|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright|
And Foreign Ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland
Remarks on Accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Truman Presidential Library
Independence, Missouri, March 12, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
MR. HACKMAN: Good morning, my name is Larry Hackman; I'm Director of the Truman Library. It's an honor to have this accession ceremony here at the Truman Library, and it's an honor to welcome all of you this morning. I must say I have renewed respect for NATO: I understand what it's like to be invaded.
As we focus today chiefly on NATO's future, it's appropriate to recall that it was 50 years ago this spring and summer when the hard thinking and hard deciding and hard negotiating of Harry Truman and the wise men on whom he depended came to fruition in a series of actions that formally brought the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to life. Dean Acheson and George Marshall, distinguished predecessors of our distinguished Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, figured prominently in these developments.
For 40 years now, the Truman Library has made accessible, to researchers from around the world on the basis of equality, some of the most important archival documents in the world from those eventful years, 1945 to 1952, when many policies and structures were brought into place that have been of high consequence to national and international affairs ever since.
Our research room has been occupied during the past four decades by more than 10,000 scholars writing books, articles, dissertations, drawing on the papers of Harry Truman and Dean Acheson and Clark Clifford and 400 other collections that are in the Truman Library. Their work has enabled the citizens of the United States and other nations to better understand the world we live in by understanding the events and decisions and personalities and prophesies that shaped it.
More and more in recent years, students, as well as scholars, have used these unique research resources, and this use is rapidly expanding via our web page, which has a new section on NATO, and as we give greater emphasis here to education, to create what we're calling a classroom for democracy.
It's a pleasant coincidence that a young women named Katherine Albright spent considerable time here in 1959, as she was writing her senior thesis at Williams College on United States policy in Korea 1945-1950: An Experiment in Containment. After receiving her degree with honors, she wrote graciously that year to one of the archivists on our staff. The chance to do research at the Truman Library, she said, will always represent one of the most important aspects of my college career. It's very nice to be able to show her mother today that her daughter's thesis is on the shelf in our research room, in some excellent, distinguished company.
Before I close, let me just tell you about the table here, upon which the process verbal of deposit of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty will be signed today. This table was in the presidential suite of the Milback Hotel in Kansas City, during the Truman presidency, a suite that often functioned as the Kansas City White House during those years.
On this table in May 1947, President Truman signed legislation providing $400 million of aid to Greece and Turkey, thereby giving reality to the Truman Doctrine announced that spring. On August 2, 1952, his last year in office, he signed on this table a NATO protocol which would have brought the Federal Republic into NATO as part of the European defense community. That protocol never came into effect, but the objective was realized when Germany was accepted into NATO in May of 1955.
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson came to this stage in this auditorium and on this table signed the legislation creating Medicare, partially fulfilling President Truman's national healthcare proposal, which was part of his Fair Deal program. Here that day, Harry and Bess Truman were given Medicare cards Number One and Number Two. So it's fitting that this table be used today. When it returns to exhibition status next week, it will be with an additional label and an additional photograph recognizing today's historic event.
Thank you for being here.
FOREIGN MINISTER KAVAN: Madame Secretary, Mr. Geremek, Mr. Martonyi, ladies and gentleman, my country's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty fills me with satisfaction and pride. The deposit of ratification instruments seals off the entry of the Czech Republic into this successful and very important alliance.
It is a very special and a unique feeling of a Czech politician to deposit these certification papers in a country where the basic ideas and principles of the new Czechoslovak state were first formulated and announced in 1918 in Philadelphia. It is therefore symbolic to mark today our historic accession to NATO in the country which stood at the birth of independent Czechoslovakia. And we will always remember the invaluable role of President Woodrow Wilson as the new Czechoslovakia was founded on treaties for which he was primarily responsible.
