THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||April 25, 1999|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE CLOSE OF THE WASHINGTON SUMMIT
International Trade Center
4:25 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello. I am going to read a statement,and then I have to go, unfortunately, to another appointment. ButSecretary Albright, Secretary Cohen, Mr. Berger, General Shelton aregoing to be available to answer questions.
We came to this summit committed to chart a course forthe NATO Alliance for the 21st century -- one that embraces newmembers, new partners and new missions. Here we committed NATO firstto fulfill its mission of collective defense with the ability to meetnew security threats; second, to remain open to new allies, and toseek stronger partnership with nations all across Europe, CentralAsia, and obviously including Ukraine and Russia.
We've also reaffirmed our determination repeatedly tointensify our actions, military and economic, until we achieve ourobjectives in Kosovo. On this, the Alliance leaves Washington moreunited even than it was when we came here.
Meanwhile, we will stand by the neighboring countriesthat have accepted risks and hardship in support of this effort. IfMr. Milosevic threatens them for helping us, we will respond. And wewill work to support democracy and development in the region, so thatthe forces pulling people together will be stronger than thosepulling them apart, and all nations -- including, someday, ademocratic Serbia -- can join the European mainstream.
What NATO did here this weekend was to reaffirm ourcommitment to a common future, rooted in common humanity. Standingagainst ethnic cleansing is both a moral imperative and a practicalnecessity, as the leaders of the frontline states -- who have so muchat stake in the outcome -- made so clear to us.
Our vision of a Europe undivided, democratic, free andat peace, depends upon our constructive commitment to the hundreds ofthousands of poor refugees, so many men, women and children with noplace else to turn, who have been made pawns in a power struggle. Itdepends upon our ability and our collective commitment after thiscrisis has past to help all the people of Southeastern Europe build abetter future.
In our last luncheon, just a few moments ago, when wehad all the members of our Partnership Council there, someonemade a joke. He said, look around this room. We have severalmembers of the last Politburo here that the Soviet Union had.And then they were counting up. And then others said, well, weweren't on the Politburo, but we should have been. (Laughter.)And they were laughing.
But they made an important point. There has been thisbreathtaking explosion of freedom. But the old order has not yetbeen replaced by a new one, that answers all the legitimate needsof people -- not just for freedom, but also for security andprosperity.
We must be committed to building that kind of futurefor the people of Central Europe, for the people of SoutheasternEurope, and for our other partners, going all the way to theCentral Asian states. We cannot expect for people to stop beingdrawn back to old ways of organizing themselves, even profoundlydestructive ways resting on ethnic and religious divisions,unless there is a far more powerful magnate out there beforethem.
And so we committed ourselves to building that kind offuture for all of our allies in the 21st century. When all issaid and done, I think people will look back on this summit,perhaps many years from now, and say, that was its lasting value.We looked to the future with a clear vision and made a commitmentto build it.
Thank you very much.