THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Rheinlander Club Rose Room Rheinlander Building U.S. Army Base/Smith Barracks Baumholder, Germany
4:06 P.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Today I am speaking to you from Germany, and I am with the men and women of the United States Army's 1st Armored Division. For the last four days, I have been on a journey of peace that has taken me from Britain to Ireland, to Germany. I have shaken the hands, heard the voices and seen the faces of those all over Europe who long for peace -- peace in Northern Ireland and peace in Bosnia.
I will never forget the two young children in Belfast, one Catholic who lost her father, and one Protestant. These children joined their hands and told the world of their dreams for a future of peace and their gratitude that America is working for peace.
I'll never forget the tens of thousands of people in Derry and in Dublin whose surging cheers and sea of America Flags symbolized the friendship between our people and their appreciation that America is a force for a fair peace in Northern Ireland.
People in England and Germany, and even people in Ireland, also said they wanted peace and an end to the tragedy in Bosnia. Wherever I went and whomever I talked to, from ordinary citizens to Prime Ministers and parliamentarians, the message to me was the same: American leadership for peace matters. American leadership for peace matters. American leadership is welcome in Europe. American leadership is necessary in Europe, whether to achieve peace in Northern Ireland, or join in implementing the peace in Bosnia.
Europe's freedom and strength and stability are essential to our own freedom, strength and stability. That's why twice in this century American troops have fought in wars on European soil. That's why we stayed there during the Cold War until victory was won. And that's why our soldiers are still stationed in Europe today.
Today I am visiting many of the brave young Americans who are preparing to leave for Bosnia. I spoke today to the 1st Armored Division, our country's Iron Soldiers. They are the front-line fighters of our country; they have been from World War II right through the Persian Gulf War. But this time, they're not being sent to war, they're being sent to guarantee peace. They have the noblest mission of all -- to stop incredible human suffering and lift people's lives.
Over the last four years, a quarter of a million Bosnians have been killed, more than half of Bosnia's people have been driven from their homes, a million of them are still refugees. We have seen parents divided from their children, children deprived of their dreams, people caged like animals in concentration camps, women and young girls subject to systematic rape. We have seen unbelievable horrors. But now we have a chance to end this misery for good -- and we have a responsibility to act.
This will be a difficult mission in a hard corner of the world. But let's remember -- it is a peace that the people of Bosnia want. It is a peace that they have demanded. The leaders of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia understand that. That's why they reached a peace agreement in Dayton last month. And that's why they asked for America's help. They have made a serious commitment to peace, but they can't do it alone. There have been so many things happen in that poor, war-torn country that trust is a rare commodity, and they need our help to help reestablish the conditions under which people can live in decency and peace.
The three leaders of all three countries have emphasized in letters to me, and I quote, "that the NATO-led implementation force is essential to the success of the peace settlement." And they have pledged -- and again I quote -- "to take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of all American and other forces and civilian personnel participating in the implementation force."
As of now, we expect that America will make up roughly a third of that implementation force, known as IFOR. More than 25 other nations, including our NATO allies, have also pledged to take part in this mission of peace. Because our nation is willing to lead, our strength will be multiplied and our burdens will be shared.
Earlier today I met with General Joulwan, the American Commander of NATO, under whom our troops will serve. He and General Nash, who will command our Task Force Eagle in Bosnia, gave me a thorough briefing on NATO's plan. The force will be strong with strong rules of engagement. Our young men and women will have the tools they need to do the job.
We do not expect significant opposition to IFOR, but in Bosnia, as in other places of the world, there will always be people who cannot move beyond their hatreds, who would still rather destroy than rebuild. If IFOR's safety is threatened by them in any way, I am confident that the strength, the speed and the decisiveness of its response will cause other potential attackers to think again.
I'm satisfied that our military commanders have done all they can to minimize the risks to our troops while maximizing their ability to carry out a clearly defined mission with a clear end point. And here in Germany I have seen firsthand that our troops are the best-trained, best-equipped, best-prepared fighting force in the world. They are skilled, they are strong, they are determined to succeed. They are also an extraordinary group of Americans. They are intelligent, they are good people, they are intensely patriotic, and they are proud of the mission they have been asked to carry out.
As soon as I return, I will be consulting closely with Congress on the details of the NATO plan. I welcome the statement of those leaders who said they will work with me in the national interest. And I hope and expect that after careful debate, others will join in supporting the plan and our troops.
The mission is clear and so are the stakes -- for the Bosnian people, for the security of Europe, and for America's leadership around the world.
This morning in Dublin, I met with Zlata Filipovic, the young Bosnian girl who became famous the world over when she published her diary of life in war-torn Sarajevo. This morning, she asked me to thank our American soldiers for giving her and other children the chance to live in peace in their homeland. In a letter she gave me, she spoke in the name of children. She said, "Thank you for helping civilization not to die over there, because ordinary people and children truly don't deserve it. Thank you for opening the door of future to our children."
My fellow Americans, we should be proud we have opened that door for the children of Bosnia, for the people of Bosnia. They have chosen the road of peace. Their road is our road, and we must stand with them. We must be leaders for peace.
Thanks for listening.
END 4:11 P.M. (L)