I am satisfied that we proved to be able to meet the minimal military requirements in time for today's accession to this efficient and strong political and military alliance. We appreciate that we are now an integral part of NATO's collective defense system. And we are determined not to become a burden to the Alliance -- just a country. We are prepared to fulfill our part of the responsibilities and the commitments of member states, and to meet all the obligations and duties which stem from this membership.
We highly appreciate that our accession to NATO was fully supported by all member states of the Alliance. We also interpret it as recognition of the fact that we all share common values and common interests.
Today, at the moment of joining the Alliance, allow me to express my conviction that the Czech -- (inaudible) -- of the century has now been relegated forever only to history. I have in mind, for example, the dismemberment of the independent, democratic, pre-War Czechoslovakia which was betrayed by its allies; the fascist protectorate; the horrors of World War II; the 40 years of communist dictatorship and the death of the Prague Spring, which was crushed by the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion.
At the same time, the entry of the three new member nations into NATO is also a great vindication for the renewed Czech democracy, helped to get on its feet also by the United States of America, and for -- (inaudible) -- reforms for which the "Velvet Revolution" opened the way almost ten years ago. More generally, the admission of the first three new NATO members is a recognition of the strategic changes in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It's also a manifestation of NATO's adaptation to the challenges of the post-Cold War period.
The process of European integration of today would not be possible without active and strong involvement of the United States since the Second World War. We, the Central Europeans, will remember what the United States has done for the Old Continent. NATO is the strongest link between Europe and North America. The Czech Republic shares the interest to keep this transatlantic link strong, in order to be able to deal with the risks and threats of the 21st Century security environment.
The Czech Republic also appreciates the value the United States and NATO attach to the concept of European defense identity. We fully support it, as we strongly believe that Europe should significantly contribute to its own defense and to the solutions of crises on its own continent. The NATO's new strategic concept will provide an updated political and conceptual basis for the foreseeable future. It will have to be far more clearly the basis for the new Article V missions, which are the most likely way of employing NATO's military power in the current situation.
We look forward to the successful Washington Summit, which will outline the future development of NATO, including the stages of its future enlargement. NATO is not only the bedrock of our common defense, but also an instrument for projecting cooperation, peace and stability beyond the treaty territory.
The Partnership for Peace has become the most successful cooperative security project in the post-Cold War world. We very much appreciate that the Alliance reached agreements on cooperation with both Russia and Ukraine. This, we believe, is very important for the European security of the 21st Century.
Allow me a brief personal note. I was in this area only once in my life. It was a few miles away from here, in Kansas City. The date was August 21, 1968, the day when Russian tanks swept into Prague and the occupation of Czechoslovakia began. The power of anger which then swept me is indescribable. And while working for the Czech opposition for the subsequent 20 years and cooperating closely with Polish and Hungarian opposition during that time, I was dreaming about the day when Central and Eastern Europe would become independent, democratic and secure. It is for me very symbolic that it is precisely here that we today accept a guarantee that my country will never again become a powerless victim of a foreign invasion.
Madame Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, the Czechs will remember the support of the American people and of its representatives for the country's entry into the Alliance. Today is a good occasion to thank the US Congress, President Clinton, you personally, Madame Secretary, and many others here in the United States for what you have done for us. Thank you all very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER MARTONYI: Madame Secretary, Ministers, -- (inaudible), senators, congressmen, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, next year, Hungary will celebrate a very special anniversary, a thanksgiving for the millennium of her statehood. Ours has been a rich but stormy history.
Through all the struggles for freedom and independence, Hungarians have developed a deep sense of belonging to a larger entity, to the community of Western democracies. For a long time, it has been our aspiration to become part of this family. The best of Hungarians were dreaming of this when fighting foreign occupation and sinister ideologies forced upon them.
This is the part Hungarians (played) when they drove the first nail into the coffin of communism in 1956. It is my duty and a privilege for me to pay tribute here to the heroes of that desperate struggle -- and now, ultimately, victorious struggle. How symbolic it is that the revolution which shook the empire of oppression flamed up from demonstrations of Solidarity with Poland.
