THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||April 23, 1999|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA
IN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS
The East Room
8:30 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the White Houseand,again let me say, welcome to Washington and to the NATO Summit.
Some of you know that I am quite a fan of music. And I found alittle-known bit of history related to the founding of NATO 50 years ago.Whenthe original North Atlantic Treaty was signed, the United States MarineBand,which was in the auditorium playing for us today, was in the auditoriumthen,playing a group of songs from George Gershwin's famous opera, Porgy andBess.The two songs they played were, "I Got Plenty of Nothing," and "It Ain'tNecessarily So." Well, I think, after 50 years we can still appreciateGershwin, but the songs were poorly timed, because NATO has had plenty ofsubstance, and its word has been necessarily so.
In 1949, when we entered NATO, it signaled a radical departure inAmerica's history, because we had been warned from the time of our firstPresident, George Washington, against entangling alliances with othernations.But we learned the hard way, after World War I, that the warning was nolongervalid in the 20th century.
In the last 50 years, all of us have become more and more involvedwithevents beyond our borders because we have seen increasingly how they affect thelives of people within our borders; and how the values we espouse at homemustbe defended abroad. That is in large measure what we are trying to do inKosovo-- to protect the innocent families, the children, and to stand for thevaluesthat we have stood for as an organization for 50 years now.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to our founders, to the generation ofpeople after the second world war who constructed a world of freedom thatstoodagainst tyranny and eventually helped to end the Cold War. We can best pay thatdebt by standing up for those values today, including meeting ourresponsibilities to the children and the future of Southeastern Europe intheterrible suffering of Kosovo.
Mr. Secretary General, I want to say a special word of thanks toyou foryour steadfast leadership, for your continuing reminder to all of us thatwemust both do our duty and stay together as we do it. Tomorrow we willfocus onKosovo again, but we will also look to the larger issues of the 21stcentury.Again, I compliment you on your leadership and I thank all of ourcolleagues fortheir input.
We will look back on this summit, I think, and say, well, it wasn't oneof those traditional meetings, where we got to have a lot of fun and a lotoflaughs because we were so gravely concerned with the suffering of thepeople inthe Balkans. But it was a profoundly important one because itreminded us of why we got started, what we have to do tomorrow, and what it isthat gives our alliance meaning in this present day.
I'd like to ask all of you to join me in a toast to SecretaryGeneraland Mrs. Solana, and to NATO and its future. Thank you.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
Mr. Secretary General.
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, dearfriends. Idon't have much to say after a long day of long speeches, full of meaning. ButI would like to say at least three things, which are related to one word.Theword is, thank you.
Thank you to you, Mr. President, for your hospitality, for yourleadership, for your contribution to maintain this Alliance with all themovement and all the energy that it has. Probably without your commitmentfromthe very beginning, Mr. President, the situation, the involvement that wealltogether have gone into Kosovo would have been much more difficult.
The second word of thanks is to all of you -- to the leaders of thedifferent countries of the Alliance that have decided to go together notonly toproclaim principles, but to defend principles. We have proclaimedprinciples onmany, many occasions; now we're going beyond that -- proclaiming theprinciplesand defending the principles.
And the third word of thank you has to be to the men and women inuniform, that some of them at this very time will be defending freedom,defending values, as we are having here this dinner. Let's remember them.
Mr. President, let me say a word about tomorrow. Tomorrow we aregoingto debate not only Kosovo, but also the future. And I would like to say awordfrom the bottom of my heart about how this organization has evolved, hasadapted. As many of you know, I do not come from the world of diplomacy.In myprevious incarnation I was a professor of -- physics, and I know very wellthatmotion is a relative concept. You move in relation to something. And thatwhich is true for natural sciences is also true for history, I think.
An organization has to move according to the time; it has to movefasterthan the backdrop. And let's suppose the backdrop is history. Whenhistorymoves very fast, as has taken place in these years, the organization, if we wantto be relevant, they have to move faster than history. Faster than thebackdrop if they want to be relevant to the future.
I'd like to say that all of you have made this organization toadapt atthe rhythm that probably none of the organizations that were born afterthesecond World War have done. And that's why we are involved now in thisconflict-- defending values, defending values. And we are going to prevail,because wehave been prepared from the very beginning to take decisions rapidly, toadaptrapidly to the new circumstances.
To all of you who are the leaders of this Alliance, who have takentheresponsibility, thank you very, very much -- on behalf, not only of yourpeople,but on behalf of the people collectively considered of all the Alliance.
Thank you very much. I think we are going to live difficultmoments,but we are going to win. No question about that. Good leaders like you,peoplelike you -- there's noquestion that we will prevail. And the values that we're going to defendwillbe defended, and never again in the territory in Europe will somethinghappenlike the things that are happening now.
Mr. President, thank you very much. Let me ask you please toaccompany me on a toast to all of you, the leaders of this Alliance.(Applause.)