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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Intervention at Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, NATO Headquarters
Brussels, Belgium, December 15, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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[As prepared for delivery]

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you Mr. Secretary-General, fellow foreign ministers, distinguished colleagues. This is my last Partnership Council ministerial. I shall miss working with you, but I take pride in what we have accomplished together.

One of the great challenges of the new era has been to create a framework for cooperation that includes all of the democracies of the transatlantic community. The Partnership for Peace (PFP) and this Council are essential components of that effort.

This is evident, first of all, in the Balkans, where our troops serve side-by-side, and where we have worked with leaders within the region to establish a strong and still-rising democratic tide.

This morning, I would like to congratulate High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch for the outstanding job he has done in Bosnia and Herzogovina, and for his excellent presentation to us.

Bosnia has come far in its recovery from war, but its future as a truly independent and cohesive state is not yet assured. We can help by remaining united in our support for further economic reform and the creation of joint security institutions.

We should also support the consolidation and growth of democratic institutions in Croatia and Yugoslavia, where new leaders are striving to overcome the legacy of decades of misrule, and bring their countries into the mainstream of a democratic and prosperous Europe.

I want to thank every country that has contributed to the success of SFOR and KFOR in preventing conflict and making democratic progress possible in Southeast Europe. Their role remains critical. The forces of moderation are growing, but extremist elements pose an ongoing threat.

One example is in the Presevo region of Serbia, where we join Yugoslav authorities in condemning violent incidents. The United States calls upon all sides to exercise restraint, and supports efforts by KFOR to prevent further incidents.

In Kosovo, we believe it is important to move forward with consultations on how to shape new institutions for autonomous self-government, and prepare for general elections as soon as possible next year.

Southeast Europe is only one area where our partnerships can make a difference.

The United States believes that this Council should intensify its efforts within the regional forum focused on the Caucasus, and create a working group to consider the comlex political, economic and security issues now confronting the key region of Central Asia.

More generally, we look to our partnerships to enhance our collective military effectiveness. That is why we must redouble efforts to advance our Operational Capabilities Concept, which will help Partners participate in future missions.

We will also continue to implement the Political-Military Framework's provisions regarding NATO-led operations, in order to ensure greater Partner involvement in shaping decisions and making plans.

The PFP was conceived on the principle that partners would be free to shape their relationship with NATO in a way that best suits their own needs and objectives. From the outset, we have made clear that NATO's door would remain open and that we would help partners who aspired to membership to walk through it.

The enlargement of NATO is a natural accompaniment to the evolution of a democratic and undivided Europe. It threatens no one, and will help us all to expand the area within Europe where wars simply do not happen.

Future NATO enlargement depends on a vigorous effort by aspirants to improve their candidacies and implement their Membership Action Plans.

The exact timing and scope of the next round is not yet certain. What is certain is that the first round has led to a stronger, more capable and more dynamic alliance. There is every reason to believe that further enlargement, if carefully planned and prepared, will yield the same result.

In closing, let me say again what an honor and pleasure it has been to serve with you. In a short time, this Council has developed into a practical and effective tool for coordinating the activities and aspirations of Europe's new democracies.

It has also become a vital contributor to security, prosperity and freedom in some of the continent's toughest neighborhoods. Month by month, year by year, we have been shaping history in the right direction--away from the old habits of division and conflict, and toward a new reality of unity and peace.

This is cause for pride on the part of us all, but as I look around this room, I feel confident that the benefits of our partnerships are only beginning to be felt.

I salute you all, and assure you that--although I will soon begin a new life--America's commitment to the success of this Council and to a Europe whole and free will continue for decades to come.

[End of Document]
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