In 1956, alien boots stamped out that flame in Budapest. But sparks from it reappeared on the streets of Prague in 1968. They reappeared again in the shipyard from Gdansk in 1981. They reappeared ten years ago when lawful revolutions swept through Central Europe to restore democracy there. It's not by chance that I share this rostrum with friends from Poland and the Czech Republic.
As Thomas Paine wrote, "Tyranny is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation within us that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we attempt too cheap, we esteem too lightly."
For Hungarians, Czechs and Poles liberty was obtained very dear. We know that, having our freedom. Sovereign again, Hungary is now a genuine and stable democracy. A flourishing market economy has been established, and a historic choice has been made.
We Hungarians made this decision on our own, free from any outside interference. We applied for joining NATO, the largest network of security that history has ever known. Yet, the decision was not only about security. NATO accession is also about returning Hungary to her natural habitat. It has been our manifest destiny to rejoin those with whom we share the same values, interests and goals.
Let me thank the governments and the legislatures and all of the persons in the member states -- all those who supported the cost of our membership. They understood that we wanted to join NATO for the same reasons for which no member wants to leave it. They know by joining the Alliance we want not to win but to prevent wars. They realize that NATO enlargement is not a zero-sum game but part of a prudent strategy benefiting all nations of Europe and all members of the Atlantic community.
George Bernard Shaw once said, "Liberty means responsibility. That's why most people dread it." We do not.
Hungarians know that membership in NATO is a combination of advantages to enjoy and obligations to meet. Hungary will continue to focus her attention on Central and Southeastern Europe. We want all its nations to be stable, democratic, prosperous and secure. In terms of development, it is the most dynamic region of the world. We want it to keep this distinction.
We want human rights to be fully respected; national identities to be fully preserved and expressed. For us, it is a matter of vital importance that our states of our region remain connected to Germany and NATO. Hungary will support their aspirations in two ways. First, we shall prove that new members can indeed add to the weight of the Alliance. Second, we will continue to engage prospective members and to have a meaningful partnership with them.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the past, Hungarians often complained of being abandoned or of standing up alone. At long last, that is over. Hungary has come home. We are back in the family. Together with all of you, we have just started a new chapter in history. From this day on, we are the closest of allies in our great endeavor: the quest for peace and prosperity.
As said by President Truman 54 years ago, "We all look forward to the day when the law, rather than force, will be the arbiter of international relations. We shall strive to make that day come soon. Until it does come, let us make sure that no possible aggressor is going to be tempted by any weakness on our part."
Dear friends, we shall show the world the strength of this commitment and the spirit of our alliance. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER GEREMEK: Madame Secretary of State, my dear friends the Czech and Hungarian Ministers, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, 53 years ago in nearby Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill delivered his final speech, in which he said, "From Stettin in the Baltics to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended and closed the continent."
Today with joy and pride, we celebrate the end of the bipolar blight symbolized by the Iron Curtain. This brings satisfaction especially to those who sacrificed so much in the struggle for freedom over the last 50 years.
For the people of Poland, the Cold War, which forcibly excluded our country from the West, ends with our entry to NATO. Poland is a member of the most powerful Alliance, bringing together democratic nations of Western Europe and North America, joining the vital process of bridging old divisions and contributes to the security and stability in Europe.
This remarkable achievement would not have taken place without the leadership, vision and courage of individuals who have played a pivotal role in this process. We owe our deep gratitude to President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. We are grateful to the US Senate. We are grateful to the American people, who have continuously expressed their support for our aspirations.
Today's ceremony confirms that the Alliance is a community of values. The success of NATO over the last 50 years has been built on the principles of democracy, civil rights and liberties, shared by all of its members. The nations who join this community today were denied these values until 1989. On the streets of Budapest in 1956; Prague in 1968; and Gdansk in 1970 and 1981, they paid a heavy price. They have proved the democratic credentials which give them the right to be here today.
