THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release April 25, 1999 4:25 P.M. EDT
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE CLOSE OF THE WASHINGTON SUMMIT
International Trade Center
THE PRESIDENT: Hello. I am going to read a statement, and then I have to go, unfortunately, to another appointment. But Secretary Albright, Secretary Cohen, Mr. Berger, General Shelton are going to be available to answer questions.
We came to this summit committed to chart a course for the NATO Alliance for the 21st century -- one that embraces new members, new partners and new missions. Here we committed NATO first to fulfill its mission of collective defense with the ability to meet new security threats; second, to remain open to new allies, and to seek stronger partnership with nations all across Europe, Central Asia, and obviously including Ukraine and Russia.
We've also reaffirmed our determination repeatedly to intensify our actions, military and economic, until we achieve our objectives in Kosovo. On this, the Alliance leaves Washington more united even than it was when we came here.
Meanwhile, we will stand by the neighboring countries that have accepted risks and hardship in support of this effort. If Mr. Milosevic threatens them for helping us, we will respond. And we will work to support democracy and development in the region, so that the forces pulling people together will be stronger than those pulling them apart, and all nations -- including, someday, a democratic Serbia -- can join the European mainstream.
What NATO did here this weekend was to reaffirm our commitment to a common future, rooted in common humanity. Standing against ethnic cleansing is both a moral imperative and a practical necessity, as the leaders of the frontline states -- who have so much at stake in the outcome -- made so clear to us.
Our vision of a Europe undivided, democratic, free and at peace, depends upon our constructive commitment to the hundreds of thousands of poor refugees, so many men, women and children with no place else to turn, who have been made pawns in a power struggle. It depends upon our ability and our collective commitment after this crisis has past to help all the people of Southeastern Europe build a better future.
In our last luncheon, just a few moments ago, when we had all the members of our Partnership Council there, someone made a joke. He said, look around this room. We have several members of the last Politburo here that the Soviet Union had. And then they were counting up. And then others said, well, we weren't on the Politburo, but we should have been. (Laughter.) And they were laughing.
But they made an important point. There has been this breathtaking explosion of freedom. But the old order has not yet been replaced by a new one, that answers all the legitimate needs of people -- not just for freedom, but also for security and prosperity.
We must be committed to building that kind of future for the people of Central Europe, for the people of Southeastern Europe, and for our other partners, going all the way to the Central Asian states. We cannot expect for people to stop being drawn back to old ways of organizing themselves, even profoundly destructive ways resting on ethnic and religious divisions, unless there is a far more powerful magnate out there before them.
And so we committed ourselves to building that kind of future for all of our allies in the 21st century. When all is said 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 commitment to build it.
Thank you very much.