THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release April 23, 1999 9:20 A.M. EDT
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA
AT OPENING OF WORKING SESSION ON KOSOVO
International Trade Center
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Good morning. Allow me to welcome you all to this first meeting of NATO, heads of state and government of 19. I send a special warm greeting to those representing their country for the first time at the NATO Summit, and in particular to the leaders of the three new members of the Alliance. I should also like to thank the government of the United States of America for its arrangement of the summit.
We have gathered here in Washington for an historic 50th anniversary. This Alliance for half a century has assured peace, stability and freedom of the European continent. As we celebrate past achievement, we are determined to see these principles carried into the next century.
As we meet in Washington today, Europe is confronting a very serious crisis. Images of hundreds of thousands of deported people, burned homes, and destroyed villages recall scenes we had hoped never to see again. The crisis in Kosovo represents a fundamental challenge to the values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law for which the Alliance has its truth since its foundation. That is why the 19 democratic nations around this table could not remain indifferent. That is why we had to act.
As we continue our military operations, with the ultimate aim of securing a just political solution to the crisis, NATO allies are united in their resolve to see this challenge through. The Alliance must and will prevail. Milosevic must know there is no place for his policies in Europe on the eve of the 21st century. The vision of this Europe is one which all nations can live together in peace and in prosperity. It is a Europe whose people feel secure, threatened neither by their neighbors, nor by their rulers.
NATO is playing its part to help this vision come true together with its partners in the Eur-Atlantic community. I'm confident that our meeting today and of the next few days will continue to this goal.
I would like now to give the floor to our host, the President of the United States, President Clinton.
President Clinton, the floor is yours.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary General. Mr. Secretary General, fellow leaders, let me begin by welcoming you warmly to the United States. We are honored to host this 50th Anniversary Summit of NATO. We meet to honor NATO's past, to chart its future, to reaffirm our mission in Kosovo, where NATO is defending our values and our vision of a Europe free, undivided and at peace.
Today, we send a clear message of unity and determination -- to sustain our air campaign for as long as it takes; to stand firm in our conditions for ending it; to pursue diplomatic intitiatives to meet those conditions; to increase political and economic pressure against the regime in Belgrade; to stand by the frontline nations threatened by Belgrade's actions; and to work with them for stability, democracy and prosperity in Southeastern Europe, so that when Mr. Milosevic's vision for the future is defeated, a better one can rise in its place.
We will seek to do this together with our European partners, and with Ukraine and with Russia. We will make clear what is at stake. Mr. Milosevic's forces burn and loot homes, and murder innocent people; our forces deliver food and shelter, and hope to the displaced. Mr. Milosevic fans the flames of anger between nations and peoples; we are an alliance of 19 nations, uniting 780 million people of many faiths and ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. Mr. Milosevic knows only one way to achieve his aims, through force; we have done everything we could to resolve this matter peacefully.
But when we fight, we fight to prevail -- to prevail in this conflict, and to build the undivided, democratic Europe that the founders of NATO envisioned 50 years ago.
Thank you, and welcome again.
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Thank you very much. May I ask the representatives of the media to leave the room? Thank you very much for your cooperation.