Poland in the Alliance will be a good and credible ally for good and bad weather. We are prepared to both take advantage of the rights of membership and build the obligations the membership carries. We shall contribute substantially to bolster this organization and to developing its political and military strengths. I want to assure our allies that we will not lack the determination, courage and imagination needed to bring forth our own capability as a member of the Alliance.
We are convinced that NATO must remain a defensive alliance based on the principle of solidarity. To quote President Harry Truman, "The security and the welfare of each member of this community depends upon the security and the welfare of all. None of us alone can achieve economic prosperity or military security. None of us alone can assure the continuance of freedom."
We consider the Alliance, to use Senator Vandenberg's words, "a fraternity of peace." We share the view that NATO has a wider role to play to further the cause of democracy, human rights and solidarity.
Let me say a word about the relations between America and Europe. Poland is a wholly dedicated advocate both of the processes of European integration and the strong transatlantic link. The United States has given the Atlantic community leadership, stability and strength. Europe continuously needs some American anchor for its security and growth. Conversely, American security and prosperity depends on a reliable and flourishing Europe. We should keep the door of the Alliance open for those who have fought for freedom of those nations in Central Europe which have their own -- (inaudible) -- credentials.
An Iron Curtain must never again descend on Europe. Also it would lack the rigidity of the old iron one; it would almost certainly become as cruel. It would keep us divided economically if not politically.
Based on common values, principles, NATO must promote value -- (inaudible) -- democracy, stability and peace. The challenge facing us in the coming century, the challenge of creating a new international order, must be an indispensable and inseparable part of our agenda. To meet this challenge, we must seek out democratic values incorporated in the Washington Treaty, the ability to defend ourselves and the strong transatlantic ties. These are the sources of our strength. We cannot let them fade away in the future.
Let me say in this room, just a few words in my language, in Polish.
This is a great day for Poland, as well as for millions of Poles scattered all over the world. Poland forever returns where she has always belonged: to the free world. Poland is no longer alone in the defense of her freedom. We are in NATO, as you used to say, for your freedom and ours.
For the Harry Truman Presidential Library, I bring from Poland some records of history of our road to freedom and to make them a poster of 1989 elections, with a picture of Gary Cooper from the film, High Noon.
It helped us in Poland to win. For the people of Poland, High Noon comes today. Dear friends, in an hour and some seconds, it's a great day for Poland and for the world. Thank you.
(The Parliaments of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have given their approval for NATO membership by ratifying instruments of accession. The final step is for each country to deposit their instrument of accession with United States, the depository for the North Atlantic Treaty.
To honor this historic occasion, the Foreign Ministers of all three countries have traveled here today to deposit its instrument of accession. Secretary Albright is here to receive them on behalf of the United States.
Each Minister will present his country's instrument of accession and sign the process verbal, thereby formally attesting to the fact that the instrument has been presented. After each Minister has signed, Secretary Albright will add her signature to the process verbal, attesting to the fact she has received the instruments of accession. The Secretary's signature completes the process. When she is finished, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland will be full members of NATO.)
(The instruments are signed and deposited.)
SENATOR MIKULSKI: Good afternoon. Madame Secretary, distinguished Foreign Ministers, my colleagues in Congress, freedom fighters and freedom supporters, this is, indeed, an emotional day for me to be here at the accession of these three great nations to NATO and to have the extraordinary privilege of introducing my friend, Madeleine Albright, as Secretary of State, to give this address.
For me, this has been a journey of the heart for a number of years, in which my own family supported over the years the tireless efforts of freedom fighters and dissidents to come to this day.
In preparation for this event, I read Truman's remarks and Winston Churchill's remarks on the occasion of coming to Kenyon College. At that time, Churchill said, there were two threats facing the world. One was war and the other was tyranny; that we had won the battle of the war, but we were now facing the threat of tyranny and we were losing ground -- in which he said the Iron Curtain had descended over the great capitals of Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and others.
