCIL SUMMIT
9:21 A.M. EDT
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: For 50 successful years, the NorthAtlanticAlliance has been dedicated to the creation of a secure, stable andundividedEurope. We meet today to decide how best the Alliance should fulfill thathistorical mission in the years ahead.
There can be no more eloquent proof of the Alliance commitment tothecreation of a secure, stable and undivided Europe than the presence heretodayof the leaders of the new allies -- the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Theaccession of the three countries to the Alliance bears witness to ourachievement of the last 50 years and to the vision showed by the originalsignatories of the North Atlantic Treaty.
We have a duty to our public to show that the same vision today tolookahead and plan for the future, even as we confront in Kosovo a sternchallengeto security, stability and well-being in Europe. Our action in Kosovoshowsthat the countries of NATO, together, possess the necessary resources andthenecessary determination. We have pledged to uphold the basic principles ofdemocracy, individual liberty, respect for human rights against Milosevic'sonslaught. We reconfirmed this unity of purpose at our first sessionyesterdaymorning.
It is our task this morning to make the Alliance fit for the 21stcentury so we can continue to rely on it as a guarantor of our security andcommon values in the years and decades ahead.
With this I would like to offer the floor to our host, thePresident ofthe United States. President Clinton, the floor is yours.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary General. Yesterday, we recalled NATO's history, embraced our new members,deepened our unity and our determination to stand against ethnic cleansinginKosovo; and to build a broader trans-Atlantic community that respects humanrights of all ethnic and religious groups and offers all Europeans thechance tobuild better lives together.
I want to begin by thanking the Secretary General for hisleadership. Ithank all of you for your leadership and your unity, the foreign anddefenseministers, General Naumann and General Clark and all the people in ourgovernments who worked so hard to support our efforts. I know I speak forallof us when I say we are very proud of our men and women in uniform in theBalkans. And we remember today, especially, the three who are being heldprisoner by Mr. Milosevic and who still have not received the Red Crossvisitsrequired by the Geneva Convention, even though he is on television in theUnitedStates saying they will receive them.
The crisis in Kosovo has underscored the importance of NATO and theimperative of modernizing our Alliance for 21st century challenges. Today, wewill embrace a comprehensive plan to do just that, so that NATO can advancesecurity and freedom for another 50 years by enhancing our capacity toaddressconflicts beyond our borders, by protecting our citizens from terrorism andweapons of mass destruction, by deepening our partnerships with othernationsand helping new members enter through NATO's open doors. In preparing NATO forthe 21st century, we will make our Alliance even stronger.
Thank you very much.
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Thank you very much, Mr. President.Thismarks the end of the opening session.