March 20, 1998


We must welcome Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic into our alliance -- making NATO stronger, Europe safer and America more secure. NATO is an enduring alliance. It defends enduring American interests. Next week's Senate vote will have enduring consequences. For the first time in history, we can bring Europe together not by the force of arms, but by the possibility of peace. That is the promise of this moment. Let us seize it.

- President Bill Clinton
March 20, 1998

Today, as the Senate prepares to vote on whether to add Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to NATO, President Clinton explains why the enlargement of NATO is a major stride forward for America, the Alliance, and the stability and unity of all Europe, and he calls on all Senators to support ratification.

NATO's Growth Will Reduce Future Threats To Transatlantic Security. Europe remains a vital U.S. interest, and a larger Alliance can better carry out NATO's core mission of collective defense as well as other missions, such as addressing threats of weapons proliferation.

Enlarging The Alliance Will Make NATO Stronger. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic will add over 200,000 troops to the Alliance, as well as naval, air force, and infrastructure assets. They have proven their willingness to contribute to the security of the region by providing over 1,000 troops to help secure the peace in Bosnia, and participation in hundreds of Partnership for Peace exercises and activities.

Enlarging NATO Will Make Europe More Stable. Enlarging NATO will help provide a secure climate in which democracy and prosperity can grow, encouraging prospective members to resolve their differences peacefully. Already, the prospect of NATO membership has helped convince countries in Central Europe to improve ties with neighbors, settle border and ethnic disputes, strengthen civilian control of their militaries, and increase tolerance for ethnic and religious minorities.

NATO's Growth Will Help Create An Undivided, Democratic Peaceful Europe For The First Time In History. NATO's addition of these three members and its pledge to hold the door open to membership for other qualified European democracies, along with other efforts such as NATO's Partnership for Peace program, will help to erase Europe's outdated Cold War dividing lines.

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