As the Foreign Minister of Poland has said, today we are finally removing the Iron Curtain and undoing the tragedy of Yalta and Potsdam. So forever, we're leaving a Europe now that is free and unified. And we're ensuring that NATO will be a force for peace and stability in the new millennium.
With this ceremony, we acknowledge the strength of the new democracies in Central Europe. We wish to salute the people of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic and the Ministers that are represented here today. We honor the sacrifices that they've made and the hard work that they've done, for it is truly a triumph of dissidents over tyranny, of democracy over dictatorship.
Many have worked hard and tirelessly for this event and few have worked so hard and tirelessly than our own distinguished Secretary of State, who has fought for American values and interests around the world. NATO enlargement has been both her priority and her passion. Like me and so many in this room, her passion for this issue is based partly on personal history and heritage.
Secretary Albright brought a unique story to America and to the people from the old world order as well as to the new emerging one. She knew what it meant to lose her ho to dictatorship, and she used her experience to reach out to others in the world who've experienced that pain. She understands those who labored tirelessly in exile to reclaim their freedom, and she has brought that great support here.
And thus, in her job as Secretary of State, she has brought great knowledge, personal diplomatic skills, diplomacy and a way of communicating with the American people to win the support for the American foreign policy objectives. I believe that she is a unique and special Secretary of State. When history is written of our country, it will show that she has been one of the strongest and most outstanding Secretaries of State, bringing democracy into truly a new world order and a new millennium.
With great personal pleasure, I bring you the Secretary of State, Madeleine Korbel Albright.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you, Senator Mikulski, for that wonderful and personal introduction, and thank you for your great friendship. I want to thank you and your colleagues, Senators Roth and Smith and Representatives Skelton, Lantos, and McCarthy for your bipartisan leadership on behalf of NATO and NATO enlargement. You have helped to make history, because without your support we would not be here today.
Minister Kavan, Minister Martonyi, and Minister Geremek, excellencies from the diplomatic corps, Admiral Gough, General Anderson and other leaders of our armed forces, officials of the Truman Library -- thank you for remembering my daughter -- honored guests, colleagues, and friends, today is a day of celebration and re-dedication and remembrance and renewal.
Today we recognize in fact what has always been true in spirit. Today we confirm through our actions that the lands of King Stephen and Cardinal Mindszenty, Charles the Fourth and Vaclav Havel, Copernicus and Pope John Paul II reside fully and irrevocably within the Atlantic community for freedom. And to that I say, to quote an old Central European expression, "Hallelujah."
History will record March 12, 1999, as the day the people of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland strode through NATO's open door and assumed their rightful place in NATO's councils.
To them I say that President Clinton's pledge is now fulfilled. Never again will your fates be tossed around like poker chips on a bargaining table. Whether you are helping to revise the Alliance's strategic concept or engaging in NATO's partnership with Russia, the promise of "nothing about you without you," is now formalized. You are truly allies; you are truly home.
This is a cause for celebration not only in Prague, Budapest and Warsaw, but throughout the Alliance. For the tightening of transatlantic ties that we mark today inspired the vision of transatlantic leaders half a century ago. That generation, which in Dean Acheson's famous phrase was "present at the creation," emerged from the horror of World War II determined to make another such war impossible. They had seen -- and paid in blood -- the price of division; so their policies were inclusive. They wanted to help build a transatlantic community of prosperity and peace that would include all of Europe.
But between the 1947 offering of the Marshall Plan and the forging of NATO two years later, it became evident that the reality of their times did not match the boldness of their vision. The Iron Curtain descended; and across the body of Europe, a brutal and unnatural division was imposed. Now, due to bravery on both sides, that curtain has lifted, and links that should have been secured long ago are being soldered together.
Today is evidence of that. For this morning, NATO is joined by three proud democracies -- countries that have proven their ability to meet Alliance responsibilities, uphold Alliance values and defend Alliance interests.
Since the decision to invite new members was first made, President Clinton has argued that a larger NATO would make America safer, our Alliance stronger and Europe more peaceful and united. Today, we see that this is already the case. For NATO's new members bring with them many strengths. Their citizens have a tradition of putting their lives on the line for liberty: Witness Hungary's courageous freedom fighters in 1956; the students who faced down tanks in the streets of Prague 12 years later; and the workers of Gdansk whose movement for Solidarity ushered in Europe's new dawn.
As young democracies, these countries have been steadfast in supporting the vision of an integrated Europe. Their troops are serving alongside NATO forces in Bosnia. And each is contributing to stability in its own neighborhood.
As a daughter of the region, and a former professor of Central and East European affairs, I know many Americans have not always had the understanding of this region that they now do. Earlier this century, when Jan Masaryk, son of the Czech President, came to the United States, an American Senator asked him, how is your father; and does he still play the violin?
Jan replied, sir, I fear that you are making a small mistake. You are perhaps thinking of Paderewski and not Masaryk. Paderewski plays the piano, not the violin, and was President not of Czechoslovakia, but of Poland.
Of our Presidents, Benes was the only one who played; but he played neither the violin nor the piano, but football. In all other respects, your information is correct.
Later, after his father had died and World War II had been fought, Jan Masaryk became Czechoslovak Foreign Minister -- my father's boss. It soon became clear that the revival of Czechoslovak democracy and Czechoslovak aspirations to be part of the West would be short-lived.
Czechoslovakia was also invited to join the Marshall Plan. However, Foreign Minister Masaryk was summoned to Moscow and told that Czechoslovakia had to refuse the invitation. He returned to Prague to tell his colleagues, "I now know I am not the Foreign Minister of a sovereign country. "
Masaryk's statement reminds us of another great gift the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary bring to our Alliance for freedom: the living memory of living without freedom.
NATO's success has enabled generations protected by the Alliance to grow up and grow old under democratic rule. For that, we are enormously grateful.
But we must also guard against a danger. For there is a risk that to people who have never known tyranny, an Alliance forged before they were born to counter an enemy that no longer exists, to defend freedoms some believe are no longer endangered, may appear no more relevant than the fate of Central Europe did to some of our predecessors 60 years ago.
The Truman Library is a fit place for plain speaking. So let me speak plainly now. It is the job of each and every one of us, on both sides of the Atlantic, to bring home to the generations of today and tomorrow the compelling lessons of this century.
We must never fall back into complacency or presume that totalitarianism is forever dead or retreat in the face of aggression. We must learn from history, not repeat it. And we must never forget that the destinies of Europe and North America are inseparable; and that this is as true now as it was when NATO was founded 50 years ago.
Of course, there will always be differences between Europe and America. We have been aptly called cousins, but we will never be mistaken for clones. Today, there are splits on trade and other issues -- some of which are quite controversial. But do not exaggerate, these are differences within the family.
However, I think I can speak for each of my Alliance colleagues when I say that on the central questions that affect the security and safety of our people, our Alliance is and will remain united, as it must. For the hopes of future generations are in our hands. We cannot allow any issue to undermine our fundamental unity. We must adapt our alliance and strengthen our partnerships. We must anticipate and respond to new dangers. And we must not count on second chances; we must get it right -- now.
This requires understanding that the more certain we are in preparing our defense, the more certain we may be of defending our freedom without war. NATO is the great proof of that. For its success over five decades is measured not in battles won, but rather in lives saved, freedoms preserved and wars prevented. That is why President Truman said that the creation of NATO was the achievement in which he took the greatest pride.
Today we, too, have grounds for pride. For NATO enlargement is a sign that we have not grown complacent about protecting the security of our citizens. The nations entering our alliance today are the first new members since the Cold War's end, but they will not be the last. For NATO enlargement is not an event; it is a process.
It is our common purpose, over time, to do for Europe's east what NATO has already helped to do for Europe's west. Steadily and systematically, we will continue erasing without replacing the line drawn in Europe by Stalin's bloody boot.
When President Clinton welcomes his counterparts to Washington next month to mark NATO's 50th anniversary, they will affirm that the door of the Alliance does remain open; and they will announce a plan to help prepare aspiring members to meet NATO's high standards.
But enlargement is only one element in our effort to prepare NATO for its second 50 years. The Washington Summit will be the largest gathering of international leaders in the history of Washington, D.C. It will include representatives from NATO and its partner countries -- 44 in all -- and it will produce a blueprint for NATO in the 21st Century.
Our leaders will, I am confident, agree on the design of an Alliance that is not only bigger, but also more flexible; an Alliance committed to collective defense, and capable of meeting a wide range of threats to its common interests; an Alliance working in partnership with other nations and organizations to advance security, prosperity and democracy in and for the entire Euro-Atlantic region.
The centerpiece of the Summit will be the unveiling of a revised strategic concept that will take into account the variety of future dangers the Alliance may face.
Since 1949, under Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, the core mission of our alliance has been collective defense. That must not change, and will not change. NATO is a defensive alliance, not a global policeman.
But NATO's founders understood that what our alliance commits us to do under Article V is not all we may be called upon to do, or should reserve the right to do. Consider, for example, that when French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman signed the North Atlantic Treaty, he characterized it as "insurance against all risks -- a system of common defense against any attack, whatever its nature."
During the Cold War, we had no trouble identifying the risks to our security and territory. But the threats we face today and may face tomorrow are less predictable. They could come from an aggressive regime, a rampaging faction, or a terrorist group. And we know that, if past is prologue, we face a future in which weapons will be more destructive at longer distances than ever before.
Our alliance is and must remain a Euro-Atlantic institution that acts by consensus. We must prevent and, if necessary, respond to the full spectrum of threats to Alliance interests and values. And when we respond, it only makes sense to use the unified military structure and cooperative habits we have developed over the past 50 years. This approach shouldn't be controversial. We've been practicing it successfully in Bosnia since 1995.
We are also taking steps, as we plan for the summit, to ensure that NATO's military forces are designed, equipped and prepared for 21st Century missions. And we expect the summit to produce an initiative that responds to the grave threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
Clearly, NATO's job is different now than when we faced a single monolithic adversary across a single, heavily-armed frontier. But NATO's purpose is enduring. It has not changed. It remains to prevent war and safeguard freedom. NATO does this only by deterring, but also by unifying. And let no one underestimate its value here, as well. For if NATO can assure peace in Europe, it will contribute much to stability around the globe.
The history of this century and many before it has been marked by shifting patterns within Europe as empires rose and fell, borders were drawn and redrawn, and ethnic divisions were exploited by aggressors and demagogues. Twice this century, conflicts arose which required American troops to cross the Atlantic and plunge into the cauldron of war.
NATO and NATO's partners have closed that book and are authoring a new one. In collaboration with regional institutions, we are encouraging the resolution of old antagonisms, promoting tolerance, ensuring the protection of minority rights and helping to realize, for the first time in history, the dream of a Europe whole and free.
So let us not hesitate to rebut those who would diminish the role of our alliance, dispute its value, or downplay the importance of its unity and preparedness. For if NATO does not respond to the 21st Century security challenges facing our region, who will? If NATO cannot prevent aggressors from engulfing whole chunks of Europe in conflict, who can? And if NATO is not prepared to respond to the threat posed to our citizens by weapons of mass destruction, who will have that capability?
The 20th Century has been the bloodiest and most destructive in human history; and despite the Cold War's end, many threats remain. But we have learned some hard lessons from this history of conflict, and those lessons underlie all our planning for the Washington Summit.
We know that when the democracies of Europe and America are divided, crevices are created through which forces of evil and aggression may emerge; and that when we stand together, no force on Earth is more powerful than our solidarity on behalf of freedom.
That is why NATO is focused not only on welcoming new members, but also on strengthening its valuable partnerships with Russia, Ukraine and Europe's other democracies. Their inclusion and full participation in the transatlantic community is essential to the future we seek. For NATO's purpose is not to build new walls, but rather to tear old walls down.
Five years ago, while serving as US Permanent Representative to the UN, I traveled with General Shalikashvili to Central and Eastern Europe, to outline President Clinton's plan for a Partnership for Peace. That concept continues to deepen and pay dividends for countries whether or not they aspire to NATO membership. Today, former adversaries are talking to each other, training with each other, carrying out missions together, and planning together for the future. By fostering that process, we prevent potentially dangerous misunderstandings, address present problems and lay a solid foundation for future cooperation.
We also remind ourselves, that although NATO stands tall, it does not stand alone. The EU, OSCE and NATO and its partners form the core of a broader system for protecting vital interests and promoting shared values.
We learned in Bosnia earlier this decade how vital such a system is. We face a test of that system now in Kosovo, and we welcome Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov's efforts in Belgrade today to help achieve our common goal.
There, together, we have backed diplomacy with tools ranging from humanitarian relief to OSCE verifiers to the threatened use of NATO force. Together, we have hammered out an interim political settlement which meets the needs and respects the rights of all concerned.
When talks resume next week, we must be firm in securing this agreement. We must be clear in explaining that a settlement without NATO-led enforcement is not acceptable because only NATO has the credibility and capability to make it work. And we must be resolute in spelling out the consequences of intransigence.
To those abroad and in my own country who have raised doubts, I reply that the plan we and our partners have developed is not risk-free. But we prefer that risk to the certainty that inaction would lead to a renewed cycle of repression and retaliation, bloodletting and ethnic cleansing. The path we have chosen for our alliance in Kosovo is not easy; but it is right. It serves NATO interests, and it upholds the values of our alliance for which it was created and which we will defend.
Today, as NATO embarks upon a new era, our energy and vision are directed to the future. But we are mindful, as well, of the past. For as we welcome three new members, we have a debt we cannot fail to acknowledge.
In this room today are ambassadors and foreign ministers and generals and members of Congress. In this room, there is great pride and good reason for it. But let us never forget upon whose shoulders we stand. We pay homage to our predecessors and to the millions of soldiers and sailors and aviators and diplomats who, throughout the past half-century, have kept NATO vigilant and strong.
We pay homage, as well, to those who fought for freedom on the far side of freedom's curtain. For the Berlin Wall would be standing today; the Fulda Gap would divide Europe today; the Warsaw Pact would remain our adversary today, if those who were denied liberty for so long, had not struggled so bravely for their rights.
Let us never forget that freedom has its price. And let us never fail to remember how our alliance came together, what it stands for, and why it has prevailed.
Upon the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, President Harry Truman referred to the creation of NATO as a "neighborly act." "We are like a group of householders," he said, "who express their community of interests by entering into an association for their mutual protection."
At the same time, Canadian Secretary of State Lester Pearson said, "The North Atlantic community is part of the world community, and as we grow stronger to preserve the peace, all free men and women grow stronger with us."
Prime Minister Spaak of Belgium added, "The new NATO pact is purely defensive; it threatens no one. It should therefore disturb no one, except those who might foster the criminal idea of having recourse to war."
Though all the world has changed since these statements were made, the verities they express have not. Our alliance still is bound together by a community of interests. Our strength still is a source of strength to those everywhere who labor for freedom and peace. Our power still shields those who love the law and still threatens none, except those who would threaten others with aggression and harm. Our alliance endures because the principles it defends are timeless and because they reflect the deepest aspirations of the human spirit.
It is our mission now, working across the Atlantic, to carry on the traditions of our alliance and prepare NATO for the 21st Century. To that end, we take a giant step today. And we look forward with confidence and determination to the historic summit in Washington and further progress tomorrow.
Thank you all very much.
[End of Document]